Team Members

Please get to know our team of PIs, post-docs, students, staff, and collaborators.

Principal Investigators

Dr. Leonora Balaj

Dr. Leonora Balaj As a noted expert on exosomes, Dr. Leonora Balaj is Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Co-Director of CERES where she oversees the deployment of advanced technologies such as fluorescence-guided liquid biopsy for brain tumors, and ddPCR plasma and CSF based detection of CNS malignancies to advance the pursuit of clinical diagnostics for brain tumors. Dr. Balaj is a key participant in the NIH’s Liquid Biopsy consortium and has worked to develop standardized protocols across the consortium for sample collection and processing. To advance interest and collaboration in the Boston area regarding exosomes, Dr. Balaj started the MESS series of lectures that bring together researchers across Boston based institutions to share research and interest in extracelluar vesicles.

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Dr. Bob Carter

Dr. Bob CarterBob Carter M.D., Ph.D. is a principal investigator at Ceres, and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. A neurosurgical oncologist, he takes a leadership role in shepherding research in the Simches Brain Tumor Research Center. Dr. Carter has organized consortia and served as PI of multi-center studies in the analysis extracellular RNA as a biomarker including serving as a PI in the NIH's Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium and NIH’s Liquid Biopsy consortium.

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Dr. Pamela Jones

Dr. Pamela JonesPamela Jones MD is a principal investigator at Ceres, and a neurosurgical oncologist specializing in pituitary surgery. A recipient of the K12 transitional career grant, Dr. Jones has focused on developing fluorescent liquid biopsy as a strategy to improve the sensitivity of biopsy techniques.

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Dr. Ganesh Shankar

Dr. Ganesh ShankarGanesh Shankar MD PhD is a principal investigator and Director of Molecular Diagnostics whose work at Ceres with a special focus on developing diagnostic assays that aid in distinguishing primary glial neoplasms versus lymphoma or other conditions which pose a diagnostic challenge for clinicians. Dr. Shankar has also developed rapid diagnostics tools for genetic alterations that are appropriate for use in the clinical time scale of the operating room environment. (see 2018 PNAS article) Dr. Shankar is also a recipient of an NIH K08 early career development award.

Dr. Hahko Lee

Hahko LeeHahko Lee PhD is a principal investigator who collaborates with CERES with a special focus on developing nano diagnostics. Dr. Lee is a principal investigator in the NCI's Liquid Biopsy Consortium. Dr. Lee's laboratory specializes in developing sensitive, fast and cost-effective diagnostic systems by bringing together ideas and techniques embodied in physics, engineering and computation.

Research Team

Anudeep Yekula M.B.B.S.

Anudeep Yekula M.B.B.S.Dr. Anudeep Yekula (2018) is a postdoctoral fellow in the CERES laboratory. Dr. Yekula’s is research is focused on developing blood-based tests for the diagnosis and monitoring of gliomas. Dr. Yekula has developed novel methodologies for detecting, isolating and studying fluorescent extracellular vesicles (EVs) following the use of 5-ALA for fluorescent guided surgery in patients with malignant gliomas. Dr. Yekula is currently combining genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic profiling strategies using next-generation sequencing, methylation sequencing, droplet digital PCR, imaging flow cytometry, nanoFACS- based methods to study EVs and cell free DNA in the the bloodstream of patients with brain tumors. In 2021, Dr. Yekula will begin his internship at Yale University.

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Koushik Muralidharan

Koushik MuralidharanKoushik Muralidharan (2019) is a predoctoral fellow in the laboratory. A summa cum laude graduate of Monmouth University in Biology, Koushik has worked on developing an optimized ddPCR assay to detect TERT promoter mutations at low mutant allele frequency and validated this assay in patient cohorts. An expert in R programming, Koushik developed automated methods for gating and analysis of ddPCR data. Koushik is currently applying to M.D.-Ph.D. programs.

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Tiffaney Hsia

HsiaTiffaney Hsia (2020) joined the laboratory in 2020 as a graduate in Materials Science Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Tiffaney is a scientist, and an artist , and brings a creative and innovative approach to her science in the lab.

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Maheen Batool M.B.B.S.

Dr. Syeda Maheen Batool (2020) is a post-doctoral fellow who has joined the laboratory with the goal of developing advanced liquid biopsy diagnostics for brain tumors.

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Zachary Rosh

Zach RoshZachary Rosh (2019) coordinates the CERES lab biobank. A summa cum laude graduate of Tufts University in Biology, Zach is active in the hospital environment and the operating room, working with patients who provide research biospecimens for analysis. Zach will matriculate to medical school in the fall of 2021.

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Harrison Knowlton

Harrison KnowltonHarrison Knowlton (2019) coordinates the CERES lab clinical protocols. Harrison graduated with a B.A. in Neuroscience from Middlebury College, where he also competed as a cross country and track and field athlete. Skilled in all phases of clinical research protocol management and patient enrollment, Harrison will matriculate to medical school in the fall of 2021.

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Dong Gil You, Ph.D.

Dong Gil YouDong Gil You (2021) Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) Dr You received his Ph.D. from· Department of Chemical Engineering at SKKU in 2017. Working with the Carter, Balaj, and Dr. Hahko Lee teams, he will focus on investigations into nano diagnostics.

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{We are currently filling out our site pages...check back soon for more on other lab members or see our lab alumni page.}

Activities in the Center

Simches Research The laboratory is located in the state of the art Simches Research Tower on the main campus of Mass General. Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School provide a fertile environment for collaborative studies in extracellular vesicles and liquid biopsy. Our rich repository of clinical material in nervous system disorders will maximize our opportunity to develop new ways to diagnose and treat brain tumors and other diseases of the central nervous system