Ainhoa Arina, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor
Ainhoa is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology and the Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research. She received her undergraduate degree in Pharmacy at Universidad de Navarra (Pamplona, Spain). Her love for research and immunology was kindled as an undergrad during short stays in the labs of Ariel Rivas in Cornell University and Balbino Alarcon in CSIC (Madrid, Spain). She completed her PhD in the field of tumor immunology with Ignacio Melero in CIMA (Pamplona, Spain), and leapt across the ocean to pursue postdoctoral studies in Hans Schreiber’s lab at the University of Chicago, before joining Ralph Weichselbaum’s lab, where she and the other immunologists in the lab try to convince radiation oncologists that immunology matters. She currently studies the mechanisms of intratumoral T cell radioresistance and explores ways to use her findings to improve cancer immunotherapy.  Outside the lab, she may be found chasing her two young kids around, trying to replicate her mom’s excellent Basque cuisine recipes, hiking the rare hills that can be found near Chicago, or discussing the Human and the Divine with her friends.


Hua Laura Liang, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor
Laura’s research focuses on alleviating immune suppression and promoting antigen presentation to enhance the response to radiation therapy and immunotherapy. She obtained her Ph.D.  from the University of Hawaii, where she studied plant molecular genetics. She is interested in alleviating suppression via cellular and molecular manipulation and mechanistic studies, including inhibiting monocyte recruitment; re-programming MDSCs into anti-tumor inflammatory macrophages, modulating tumor- and stress-induced extramedullary erythropoiesis and how an immunosuppressive derivative, neurotropic factor artemin, can modify mRNA modification in the host immune response to augment radiation and immunotherapy. She is also investigates how interferon signaling and STING activation promote dendritic cell function following tumor radiation. In her spare time (which is scarce), she likes to take long walks and enjoy other peoples’ garden while listening to audiobooks.


Kaiting Yang, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor
Kaiting obtained her Ph.D. from the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, under the guidance of Dr. Yang-Xin Fu. Her recent research interest includes: 1) How microbiota modulate the host immune response to radiotherapy and immunotherapy; 2) Developing bioengineered bacteria for drug delivery; 3) Developing a STING agonist delivery platform for tumor suppression.


Liangliang Wang, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor
Liang has worked in cancer immunology and immunotherapy for 10 years. Currently, he is interested in targeting m6A modification reader proteins in myeloid cells to modulate the antitumor immunity and the role of the microbiota in the antitumor response following radiation and immune checkpoint blockade.


Jason Bugno, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Instructor
Jason is an Instructor in the Department of Radiation & Cellular Oncology and Clinical Pharmacist with the Investigational Drugs Service at the University of Chicago Hospital. He completed his Pharm.D. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and then both residency and fellowship with the Committee on Clinical Pharmacology & Pharmacogenomics at the University of Chicago. Since joining the Weichselbaum group his work has focused on identifying the role of dendritic cell subsets in the response to radiotherapy and the therapeutic potential of engineered cytokines to target these populations. Outside of the lab he enjoys live music and spending time with the family.


András Piffkó, M.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
András is a neurosurgical resident and has been interested in metastasis research since 2014. He received his doctoral degree at Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, where he studied the dissemination and growth of tumor cells in the spine. After graduating from medical school, he started working in the Department of Neurosurgery under Prof. Manfred Westphal at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, and shifted his research to the clonality of metastatic tumor cells and the immune response in brain metastases. He is currently studying the immunologic changes after irradiation of brain metastases as part of a research project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).  Outside of the lab he enjoys reading and outdoor activities.


Chuangyu Wen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Chuangyu is a Postdoc in the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology. He obtained his Ph.D. from Sun Yat-Sen University. He is interested in cancer immunotherapy. Now he is focusing on revealing how the radiation augments the antitumor immunity by affecting m6A modification in immunocytes.


Dapeng Chen, Ph. D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Dapeng is a Postdoc Fellow in the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from Nanjing Tech University, China. His recent research interest includes: 1) How m6A relevant proteins modulate antitumor immunity and outcomes of radiotherapy; 2) Developing nanomedicines for cancer therapy.


Christina A Nowicki, Ph. D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Christina is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Radiation & Cellular Oncology. Before coming to the University of Chicago, she received her Ph.D. from Rush University, where she studied the impact of the gut microbiome on steroid hormone metabolism in breast cancer patients under the guidance of Dr. Ece Mutlu. Currently, her research interests are focused on how bacteria can be engineered to influence cancer treatment through drug delivery, and additionally, how resident microbes can modulate host immune responses to both immunotherapy and radiotherapy. Outside of lab, Christina uses her free time to play with her dogs, bake cookies, and volunteer for the Association of Women in Science – Chicago Area Chapter.



Xiaona Huang, Lab Manager, Lead Research Specialist
Xiaona has a great deal of laboratory experience in molecular biology, cell biology and genetics. She has performed various techniques for the analysis of protein, RNA and DNA. Her skills have been applied in numerous studies, and include proficiency in protein, RNA and DNA preparation; western blot; PCR, RT-PCR and real-time quantitative PCR; genotyping; genome editing via the CRISPR-Cas9 system; cloning; RNA and DNA sequencing; cell culture; transfection and infection biotechnology; ELISA; FACS; and various microscopy techniques. She currently assists with experiments focused on translation research and studying the effect of radiation on the immune system and tumor microenvironment, utilizing murine tumor irradiation models.


Jiaai Wang, Research Specialist





Rolando Torres, Research Specialist





Emile Naccasha, BS, Research Student
Emile is a 2023 graduate from Tufts University, where he majored in Biology and minored in Religion, and has been working in immunology research since 2020. Since joining the Weichselbaum Lab, he has investigated the roles of amphiregulin in metastasis as well as tumor-infiltrating neutrophils after radiation. In his free time, you can find him cooking new recipes or reading the moral and legal arguments of his favorite philosophers.





Lab Alumni

Wenxin Zheng, Research Professional, Current position: Senior Scientist in EMD Serono, Inc.
Xingchen Ding, Visiting student, Current position: Resident in Radiation Oncology at Shandong Provincial Cancer Hospital (China).
Yanbin Fu, Postdoc, Current position: Postdoc at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Edurne Luque Michel, Postdoc, Current position: Project Manager in NUCAPS (Spain).
Yuzhu Hou, Instructor, Current position: Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University (China).
Xinshuang Yu, Visiting scholar, Current position: Chief Oncologist at Shandong Provincial Qianfoshan Hospital (China).
Yaoyao Shi, Postdoc, Current position: Discovery Scientist in Ziopharm Oncology.
Diana Rose E Ranoa, Postdoc, Current position: Research Associate in Chemistry/Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Enyu Rao, Postdoc, Current position: Professor at Xuzhou Medical University (China).
Yuan Zhang, Postdoc, Current position: Director of Scientific Operations in Portal Innovations, LLC; President of Seurat Therapeutics, Inc.
Meng Michelle Xu, Research Assistant Professor, Current position: Professor at Qinghua University (China).
Liufu Deng, Postdoc, Current position: Professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University (China).
Byron Burnette, Postdoc, Current position: MSL Field Director at Genentech.