The Cancer Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) program is the undergraduate program of USC Michelson CSI-Cancer. Each student is assigned a mentor who helps them work on a specific project. CUREs can be seen in both the wet and dry lab, developing assays and creating Markov chain models. Being a CURE student cannot be defined; it is up to the student to set their own goals and project!

Thank you for your interest in the CURE program. The application is closed. Please continue to follow us for updates and information. If you have any questions, contact Allie Welsh, awelsh@usc.edu.

USC undergraduates interested in the research in our lab are also encouraged to enroll in BISC 410: Applications of Molecular Biology to Medicine taught by professors Kuhn and Hicks. Students should review the prerequisites leading up to BISC 410.


The CURE Team

Salmaan Sayeed

he/him

Team: Bladder Cancer

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Major: Computational Neuroscience

Minor: Linguistics

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Investigating rare cells in bladder cancer samples to identify prognostic markers of the disease. Developing proteomic biomarkers for phenotypic characterization of CRCs.

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SURF, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: USC Mobile Clinic, USC Medesign, Intramural Soccer

Talk to me about: English Premier League!

Audrey Limb

she/her

Team: Breast Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Health Innovation

Joined: Fall 2020

Research Focus: Investigation of circulating tumor cells expressing both epithelial and leukocyte markers at high abundance in the metastatic breast cancer setting.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, Paul M. Halopoff Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC Dornsife SURF, ExL Awards

Involvements on Campus: Remedy Through Music, Peaks and Professors, Science Outreach

Talk to me about: Hiking, kickboxing, and LA coffee shops

Christina Chang

Team: Retinoblastoma

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Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Public Health, East Asian Languages and Culture

Joined: Fall 2021

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Science Outreach, AMWA

Talk to me about: Dramas and table tennis

Brandon Ye

he/him

Team: UTUC

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor:

Joined: Fall 2021

Research Focus: Substantiating predictive models for metastatic relapse in newly diagnosed UTUC patients utilizing a multi-cancer liquid biopsy approach.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: Healthcare Markets Initiative @ USC Schaeffer, USC MEDesign, Science Outreach

Talk to me about: NBA basketball, spikeball, and John Mayer

Srikar Kolluru

he/him

Team: Legacy LMD, MUC1 CAR-T

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Business

Joined: Spring 2022

Research Focus: Understanding disease progression and cellular enumeration in terminal LMD patients.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Spring 2022 Gala Foundation Innovation & Convergence Scholarship

Involvements on Campus:

Talk to me about: Anything Marvel related, running, and Harry Potter

Monica Rodriguez

she/her

Team: RNA

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor: Culture Competence in Medicine

Joined: Spring 2022

Research Focus: Correlating copy number status with gene expression.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trustee Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: Mobile Clinic, Trojan Democrats, Undergraduate Student Government, iGEM, Biology Club

Talk to me about: Horror movies, LA Dodgers, locally owned restaurants, ghosts books, Taylor Swift

Theresa Luo

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Chemistry

Minor:

Joined: Spring 2022

Research Focus: Genome analysis of peripheral blood assays from clinical data.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trustee Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: Science Outreach, USC MEMO, USC SCAPE

Talk to me about: Anything Marvel or Disney related :))

Dean Tessone

he/him

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Biological Sciences (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology)

Minor: Disruptive Innovation

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: 1. Using advanced clustering techniques to identify molecular transcriptomic subtypes of MM in order to improve understanding of disease biology. 2. Classifying cells in the peripheral blood of MM patients for the development of advanced liquid biopsy

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SURF, USC Dornsife SOAR Gillman Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Trojan Knights, Troy Camp, HCTA, Phi Beta Kappa

Talk to me about: The best movie you’ve seen recently

Carla Collier

Team: Lung Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Human Disease

Joined: Fall 2020

Research Focus: UAMS

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: Colleges Against Cancer, LSA, JEP, Reader’s Plus, Interaxon, Kinder to College

Talk to me about: Books, coffee, and photography

Emmett Liljegren

Team: PACS

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Global Health

Joined: Fall 2021

Research Focus: Platelets, endothelial cells, and COVID-19.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trustee Scholarship, Trudi Berwin Student Support Fellowship, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: QuASA, JEP

Talk to me about: Coffee, music, baking, hiking, and science!

