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Principal Investigator

Carla Kim

Carla Kim, PhD

Principal Investigator, Boston Children’s Hospital

Stem Cell Program Faculty, Stem Cell Program
Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Kim is a professor of genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her laboratory has pioneered the use of stem cell biology approaches for the study of adult lung progenitor cells and lung cancer. Her work has contributed to a better understanding of stem cell biology in the lung, development of innovative approaches for examining the cellular and molecular basis of cancer and pulmonary disease, and identification of new therapeutic avenues for lung cancer.

The success that Dr. Kim’s lab has had investigating the molecular pathways that regulate lung stem cells and the role of stem cells in lung cancer is a testament to her potential to make strides in understanding lung disease and basic biology. Working with genetically engineered mouse models that accurately represent human lung cancer, Dr. Kim’s group was the first to identify cancer stem cell populations in the two most frequent types of lung cancer in patients (Cell Stem Cell, 2010 and Cancer Cell, 2014). Her lab’s knowledge in lung stem cells has revealed a new combination therapy approach for particular subsets of lung cancer patients (Fillmore et al, Nature, 2015). Dr. Kim’s has developed a three-dimensional lung organoid system that makes it possible to derive specialized lung cells from lung stem cells (Lee et al, Cell, 2014). The organoid culture system developed by the Kim Lab grows tiny replicas of lungs, allowing them to model the complex interactions of lung stem cells and their neighboring cells. Most recently, the Kim Lab used the organoid cultures to define new types of mesenchymal cells that are required to support lung injury repair (Lee et al, Cell, 2017). This system can now be used to probe the role of lung stem cells and the diverse cell types with which they interact in lung cancer, in lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis, and during lung development. These advances by the Kim Lab provide a new way to study lung diseases in the laboratory dish and to find new therapeutic interventions.

The impact of Dr. Kim’s work has been acknowledged in a myriad of ways. From her publication in Cell Stem Cell winning Best Cancer Paper of 2010 to her receipt of the William Rippe Distinguished Award in Lung Cancer Research from the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, she has been widely acknowledged as one of the brightest researchers in lung stem cells. Dr. Kim received her PhD in genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. She joined the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and established her laboratory in September 2006.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Aaron Moye

Aaron Moye, PhD

Originally from Hawaii, Aaron did his undergraduate study at the University of Sydney in Australia, graduating with a Bachelor of Medical Science (Honors). He conducted his PhD research at Children's Medical Research Institute and the University of Sydney under the guidance of Professor Tracy Bryan. He studied the interaction between telomerase and DNA structures called G-quadruplexes, and he was awarded the Peter Bancroft Prize for outstanding PhD thesis. In the Kim Lab, Aaron studies the role of cell-to-cell signaling during lung cancer initiation and progression using single-cell RNA-seq, mouse models, and organoid cultures.

Monica Liu

Monica Liu, MD, PhD

Monica completed a combined BS/MS in biology at Yale University, working in the lab of Elsa Yan on the biophysical properties of rhodopsin, the light-sensitive protein responsible for dim light vision. She then joined the MD/PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania, completing her thesis in the lab of Rahul Kohli, where she studied epigenetic DNA modifications and the enzymology of TET family proteins. She completed her internal medicine residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and is currently a fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She joined the Kim Lab in 2021 and is interested in developing patient-derived organoid models of lung diseases, especially inflammatory lung injury.

Maria Fernanda Trovero

Maria Fernanda Trovero, PhD

Maria was born in Uruguay, where she completed all her studies. She received her BSc and MSc degrees in molecular microbiology from University of the Republic, working on benefic bacteria and plant interactions. She obtained her PhD in 2020 from University of the Republic, which experimental work was carried out at Clemente Estable Institute for Biological Research, focused on the role of long noncoding RNAs in mouse spermatogenesis. During 2022 Maria did a short postdoctoral training at Prof Eric Greer lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, elucidating the epigenetic role of histone mimic micropeptides in breast and colorectal cancer development. She joined Kim lab in January 2023 to work on the characterization of target genes and mutations in lung adenocarcinoma, which help to develop tumor models of initiation and progression, and in that way identify new drug combinations useful in lung cancer treatment.

