Dr. Michelle Janelsins
Dr. Michelle Janelsins is an Associate Professor of Surgery, Radiation Oncology, and Neuroscience; PI/Director of the Cancer Control and Psychoneuroimmunology Laboratory at URMC; and Director of Translational Science for the URCC NCORP Research Base. She received her Ph.D. in 2008 in the areas of microbiology, immunology, and neuroscience and fellowship in 2011 in the areas of clinical cancer control, neuropsychology, and cognitive science. Both graduate degrees are from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She has over ten years of experience working on research projects in clinical, translational, and basic research. Her research over the last several years has focused on translational and clinical cancer control studies. Her research primarily focuses on understanding clinical, psychological, and biological contributors of cancer-related cognitive impairment and on interventions to alleviate cancer-related cognitive impairment involving clinical trials, longitudinal studies, and animal modeling. Dr. Janelsins oversees all translational research trials involving biospecimens for the URCC NCORP Research Base, including serving as PI on one of those studies and co-investigator on 5 other NCORP protocols. She also serves or has served as a PI or Co-I on several other NIH-funded studies outside of the NCORP network including a NCI K07 Award titled “Interventions Targeting Inflammation for Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Problems” and an NIH Director’s Innovator Award titled “Clinical and Translational Approaches to Cognitive Impairments in Cancer.” Her cumulative funding as PI includes $5.6 million with several grants from NIH. She currently has been recognized with 21 outstanding research awards and has published over 65 peer-reviewed publications. She serves on grant and protocol reviews both nationally and internationally for NCI, ACS, Canadian Research Society, the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia, PCORI, and Stanford Cancer Center.
In her spare time, she likes to spend time with family, friends and her cats, as well as exercise, watch NFL football, play board games, and travel and eat good food.
Sara Alberti is a Health Project Coordinator for CCPL. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Hartwick College. She moved to Rochester and spent several years as a study coordinator at St. Mary’s Hospital Oncology Unit before joining the University of Rochester James P. Wilmot Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office. She has over 25 years’ experience as an oncology study coordinator for industry and cooperative group treatment studies. She currently coordinates a longitudinal study of the effects of chemotherapy on cognitive function in breast cancer patients and non-cancer control participants.
On the weekends, she spends time at the Rochester Public Market, Rochester’s music and arts festivals with family and friends.
Dr. Belcher is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Cancer Control. She earned a PhD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in the areas of neuroscience and translational biomedical science. Her PhD research investigated how radiation therapy impacts the brain on a cellular and molecular level, specifically with regard to neurogenesis and neuroinflammation. Dr. Belcher’s current research is focused on understanding the neurocognitive and psychiatric side effects experienced by patients treated for cancer. She aims to develop interventions to prevent or alleviate these side effects with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life for cancer patients and survivors.
Kassandra Doyle is a Health Project Coordinator for CCPL. She received her B.S. in Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of Rochester in 2014. While an undergraduate student, Kassandra worked as a Research Associate with the Strong Memorial and Highland Hospital Emergency Departments. Following graduation, she worked as Clinical Research Coordinator with the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Department at URMC. She currently coordinates a study of Dr. Janelsins that examines the effects of a home-based exercise program and low-dose ibuprofen on cognitive function in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Off the clock, Kassandra enjoys cooking, binge watching shows on Netflix, and spending time in Rochester’s parks.
Mark supports the Biobanking aspect of the CCPL lab. This involves moving the clinical samples from large tubes and cardboard kits into capillary straws and goblets using the newly purchased CBS MAPI System. He has been a lab tech at URMC since 1980.
Dr. Gilmore is a Research Assistant Professor in the department of Surgery, Cancer Control division. She received a PhD in Pathology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Her PhD research was focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of cancer immune evasion. Dr. Gilmore’s research interests are centered on understanding the ways by which immunological factors can identify patients at risk of ‘chemotherapy-induced’ frailty. Dr. Gilmore is currently developing a pilot study to investigate the potential of a dietary supplement as a possible anti-inflammatory intervention to reduce chemotherapy induced frailty in older patients with colorectal cancer.
