Lab Members

Hany Abdel-Hafiz, PhD
Research Scientist

Hany Abdel-Hafiz, PhD, received his doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from Minia University, Egypt, and the University of Colorado (UC) Denver. After postdoctoral studies at UC Denver, investigating the role of transcription factor post-translational modification in cancers, Abdel-Hafiz joined the Department of Medicine/Endocrinology at UC as a faculty member. He studied the role of sex steroid hormone receptors and epigenetics in tamoxifen-resistant luminal breast cancer. Abdel-Hafiz later joined the Theodorescu Lab, where he studies the gender differences in bladder cancer and its response to immune therapy.

Neeraj Agarwal, PhD
Research Scientist I

Neeraj Agarwal, PhD, received his doctorate in life sciences from Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University and Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, in India. After five years of postdoctoral research at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans and the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City working on cancer stem cells and metastasis suppressors in osteosarcoma, Agarwal joined the Theodorescu Lab at University of Colorado. Six years later, Agarwal followed Theodorescu to Cedars-Sinai. Agarwal’s research focuses on identifying biomarkers and therapeutic targets for bladder cancer disease progression using functional genomics and high-throughput drug screening approaches.

Maya Duessel, PhD
Research Associate III

Maya Duessel, PhD, holds a doctorate in systems biology and disease from the University of Southern California. Before joining the Theodorescu Lab, she completed her postdoctoral studies in the field of prostate cancer at City of Hope, where she continued to work as a staff scientist. Duessel’s new role involves managing the lab as well as conducting research projects on functional genomics and the role of nuclear hormones in bladder cancer.

Linda Tran, PhD
Postdoctoral Scientist

Linda Tran, PhD, received her doctorate in integrative molecular and biomedical sciences from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Tran’s graduate work focused on elucidating mechanisms important in the differentiation of inflammatory stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment. As part of the Theodorescu Lab, her research is now focused on identifying therapeutic targets for hard-to-treat cancers using functional genomics. Her interests lie in further understanding the interdependencies of the stromal and epithelial compartments.

Jinfen Xiao, PhD
Postdoctoral Scientist

Jinfen Xiao, PhD, received her doctorate in cancer biology from Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, Singapore. She continued to work as a research fellow in Singapore and studied genomic and epigenetic aberrances in the tumorigenesis of solid tumors, including breast cancer and NSCLC. In the Theodorescu lab, her research will focus on establishing bladder cancer disease models in vitro and in vivo to delineate disease progression, as well as utilizing functional genomics and high-throughput drug screening to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for bladder cancer carrying hot spot mutations.

Kenneth "Kenny" Felsenstein, MS
Visiting Graduate Student

Kenneth Felsenstein received his bachelor's degree in Public Health Studies and the History of Medicine, Science, and Technology (2011) and his master's degree in Biotechnology (2014) from Johns Hopkins University. After two years working as a Molecular Target and Drug Discovery Fellow at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health, in 2014, Felsenstein joined the University of Colorado Medical Scientist Training Program, where he is currently in his fifth year of studies towards his medical degree and doctorate in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Felsenstein has been working with Dan Theodorescu, MD, since the beginning of his medical school career, and is currently completing his thesis work in the Theodorescu Lab. Felsenstein's research interests span within the realm of functional genomics, synthetic biology and translational therapeutics.

Esra Ibili
Research Associate I

Esra Ibili earned her bachelor's degree in biotechnology with chemistry minor at California State Polytechnic University in 2018. During her studies, Ibili joined a stem cell research lab and studied molecular mechanisms underlying human adipogenesis using human mesenchymal stem cells as an in vitro cellular model. She has presented four posters at various prestigious symposiums and contributed one research paper in two years. Ibili's goal is to gain knowledge and experience in cancer biology and pursue a doctorate.

Vanessa Neang
Research Associate I

Vanessa Neang received her bachelor's of science in biochemistry from the University of California, Riverside. During her time at university, she studied the effects of the upregulation of HOTAIRM1 on the phenotypic expression in Caki-1 cells. Neang joined the Theodorescu Lab in 2019. She assists other lab members with their projects and helps ensure the daily maintenance of the lab.

Contact the Theodorescu Lab

8700 Beverly Blvd.
Davis Building, Room 3057
Los Angeles, CA 90048