Today is Thursday, Sep. 24, 2020

Department of

Radiation Oncology - Takiar & Wise-Draper Laboratory


Lab Members


Christina Wicker, MS, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Wicker obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology as well as her master's degree in Neuroscience and Physiology at Wright State University in 2006 and 2008 respectively. During her graduate studies at Wright State University, she identified that the cruciferous vegetable extract benzyl isothiocyanate could sensitize K-Ras mutant, chemotherapeutic-resistant pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell lines to TRAIL induced apoptosis. She later joined the laboratory of Dr. Carolyn Price at the University of Cincinnati where she studied telomere biology. Dr. Wicker then completed her PhD in Toxicology at the University of Kentucky in 2017. There she worked on multiple projects including examining regulation between base excision repair protein, Apurinic/Apyrimidinic Endonculease 1, and tumor suppressor Parkin in glioblastoma multiforme and in cell lines. She is currently working to identify possible mechanisms for radiation resistance in patients with HNSCC in an effort to identify potential biomarkers as well as novel drug treatment targets.

Christina was awarded a 2019 Young Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine.


Layne Weatherford

Layne Weatherford, BS,PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Layne completed his BS in biology at Michigan State University in 2011 where he worked in a potato pathology lab. Layne then went on to complete his PhD in cancer biology at Wayne State University in 2017. His dissertation focused on ATR, a protein central in the DNA damage response. He studied the roles of ATR in meiosis and cancer. Layne then went on to complete a short postdoc at Vanderbilt University where he studied the Myc oncogene. 

Gulati_Shuchi  white coat

Shuchi Gulati, MD

Assistant Professor Hematology & Oncology

During her Hematology-Oncology fellowship at the University of Cincinnati, Shuchi designed an investigator-initiated trial evaluating the use of Durvalumab in combination with Cetuximab in previously treated metastatic HNSCC patients. She continues to be PI on the study as an Assistant Professor at UC.


Jennifer Leddon, MD, PhD

Hematology & Oncology Fellow

Jennifer is interested in characterizing changes in genomic and transcriptional signatures in responders and non-responders to immunotherapy.

Elaban, William

William Elaban

Undergraduate Student

William is an undergraduate student at the University of Cincinnati in the class of 2021. He is studying Biological Sciences and intends on pursuing a career as a Physician-Scientist. He is particularly interested in the research of cancer therapies and how to improve them. William joined the lab in May of 2019. 


Sarah Palackdharry, MS

Lab Manager

Sarah obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Illinois in Chicago (2012). She then went on to complete her Masters in Biotechnology at Illinois State University (2016). During her graduate studies, Sarah focused understanding the role of phagocytic B cells in the reptilian immune system. She spent her summers trapping turtles in the Illinois River, taking blood samples, and later isolating peripheral blood mononuclear cells for downstream experiments in the lab. As lab manager of the Takiar Wise-Draper laboratory she helps to ensure the day-to-day runs smoothly. Her research focuses on mechanisms of resistance in head and neck cancer with an interest in immunology and the oncogene DEK.


Casey Norman

Undergraduate Student

Casey is an undergraduate student at the University of Cincinnati in the class of 2020. He is studying Biological Sciences with a Psychology minor. Following his undergraduate studies, Casey hopes to further his education by pursuing a career as a Physicians Assistant with a focus in Orthopedics. Casey joined the lab in June of 2018.


McKenzie Crist

Graduate Student

Kenzie is currently a PhD student in the Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine program and joined the lab in April 2019. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Miami University in 2018 where she studied metabolic disorders as an undergraduate researcher. Her current research focuses on immunological treatments and their mechanisms for head and neck patients.

Reece Swoverland photo for website

Reece Swoverland

Undergraduate Student

Reece is an undergraduate student at the University of Cincinnati in the class of 2022, studying Medical Sciences. After his undergraduate studies, he plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in orthopedics or neurology. Reece joined the lab in September 2019.

Julianna Korns

Julianna Korns

Graduate Student 

Julianna is currently a PhD student in the Cancer and Cell Biology Program and joined the lab in March 2020. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2019 where as an undergraduate researcher she studied telomere biology and genomic constructs. Currently her research focuses on improving treatments with radiation for head and neck cancer patients.

Maria Lehn

Maria Lehn

Senior Research Assistant 

Maria completed her BS in dietetics at Ohio University in 2009 where she worked in Dr. Robert Brannan’s lab studying beta-lactoglobulin and its effectiveness of blocking oil absorption in fried foods. Maria then came to UC to work in the lab of Dr. Maria Diaz-Meco and Dr. Jorge Moscat where she worked as a research assistant. In late 2010 Maria then went on to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to work in Dr. Edith Janssen’s lab in the department of Immunobiology. Maria helped to optimize, run, and analyze flow cytometry panels. She worked with both human tissues and mouse models for lupus, cancer, diabetes, and aging. At the beginning of 2020 Maria joined Dr. Vinita Takiar and Dr. Trisha Wise-Draper serving as a lab manager. Maria enjoys serving as a resource to her lab mates and facing the exciting challenges of research.


Poornima Dubey

Postdoctoral Fellow 

Before coming to UC, Dr. Dubey worked as a Research Associate at the University College London in the IMODE (Innovative MulticOmponent Drug Design) consortium, a European Union initiative. There she developed nanofiber-based, oral drug delivery method for Cyclosporine A with significantly improved water solubility to increase oral bioavailability. She also designed and developed 3D nanogel technology in collaboration with UCL Institute of Women Health - Gene Transfer Technology group at UCL. Dr. Dubey received a fellowship to pursue her M.Sc. in Biotechnology from the University of Mysore and then obtained her PhD from the highly selective, Indian Institute of Technology (Roorkee), Center of Nanotechnology. During her graduate studies, she explored nanomaterials-based anticancer and antibacterial nanomedicine. As a life science enthusiast with a strong background in interdisciplinary research from nanobiotechnology to nanopharmaceutical, she is driven to design and explore translational head and neck cancer (HNC) nanomedicine as it relates to the delivery of radiation and systemic therapies.