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Our Research Team

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Jordan Winter, MD

Professor of Surgery and Biochemistry

Chair of Surgical Oncology

Director of Surgical Services

Department of Surgery, University Hospitals

Seidman Cancer Center, University Hospitals

Case Western Reserve School of Medicine

Jordan M. Winter, MD is a nationally recognized, board-certified surgeon with a special interest in the medical and surgical management of pancreatic and related cancers, pancreatic cysts, chronic pancreatitis, bile duct strictures, biliary, gastric and liver cancers and abdominal tumors. He is also the chief of surgical oncology at UH Hospital. He is also a member of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Luke Rothermel, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Surgery

Principal Investigator

Chief, Section of soft tissue and GI surgery

Department of Surgery, University Hospitals


Rui Wang, PhD

Assistant Professor of Surgery

Principal Investigator

Department of Surgery, University Hospitals


Mehrdad Zarei, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Mehrdad’s research focuses on immunometabolism to understand how metabolic pathways alter immune cell function in the tumor microenvironment. Ultimately, his goals are to exploit strategies to improve immune cells infiltration and efficacy for treating cancer.

Currently, he is focusing on understanding the role of isocratic dehydrogenase 1 as one of the important NADPH generating enzymes for the detoxification of ROS in melanoma and tumor-associated immune cells

Omid joined the Winter lab as a graduate student in 2019. His project focuses on the underlying anti-cancer effects of a ketogenic diet against pancreatic cancer. For this project, Omid is specifically focus on underlying metabolism and epigenetic changes that are caused through the effects of a ketogenic diet.  

Omid Hajihassani

PhD Candidate

Faith Nakazzi

PhD Candidate

Alexander Loftus

General Surgery Resident

Alex is a General Surgery Resident undertaking dedicated laboratory training with Dr. Winter and Dr. Rothermel. His areas of interest include; cancer metabolism, immunotherapy, and personalized cancer therapies. Alex’s current project focuses on the metabolic vulnerabilities of melanoma in in-vitro and in-vivo models

William Beegan

Master's student

Parnian Naji

Research associate

Parnian joined the Winter lab in 2023 as the Research associate. She is currently recruiting treatment-naive cancer patients in a study that focuses on developing a metabolic signature-based early diagnostic tool for different cancer types

James Choi 

Master's student

Peter Gallagher

Master's student

Peter is a master's student in the Department of Physiology who plans on attending medical school after graduating. His research interests include understanding the effect of a ketogenic diet on pancreatic cancer angiogenesis. Outside of research, he enjoys cooking, reading, and listening to podcasts

Semmer Ali 

Undergraduate student

Hallie Graor

Lab Manager

Faith is a graduate student in the Winter lab, her project focuses on using Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) precursors for pancreatic cancer prevention. Faith intends to uncover the metabolic, and epigenetic reprogramming that happens to cells and tissues in the presence of NAD+ precursors, thus suppressing pancreatic cancer initiation

Bill is a master’s student and lab volunteer who plans to attend medical school in the near future. He is interested in progressing metabolic pathway-based pancreatic cancer research. Some of his favorite activities include spending time with family, dirt bike riding, running, and playing video games

James is a master’s student in the Medical Physiology program, hoping to go to medical school. He is interested in oncology and joined the Winter Lab to assist the team in researching the role of a ketogenic diet in pancreatic cancer progression

Semmer is an undergraduate on premedical track. She is interested in researching the role of IDH1, as well as Ivosidenib, its inhibitor. She is mainly focused on targeting the amino acid glutamine and glutamine transporters to disrupt metabolic pathways thereby increasing treatment efficacy in Ivosidenib-resistant cells.

Elena Winter

High School Researcher

Christine Kim

High School Researcher



Ali Vaziri-Gohar, Ph.D.


Erryk Katayama

Medical Student at OSU


JJ Hue, MD

Resident of surgery 

University Hospitals of Cleveland

Scientist at Cellular Technology Limited

Cassidy McColl


Anusha Mudigonda

Undergraduate Researcher


Karen Ji

Shihong  Lei


Helen Cheng

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