Members

David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSC, FCPP

David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSC, FCPP

Founding Director of the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory

Dr. David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in Translational Medicine & Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania, Executive Director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, Associate Director of Patient Impact for the Penn Orphan Disease Center, and national bestselling author of Chasing My Cure: A Doctor's Race to Turn Hope Into Action. He is also a patient battling idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD). Penn Medicine Faculty Profile.

Sheila K Pierson, MS

Sheila K Pierson, MS

Associate Director, Clinical Research

Sheila Pierson, MS, is the Associate Director for Clinical Research at the CSTL. She oversees the current clinical research projects and works on the planning and development of new projects. She leads all aspects of the ACCELERATE registry, a natural history study of Castleman disease. In addition, she oversees and executes statistical analyses for CSTL clinical and translational research. She received her MS from Columbia University.

Patricia Tsao, MD, PhD

Patricia Tsao, MD, PhD

Director of Basic & Translational Research

Dr. Patricia Y. Tsao MD, PhD, is the Director of Basic and Translational Research of the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL).  Dr. Tsao oversees and executes all basic and translational studies that include elucidating the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnostic biomarkers, and life-saving therapeutics for Castleman disease.  Under Dr. Fajgenbaum’s leadership, Dr. Tsao hopes to make an impact with the research and treatment of Castleman disease, which sits at the intersection of autoimmunity and cancer, and also to gain insights into human immunology.

Amber Cohen

Amber Cohen

Executive Administrator

Amber Cohen is the Executive Administrator for the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) at the Perelman School of Medicine.  She provides direct support for the Director of the CSTL and overseas the administrative functions of the CSTL’s various projects and events.  Prior to her work for the CSTL, Amber was the executive coordinator for the Department of Biostatics, Epidemiology, and Informatics and the Center for Health Behavior Research.  Amber earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Richmond. 

Ruth-Anne Langan Pai

Ruth-Anne Langan Pai

PhD Student in Immunology

Ruth-Anne is a PhD candidate in the Immunology Graduate Group at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to graduate school, Ruth-Anne completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University and then spent two years in Manhattan studying autoimmunity. She is the first doctoral student in David Fajgenbaum’s laboratory and a core part of the Castleman Disease research team. Through her research, Ruth-Anne hopes to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate T cell activation and drive the development of immunotherapeutics for Castleman Disease.

Ruth-Anne received a 2019 ASH Abstract Achievement Award for her study: "Single-Cell Analysis of PBMCs in idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease identifies a Type I interferon response associated with increased mTOR activation". Check out the ASH Abstract here. Her amazing work was highlighted by the organization Check Rare. Check out their interview video here!

Stacy Guzman

Stacy Guzman

PhD Student in Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Stacy is a doctoral student in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics (BMB) graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in many areas of research from organic synthesis, cancer biology, prion disease, to vaccine immunology. Stacy looks forward to helping accelerate research efforts that will find missing links and identify the drivers of immunological responses that lead to Castleman Disease. Stacy graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a BS in Biochemistry. Her dream is to open her own foundation or clinic in the future to help underserved communities. In her free time, Stacy enjoys cooking, reading, making boba drinks, painting with gouache or acrylic, sewing, and hiking.

Alexis Phillips

Alexis Phillips

Biomedical Leadership Fellow for the CDCN

Alexis Phillips is the 2020-2021 Biomedical Leadership Fellow for the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN). Alexis is excited about advancing the mission of the CDCN by working on collaborative projects that support patients and loved ones, raise awareness of Castleman disease, and spread the CDCN's innovative approach to rare disease research. She is taking an extra year between her third and fourth year of medical school at the Perelman School of Medicine (University  of Pennsylvania) to fill this role full-time. Previously, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Johnson Khor

Johnson Khor

CSTL Center Coordinator & ACCELERATE Registry Coordinator

Johnson Khor is the Center Coordinator for the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) at the University of Pennsylvania as well as the On-Boarding Officer for the CDCN. As such, Johnson works as a clinical liaison between the research and clinical sides of the CSTL, assists with various research projects such as the ACCELERATE Natural History Registry, and coordinates biological sample donation to the CSTL's Castlebank. He is currently working on a Masters of Health Care Innovation at the Perelman School of Medicine after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley where he studied Microbial Biology and Education. In his free time, Johnson enjoys making music as a Baritone vocalist, baking treats for the CSTL, and enjoying a hot cup of coffee.

Freda Coren

Freda Coren

Clinical Data Analyst

Freda Coren is a Clinical Data Analyst for the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory's natural history study of Castleman Disease. She is excited to be working with a team that is dedicated to both scientific advancements and improving patient care and outcomes. Previously, Freda graduated from Haverford College with a BA in anthropology and worked in HIV/AIDS healthcare at the New York State Department of Health's AIDS Institute. She recently finished a post-baccalaureate program at Bryn Mawr College and is in the process of applying to medical school. In her free time, Freda loves to bake, cook, paint, and take care of her plants. 

Reece Williams

Reece Williams

Clinical Data Analyst

Reece is a Clinical Data Analyst for the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine. He is excited to contribute to seeking insights into Castleman disease and its possible treatments through the ACCERLERATE Natural History Registry, as well as various other studies. Previously, he received a BSPH in Environmental Health Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tracey Sikora

Tracey Sikora

Research Project Manager

Tracey Sikora is a research project manager working on the clinical trial evaluating sirolimus in patients with iMCD. Tracey received a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and spent several years studying inherited rare diseases before working in clinical research. In addition to her work on Castleman Disease, she specializes in high-risk, multi-site clinical trials, gene therapy trials, and orphan disease trials.

Kunfeng Sun, PhD

Kunfeng Sun, PhD

Post Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Kunfeng Sun, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow of Basic and Translational Research at CSTL. Previously, his research interests have spanned the fields of veterinary medicine, microbiology, and virology. Now he is studying the etiology and pathogenesis of iMCD. Through elucidating the etiology in iMCD, he hopes to bring something new to the treatment of iMCD patients in the future.

Daniel J. Arenas, PhD

Daniel J. Arenas, PhD

Medical Student & Data Scientist

Daniel is a Colombian immigrant, medical student, and researcher. He received a BS in physics a long, long time ago. He received a Physics PhD in 2009 from University of Florida and subsequently became a faculty member at the University of North Florida. In 2016 he began medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently on a research gap year working at the CDCN. He hopes to contribute the research skills he obtained in physics to the fight against Castleman Disease. 

Former Team Members

Former Team Members

Jasira Ziglar. Currently a medical student at Tulane School of Medicine.

Helen Partridge, MD. Currently a resident in psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine.

Dustin Shilling, PhD. Currently a senior associate at Spark Therapeutics.

Faizaan Ahkter, Currently a medical student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Erin Napier, Currently a medical student at John A Burns School of Medicine.

Alexander Suarez, MD. Currently a resident in neurosurgery at Duke School of Medicine.

Dale Kobrin, MD. Currently a resident in internal medicine at Allegheny General Hospital.

Eric Haljasmaa. Currently a medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Katherine Floess. Currently a medical student at University of Illinois Medical School at Peoria.

Sophia Parente. Currently a medical student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mark-Avery Tamakloe. Currently a medical student at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Victoria (Tori) Powers. Currently a medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College. 

Alexander (Alek) Gorzewski. Currently a medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Rozena Rasheed. Currently central laboratory specialist for portfolio sourcing and relationship management at Merck Pharmaceuticals.

Click here if you are interested in joining our team!