Sankalp Mrutyunjaya

he/him

Team: Bladder/UTUC

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Fall 2021

Research Focus: Using machine learning to build prediction models for outcomes in patients diagnosed with bladder cancer and/or UTUC.

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Spanglish, Everyday Responder’s Project, USC Triathlon

Talk to me about: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, good food in LA, cooking

Amy Huang

Team: Bladder Cancer

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Major: Biological Sciences

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Fall 2021

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trudi Berwin Student Support Fellowship, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus:

Talk to me about:

Kaelyn Cho

Team: RNA

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Major: Biomedical Engineering (Electrical Emphasis)

Minor:

Joined: Spring 2021

Research Focus: Understanding differences in white blood cell RNA expression patterns

Scholarships and Fellowships:

Involvements on Campus: ASBME, FSAE electric, Hellions of Troy

Talk to me about: Theology

Andrew Udov

he/him

Team: Prostate Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor:

Joined: Spring 2022

Research Focus: Developing methods to track CAR T-cells within metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer patients and longitudinally studying the effectiveness of the therapy.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trustee Scholarship, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: USC EMSC, USC Mobile Clinic, Southern California Healthcare Outreach

Talk to me about: UFC and bowling

Lily Bai

she/her

Team: Lung Cancer

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Major: Human Biology and MS in Global Medicine

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Tracking mutations for patients undergoing treatment with stage 3 and 4 non small cell lung cancer.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Science Outreach, Habitats of Humanity, USC Interhealth Council, Violence Intervention Volunteers, Trojan Scholar Society

Talk to me about: Dogs, golf, fostering cats, chef things

Emmeline Lin

Team: Pancreatic Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Fall 2020

Research Focus: Using liquid biopsy to identify and compare possible biomarkers in the hepatic portal vein and peripheral blood of patients for earlier pancreatic cancer detection and characterization of disease progression.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC URAP, USC Dornsife Continuing Students Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Community Health Involvement Project, Asian American Christian Fellowship

Talk to me about: Plants and snowboarding

Carli Kaleta

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor:

Joined: Spring 2021

Research Focus: High-resolution Single Cell Proteomic Analysis Pipeline for Characterization of Multiple Myeloma Progression.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trudi Berwin Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Make-A-Wish USC, Xpressions dance company, Genomics and Geobiology Undergraduate Research Experience, Kappa Alpha Theta

Talk to me about: The best restaurants around LA

Divya Suresh

Team: Pancreatic Cancer

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Major: Biological Sciences

Minor: Business

Joined: Fall 2021

Research Focus: Identification of biomarkers for pancreatic cancer diagnosis using the HDSCA3.0 workflow.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: Alpha Epsilon Delta, Worldmed @ UPC, USC Scholars Leading Scholars, Trojan Scholar Society, Prison Education Project

Talk to me about: Weightlifting and rap music

Amelia Marvit

she/her

Team: Breast Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Spring 2022

Research Focus: Using peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid liquid biopsies to track responses to CAR-T therapy for HER2-positive breast to brain metastases.

Scholarships and Fellowships: 2022 Helen Leslie Milligan Turner Memorial Fellowship, Paul M. Halopoff Scholarship, Society of Trojan Women Scholarship, Women in Science and Engineering Fellow, USC Alumni Scholarship Match Award, USC Alumni Association SCion Scholarship, Robert Glenn Rapp Foundation Endowed Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: Chabad at USC, Biology Club, AMWA, Garden Club, Peer Tutoring, JEP, Women in Science and Engineering, Human Biology Association

Talk to me about: Time travel, garden snails, and scooters

Anya Shah

Team:

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Major: Global Health

Minor: Natural Sciences

Joined: Spring 2022

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships:

Involvements on Campus:

Talk to me about:


CURE Events

The CURE Symposium

The CURE Symposium is held twice a year in order to give CURE students an opportunity to present their work. Faculty, mentors, friends, and family are invited to attend this wonderful event showcasing the hard work of our CURE students.

