Our Team

Kyuson Yun, PhD – Principal Investigator

Dr. 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 utilized 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 vulnerabilities to target them for eradication. Her lab identified several novel regulators of brain cancer stem cells and mechanistic studies of those molecules led her to explore the link between cancer stem cells and immune modulation. Since moving to Methodist, her laboratory performed extensive single cell analysis from human glioma patients to elucidate the cellular heterogeneity and cell:cell communication among cancer and immune cells, particularly myeloid cells, that promote immune evasion and tumor progression. Yun laboratory is currently translating these findings by developing therapeutic antibodies and small molecules against dual regulators of cancer stem cells and immune suppressive microenvironment.

Dr. Yun serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the American Brain Tumor Association and an editorial board member for Scientific Reports. She reviews for top journals in her field and grants applications for US and international government agencies (NIH, DoD, NSF, MRC (UK), Italian Ministry) as well as many foundations. Outside of the lab, she can be found walking around Rice University listening to various entrepreneurial and scientific podcasts.
Fransisca Leonard, PhD, Research Scientist
Fransisca joined Dr. Yun’s lab as Research Scientist in 2023. Her research focuses on nanomedicine design using polymeric and lipid nanoparticle platforms for macrophage modulation via in vivo targeted CRISPR editing in various inflammatory conditions. She has also developed several disease‐specific 3D in vitro models for drug screening and assessing treatment efficacy metrics. She is very excited to join the team and aim to develop brain-targeting nano formulations for treating neurological diseases and brain injury. In her free time she enjoys crafting and woodworking, as well as exploring playgrounds with her husband and 1.5 year old daughter.
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.
Chihiro Hashimoto, MS,Research Assistant 2
Chihiro graduated from Tohoku Pharmaceutical University in Japan with a master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. She then worked for five years as a staff member with the Division of Regulatory Affairs at Fuso Pharmaceutical Industries in Japan. She moved to the United States in 2016 and joined Department of Nanomedicine in HMRI in 2021 as a research assistant II. Eventually she hopes to attain a PhD in biostatistics. She is obsessed with sweets all over the world and her free time is spent with her husband seeking good café and pastry shops in Houston area.
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.
Nhat Tran, B.S. Research Assistant 1
Nhat received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate research assistant, he helped optimizing the brightness the mitochondrial NAD+ biosensor of Dr. Xiaolu Cambronne's lab by site-directed mutagenesis. He joined the Yun Lab in 2022 to continue his learning path to expand his knowledge in tumor biology and gain more research experience. He plans on enrolling in a PhD program in 2024. Outside of the lab, he enjoys trying out new food around Houston area and taking pictures of the city with his film camera.
Jose Maldonado, Research Assistant
Jose received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate research assistant, he developed multimodal approaches aimed at curtailing biofilm growth models. This included a material methods approach using dendrimer encapsulated nanoparticles and an ionizing radiation approach meant to be implemented in surgical tools. He joined the Yun lab in 2020 to further enrich his background of the interplay between immunology, neurology, and oncology and plans to enroll in a PhD program in 2022. When not in the lab, he tries his hand at amateur astronomy by visiting dark sky sites around Texas with his Dobsonian.