Graduate Students

Irene Wong

Irene Wong, BS

Irene is a graduate student in the biological and biomedical sciences PhD program at Harvard and joined the lab in July 2018. She is interested in studying how immune cells affect the lung stem cell niche. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Brandeis University and completed her senior thesis in the lab of Dr. Suzanne Paradis, studying Semaphorin4D as a novel anti-epileptic drug. During summers while an undergrad, she completed two exterior research internships. First, she investigated the effect of age on triple-negative breast cancer progression in the lab of Dr. Sandra McAllister (Brigham and Women’s Hospital). Second, she searched for transcription factors that promote hematopoietic stem cell differentiation in the lab of Dr. George Daley (Boston Children’s Hospital). In her free time, Irene likes traveling, cycling, SCUBA diving, weightlifting, and baking.

Susanna Dang

Susanna Dang

Susanna is a graduate student in the Biological & Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Program at Harvard University who joined the lab in July 2021. She is interested broadly in mechanisms of lung cancer development and progression. Susanna received her bachelor’s degree in molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2018 and completed her senior thesis in the lab of Dr. David Raulet, studying gene regulation in natural killer cells, an innate immune cell that detects and kills tumor cells or cells infected with a virus. After undergrad, she worked as a technician in the Raulet Lab on a new project investigating the immunogenicity of the CRISPR/Cas9 enzyme. In her free time, Susanna plays bassoon in the GSAS orchestra and enjoys spending time outdoors.

Jake Jensen

Jake Jensen

Jake is a graduate student in the Biological Sciences in Public Health (BPH) program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Boston native. He joined the Kim lab in October 2021. Jake’s research interests include the impact of aging and chronic environmental injury on lung stem cell function. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he studied the reproductive impacts of the flame-retardant PBDE-47 with Dr. Alexander Suvorov. After graduating, he worked as a technician at the Centers of Disease Control with Dr. Liying Rojanasakul and Dr. Todd Stueckle. These studies focused on lung injury after nanoparticle exposure and high content screening assays. Outside of lab, Jake is a dedicated cat dad, mushroom forager, runner, gamer, and intramural sports enthusiast.

Paul Schürmann

Paul Schürmann

Paul is currently working on his master’s degree at Utrecht University where he is studying drug innovation. He joined the lab in August 2022 and is interested in unraveling vulnerabilities of genotype-specific lung cancer organoids. He previously received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and completed an internship with Dr. Hans Clevers’ lab where he studied human endometrial organoids to discover genetic errors by using a CRISPR-Cas9. He has also completed biochemistry internships with Artios Pharma where he screened novel inhibitors of specific DNA repair enzymes which can lead to selective cell death in tumors. In his free time, Paul likes to do different kinds of sports and to hang out with friends.

Laboratory Staff

Sidrah Ahmed

Sidrah Ahmed, MS
Research Assistant

Sidrah graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a B.S. in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. She completed her Master’s degree in 2022 at Boston University where she worked in the lab of Matthew Layne. Her previous worked focused on characterizing a subtype of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome caused by mutations in aortic carboxypeptidase-like protein. Since joining the lab in January 2023, Sidrah has been working on generating lung organoids to understand the role of the microenvironment in homeostasis and disease. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Margherita Paschini

Margherita Paschini, PhD
Staff Scientist

Margherita received her bachelor's and master's degrees in molecular biotechnology from the University of Bologna, Italy. She then obtained her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, working on the replication of yeast telomeres at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif. She joined the Kim Lab in August 2015, and she is currently focused on the paracrine signaling occurring in the pulmonary niche after injury and during cancer progression.

Yvonne Nguyen

Yvonne Nguyen, BS
Research Technician

Yvonne graduated with honors from Boston College in 2021 where she obtained her B.S. in Biology. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Hans Oettgen's lab at Boston Children's Hospital, where she assisted in studying the immunology and mechanisms of food allergy. After joining the Kim Lab in June 2021, she has been working on multiple projects relating to lung cancer, aging, and epigenetics. In her free time, Yvonne enjoys cooking, reading, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Belinda Chen

Belinda Chen, MS
Research Technician

A Florida native, Belinda graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a B.S. in biology and M.S in biomedical science. Her master's thesis was completed in the lab of Howard Prentice and was focused on therapeutic strategies using Sulindac and G-CSF gene therapy for neurological diseases. She joined the Kim lab in January 2023 and is currently working to establish lung organoids from human patient samples to expand upon current models of lung disease. In her free time Belinda enjoys baking, watching movies, and snorkeling.

Interns

Jillian Stark

Jillian Stark

Jillian is a research intern in Kim Lab investigating the effects of chemical and genetic airway injury on cell population in the lung that are not known to contribute to airway injury repair. She is working on her bachelor’s in science degree at Harvard University.