Night at the Lab

Night at the Lab is held once a year in the fall. This event is put on entirely by undergraduates and invites cancer patients, researchers, clinicians, and community members to explore the type of work we do in the lab. Presentations by undergraduates, Drs. Peter Kuhn and Jim Hicks, collaborators, and patient advocates give attendees an in depth view of the current state of cancer care. We hope to see you at the next one!

Senior Presentations

At the end of every school year, our graduating seniors finish off their lab career with a presentation encompassing their college lives, both in and outside of the lab. We celebrate the end of late-night lab thoughts and all the hard work our seniors have put in throughout their time with us.


Conferences and Publications

Conferences

May 2022 – Los Angeles Bioscience Ecosystem Summit (LABEST) 2022

  • Lily Bai, Junior majoring in Human Biology and Global Medicine, presented her poster, Longitudinal tracking of circulating rare events in liquid biopsy of stage III-IV NSCLC patients during treatment

April 2022 – American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)

  • Sachin Narayan, Senior majoring in Global Health, presented his poster, Circulating tumor cell kinetics and rare cell morphology monitor disease progression in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer

April 2022 – West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference (WCBSURC)

  • Emmeline Lin, Junior majoring in Human Biology, won Outstanding Poster Presentation for her poster, Liquid biopsy as a method to detect biomarkers in early-stage surgically-resected pancreatic cancer
  • Lily Bai, Junior majoring in Human Biology and Global Medicine, won 1st place in Session 3 for her poster, Longitudinal tracking of circulating rare events in liquid biopsy of stage III-IV NSCLC patients during treatment
  • Salmaan Sayeed, Junior majoring in Neuroscience, presented his poster, Characterization of cellular and acellular analytes from pre-cystectomy liquid biopsies in patients newly diagnosed with primary bladder cancer

Publications

Ndacayisaba L, Rappard K, Shishido S, Setayesh S, Tang G, Lin P, Matsumoto N, Hsu C, Nevarez R, Ruiz C, Naghdloo A, Yang E, Kelly K, Hicks J, Mason J, Orlowski R, Manasanch E, Kuhn P. Characterization of BCMA expression in circulating rare single cells of patients with plasma cell neoplasms. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(21), 13427.

Narayan S, Courcoubetis G, Mason J, Naghdloo A, Kolencik D, Patterson S, Kuhn P, Shishido S. Defining a liquid biopsy profile of circulating tumor cells and oncosomes in metastatic colorectal cancer for clinical utility. Cancers 2022, 14(19), 4891.

Setayesh S, Hart O, Naghdloo A, Higa N, Nieva J, Lu J, Hwang S, Wilkinson K, Kidd M, Anderson A, Velasco C, Kolatkar A, Matsumoto N, Nevarez R, Hicks J, Mason J, Shishido S, Kuhn P. Multianalyte Liquid Biopsy to Aid the Diagnostic Workup of Breast Cancer. npj Breast Cancer. 8, 112 (2022).

Ndacayisaba L, Rappard K, Shishido S, Ruiz C, Matsumoto N, Navarez R, Tang G, Lin P, Setayesh S, Naghdloo A, Hsu C, Maney C, Symer D, Bethel K, Kelly K, Merchant A, Orlowski R, Hicks J, Mason J, Manasanch E, Kuhn P. Enrichment-Free Single-Cell Detection and Morphogenomic Profiling of Myeloma Patient Samples to Delineate Circulating Rare Plasma Cell Clones. Current Oncology, 2022, 29, 2954-2972

Shishido S, Ghoreifi A, Sayeed S, Courcoubetis G, Huang A, Ye B, Mrutyunjaya S, Gill I, Kuhn P, Mason J, Djaladat H. Liquid Biopsy Landscape in Patients with Primary Upper Tract Urothelial Carcinoma. Cancers, 2022, 14(12), 3007.

