Lance A. Liotta, MD, PhD
Since 2005 Dr. Liotta has served as Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) at George Mason University. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Liotta served as Chief of the Laboratory of Pathology, NCI, Deputy Director of NIH, Co-Director of the NCI/FDA Clinical Proteomics Program, and Director of the Anatomic Pathology Residency Program. For his PhD in Biomedical Engineering (MD/PhD Case Western Reserve) he developed the first mathematical model of the cancer metastatic process and studied the early release of circulating tumor cells. At the NIH he went on to investigate the process of tumor invasion and metastasis at the molecular level. Dr. Liotta has invented and patented, along with his laboratory co-inventors, transformative technologies in the fields of diagnostics, cancer molecular therapeutics, microdissection (Laser Capture Microdissection), and proteomics (Reverse Phase Protein Microarrays, Biomarker Harvesting Nanoparticles, preservation chemistries for molecular analysis, and “protein painting” for drug target mapping) that have been used to make broad discoveries in cancer biology, and diagnostics, and therapeutics. The Laser Capture Microdissection prototype is in the Smithsonian Collection. His team at CAPMM studies the proteomics of human tissue, cultured cells, and body fluids, using this set of novel technologies. This research has directly resulted in ongoing clinical research trials applying the technology to the discovery of markers for early stage disease, individualized therapy for metastatic cancer, and adjuvant therapy of premalignant breast cancer. He is a founder of Theranostics Health and Ceres Nanosciences. Dr. Liotta has more than 100 issued or allowed patents and more than 690 publications. He is an ISI highly cited investigator and the recipient of numerous awards for biomedical research including the 2015 Outstanding Virginia Faculty Award (SCHEV), the Flemming Award for Cancer Research, the Warner-Lambert Parke Davis Award, and the Surgeon General’s Medallion. He is Board Certified in Anatomic Pathology and is Medical Director of the GMU CAP/CLIA certified clinical proteomics Lab.
Emanuel Petricoin III, PhD
Dr. Emanuel F Petricoin has been the Co-Director of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) at George Mason University since 2005, where he is a University Professor. Prior to this position, he served as Co-Director of the FDA-NCI Clinical Proteomics Program and a Senior Investigator within the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA from 1993-2005. Dr. Petricoin received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Maryland in 1990. The focus of the CAPMM is the invention and use of proteomics technologies for personalized therapy, and biomarker discovery and measurement for direct clinical applications at the bedside. He is a co-founder of 4 life science companies, Theranostics Health, Inc, Ceres Nanosciences Inc., C-4 Diagnostics, Inc. and Perthera, Inc. He is a co-inventor on 40 filed and published patents, and has authored over 350 peer-reviewed publications and invited reviews. He has authored over 40 book chapters, is on the editorial board of Proteomics, Biomedical Microdevices, Proteomics- Clinical Applications, Proteomics- Protocols, Molecular Carcinogenesis, Journal of Personalized Medicine and is a Senior Editor for Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention Dr. Petricoin is a founding member of the Human Proteomic Organization (HUPO) as well as the US HUPO and served on the Executive Committee and Treasurer for HUPO from 2002-2004. He has received numerous awards including the University Professorship at George Mason University, the NIH Director’s Award, FDA Distinguished Scientist Award, 2015 Innovator of the Year Award, GAP50 Top Virginia Entrepreneurs, Nifty 50 Award, American Society of Cytopathology Basic Research Award, the Roche Diagnostics/CLAS Distinguished Scientist Award and the Harvard University Leading Edge Award and is s Kentucky Colonel. He is the faculty representative to the George Mason University Research Foundation and represents GMU on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Health Research Biosciences Corporation.
Assistant to Center Directors
Phone: (703) 993-9526
Senior Grants Administrator, Office of Sponsored Programs
Valerie Calvert, BS
Research Assistant Professor
Virginia Espina, PhD, MT(ASCP)
Research Associate Professor
Virginia (Ginny) Espina, PhD, MT(ASCP) is a Research Associate Professor and Director of the CAP accredited clinical proteomics laboratory at George Mason University (Manassas, Virginia, USA) in the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine. Dr. Espina’s career began as a Medical Technologist with extensive experience in clinical chemistry and Blood Banking. She received her Master's in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Biosciences from George Mason University. Dr. Espina is the former Manager of the Laser Capture Microdissection Core facility at the NIH/National Cancer Institute. At George Mason University, Dr. Espina implemented and maintains the CAP-accredited clinical proteomics lab for clinical trial research.
