Current Members

Benjamin Izar, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator



Physician-scientist Ben Izar studies the development and niche-specific metastasis of cancer from defined precursor lesions and using multifaceted single-cell technologies to study immune/tumor interactions to dissect and overcome drug resistance. Ben obtained his MD/PhD in Germany and completed his clinical training in Internal Medicine and Oncology at Mass. General Hospital and BIDMC at Harvard Medical School before joining as faculty at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2017. He is the recipient of multiple national awards, including a NIH/NCI K08 Award (2017), Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists (2018), and was selected as a NextGen Star of the American Association for Cancer Research (2019).




Amit Dipak Amin, PhD

Amit received his BSc, MSc and PhD in genetics at the University of Leicester. Amit did his first postdoc at the University of Kansas in epigenetics and his second postdoc in cancer biology at the Universities of Arizona  and Miami. His work in drug resistance highlighted the seemingly inevitable onset of acquired resistance to targeted therapy. In his work, he has found, however, that the success of cancer immunotherapy suggests exciting treatment possibilities. On sabbatical, Amit undertook an MSc in cancer immunology at the University of Nottingham. In the Izar lab, Amit focuses on honing the immune system to seek-and-destroy cancer cells to overcome their resilience. 



Jana Biermann, PhD

Computational biologist Jana Biermann is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Medicine at Columbia University. She received her MSc in Molecular Life Sciences from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany and her PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her PhD research focused on computational biology and genomics in breast cancer, with a particular interest in the clonal relationship between primary tumors and metastases. In the Izar Lab, Jana studies the tumor microenvironment of melanoma brain metastases using single-cell genomics to determine brain-niche specific drivers of metastasis and immune evasion.



Sean Chen, BS, MA

Sean is from Singapore, and is proud to call St. Josephs Institution alma mater. For his tertiary education, Sean moved to the United States, and received his BS in Biology and Psychology from the School of General Studies at Columbia University. Sean’s research career as a technician started in 2005 at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and he subsequently received his MA in Biotechnology from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University.




Patricia Ho, MD, PhD 

Patricia Ho is a third year MD-PhD student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. A graduate of Williams College, she previously worked at the Broad Institute and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, investigating mechanisms of drug resistance in pediatric brain cancers. Currently, she is interested in researching ways to further optimize the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer. 






Igor Katsyv, MD, PhD

Physician-scientist Igor Katsyv is an Anatomic Pathology resident at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. He is interested in computational biology and genomics, with a particular interest in cutaneous oncology. Before joining NYP/Columbia, Igor obtained his MD/PhD from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where he used network analysis to study gene interactions in cancer. Igor will pursue subspecialty training in Dermatopathology. 





Johannes Melms, MD



Physician-scientist Johannes Melms is a post-doctoral fellow in the Izar lab. He is interested in Cutaneous Oncology and Systems Pharmacology. Johannes uses combinatorial, multi-scale CRISPR/single-cell screens in patient models to deeply characterize drivers of immune evasion and resistance to immunotherapies in melanoma. He obtained a M.D. at the TU in Munich, Germany and has been a post-doctoral fellow in the Izar Group at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School since 2017, and joins Ben at Columbia University for continued training.





Meri Rogava, MD, PhD

Physician-scientist Meri Rogava is a post-doctoral fellow in the Izar lab. She uses CRISPR-Cas9 screens to understand site-specific tumor/immune determinants of metastasis with a special focus on the brain and the leptomeninges. She obtained a M.D. from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia followed by a M.S. and Ph.D. in Immunology at the University of Bonn, Germany. Meri has been a post-doc in the Izar Group at Harvard Medical School since 2018, and joins Ben at Columbia University for continued training. 





Amber Wolabaugh, PhD

Amber Wolabaugh is a rotating graduate student in the Izar Lab from the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program at Columbia University. Before coming to Columbia, she received a BS in Biological Sciences from Florida State University and was a lab technician at Yerkes National Primate Research Center from 2016-2019. 

Former Lab Members

Parin Shah, MS – Research Technician (2014-2016)
Current role: Ph.D. Student at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Bokang Rabasha, BA – Research Technician (2016-2018)
Current role: Assistant Project Coordinator at Botswana Harvard Aids Partnership

Shaolin Mei, MS – Staff Scientist (2016-2019)
Current role: Ph.D. Student at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Sreeram Vallabhaneni, MS – Staff Scientist (2018-2019)
Current Role: Staff Scientist at the Laboratory for Systems Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.