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Annamarie A

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)


Cancer biology, medical science and physiology, understanding human disease, scientific writing and education


Hello, I am a third year graduate student researcher in the Molecular and Medical Pharmacology PhD program at UCLA. My thesis project involves studying cellular stress mechanisms as potential therapeutic vulnerabilities for cancers carrying extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA). ecDNA amplifies oncogenes in response to treatment with conventional chemo- and targeted therapies, and serves as a resistance mechanism in many different cancers. We hope to identify a successful therapeutic strategy that overcomes therapeutic resistance mediated by ecDNA for all cancer types. I am very passionate about my work and you can find me in the lab almost every day! I love sharing my passion for science and medical research with others! Outside of lab, I like to read fantasy novels, anything by Brandon Sanderson or Robert Jordan is fantastic. I also like to paint. But my #1 choice activity will always be traveling! I love hiking in nature & finding beautiful waterfalls, awe-inspiring Fjords, and dense forests.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Review on current challenges and prospective directions for immunotherapy in glioblastoma

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a nearly universally fatal form of brain cancer and is also the most common type of brain cancer in adults. Unfortunately, there have not been advancement in treatments for GBM since 1995. With the success of immunotherapy-focused treatments in other cancers, there is hope that immunotherapy based approaches may finally provide an answer to improve options for GBM patients. However, despite a plethora of research pursuing different immunotherapy approaches (CAR-T, DC vaccines, checkpoint blockade), responses are still limited in GBM patients due to the highly suppressive tumor microenvironment. In this project, you will write a scientific review on the major immuno-therapeutic strategies that have been attempted for GBM, their current development status, the challenges they face related to GBM's complex immune microenvironemnt, and potential future directions for targeting approaches.

Deep dive into research topic of choice

Our understanding of human disease is constantly evolving, and with it comes breakthroughs in medical technology and advancements in treatments for patients. If there is a certain disease or pathology you feel passionate about, or want to learn more about. We can structure a review paper to dive into mechanisms of disease, current therapeutic options, and novel directions for future advances.

Intro to using scientific datasets

Public bioinformatic data resources such as those provided by The Cancer Genome Atlas and DEPMAP are widely used by almost all researchers studying human disease. These datasets help give us insight into what genes and programs might be the most important for certain cancers and can give us ideas for what to target therapeutically. In this project, we will use the programming language R to analyze public data to answer a specific research question regarding cancer genes and dependencies.

Coding skills

R biostatistics language

Teaching experience

I have taught several incoming students and laboratory assistants how to tackle scientific problems, understand the biology surrounding a given research question, and how to use existing literature to expand one's knowledge and guide one's approach to research.


Work experience

John Wayne Cancer Institute (2019 - 2021)
Research Associate I
Cedars-Sinai (2018 - 2019)
Medical Scribe/Medical Assistant
Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles (2017 - 2018)
Medical Scribe/Medical Assistant
MicroConstants (2015 - 2017)
Lab Assistant


University of California San Diego (UCSD)
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Neuroscience and Physiology
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
MS Master of Science (2023)
Medical and Molecular Pharmacology
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Medical and Molecular Pharmacology

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