Our Team

Kyuson Yun, PhD – Principal Investigator

Yun began her independent research career at the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, where she built a research program focused on brain cancer stem cells (CSCs). She utilizes her expertise in developmental and stem cell biology, genetics/genomics, and mouse modeling to elucidate fundamental properties of cancer stem cells at the molecular and cellular levels and to identify their unique vulnerability to target them for eradication. Her general strategy has been to exploit the power of mouse genetics to gain novel insights into cancer biology and to validate the clinical relevance of her findings using primary human samples.

Yun joined the Peak Center and Department of Neurosurgery in the fall of 2016 to translate her findings by developing novel therapies and technologies that will benefit cancer patients. In addition to projects aimed at elucidating fundamental properties of CSCs, Yun’s laboratory works on multiple highly translational projects, including development of a new diagnostic device and small molecule and antibody-based therapeutics to target CSCs.

She serves as an editorial board member for Scientific Reports and a reviewer for top journals in her field. She also reviews grants for US and international government agencies (NIH, DoD, MRC (UK), Italian Ministry) as well as many foundations. Outside of the lab, she can be found battling Tyranitars with her husband or traveling to either coast to visit her children.

Nourhan Abdelfattah, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Nourhan Abdelfattah received her PhD from UT Health San Antonio in Cancer Biology in 2018. Her dissertation was focused on identifying microRNAs that enhance the efficacy of chemo- and radiotherapy against pediatric medulloblastoma. She joined Yun’s laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow in May 2018 to continue her training in pediatric brain tumor research. In the Yun lab, she is studying the role of Yap1 in the immune microenvironment of medulloblastoma using genetically engineered mouse models. Outside of the lab Nour enjoys spending time with her daughter, drawing, swimming and reading.

Jia-Shiun Leu, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Leu obtained his doctoral degree in the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology at National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan. His doctoral thesis was focused on the relationship among genetic factors, host innate immunity, and tuberculosis. Later, he joined MD Anderson Cancer Center to study the post-translational gene regulation and immune-associated microenvironment in brain cancer. He joined Yun’s lab in January 2019 and works on the role of S100A4 in the microenvironment of glioblastoma. Outside of the lab, he enjoys baseball games, exercise, and movies.

Renata Amanda Gonçalves, PhD, Research Assistant
Renata received her PhD in 2018 from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil, where she studied the toxicity of nanomaterials to aquatic organisms and cells and its application in membranes for water treatment. During her PhD, Renata did a 12-month internship at Rice University, Houston, Texas. She recently moved back to Houston, and joined the Yun laboratory as a Research Assistant in May 2019.

Addie Kurchin, Research Assistant
Addie graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. She began working under Yun in July of 2019. When not in lab, she enjoys working out, reading, and getting nine hours of sleep.

Hung (Tommy) Phan, Research Assistant
Research Assistant Tommy received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate research assistant in the Que Lab during his time there, he was involved in researching metal homeostasis in cancer cells and synthesis of novel bioinorganic complexes. He began working under Yun in July 2019.
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