Charles Keller, MD

Charles Keller, MD

Scientific Director and Member

Charles’ research focuses on the development of more effective, less toxic therapies for childhood cancers. His special interest is advanced disease that has spread beyond the initial location of the cancer or which makes the tumor unresectable. Charles has co-chaired the brain tumor developmental therapeutics committee (CNS-DVL) of the Children’s Oncology Group and is a member of the soft tissue sarcoma (STS) committee of Children’s Oncology Group. He has also recently completed a 5-year rotation as a Standing Member of the National Cancer Institute NCI-I Study Section. Charles attended Tulane University where he received a degree in Biomedical Engineering prior to attending Baylor College of Medicine where he received his M.D. degree. After completing his internship and residency in Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital, Charles trained in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the University of Utah and with 2007 Nobel laureate, Mario Capecchi. Charles has authored over 100 scientific publications and is a recognized expert in the biology of childhood sarcomas and the preclinical investigation of childhood cancers. Charles is also a co-founder of First Ascent Biomedical, a company* developing personalized medical approaches to therapy for canine and human solid tumor patients. In their spare time, Charles, his wife Kelly & their daughters enjoy outdoor adventures, as well as designing and building treehouses.

* overlap between cc-TDI and FirstAscent is overseen by a conflict of interest management committee.

Guangheng Li, MD, PhD

Guangheng Li, MD, PhD

Assistant Member

GH is the rare surgeon-scientist who impacts musculoskeletal tumor biology in unexpected ways. GH earned his MD from Henan Medical University, Zhengzhou, Henan in 1996. He earned his PhD from Shanghai Second Medical University, Shanghai in 2002, and subsequently trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh and Oregon Health & Science University. Among GH’s key observations are that muscle stem cells (also called ‘satellite cells’) interact with muscle tumor cells (rhabdomyosarcoma). GH began as an Assistant Member at cc-TDI in 2017.

Morgann Turkot, MS

Morgann Turkot, MS

Biomedical Engineering Fellow

Morgann completed her BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, Morgann worked two years as a student researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Patrick Kiser, focusing on developing drug delivery systems for infectious diseases and women’s health. Morgann specifically worked on projects in formulation science as well as manufacturing and design engineering in order to produce medical devices for long-acting protection against HIV. Morgann joined cc-TDI as a Biomedical Engineering Fellow in July 2016 investigating medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children, with the goal of discovering novel targets and therapies.

Noah E. Berlow, PhD

Noah E. Berlow, PhD

Assistant Member & Information Security Officer

Noah earned his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University under mentor Dr. Ranadip Pal. Noah has previously been a Scott Carter Fellow in the Keller laboratory for a year to facilitate an engineering-biologist collaboration between our labs. His PhD thesis addressed computational & experimental predictions of effective 2-drug combinations for patients with refractory solid tumors (sarcomas), which is work he continues at cc-TDI as an Assistant Member. Noah is also a cc-TDI information security officer. Noah has been a cornerstone scientist of our Engineering Forward initiative. Noah is also a co-founder of First Ascent Biomedical.

* overlap between cc-TDI and FirstAscent is overseen by a conflict of interest management committee.

Megan M. Cleary

Megan M. Cleary

Senior Research Scientist

Megan comes to cc-TDI with four years of experience in the fields of muscle cell and molecular biology, specializing in both the muscle-related pediatric cancer rhabdomyosarcoma and acute myeloid and T-cell leukemia. Her formal education and previous laboratory training provides a strong background in murine muscle dissection and satellite cell/ myoblast isolation and tissue culture, skills which have proved invaluable for studying rhabdomyosarcoma and non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas (NRSTS). Megan is adept at performing in vitro molecular biology experiments and GEMM (genetically engineered mouse model) in vivo experiments, both of which are utilized by our laboratory. Megan’slong term research interests include understanding the influence of cell-of-origin on soft tissue sarcoma biology using conditional genetic mouse models.

Narendra Bharathy, PhD

Narendra Bharathy, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Naren completed his MSc in Biotechnology from the University of Madras, then earned his Ph.D. in Physiology from the National University of Singapore (NUS) under mentor, Dr. Reshma Taneja. His Ph.D. thesis, investigating the role of G9a in skeletal muscle differentiation addressed epigenetic factors in muscle stem cells and muscle progenitor cells. His finding was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Naren joined as a postdoctoral fellow at cc-TDI in November 2015. His research work involves investigating the mechanisms of a novel epigenetic therapy for children with muscle cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma). His preclinical investigation of a kinase inhibitor in rhabdomyosarcoma was published recently in Oncotarget. Naren’s previous postdoctoral work with Dr. Taneja also addressed rhabdomyosarcoma and has been published in The Journal of Pathology in 2016. We are privileged to have Naren’s muscle biology and stem cell expertise in our group.