She is a mother of two and was born and raised on the twin isle of Trinidad and Tobago. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and working on DIY projects around the house.
Sara Hardy is a resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology as well as a board certified neurologist. She is interested in radiation treatments for CNS tumors as well as neurologic complications of cancer and cancer treatments. Her research is primarily focused on cancer related cognitive impairment in brain tumor patients receiving cranial radiation.
Kate Kessler is a graduate of Ithaca College. As Dr. Janelsins’ administrator she manages the administrative needs for CCPL, maintains journal entries, and supports the study coordinators. In her spare time, Kate enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her family and friends.
Lou Lotta joined the University of Rochester in 2005. He has worked in viral production to further research for a vaccine against HIV. He has also worked in the areas of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Autism. Cancer research is his latest focus, and he will assist in bio-banking using CBS MAPI System in a range of clinical studies. He will also assist with Assays, Luminex, Animal Husbandry/Experiments, Immunohistochemistry, and Tissue Culture.
Bryan Thompson is the Technical Associate for CCPL. He received his B.S. in 1989 from SUNY Geneseo. He has over ten years of experience working on research projects in basic research with a specialization in research done using rodents, especially mice. The research he has been involved in over the last ten years has focused on various studies, including the effects of chemotherapy drugs on hippocampal memory, brain inflammation brought about by methamphetamine abuse, and the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in mammalian brain models.
He likes to spend time with his pets, including dogs, cats, a horse, and a couple of goats as well as tropical fish keeping, fresh and saltwater. Bryan is a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, enjoys playing video games, gardening, and working on his house and his Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Recent Graduates/Past Members
Devin Hott is currently a sophomore at the University of Rochester. She is majoring in Bioethics, with a double minor in Genetics and Clinical Psychology. On campus, she is the secretary of the D'Lions; an organization devoted to community service and helping freshman adjust to college life. In her free time, she is a founding member of an improv comedy troupe on campus. In the lab, she works under Dr. Janelsins and spends most of her time working with Bryan Thompson in investigating the effects of chemotherapy drugs on the brain tissue of mice.
Lianlian Lei is a Research Assistant for CCPL. She obtained her M.A. in economics and is now a doctoral candidate in the Health Service Research and Policy program in the department of Public Health Sciences. Her project investigates the associations between biomarkers, cognition, and frailty among breast cancer patients.
In her spare time she likes playing tennis, badminton, table tennis, hiking, and travel.
Zach Werner is from Rochester and graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a biochemistry degree this past May. He is currently applying to medical school with plans to attend next summer. In the lab he is assisting with Dr. Kern’s radiotoxicity research as well as Dr. Janelsins’ CRCI project.
In his spare time he enjoys spending time with friends and family as well as playing rugby.
Dr. Williams recently defended her Ph.D. in Epidemiology under the mentorship of Dr. Janelsins and Dr. van van Winjgaarden. She received at prestigious F99/K00 award from NCI. She is now pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at St. Jude under the mentorship of Dr. Kevin Krull and Dr. Les Robison.
Rachel Yang is currently a senior at the University of Rochester. She is a microbiology major, and she will be staying for a fifth year at UR through the Take 5 Program. As a T5 Scholar, she will be studying mainly philosophy and art during her fifth year. Rachel recently was named a Fulbrigth Scholar and will be traveling to South Korea to teach English next year.
On campus, she is an EMT-B and is an active member of the River Campus Medical Emergency Response Team. Rachel is also a Teaching Assistant for organic chemistry and genetics. In her free time, she works as a patient care technician at Unity Hospital on the neurosurgical unit. In the lab, she works under Dr. Janelsins and closely with Bryan Thompson in investigating the effects of chemotherapy drugs on cells in the brain tissue.