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Pediatrics / Shand Research Lab / Our Lab Members

Our Lab Members

Who are the Incredible People Solving the Leukemia Problem?

Jessica Shand - Principal Investigator

Jessica ShandI received my undergraduate degree at The Johns Hopkins University, as well as a Master's Degree in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I worked in the biodefense industry studying the innate immune response to emerging pathogens prior to entering medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo. During medical school, I participated in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Scholars Program in the laboratory of Dr. Crystal Mackall at the National Cancer Institute, where I was galvanized toward a career in translational tumor immunology research and received a scholarship to support the remainder of my medical studies. I completed my Pediatric Residency at the University of Rochester-Golisano Children's Hospital with a Distinction in Research for my investigation in the laboratory of Dr. Craig Mullen studying gene profiles of lymphoblastic leukemia cells surviving allogeneic transplant. I then completed subspecialty training at the Johns Hopkins-National Cancer Institute Combined Program in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and performed my fellowship research in the laboratory of Dr. Terry Fry, studying the effects of tissue alloantigen distribution on the function of anti-leukemia T-cells for which my publication received the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation's  2014 McCullough and Till Award for the best basic science article by a young investigator. St. Baldrick’s Foundation - Conquer Childhood Cancers.My current research at the University of Rochester is supported by a career development award from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation/Conquer Childhood Cancers.
Q. What got you interested in cancer research
A. The notion that cancer is a part of our own biology "gone wrong" is an idea that will never cease to fascinate me. I believe there are more parallels between how the immune system recognizes and fights pathogenic infections and tumors than we realize.
Q. What excites you the most about doing science?
A. I love to be surprised by unexpected results and hypothesis proved wrong. I very much enjoy presenting my research and challenging the stereotype that science is done in a quiet, solitary state. The way we share information is bringing researchers together in new and unexpected ways and I am glad to be a part of it!
Q. Outside the of lab?
I enjoy anything that takes me outdoors: running, hiking, camping and mountain biking – particularly with my family. I play the piano and consider Bach and Chopin to be among my oldest and dearest friends. Having fallen in love with art history in college, I retain a special interest in the art, music and literature of the 16-17th century, and in particular, how the "descriptive arts" developed in the Low Countries interfaced with the many scientific developments of that time. I recently decided to learn German using an online education program.

John Mariano - MS III

Originally from Rochester, I received a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Cornell University. After graduation I worked as a research fellow at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Division of Monoclonal Antibodies before returning to Rochester for medical school. I am currently finishing my third year of medical school and have been funded by the American Society of Hematology for a research-based year out for the follow year in the laboratory of Dr. Shand.
Q. How did you become interested in cancer research?
A. My initial interest in cancer research came while working at the FDA. In my time there, I worked with multiple targeted oncologic therapies such as trastuzumab and rituximab, where I realized the potential of personalized treatments particularly in the field of cancer. Here at URMC, I have been able to build on this initial interest by studying the optimization of the immune microenvironment in which these targeted therapies have action.
Q. What excites you the most about doing science?
A. I think the answer to this question has changed over the course of my medical studies. Previously I would have felt that the biggest excitement in research is the idea that every project, no matter how big or small, is studying a unique question that has not been investigated previously. However, since witnessing the clinical benefit of many recently experimental treatments I am most excited about the prospect of developing a treatment or optimizing agent that could potentially illustrate real clinical benefit in patient mortality or morbidity.
Q. Outside the of lab?
A. Outside of the lab, I have been involved in community service as one of the coordinators of the UR School Health and Physicals program. This program provides free annual pre-participation physicals to the area youth to encourage physical activity while simultaneously connecting them into more long term care at clinics here at Strong Memorial Hospital or Rochester General Hospital. I am also an avid reader and football fan. Go Broncos!

Tony Magno, MS2

I grew up in southern Colorado, and received my bachelor degree in molecular biology and integrative physiology from the University of Colorado. Currently, I'm a second year medical student at the University of Rochester. I began working in Dr. Shand's lab between the summer of my first and second year with the aid of an OME summer research grant.
Q. How did you become interested in cancer research?
A. Intellectually, I'm interested in the genetic and cell signaling processes of cancer pathogenesis. Clinically, hematology/oncology is a specialty that I've considered pursuing.
Q. What excites you the most about doing science?
A. I really enjoy the scientific process. It's exciting to try to explain why something happens, test that explanation, and then rework your explanations based on your results.
Q. Outside the of lab?
A. Outside of lab I enjoy skiing, playing with my kiddos, and drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee.

Michael Winter - MPR3

I was born and raised in Newton, MA – a suburb just outside of Boston. I attended Middlebury College in Vermont, followed by medical school at Tufts University. Currently I am a combined resident in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at URMC. In 2014 I received an ASH Honors Grant to help support some of my work in the Shand Lab.
Q. How did you become interested in cancer research?
A. I became interested in working in cancer research after working with Dr. Shand on the inpatient oncology service during my intern year. Before residency I worked in research evaluating the effects of toxin-mediated cellular stress on immunologic function in a mouse model for ulcerative colitis, and was drawn to the immunologic hypotheses that Dr. Shand's research was evaluating in leukemia. Additionally, the Shand lab does an excellent job of recognizing and reflecting on the clinical application of it's findings, which is important to me as I pursue a career as a physician-scientist.
Q. What excites you the most about doing science?
A. Stepping outside of the direct clinical environment to spend time brainstorming questions and testing hypotheses in the lab provides a unique learning opportunity during residency. The majority of my time as I resident is spent on busy clinical services where individual patient care is the primary focus. Having time dedicated to thinking about the microbiological bases of disease processes, and trying to test hypotheses where our knowledge is limited, enhances my clinical management skills. I enjoy how basic science and clinical medicine complement one another, and encourage me to continually ask "why" and pursue answers to unclear questions.
Q. Outside the of lab?
A. When I am not work, I enjoy making messes cooking creative meals in the kitchen, playing soccer, and spending time with my family outdoors getting fresh air – whether it's running, biking, snowshoeing or backpacking.

Rafi Kazi

I earned my A.B. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University and M.D. at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Currently, I am a pediatric intern at URMC.
Q. How did you become interested in cancer research?
A. As an undergraduate, I worked in a lab focusing on B-cell signaling and maturation. I really enjoyed the lab techniques and studying immunology. During my Heme/Onc rotation, I enjoyed both the medical practice and patient population. Cancer research provides an opportunity to study immunology in the context of oncologic pathologies.
Q. What excites you the most about doing science?
A. Outside of the intellectual challenge and satisfaction, I love that moment at 11 P.M. when you finally get the data you have been working towards for months.
Q. Outside the of lab?
A. I love cooking – to the point that I watch foreign cooking shows.