The Hirbe Lab is a passionate group of clinicians and scientists working collaboratively with many labs. We use our diverse talents to address a broad range of questions regarding sarcoma biology, especially as it relates to understanding MPNSTs and clinically relevant therapies. Read below to find out more about each person!

Xiaochun Zhang

LAB MANAGER

Beginning in 1997, I was doing research on the role of p53, and p16 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at Nanchang University in China. When I arrived at Washington University in 2000, I started working on projects on neurodegeneration and cell migration. I then moved on to the Siteman Cancer Tissue Procurement core facility and collaborated with more than 100 cancer research groups. While there, we teamed up with the Genomic Institute of Washington University and I started collaborating with Dr. Angela Hirbe. Together I helped her study MPNSTs to better understand the pathogenesis and the biomarkers of the MPNSTs diagnosis and therapy. I’ve been with Dr. Hirbe’s team since September 2016 as a Staff Scientist. My research interests are in the identified BetaIII-spectrin protein as a frequently mutated gene in human MPNSTs, whose function is critical for mouse MPNST growth in vivo and as a potential diagnostic and prognostic marker for MPNST development and progression.

zhang.x@wustl.edu


Dana Borcherding

SENIOR SCIENTIST

My research project investigates the role of TYK2 in the pathogenesis of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST), aggressive sarcomas with poor prognosis. Composed of neoplastic Schwann cells, these cancers recur in ~50% of individuals, and most people die within five years of diagnosis, despite surgical resection, radiation, and chemotherapy. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify novel therapeutic targets. Prior work from our laboratory identified TYK2 genetic mutations in a subset of MPNSTs and showed that knockdown of the TYK2 gene in MPNST cell lines decreases proliferation and increases apoptosis in vitro. Furthermore, genetic knockdown of TYK2 in murine MPNST cells resulted in decreased tumor burden of subcutaneous and metastatic tumor models. The goals of my project are to determine the molecular mechanisms of TYK2 action in MPNST cells and whether TYK2 is a prognostic biomarker for MPNST in patient tumor samples. My project will also evaluate the pharmacologic inhibition of TYK2 in MPNST in mice. Additionally, I am involved in the development of clinical and genomic databases for patients with MPNST and other sarcomas. The overall aim of my studies is to develop more efficacious therapeutic options for patients with MPNST to improve patient outcomes and survival.

bdana@wustl.edu


Yang Lyu

STAFF SCIENTIST

I got my PhD degree in nephrology in 2010, China. In 2018, I moved to Washington University in Saint Louis, starting my single-cell research and bioinformatics work here.

I specialize in NGS data analysis, including tumor microenvironment analysis. I am currently investigating how to apply bioinformatics in tumor-precise therapies.

lyu.yang@wustl.edu


Simge Acar

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH FELLOW

I graduated from Koç University School of Medicine in Istanbul, Turkey, and joined Hirbe Lab. My research project investigates altered transcriptome and proteome that occur in cells with chromosome 8q gain. Chr8 gain was identified as a near-universal event in MPNST and is associated with poor overall survival. With a deeper understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of MPNST, and how Chr8 gain alters the biology of MPNST, we hope to uncover new opportunities for the development of novel therapeutic strategies that may improve clinical outcomes.

acar@wustl.edu


Guangfeng Wang

VISITING SCHOLAR

My research interest is in evaluating amino acid transporters as a potential imaging biomarker in MPNST as well as a potential therapeutic target.

wang.g@wustl.edu


Ishita Sachdeva

VISITING SCHOLAR

My interest is in understanding Chromosome 8 drivers in MPNST biology.  I am also performing a retrospective review of MPNST treatment response to be used as a benchmark for determining meaningful responses in clinical trials.

ishitas@wustl.edu


Liuzhan Yang

SENIOR RESEARCH TECHNICIAN

I have years of experience in academia and industry and have joined the lab part-time to aid in pre-clinical studies.

liuzhan@wustl.edu


Paul Jones

GRADUATE STUDENT

My work is aimed at utilizing ctDNA as a biomarker for early cancer detection in patients with NF1.  I am also developing a murine ctDNA model to be used in preclinical studies.

paul.a.jones@wustl.edu


Kuangying Yang

GRADUATE STUDENT

I am a PhD student in Human & Statistical Genetics at Washington University. My research interests are focused on the genetic profiles and therapeutic targets of MPNSTs. I am aiming to figure out the MPNST pathogenesis with bulk and single-cell RNA-Seq analyses so as to explore novel treatments for patients with NF1-MPNST.

kuangyingyang@wustl.edu


Neha Amin

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENT

My project involves evaluating targeting the TYK2 kinase in treating Plexiform NF and MPNST.

amin.n@wustl.edu


Terrie Stald

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

tstald@wustl.edu


Lab Alumni

We have been very lucky to have worked alongside creative and interesting scientists in the Hirbe Lab. Sad for us, they have gone on to continue their aspirations and careers all over the country and the globe.

Divya Srihari

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENT



Kevin He

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENT


Medical Student, Washington University in St. Louis


Carina Dehner

ANATOMIC PATHOLOGY RESIDENT AND FUTURE DERMPATH AND BONE AND SOFT TISSUE FELLOW


Assistant Professor of Pathology, Indiana University


Layla Daud

STARs High School Summer Student – 2022


Himanshi Bhatia

POST-DOCTORAL FELLOW


Associate Scientific Writer, Sanofi Global Hub


Vanessa Eulo

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HEMATOLOGY/ONCOLOGY FELLOW

Dr. Vanessa Eulo, Assistant Professor, Sarcoma Section Head, University of Alabama, Birmingham


Hua Xu

VISITING SCHOLAR

Attending physician from The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Jiangxi Province, China


Xiaodan Wan

VISITING SCHOLAR

Attending physician from The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Jiangxi Province, China


Zhaohe Zhou

GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Instructor, Chengdu University, China


Chang In Moon

GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH ASSISTANT

PhD student, Baylor College of Medicine


Yuxi Wang

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Masters student, University of Cambridge


Daniel Schefer

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENT

Scientist, Inspira


Hillary Dietz

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CLINICAL RESIDENT

Hematology Oncology Fellow, Duke University


Tyler Ball

RESEARCH TECHNICIAN


Olivia Cobb

GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH ASSISTANT


Abigail Godec

RESEARCH TECHNICIAN

MD/PhD Candidate at Michigan State


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Wenjing Qin

GRADUATE STUDENT

Associate Researcher, Nanchung University


Xue-Liang Zhou

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POST-DOCTORAL FELLOW

Associate Professor, Nanchung University


Neha Amin and Natalie Loveridge

STARs High School Summer Students – 2019


Emily Ristevski and Avi Saini

STARs High School Summer Students – 2018