Alexandria Harrold, PhD

Alexandria Harrold, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

I first became interested in pediatric neuroscience research as an undergraduate at USC while studying biochemistry and music. Before going to graduate school, I continued working in research, first in a cancer lab and then in a developmental neurobiology lab. I combined these research interests in graduate school at OSHU, where my doctoral research focused on a particular transcription factor, which is known to be involved in numerous pediatric diseases and brain cancer, and understanding how the functions of this protein are controlled. I’m thrilled to be a part of the vibrant team at cc-TDI and to make tangible progress in the treatment of children’s cancers.

Cora Ricker

Cora Ricker

Engineering Fellow

I was originally drawn to cc-TDI after discovering my cousin was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. In the summer of 2015, I was lucky enough to intern at cc-TDI and study current resources for drug discovery for NF1-associated Pilocytic Astrocytoma (a brain tumor). I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Spring 2017 with a chemical engineering degree. My research in the lab centers on the Building Blocks Project.

Samuel Rasmussen, B.Sc.

Samuel Rasmussen, B.Sc.

Engineering Fellow

Samuel began his higher education journey at Mt. Hood Community College while working at John Deere to put himself through school. After finishing the prerequisite courses for Mechanical Engineering he transferred to Portland State University. While at PSU, Samuel conducted an internship at cc-TDI constructing a quail egg ‘opener’ to improve lab efficiency for in vivo drug studies. In December of 2017 Samuel graduated from PSU with a bachelors of science in Mechanical Engineering. He joins cc-TDI as the Macy Easom Foundation Engineering Fellow.

Andy Woods, B.S.

Andy Woods, B.S.

Research Intern & Stella's Dad

Andy’s interest in cancer research stems from his personal experience with childhood cancer. Andy’s oldest daughter is an anaplastic Wilms’ tumor survivor, leading to his interest in helping all children with cancer and a desire to make a mid-life career transition into cancer research. He is passionate about pursuing new preclinical research demonstrating more promising and less toxic treatment strategies for children with cancer and helping to make these treatments available to pediatric cancer patients in the clinical setting.

Christina Luethe

Christina Luethe

Operations Director 

Christina is a self-described adventurer. After attending University of Maryland in Wurzburg, Germany, she returned to Oregon to obtain a BS in Social Science with a minor in Geology. Christina worked for 10 years at the International Animal Semen Bank, notably opening the first ever Canine Semen Cryogenics Bank in Gijon, Spain and in Trinidad. Christina’s roles included teaching and training veterinary clinics in surgical and non-surgical insemination procedures nation and world-wide. Moving into an administrative leadership position, Christina interacted with multidisciplinary professionals in her role at the Classic Leadership Development Institute.  “With a passion to move forward in the world to promote better unity in social and scientific advancements and change, I landed at cc-TDI and look forward to helping support a team of amazing scientists and engineers into a future of new therapies and scientific discoveries for children with cancer.”

Dina Kats

Dina Kats

Dina Kats joined cc-TDI in January of 2018 to focus on the pediatric liver cancer Hepatoblastoma. Before joining the team, Dina received her bachelor’s degree from UCSD and her Masters in Biology from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. During her time at Northwestern, Dina focused on developing a tuberculosis vaccine using nanoparticles. In her own words, “I am excited to continue research that will help impact lives with cc-TDI!”

Ken Crawford

Ken Crawford

Ken is a graduate from UC Berkeley where he received a BA in Biology with a emphasis in Cellular Biology. Ken started his career in the SF Bay Area where he worked for a small biotech firm named Chiron Corp, which was later acquired by Novartis Corp.  At Chiron, Ken’s work focused on producing human Growth Factors in yeast for research uses and commercial production.  At Novartis, Ken supported small-molecule drug discovery in many disease areas, but focused on Oncology projects.  Ken has worked on several multidisciplinary projects that developed novels drug therapeutics that are currently in human clinical trials.  These projects include MAPK-, and PI3K-pathway inhibitors for the treatment of cancer.  “I’m excited to join cc-TDI’s vibrant and talented research community and hope to contribute to meeting our shared mission.”

Rishi Rikhi

Rishi Rikhi

Research Student

Rishi is a fourth-year medical student at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He grew up in Oregon and graduated from UCLA, with a degree in biology. He joined the Keller laboratory in 2013 as an intern and subsequently researched at cc-TDI as a research volunteer first-class starting in 2015. He has a strong interest in developing targeted therapy for rare pediatric cancers and civic activism to help fund rare pediatric cancers. Rishi has been involved with multiple projects, including rhabdomyosarcoma synthetic lethal drug screen, hepatoblastoma, and epithelioid sarcoma. In addition, Rishi has been a guest lecturer at the 2015 and 2016 nanocourses.

Teagan Settelmeyer

Teagan Settelmeyer

Research Assistant

Teagan recently completed coursework to graduate early from the University of Portland in order to join cc-TDI as a staff scientist this Summer.  Teagan worked in the Keller lab both as a high school student and as a college student … and we’re privileged to have him at cc-TDI full time now.  We see great things ahead for this diligent, inquisitive and hard-working young future physician-scientist!  Teagan enters medical school at Oregon Health & Science University Fall 2016.

