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.

Bridget Austin, MS

Bridget Austin, MS

Biobank Program Manager

Bridget Austin is the Biobank Coordinator for the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) at the University of Pennsylvania. As such, Bridget 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. Bridget earned her MS in Psychology from Villanova University.

Joshua Brandstadter, MD, PhD, MSc

Joshua Brandstadter, MD, PhD, MSc

Director of Clinical Research

Dr. Joshua Brandstadter is a physician-scientist and Instructor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. As Director of Clinical Research for the CSTL, Dr. Brandstadter oversees the ACCERLERATE Natural History Registry to better understand patient experiences and the comparative effectiveness of different treatments. He cares for patients with Castleman Disease in clinic and pursues laboratory research to better understand the causes of the disease. Dr. Brandstadter holds an MSc in Integrated Immunology from the University of Oxford and a combined MD/PhD from Duke University. He completed his internal medicine and hematology/oncology training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Michael Gonzalez, PhD

Michael Gonzalez, PhD

Associate Director of Basic and Translational Research

Michael V. Gonzalez, PhD, is the Associate Director of Basic and Translational Research at the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment and Laboratory (CSTL) within the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained his PhD in Immunology and Infectious Diseases from Washington State University and was a postdoctoral fellow and bioinformatics scientist at the Center for Applied Genomics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before coming to the CSTL. His research focuses on utilizing novel ’omics technologies to gain insights into the genetic and cellular architectures of Castleman Disease and other disorders involving autoimmunity.

Abiola Irvine

Abiola Irvine

Research Specialist

Abiola Irvine is a Research Specialist in the Cytokine Storm and Treatment Laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine. She supports the translational research team in the experimental lab by using immune-based assays and other methods to further our understanding of Castleman Disease. Prior to joining the CSTL team Abiola earned her BS in Psychology with a neuroscience minor from Haverford College and looks forward to applying to medical school in the future. Outside of the lab Abiola enjoys hiking, roller skating, and playing with her dog Hendrxx.

Daniel Korn, PhD

Daniel Korn, PhD

Bioinformatician

Daniel Korn is a bioinformatician working in the field of hypotheses generation in the drug discovery space. His research interests involve natural language processing, tooling for research software, biomedical databases, and algorithmic development for knowledge graphs. He received his PhD in Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the advising of Dr. Alexander Tropsha.

Criswell Lavery

Criswell Lavery

Research Administration Coordinator

Criswell Lavery is the Research Administration Coordinator for the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) at the University of Pennsylvania. She leads the front-end of the ACCELERATE natural history registry, working to compile accurate and comprehensive data on diagnosis and treatment processes for patients with Castleman Disease. Criswell earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Rochester and is currently pursuing her MPH degree at Penn.

Ira Miller

Ira Miller

Research Specialist

Ira Miller is a Research Specialist in the Cytokine Storm and Treatment Laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine. He supports the translational research team by furthering our understanding of Castleman Disease in the lab through cell culture. Prior to joining the team Ira received his BS in chemistry from Messiah University in central PA and worked as a research specialist at the Mayo Clinic. Outside of the lab Ira loves disc golf, biking, and birding.

Melanie Mumau, PhD

Melanie Mumau, PhD

Associate Director of Immunology

Melanie Mumau, PhD, is Senior Research Investigator at the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) at the University of Pennsylvania. Melanie is an experimental immunologist by training and oversees all research related to the translational laboratory. She is currently working on understanding the mechanisms that drive cytokine storms and developing new treatments for patients. Melanie earned her PhD in Microbiology & Immunology from Columbia University and prior to joining the CSTL, her research focused on how the immune system regulates the development of blood cells. Melanie enjoys playing soccer, skiing, and making pizza.

Martin Romeo, PhD

Martin Romeo, PhD

Associate Director of Translational Immunology

Martin (Marty) Romeo is the Associate Director of Translational Immunology at the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment and Laboratory (CSTL) within the Perelman School of Medicine ant the University of Pennsylvania.  He earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular from Johns Hopkins University, studied vascular biology as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute, worked in the pharmaceutical industry and then directed the Translational Science Laboratory shared resource at the Medical University of South Carolina before joining the CSTL.  He is currently involved with efforts to discover biomarkers and druggable targets in cytokine storm disorders.  Marty is a hopelessly obsessed fly angler who spends as much time as he can with his family, traveling to destinations both populated and remote in pursuit of adventure.

Mateo Sarmiento Bustamante

Mateo Sarmiento Bustamante

Data Analyst

Mateo Sarmiento is a Data Analyst for the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) at the Perelman School of Medicine. He synthesizes and analyzes information across a Castleman patient’s medical history to gain insight on things such as the wide spectrum of symptoms and the effectiveness of treatment regimens that Castleman patients experience. Mateo looks forward to spending his gap years at the CSTL before applying to medical school. Prior to joining the CSTL, Mateo earned his BA in Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania where he researched the epigenetics of drug addiction.

Saishravan Shyamsundar

Saishravan Shyamsundar

Data Analyst

Saishravan Shyamsundar is a Data Analyst for the Center for Cytokine Storm & Treatment Laboratory (CSTL) at Perelman School of Medicine. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. At CSTL, he supports the ACCELERATE Registry Team (ART) in data compilation and analysis of medical records of Castleman Disease patients. The analysis of this data could then provide further insights into understanding the mechanisms of the disease and identifying effective treatment options. He hopes that his work with this team helps lead to better prognosis for patients with Castleman Disease

Brent Shaw

Brent Shaw

Marking and Communications Fellow

Brent Shaw is the Marking and Communications Fellow at the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, Brent lead a marketing agency in Los Angeles that specialized in brand awareness for best-selling authors and non-profits. Early in his career he was the Director of Research at a Sports Medicine Clinic and has multiple publications in the Sports Medicine and Stem Cell Clinical Research fields. Brent received his BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Santa Barbara.

Tracey Sikora

Tracey Sikora

Associate Director, CORONA Project & RAPid Clinical Trial

Tracey Sikora is the Associate Director of the CORONA project and the RAPid 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 COVID-19 and Castleman Disease, she has previous experience in high-risk, multi-site clinical trials, gene therapy trials, and orphan disease research.

Amber Vas

Amber Vas

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. 

Joseph Zinski, PhD

Joseph Zinski, PhD

Senior Research Investigator

Joseph Zinski PhD is a Senior Research Investigator at the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment and Laboratory (CSTL) within the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BS from UConn in Chemical Engineer and his PhD from UPenn in developmental biology. He is using bioinformatic, machine learning, and deep learning to develop better diagnostic tools and treatments for Castleman disease.

Former Team Members

Former Team Members

Jasira Ziglar, MD, MPH. Currently a resident in Internal Medicine at University of Massachusetts. 

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, DO. Currently a resident in internal medical at Rowan University.

Erin Napier, MD. Currently a resident in ophthalmology at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute

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, MD. Currently a resident of internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center.  

Sophia Parente, MD. Currently a resident of internal medical at the Univeristy of Minnesota. 

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.

Alexis Phillips, MD. Currently a resident in internal medical at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Ruth-Anne Pai, PhD. Currently a Cief Scientific Consultant at Pai Advisory, LLC. 

Johnson Khor, MCHI. Currently a medical student at the University of Queensland - Ochsner Clinical School. 

Freda Coren. Currently a medical student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Reece Williams. Currently a medical student at Emory University.  

Daniel Arenas, PhD. Currently a resident in pathology at Stanford University.

Hemi Park, MPH. Currently a program manager at Massachusetts General Hospital 

Natalie Mango. Currently a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sheila K Pierson, MS. Currently a medical student at Temple University.

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