ERCC2 External Program Consultants

Xandra Breakefield, Ph.D.

Professor of Neurology
Harvard Medical School
Geneticist, Neurology and Radiology
Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Breakefield focuses on researching the genetic mechanisms that underlie diseases of the nervous system, as well as treatments and biomarkers for these diseases. Her work is primarily on movement disorders such as early onset torsion dystonia (DYT1) and X-linked dystonia parkinsonism (XDP). She also has extensive experience working with brain tumors (especially glioma/glioblastoma) and with tumor suppressor syndromes (neurofibromatosis type 1 & 2 and tuberous sclerosis type 1 & 2). Dr. Breakefield was an investigator with Stage 1 of the Extracelllular RNA Communication Consortium, where she investigated how exosomes and microvesicles released by brain tumor cells modify their microenvironment to promote tumor growth. Her lab continues to explore how these extracellular vesicles can be used as biomarkers of disease, and how they can be modified to treat disease by delivering RNA or other treatments to the nervous system.

Michael Davis, Ph.D.

Professor/Associate Chair for Graduate Studies
Director, Children’s Heart Research and Outcomes (HeRO) Center
Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Davis’ work focuses on cardiac regeneration and preservation after injury, using molecular-based and biomaterials-based approaches. His lab has engineered 3D bioprinted cardiac components (such as aortic valves) used induced pluripotent donor stem cells. Additionally, he utilizes systems biology and bioinformatics to identify and study therapeutic RNA clusters in cardiac progenitor cells. He also has extensive experience with exosomes and bioactive nanoparticles, engineering exosome-like vesicles and investigating the effects of exosomes and their miRNA cargo on cardiac function, and developing a biocompatible nanoparticle capable of drug delivery to cardiomyocytes.

Scott Fraser, Ph.D.

Provost Professor
Director of Science Initiatives
Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Convergent Bioscience
University of Southern California

Dr. Fraser has extensive experience working in the field of quantitative biology, combining approaches from chemistry, engineering, and physics to study questions in biology and medicine. His lab specializes in the imaging and molecular analysis of intact biological systems, and works on developing new technologies for innovative multiplex and multimodal assays. He is especially interested in early development, organogenesis, and medical diagnostics.

Hakho Lee, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Radiology
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School

Dr. Lee has extensive experience in extracellular vesicle (EV) analyses. His research focuses on developing sensitive, cost-effective, and user-friendly tools for EV characterization. For instance, by integrating principles of nanomaterials, biophysics, and engineering, his group advanced new analytical technologies, including nPLEX (nanoplasmonic exosome), iMEX (integrated magneto-electrochemical exosome), iMER (integrated magnetic exosomal RNA), and SEA (single EV analyses). Some of these platforms are now being translated for clinical uses. Dr. Lee currently directs the Biomedical Engineering Program at the Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and is also a Hostetter MGH Research Scholar.

Tushar Patel, M.B., Ch.B.

Professor of Medicine, and Cancer Biology, Dean for Research
Mayo Clinic

Dr. Patel is an expert in understanding the role and regulation of noncoding RNA in the development of liver and biliary tract cancers. The focus of his lab is to deploy the power of RNA for next generation diagnostics and therapies for liver cancer. He is particularly interested in the application of emerging knowledge on exRNA for diagnosis and therapies, with an emphasis on liver diseases and cancer, and has worked with Stage 1 of the Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium to explore exRNAs as biomarkers of hepatobiliary cancers.

Susmita Sahoo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine, Cardiology
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Sahoo’s research focuses on RNA-based intra- and inter-cellular mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease and therapeutics. Her lab was the first to study the role of stem cell-derived exosomes and their noncoding RNAs and cardiac epitranscriptome in cardiac regeneration. She has pioneered new exosomes-based cardiac regeneration therapies, using AAV-encapsulating exosomes to deliver targeted genes to the heart.

Smita Krishnaswamy, PhD.

Assistant Professor of Genetics and of Computer Science
Yale School of Medicine

Dr. Krishnaswamy’s research focuses on developing computational methods for the rapid and accurate extraction of biological signals from high-dimensional, high-throughput single-cell analysis data, one of the critical challenges facing the field of biology. Her lab utilizes manifold learning and manifold assumption in data analysis to tackle the challenges of scale, complexity, noise, and measurement artifacts in high-throughput biology. Manifold learning provides a powerful structure for algorithmic approaches to naturally process data, visualize it, understand progressions, find phenotypic diversity, and infer patterns. Her lab has applied diffusion-based and deep learning-based approaches to manifold learning, developing numerous algorithms and computational methods to explore single cell and other big biomedical datatypes from various systems.