Kai Kessenbrock, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Dennis Ma, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dennis received his PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, characterizing the anti-cancer activity of natural and synthetic compounds in cell and animal models. A major focus of this work has been on cancer cell mitochondria and oxidative stress and how these are exploited in the induction of apoptosis by these anti-cancer agents. He is currently studying the early systematic changes in epithelial homeostasis and the mammary stem cell niche during breast cancer initiation using single cell analyses.

Quy Nguyen

Graduate Student (CMB Program)

Quy received his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Irvine. He is currently focused on identifying and characterizing the spectrum of heterogeneity within the breast epithelium on the single cell level.

Nicholas Pervolarakis

Graduate Student (MCSB Program)

NIH-T32 MCSB Training Grant


Nick received his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is currently focusing on investigating breast epithelial heterogeneity through the lens of single cell ‘omics technology on the epigenetic and transcriptional level. His combinatorial approach is thought to give a unique look into potential subpopulations within the tissue, as well as provide evidence for epigenetic and regulatory reasoning for the observed subpopulations. In collaboration with the Lawson Lab, Nick also focuses on metastasis in breast cancer to distal sites within a patient through both bulk and single cell DNA sequencing of both tumors and metastatic cells.

Hamad Alshetaiwi

Graduate Student (CMB Program)

Fellowship from the Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission


Hamad received his B.S from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia. He then got his M.S. in Biomedical Science from Kansas State University, where he focused on using neutrophil granulocytes that infiltrate breast tumors as a novel tool for cancer detection. Currently, Hamad is studying the intricate roles of neutrophil granulocytes in the context of anti-tumor immunity during breast cancer progression and metastasis.

Joshua Mo

Rotation Graduate Student (MSTP program)


Josh received his B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. He has recently joined the UCI Medical Scientist Training Programm (MSTP) and is currently doing his rotation in the lab.

Anh Thien Phung

Lab Manager (shared with Lawson Lab)


Anh received his B.S. from the University of California, Irvine. He is currently working as lab manager for the Lawson and Kessenbrock laboratories.

Regis Lee

Undergraduate Researcher (shared with Lawson Lab)


Regis is studying towards his B.S. at the University of California, Irvine. He is currently working as undergraduate researcher for the Lawson and Kessenbrock laboratories.

Nathan Ryan James

Undergraduate Researcher


Nathan is studying towards his B.S. at the University of California, Irvine, and he is currently working as undergraduate researcher in the Kessenbrock lab.

Kerrigan Blake

Collaborating Graduate Student (MSCB Program)

(Scott Atwood’s lab)


Kerrigan received her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Kansas. Her work in Scott Atwood’s lab is currently focused on using bioinformatic, biochemical, and biophysical approaches to understand how the primary cilium influences cell identity and directs cell fate. Her collaborative efforts with the Kessenbrock lab are using pseudotemporal analysis pipelines to reconstruct cellular differentiation trajectories based on single cell gene expression data.