Current and Alumni Fellows

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Get to know our current fellows, and learn how IOTF is helping them achieve their professional goals in oncology product research and regulatory review. A list of all alumni fellows can be found below.

Current Fellows

Learn more about the experiences and research interests of our current fellows.

Aysegul Ergen, M.S., Ph.D.

I have gained invaluable experience in the review process; participitated in regulatory meetings, working groups and attended FDA courses.

Dr. Ergen received her Master’s degree in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering from Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, and her Doctoral degree in Developmental Biology from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. She conducted three and half years of post-doctoral training at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on the campus of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Ergen joined the NCI-FDA Interagency Oncology Task Force Fellowship in September 2015 as a product quality research/review fellow.

Research Interests

Dr. Ergen’s overall research interest is centered on identification of cancer stem cells and characterizations of new therapeutic targets using pre-clinical cancer models. Her graduate studies focused on identification of biomarkers that are elevated in the aged bone marrow and tested whether these biomarkers have an effect on hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) aging. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Ergen studied the effect of DNA repair proteins on leukemia progression and investigated the role of Mixed Lineage Leukemia 4 (MLL4) in normal HSCs as well as cancer stem cells. Dr. Ergen’s postdoctoral studies also focused on identifying new therapeutic targets for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. As an IOTF fellow, her current research focuses on how different manufacturing methods affect the genomic integrity of cultured human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs), an important issue in the approval of safe and stable cell therapy products.

Fellowship Experiences

"The IOTF fellowship has allowed me to advance my knowledge on stem cells and their usage as cell and gene therapy products. It gave me a better understanding of what it takes for production and characterization of a biologics from its discovery into clinical trials and ultimately licensure. I have gained invaluable experience in the review process; participitated in regulatory meetings, working groups and attended FDA courses. My experience through IOTF fellowship will definitely assist me to become a qualified candidate for a career in regulatory sciences."

Career Goals

"After completion of my IOTF fellowship, I plan to pursue a career at the FDA as a full-time product quality reviewer. My long term goal is to either continue to work at the FDA in a supervisory role or transition into industry to support regulatory sciences and proper drug development process."


Sandhya Sanduja, Ph.D.

I feel that this experience will help me reach my long-term goal of advancing regulatory science for safe and effective oncology drug products.

Dr. Sanduja received her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, and her Doctoral degree in Biological Sciences from University of South Carolina at Columbia, South Carolina. She conducted three years of post-doctoral training at the Whitehead Institute of MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Sanduja joined the NCI-NIH-FDA Interagency Oncology Task Force Fellowship in October 2015 as a product quality research/review fellow.

Research Interests

Dr. Sanduja’s overall research interest is centered on understanding cancer signal transduction pathways and identifying novel targets for early detection and therapeutic intervention.

Dr. Sanduja’s doctoral research focused on investigating the role of the RNA-binding protein, Tristetraprolin (TTP), in inflammation and tumorigenesis. Her research revealed how expression and activity of TTP impact tumor-associated gene expression and malignancy in cervical, colon and breast cancers, and can serve as a prognostic biomarker.

Dr. Sanduja’s postdoctoral research focused on investigating drug-tolerance in cellular and preclinical models of BRAF-mutant melanomas. Using genome-wide RNAi and proteomics-based approaches, she discovered that autophagy is a key mechanism of drug tolerance in melanomas and other Ras/Raf-driven cancers. In addition, she worked on multiple collaborations including the ER-stress pathway in breast cancer stem cells; novel regulators of human mammary stem cell differentiation, and breast cancer metastasis.

Fellowship Experiences

"The IOTF fellowship has been an invaluable training experience to understand the process of drug development. It allowed me to utilize my oncology research experience in assessing the safety and efficacy of products during pre-clinical and clinical phases of development. My work has been hugely facilitated through intramural FDA training/courses, attending national regulatory conferences, and interacting with experienced product quality reviewers across the various FDA centers. I feel that this experience will help me reach my long-term goal of advancing regulatory science for safe and effective oncology drug products."

Career Goals

“Upon completion of the IOTF fellowship, I plan to pursue a career with FDA as a full-time product quality reviewer of oncology products including biologics and small molecules. As my regulatory experience expands, I would like to take on more challenging supervisory roles of Review Team Leader at the FDA or Regulatory Affairs Lead with pharmaceutical industry. Overall, it would be most gratifying to have a positive impact on human health by ensuring safe and effective therapeutics from bench-to-bedside and reducing the burden of devastating illnesses.”

Alumni Fellows

Here is a list of IOTF alumni, listed by cohort year.

2005

  • Jee Chung
  • Arundham Dhar
  • Sarah Kenneth
  • Robert Lechleider
  • Haruhiko Murata
  • Chris Sasiela
  • Jeffrey Smith
  • Stacy Ticci

2006

  • Elizabeth Hsu
  • Yifen Jia
  • Bedri Karakas
  • Joyson Karakunnel
  • Tahira Khan
  • Dubravka Kufrin
  • Ashutosh Rao

2007

  • Milos Dokmanovic
  • Linan Ha
  • Lei Huang
  • Iram Quraishi
  • Abeba Tesfaye

2008

  • Caryl Giuliano

2009

  • Tabetha Bonacci
  • Jennifer Dickey
  • Nehal Lakhani
  • Edyta Pawelczyk
  • Jennifer She
  • Ian Waxman

2010

  • Tura Camilli
  • Himabindhu Ghaddipati
  • Ramesh Leon
  • Yan Wang
  • Qing Zhuo

2011

  • Genesis Butler
  • Rachel Novak
  • Frances Anne Qin
  • Leslie Rivera Rosado

2012

  • Tracy Denison
  • William Hallet
  • Avin Lalmansingh
  • Massod Rahimi
  • Nozomi Sakakibara

2013

  • Xu Di
  • Kristen Nickens
  • Willie Wilson
  • Haoheng Yan

2014

  • Gopal Abbeneni
  • Ashwin Bhirde
  • Fabiola Gomez
  • Rong Guo
  • Eric Hales

2015

  • Ekaterina Allen
  • Aysegul Ergen
  • Anna Kwilas
  • Sandhya Sanduja
  • Nailing Zhang

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