Amber Bannon

Amber Bannon

Business Development Intern

Amber joined cc-TDI while pursuing her Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology in the laboratory of Michael Heinrich at Oregon Health & Science University. She studies a subset of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors that specifically affects the pediatric population. As a scientist, her goal is to have her lab research be directly translated into clinic. In 2015, she was awarded an OCTRI scholarship aimed at educating graduate students in clinical and translation research. Amber is also enrolled in University of Portland’s Technology Entrepreneurship Program which focuses on commercialization potential and feasibility of bioscience technologies. After graduation, Amber plans to be involved in business development to facilitate the process of turning bench-side experiments into tangible and meaningful results in the clinic.

Matthew Svalina

Matthew Svalina

Senior Research Scientist Emeritus

Matthew Svalina earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 2007. Following completion of his undergraduate degree, Matthew earned a paramedic license through Malcolm X College in Chicago, where he completed his field internship with the Chicago Fire Department on ambulances serving the south side of Chicago.

As a member of the Keller lab, Matthew has already co-authored two scientific papers on childhood cancer, with additional studies nearing submission. Under Dr. Keller’s mentorship, Matthew leads basic science and preclinical projects in rhabdomyosarcoma and medulloblastoma. Matthew’s career goal is to be a physician-scientist with training and independent research in neuroscience and neuro-oncology.  Matthew is currently an MD-PhD student at the University of Colorado-Denver.

Ashley Neuenschwander 

Ashley Neuenschwander 

Legal Assistant Intern emeritus

Ashley completed her undergraduate studies at Central Michigan University specializing in Philosophy, Religion, and Psychology. When joining cc-TDI she was working on her Master’s degree at George Washington University in the Paralegal Studies program and looks forward to graduating this spring. In the future Ashley plans to attend law school. She also volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate through local CASA programs. In Ashley’w own words, “my goal is to use my education and experiences to help advocate for the well-being of children.”

Ryan Tormey

Ryan Tormey

Development Intern emeritus

Ryan joined cc-TDI while an undergraduate at American University School of Public Affairs.  He is majoring in Justice, Law & Criminology with a minor in Accounting.  At cc-TDI, Ryan assisted us in Development and Cause Marketing.  

Matthew Randolph, DVM, PhD 

Matthew Randolph, DVM, PhD 

Postdoctoral Fellow emeritus

Dr. Matthew Randolph earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2000 from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. He practiced mixed animal medicine as an associate veterinarian in northeast Georgia for five years. Matthew then pursued a career in cancer research and recently trained as a stem cell biologist at Emory University, in the laboratory of Dr. Grace Pavlath, while earning his PhD in Biochemistry, Cell, and Developmental Biology.  He joined cc-TDI in 2015 as a post-doctoral researcher and completed his fellowship February 2017.

Emily Carson 

Emily Carson 

Student Research Intern emeritus 

Emily joined cc-TDI as a junior Biology major at the University of Portland. “I have always been interested in the field of cell and molecular research, and I am very excited about this internship opportunity. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, cooking, reading, and traveling. In the future, I hope to attend Physician’s Assistant School and become a PA in the field of pediatrics.”

Erin Benson

Erin Benson

Advocacy Circle Leader

Erin joined the childhood cancer community in 2013 when her then 2-year-old son, Sam, was diagnosed with DIPG.  In 2014, she launched a nonprofit, WithPurpose, dedicated to advancing treatment for childhood cancer.  WithPurpose has been a partner and supporter of cc-TDI since its inception in 2014.  Prior to becoming a childhood cancer activist, Erin worked as a market research and strategy consultant.  She brought her passion for the mission of making all forms of childhood cancer survivable and her empathy for families in the fight to cc-TDI in 2017.  Erin completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Masters in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Beckie Lee

Beckie Lee

Development & Partnerships liaison emeritus

Beckie has almost twenty years experience working in development for non-profit organizations, political campaigns and in local government. She is passionate about the work cc-TDI is doing to make childhood cancer universally survivable and is excited to build community support for our work.  Beckie earned a Masters in Public Administration from Portland State University and lives in Northeast Portland with her husband Tim, a Madison High School science teacher, and their daughter Lucy.

Alexis Weyers, JD 

Alexis Weyers, JD 

Operations Director emeritus

Alexis received her undergraduate degree in economics and government from the College of William & Mary in 2006 and her Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2013.  Prior to joining cc-TDI, Alexis worked as a consultant, tax advisor, law clerk, and lecturer.

Brian Alley

Brian Alley

Master Tinkerer (and research assistant extraordinaire emeritus)

My undergraduate studies in biology as well as the majority of my professional career spent in the fields of microscopy and digital imaging provide a foundation for my ability and desire to contribute to research. However it’s my passion for science, learning, collaborating on big ideas- and the heartfelt belief that there’s plenty of room in this world for positive change- that brought me to cc-TDI. Every day presents a new challenge and I’m humbled to part of such a smart, energized, and creative team that meets these challenges with immediacy and laser focus. It’s a team that does not get discouraged. I hope to make a big difference in the place that makes a big difference in saving kids’ lives.