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.
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.
Caiyi Wang, Graduate student
Caiyi received her Bachelor of Clinical Medicine degree from Central South University in China. As a medical undergraduate, she studied Internal Medicine and Surgery, and during her one-year clinical internship, she developed great interest in tumor immunology and immunotherapy. She joined the Yun laboratory as an joint-training exchange student in November 2019 to further enrich her knowledge in tumor immunology and accumulate research experience in tumor biology. She plans to specialize in oncology after MD program. When not in the lab, she enjoys watching movies and playing games with friends.
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.