Dr. Hannun’s Staff

Yusuf A. Hannun, MD

Yusuf A. Hannun, MD
Director, Stony Brook Cancer Center
Vice Dean for Cancer Medicine
Joel Strum Kenny Professor in Cancer Research

Program Overview

Our laboratory is focused on studies on bioactive lipids, with a special emphasis on sphingolipids. These studies have allowed us to propose a critical role for sphingolipids in eukaryotic stress responses. We are interested in understanding how sphingolipid metabolism is regulated under various conditions and in response to extracellular stimuli. We are also interested in defining the functions of bioactive sphingolipids, including sphingosine and ceramide. We perform our studies in human cancer cells as well as in yeast as a model organism.

Lab Members


Amira Allam

Research Support Specialist

Education:
DVM, Mansoura University, Egypt (2002)
Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Biochemistry, Mansoura University, Egypt (2015)


Janet Allopenna

Sr. Research Support Specialist / Lab Manager

Education:  
BS, Biology: SUNY @ Binghamton, NY (1984)
MA, Biology: Hunter College, New York, NY(1993)

Contact Info:
Phone: (631) 216-2912
Janet.Allopenna@stonybrookmedicine.edu

The Lipid Cancer Lab
SBU Cancer Center, MART Bldg.
9th Floor, South
Lauterbur Drive
Stony Brook, NY 11794-7294


Andre Chavez

Ph.D. Student in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Program

Education:
B.S., Biology, 2015, St. Lawrence University

Research Interest:
Investigating the role of PKC in the development of drug resistance and disease progression in NSCLC with KRAS G12C mutations


Sam Blake Chiappone

PhD Student in Genetics

Education:
MS, Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Stony Brook University
BS, Biochemistry, SUNY Geneseo

Research Interest:
How the integration of gene-regulatory pathways produces a defined biological output is still a grand challenge in biomedical science. I am interested primarily in one of these biological outputs, metabolism, and its relationship to cancer, one hallmark of which is an altered metabolic phenotype. Sphingolipids, the products of an extensive metabolic network in the cell, play an important role both as structural components of membranes and as signaling molecules. My research focuses on the role of ceramides as regulators of the phospho-proteome, and how ceramide transport from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi apparatus may differentially affect the role of ceramides, the central sphingolipids, in these two different compartments of the cell. I am also interested in how the transcriptome is regulated by sphingolipids, including ceramides, and conversely, how the sphingolipid network itself is regulated at the level of transcription, as a subset of the overall metabolic network of the cell.


Botheina Ghandour

Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Medicine

Education:
PhD, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, American University of Beirut

Research Interest:
Sphingolipid metabolism in cancer, regulation of neutral sphingomyelinase 2 and its role in the stress response, sphingomyelin turnover


Masayoshi Higuchi

Research Scientist

Education:
MD, Osaka University, Japan (1999)
PhD, Medical Science, Osaka University, Japan (2007)

Research Interest:
Investigating the role of bioactive sphingolipids and lipid metabolism in cancer


Allen Lee

MSTP student

Education:
BS in Biochemistry at Stony Brook University

Research Interest:
Ceramide kinase (CERK) is responsible for the phosphorylation of ceramides into ceramide 1-phosphate, which has been implicated in pro-proliferative, pro-migratory, and anti-apoptotic processes. CERK has also been implicated in the production of the inflammatory cytokine CCL5 in response to TNFa. Little is known about the biological significance of CERK. My focus will be to understand the regulation of CERK and as well as to understand its downstream signaling. 

Contact Info:
The Lipid Cancer Lab
SBU Cancer Center, MART Bldg.
9th Floor, South
Lauterbur Drive
Stony Brook, NY 11794-7294

allen.lee@stonybrookmedicine.edu


Jihui Ren

Research Scientist

Education:
PhD, Genetics, University of Iowa, 2007

Project Description or Research Interest:
Sphingolipids are major membrane components of all eukaryotic cells. The intermediate products of the sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway and their derivatives are important signaling molecules involved in a plethora of cellular processes. Ceramides and sphingosine-1-phosphate are best characterized with their function as apoptosis and cell proliferation signals respectively. I am investigating the function of LCBs (long-chain sphingoid bases), products of the first step of sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway, and their regulation using yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system.

Contact Info:
Phone: (631) 216-2900
Jihui.Ren@stonybrook.edu


Mohammad M. Sadeghi

Graduate Student in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Education:
BS, Biochemistry and Psychology at Stony Brook University (2018)

Research Interest:

1. Investigating the role of PKC in the development of drug resistance in NSCLC with EGFR mutations
2. Investigating the role of PLD in AKT/mTORC signaling in NSCLC

Contact Info:
Phone: (917) 714-1243

The Lipid Cancer Lab
SBU Cancer Center, MART Bldg.
9th Floor, South
Lauterbur Drive
Stony Brook, NY 11794-7294

mohammad.sadeghi@stonybrook.edu


Mohamed Salama

Postdoctoral Fellow

Education:
BSc, Veterinary Medical Sciences, Mansoura University, Egypt (2001)
MSc, Biochemistry, Mansoura University, Egypt (2005)
PhD, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University College London, UK (2010)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Stony brook Medicine (July 2013-March 2016)

Research Interest:
I am interested in the roles of bioactive sphingolipids and their metabolism in cancer development and biology.


Fabiola Velazquez

Post Doctoral Associate, Department of Medicin

Education:
Licenciada en Bioquímica Clínica (Degree in Clinical Biochemistry) at Chemical Science Faculty (FCQ) - National University of Córdoba (UNC), Argentina. 2007
Doctorado en Ciencias Químcias (PhD in Chemical Science) at Chemical Science Faculty (FCQ) - National University of Córdoba (UNC), Argentina. 2015

Research Interest:
My project is to define the role of sphingosine kinase 1 (SK1) as a novel and critical downstream target for the tumor suppressive action of p53, and to establish SK1 as a potential target for cancer therapy, particularly in tumors with loss of p53 or mutant p53.

SK1 is a highly regulated enzyme with a central role in tumor biology by regulating the levels of the bioactive sphingolipids: shingosine 1 phosphate (S1P) (a tumor promoting sphingolipid) and ceramide (a tumor suppressor lipid). Previous work shows that the induction of p53 results in loss of SK1 through proteolysis. Moreover, recent studies using the combined p53/SK1 knockout (KO) mice demonstrated that the loss of SK1 is critical for the suppression of thymic lymphoma, osteosarcoma and others cancers in the absence of p53. Since a lot of time p53 and components of the p53 pathway have emerged as key tumor suppressor, however, targeting this pathway has been difficult due to the nature and function of the proteins involved. The recent and ongoing results provide a novel and solid connection between p53, SK1 and bioactive sphingolipids, and led us to the hypothesis that SK1 is a candidate target for therapeutic development especially in the context of mutant p53.

To test this hypothesis we will utilize different animals’ models (p53 null and mutant mice) in which the SK1 expression could be controlled. These studies raise novel and fundamental questions as to the role of SK1 as a druggable target in p53 null and mutant cancers. Addressing this specific aim opens up the door for developing novel chemotherapeutic approaches to many human cancers in which p53 is deregulated or mutated.

Contact Info:
The Lipid Cancer Lab
SBU Cancer Center, MART Bldg.
9th Floor, South
Lauterbur Drive
Stony Brook, NY 11794-7294

Fabiola.Velazquez@stonybrookmedicine.edu