Nadine Hempel, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology

Nadine received her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where she studied the regulation of sulfotransferase enzymes under the mentorship of Drs. Mick McManus and Masahiko Negishi (NIEHS, USA). During her post-doctoral training in the labs of Dr. Gerard Blobe at Duke University, and Dr. Andres Melendez at Albany Medical College, Nadine developed interests in tumor metastasis, focusing on TGF-beta signaling in ovarian cancer, and the role mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and superoxide dismutase SOD2 play during metastasis. Nadine started her independent lab at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Sciences and Engineering with NCI K99/R00 funding, and subsequently moved to the Penn State College of Medicine in 2015. In 2021 her laboratory relocated to the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh, where she joined the Cancer Biology Program and Women’s Cancer Research Group.


Zaineb Javed
Graduate Student
Zaineb received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan. Zaineb joined the lab in 2019 and is a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences graduate program at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine. Her research projects focuses on mitochondrial fission and fusion dynamics, and the role of the fission protein Drp1/DNM1L in ovarian cancer. Zaineb’s publications include: PMC8899553, PMID:35259492.
Amal Elhaw
Graduate Student
Amal received her Bachelor degree in Pharmacy and Masters in Clinical Pharmacy from Tanta University in Egypt. Amal joined the lab in 2020 and is a student in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at Penn State. Amal is interested in studying novel adaptations related to survival in response to anchorage independence and potential interplay with drug resistance mechanisms in ovarian cancer.
Amal’s publications include: PMID:35259492.
Priscilla Tang
Graduate Student
Priscilla received her Bachelor of Science from the University of California Irvine, after which she spent several years as a researcher in biotech companies before joining the Penn State Biomedical Sciences graduate program. She joined the Hempel lab in 2020. Her PhD dissertation studies focus on how the SIRT3/Sod2 redox signaling axis contributes to early adaptations during ovarian cancer metastasis. She has contributed to work demonstrating the translational regulation of SOD2 in tumor cells in response to anchorage-independence.
Priscilla’s publications include: PMID:35259492.
Caroline Chang, DVM
Veterinary Resident
Caroline received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the North Carolina State University and is currently a veterinary resident in the Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program in the Department of Comparative Medicine at Penn State Hershey. Her project focuses on the in vivo role of GPX3 in tumor progression.
Shriya Kamlapurkar
Graduate Student
Shriya is a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Shriya received her Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology Engineering from Sinhgad College of Engineering in Pune, India and her Masters in Cellular and Molecular Biomedical Sciences from the University of Maryland. Before joining Pitt, she was research technician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Shriya joined the lab in 2022 and is studying the role of Sox2 as a stress response factor during anchorage independent survival of tumor cells.
Ya-Yun Cheng, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Researcher
Ya-Yun received her Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and joined the lab in 2022. Her research focuses on understanding the role of the novel CAM and metabolic regulator MPZL3 in ovarian cancer.
Sierra White, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher
Sierra received her Ph.D. from the University of Vermont in 2022, after which she joined the lab to study the role of the mitochondrial fission protein Drp1 and extracellular antioxidant enzymes in ovarian cancer.
Weihua Pan
Senior Research Scientist
Weihua Pan is a molecular biologist with over 30 years of experience in cancer and RNA biology. Weihua joined the Hempel lab in 2021 and is involved in designing molecular biology approaches for various projects in the lab, including design of siRNAs and CRISPR guide RNAs.
Ben Yankasky
Research Technician
Ben graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2021 with a bachelors of science degree in Biochemistry. He joined the Hempel group shortly after and is responsible for day-to-day operations in the lab.
Donise Griffin
Hillman Academy Student
Donsie is a recent Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice high school graduate and a rising freshman at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in biomedical engineering. Before joining the Hempel Lab for the summer of 2022 she had previously worked in the lab of Xiaosong Wang exploring computational modeling of cancer’s immunotherapy response.
Ivanna Dudalla
Undergraduate Researcher
Ivanna is a premed undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Biological Sciences. She joined the lab in 2021.
Sneha Srinivasan 
PSTP Student
Sneha received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the
University of Arizona. After graduating she spend one year at the NIH studying B-
cell immunology, before starting medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. As
part of Pitt’s PSTP program, she joined the lab in 2022. Her research will focus on
the role of SIRT3 in anchorage independent cancer cell survival via alterations of

Lab Alum:

Sara Shimkotechnician 2015-2021. Lab publications:  PMC7036012 ; PMC8899553

Beth Worley – PhD 2021, position after graduating: Post-Doc at the Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland OR. Lab publications:  PMC6859581 ; PMC7036012 ; PMC8123547 ; PMC7464599 ; PMC8899553

Yeon Soo Kim – PhD 2021, position after graduating: Post-Doc at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle WA. Lab publications: PMC5745496 ; PMC6859581 ; PMC7036012 ;

Piyushi Gupta Vallur, PhD – Post-Doc 2016-2018, subsequent position: Medical/Scientific Writer Innoscripta. Lab publications: PMC5745496 ; PMC7036012

Dong Hui Sin, PhD – Post Doc 2013-2017, subsequent position: Research Associate, Departments of Pathology and Dermatology, Stony Brook University. Lab publications:  PMC4032324 ;  PMC4615546 ;  PMC4651777 ;  PMC7036012

Victoria Jones – Masters of Science 2016, position after graduating: Medical Student – University of Kentucky. Lab publications: PMC7036012

Sarah Engelberth – PhD 2016, position after graduating: Post-Doc at the University of California San Francisco, CA. Lab publications: PMC4183979 ; PMC5385888 ; PMC4651777 ; PMC5396058

LP Madhubhani P Hemachandra, Ph.D. – Post-Doc 2013 – 2015, subsequent position: Research Associate, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix AZ. Lab publications: PMC4032324 ; PMC4651777

Usawadee “Emmy” Dier – technician 2011-2015. Lab publications: PMC4032324 ; PMC4486081 ; PMC4615546 ;  PMC4651777

Larissa Uusitalo – Masters of Science 2014, position after graduating: staff at Regeneron. Lab publications: PMC3472707 ; PMC4032324 ; PMC4651777