Shishido S, Sayeed S, Courcoubetis G, Djaladat H, Miranda G, Pienta K, Nieva J, Hansel D, Desai M, Gill I, Kuhn P, Mason JCharacterization of cellular and acelluar analytes from pre-cystectomy liquid biopsies in patients newly diagnosed with primary bladder cancer. Cancers 2022; 14(3), 758

Kolencik D, Narayan S, Thiele JA, McKinley D, Gerdtsson A, Welter L, Hosek P, Ostasov P, Vycital O, Bruha J, Fiala O, Sorejs O, Liska V, Pitule P, Kuhn P, Shishido S. Circulating tumor cell kinetics and morphology from the liquid biopsy predict disease progression in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer following resection. Cancers 2022, 14(3), 642

Chai S, Matsumoto N, Storgard R, Peng C, Aparicio A, Ormseth B, Rappard K, Cunningham K, Kolatkar A, Nevarez R, Tu K, Hsu C, Malihi P, Corn P, Zurita A, Hicks J, Kuhn P, Ruiz C. Platelet-coated circulating tumor cells are a predictive biomarker in patients with metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer. Molecular Cancer Research 2021, 19(12), 2036-2045.


Fellowships/Awards

Congratulations to our outstanding students!

Fall 2022

Lily BaiDornsife SOAR
Christina ChangProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Amy HuangDornsife SOAR
Carli Kaleta Dornsife SOAR
Srikar Kolluru Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Emmett Liljegren Dornsife SOAR
Audrey LimbDornsife SOAR
Emmeline LinProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Amelia MarvitProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Sankalp MrutyunjayaProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Monica RodriguezDornsife SOAR
Salmaan SayeedDornsife SOAR
Anya ShahProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Divya SureshProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Andrew UdovDornsife SOAR
Brandon YeProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Summer 2022

Lily BaiProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Christina ChangProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Amy HuangTrudi Berwin Student Support Fund (BUGS Program)
SURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmett LiljegrenTrudi Berwin Student Support Fund (BUGS Program)
SURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmeline LinProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Amelia Marvit2022 Helen Leslie Milligan Turner Memorial Fellowship
Andrew UdovSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Brandon YeSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship

Class of 2022

Arushi Agrawal Order of The Laurel & The Palm
Vera HsuOrder of Troy
Mihir KumarOrder of The Laurel & The Palm
Sachin Narayan Order of The Laurel & The Palm
Aidan PlantOrder of Troy
Eric YangOrder of The Laurel & The Palm

Spring 2022
Lily BaiSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Audrey LimbSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmeline LinProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Salmaan Sayeed Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Kameron ShahabiProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jena TranSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Fall 2021
Lily BaiSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Nathan KristantoProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Mihir KumarSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Audrey LimbSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmeline LinProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Kameron ShahabiProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jena TranSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Eric YangProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Summer 2021
Arushi AgrawalSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carla CollierSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carli KaletaTrudi Berwin Student Support Fellowship
Nathan KristantoTrudi Berwin Student Support Fellowship
Audrey LimbSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmeline LinProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jaden MullinSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Class of 2021

Olivia HartOrder of Troy
Mihir Kumar Okin Scholarship in Biological Sciences
Ryan StorgardUniversity Trustees Award
John Petruska Memorial Award

Spring 2021
Arushi AgrawalSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Lily BaiSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Alex HillSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Amanda HmelarSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Audrey LimbSOAR Dornsife Gupta Family Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmeline LinSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carlisle ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jaden MullinSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Aidan PlantSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Rithik RajaniProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedSOAR Dornsife Stone Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jena TranSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Maddie WalkerSOAR Dornsife Stone Undergraduate Fellowship
Fall 2020
Arushi AgrawalProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Annie AmackerSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Lily BaiSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Olivia HartSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Alex HillSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carlisle ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Aidan PlantSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ryan StorgardProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Dean TessoneSOAR Dornsife Gillman Fellowship
Eric YangProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Summer 2020

Arushi AgrawalSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Andrew ChenSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carlisle ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Dean TessoneSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Eric YangSURF Gupta Family Fellowship
Class of 2020

Kate CunninghamOrder of Troy

Spring 2020
Kate CunninghamProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Eric YangProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ryan StorgardProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Carlise ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Arushi AgrawalProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Olivia HartSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Daniel LiuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Fall 2019
Kate CunninghamProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ayeshna DesaiProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ryan StorgardProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Arushi AgrawalSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Isabelle VuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship