Fotis Asimakopoulos  |  MB BChir, PhD 

Fotis completed his MD/PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK, working with Tony Green on mapping 20q deletions associated with pre-leukemias. He then spent two (in his own words, “unforgettable”) years in Jerusalem working with Dina Ben Yehuda as a Golda Meir Fellow on mechanisms underlying CML clonal evolution.


After residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he joined Nobel prize laureate Harold Varmus’ group at MSK. In Harold’s lab, he began his work to generate a RAS-driven model for myeloma, a goal that eventually came to fruition several years later, with the publication of the VQ model (in collaboration with Jing Zhang’s group at UW-Madison as well as Marta Chesi and Leif Bergsagel at Mayo). 


In 2010, he became an Assistant Professor and later a tenured Associate Professor at UW-Madison. The Asimakopoulos lab moved to UCSD and sunny San Diego in 2019.

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Gauri Deb   |    Project Scientist


Gauri completed her PhD in Biosciences and Bioengineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati, India. As recipient of international Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral and Professional research fellowship, she carried out a part of her PhD research work in Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA working on cancer epigenetics. 

During her first postdoctoral training in Dr. Tim Somervaille’s laboratory, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, she developed keen interest in understanding the molecular underpinnings that drive malignant transformation and was actively working on identifying oncogenic vulnerabilities and potential drug-gene synthetic lethal interactions in acute leukemias such as AML using genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 based screens. Her work uncovered that inhibition of mTORC1 sensitizes human MLL-translocated AML cells to LSD1 inhibitor-mediated differentiation therefore highlighting a novel combination approach for evaluation in clinical trials (Leukemia 34(5):1266-1277). 

In late 2017, she moved to California and joined Dr. Markus Müschen’s lab as a senior postdoctoral scientist at Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope. She worked on utilizing cutting-edge functional genomics approaches to understand basic mechanisms of oncogene signaling in preB-ALL and lymphocyte development and target discovery for development of pathway-specific therapeutics. She joined Asimakopoulus lab in Dec 2020 and her current research interest is to understand the biology and pathogenic mechanisms of minimum residual disease (MRD) in myeloma. 


When not in lab, she enjoys reading, cooking and long walks on sunny California beaches with her family.

Garrett Arauz    |    Lab Manager

Garrett is our lab manager and a staff research associate. He graduated from University of California, Merced with a BS in Biology and has a background working with In Vivo cancer models.  


Garrett has had experience working in both academic, and industry research labs across California and has joined the Asimakopoulos Lab with the goal of establishing a highly competitive team of scientists, researchers, and students.

When not in the lab he enjoys surfing, backpacking, cooking and painting.




Alex Cicala    |    Research Associate

Alex holds a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He first joined the Asimakopoulos lab as an undergraduate and has now followed Dr. A to San Diego.


He aims to further his education in an MD/PhD program en route to his career goal of becoming a physician-scientist.

His hobbies include exercising, watching sports, and dining with friends. 

Alex Tong    |    Internal Medicine Resident

Alex grew up in Dallas, Texas and attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Throughout undergrad, he was part of the Taosheng Chen Lab at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he fell in love with bench-to-bedside translational cancer research.


Alex is currently an internal medicine resident at UCSD looking forward to pursuing an academic career in hematology/oncology. He did his MD/PhD at the Case Western Reserve University Medical Scientist Training Program in Cleveland, Ohio and worked in the Alex Huang Lab investigating cellular cancer immunotherapies and using 2-photon intravital microscopy to explore the dynamics of immune cells in lymph nodes.


He joined the Asimakopoulos Lab with an interest in uncovering immunoregulatory properties of matrix proteoglycans in multiple myeloma. 

Outside of the hospital/laboratory, Alex enjoys classical music, sci-fi novels and exploring San Diego with his wife and daughter. 


Ivan Putra    |    Research Assistant

Ivan is a junior undergraduate at the University of California San Diego, majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology. His research interests include understanding the role of Versican and its subunits in regulating tolerogenic responses and creating novel models for Multiple Myeloma.

He hopes that by becoming a member of Dr A's lab that he will be able to gain more hands on experience in medical research and contribute towards new methods of understanding and combating myeloma.

Outside the lab you can find him reading books (any kind), cooking, or working out.

Viena Le    |    Research Assistant

Viena is a junior undergraduate at UCSD, studying chemistry. She has joined the lab under an NCI funded program and she hopes to pursue a post graduate degree in medicine. While in the lab she hopes to expand on her experience in the field of medical research. 


Outside of her studies, her hobbies include reading, crocheting and traveling with friends. 


Duncan Hong    |    Research Assistant

Duncan is a sophomore majoring in General Biology. His interests within the lab include getting first hand experience working with various techniques used in cancer research and in understanding how various cancer models function at a molecular level. His goals are to enroll into medical school and to take part in the fight against myeloma. 

In his free time he likes road trips, watching sports, and learning about business. 

UCSD Lab Alumni 

Thanos Papadas, MD PhD (2017-21)


Position: PhD Student

Thanos's research focused on the interplay of extracellular matrix with the tumor immune milieu and particularly dendritic cells.

After completing his PhD, he began his Residency in Internal Medicine at the Jacobi Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Varun Bansal, PhD (2020-21)


Position: Post Doc

Varun’s graduate work was focused on chemical reprogramming of fibroblast and cancer biology.

After his time in the lab, he transitioned into the Biotech Industry focusing on Covid-19 vaccines.

UW Madison Lab Alumni (2010-19)

PhD and MD/PhD Graduate Students, UW- Madison






Athanasios Papadas, MD PhD (2021) 

Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) graduate program 

AACR Scholar-In-Training Awardee 2020 

UCSD Visiting Graduate Student 2019-21

Evan Flietner, BS 

Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) graduate program 

CMP T32 awardee 

(2019-, Zhang lab, UW-Madison)

Zachary Morrow, BS 

Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB) graduate program 

NSF Graduate Research Fellow 2019-2023 

(2019-, Sauer lab, UW-Madison)

Jeff Jensen, MD PhD (2015) 

Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB) graduate program 

UW MSTP student- UW ICTR TL1 awardee

Chelsea Hope, PhD (2016) 

Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) graduate program 

UW Hematology T32 awardee; 

ASH Abstract Achievement Awardee 2012

Postdoctoral Fellow, UW- Madison


Sarbjeet Kaur Makkar, PhD

(University of Arkansas)

Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health Program (RUSCH)


Rima Minazetdinova, UW-Platteville


Patricia Krueger, UW-Parkside 

Bianca Ruffolo, UW-Parkside 

Mohammad Raza, UW-Parkside

Shapiro Summer Research Program UW- Madison



Elena Kurudza, UW-Madison

Claire Flanagan, UW-Madison

MS graduate student, UW- Madison


Joe Ollar, MS (2014) 

Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) graduate program 

Genomic Sciences T32 awardee

Lab Managers, UW-Madison



Adam Pagenkopf, BS

Ellen Hebron, BS

Clinical Residents/ Fellows, UW- Madison




Muhammad Umair Mushtaq MD

Sibgha Chaudhary MD

Sanjay Patel MD

Biology 152 Undergraduate Lab Course, UW- Madison


Tyler Graham, UW- Madison


Alex Glodowski, UW- Madison


Kimberly Gromek, UW- Madison

(Hilldale Undergraduate/ Faculty Research Fellow)


Jaye Dvorak, UW- Madison 

Alexander Cicala, UW- Madison

(Hilldale Undergraduate/ Faculty Research Fellow)

Science Research Internship program (SRI)


Samik Partha, Memorial High School, Madison 

Andrew Jiang, Memorial High School, Madison

Staff Research Associate, UCSD, Undergraduate Researcher, UW-Madison


Joshua Wiesner, UW-Madison

Senior Undergraduate Thesis program, UW-Madison


James Menting, UW-Madison 

Alexander Cicala, UW-Madison

Undergraduate Researcher, UW-Madison


Bradley Nagel, UW-Madison