The studies performed by Dr. Espina have involved a wide spectrum of proteomic approaches, including classical western blotting, laser capture microdissection and reverse phase protein microarrays, that yielded elucidation of phosphorylation specific kinase events in the tumor-host microenvironment of multiple myeloma, breast, lung, and ovarian cancer. Ms. Espina’s responsibilities include lab management for the CAP/CLIA accredited clinical trial laboratory, co-PI on the PINC trial, a breast DCIS chemoprevention clinical trial, as well as translational research involving nanoparticle applications for harvesting biomarkers, identification of breast cancer progenitor cells in pre-invasive lesions, and elucidation of cell signaling cascades in cancer and infectious disease. Ms. Espina is the lead scientist developing phosphoprotein preservatives as an alternative to formalin fixation.
She is on the editorial board of Molecular and Cellular Proteomic and serves as a peer reviewer for several journals. Dr. Espina is an author of more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and editor of Molecular Profiling in Methods in Molecular Biology. She holds 4 issued patents related to new technologies and therapeutic applications.
Isela Gallagher, MS
Isela’s research incorporates laser capture microdissection, reverse phase protein microarrays, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry to investigate unique signaling pathway profiles in cancer tissue that can be utilized for diagnosis, prognosis, targeted therapeutics and individualized therapy.
Alessandra Luchini, PhD
Claudius Mueller, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Claudius' research focuses on protein pathway activation mapping in brain cancer (glioblastoma) as well as the development and optimization of new tissue stabilizing chemistries and fixatives that preserve the phosphorylation state of signaling proteins, while maintaining full diagnostic immunohistochemical and histomorphologic detail of cells and tissues.
Mariaelena Pierobon, MD, MPH
Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Pierobon is a Research Associate Professor at the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) at George Mason University. She received her Medical Degree from the University of Padova, Italy, and a Master’s in Public Health from George Mason University. Since October of 2007 she has been a faculty member of CAPMM, where she has served as senior scientist and co-PI of numerous translational research studies and precision medicine clinical trials. Using high-throughput proteomic platforms, Dr. Pierobon explores the functional signaling network of tumor cells and the host microenvironment to uncover predictive/therapeutic targets and mechanisms of resistance to tailored treatment.
Dr. Pierobon has participated in the design and implementation of precision medicine clinical trials for metastatic breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers where “multi-Omic” molecular information, including genomic and proteomic data collected directly from the metastatic lesion of cancer patients, are used for selecting tailored treatment for individual patients. Dr. Pierobon’s work at CAPMM has led to the development of a calibrated assay that allows researchers to explore the activation level of numerous FDA-approved drug targets and downstream substrates in human tissue. Dr. Pierobon routinely co-authors peer-reviewed publications, serves as a peer reviewer for many scientific journals, and regularly presents her work at national and international meetings.
Alex Reeder, BS , MT(ASCP)
Alex is involved in research that focuses on translational breast cancer clinical trials. She uses laser capture microdissection, reverse phase protein microarrays and cell culture as primary technologies in her work.
Alex analyzes protein signaling pathways in tissue to provide physicians with data to rationally select FDA-approved pharmaceutical treatments for breast cancer patients.
Sally Rucker, BS, MT(ASCP)
Sally is involved in research that uses hydrogel microparticles to sequester and concentrate low abundance proteins, such as biomarkers or antigens, in complex biofluid samples. Her current focus is on early Lyme disease detection using these microparticles to concentrate Lyme antigens in urine, which can then be detected using an ELISA procedure.
Sally also ensures the laboratory is CAP/CLIA compliant for upcoming clinical trials. This involves meeting all CAP/CLIA regulations and participating in proficiency testing surveys to monitor the lab’s performance on established tests.
Paul Russo, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Paul’s research focuses on using multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry (MRM-MS) to quantitate and validate potential biomarkers for diseases including cancer, heart disease, and schizophrenia. After potential biomarkers are discovered by other mass spectrometry methods, Paul uses MRM-MS to validate and quantify data using larger sample sets.
Paul is also developing a method using MRM-MS to quantitate human growth hormone (hGH) in human blood and urine to identify athletes who have doped.
Amy Adams, MS
Scientific Outreach and Education Program Manager
Amy’s research focuses on using laser capture microdissection, western blotting and reverse phase protein microarray technology to investigate the phosphorylation events in signaling pathways for the discovery of new rational drug targets and mapping protein pathways which can be applied to disease diagnosis and prognosis
Amy also directs The Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program that engages high school and undergraduate students in cutting edge scientific research related to Proteomics, Genomics, Neuroscience, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biodefense, Nanotechnology, Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Physics and Environmental Science.
Julia Wulfkuhle, PhD
Dr. Wulfkuhle has more than 10 years of experience in human tissue processing and preparation for Laser Capture Microdissection and in the field of functional signal pathway profiling of human cells and tissues using Reverse Phase Protein Microarray (RPMA) technology. She has contributed to methods development for sample preparation, printing, staining, image capture and analysis and has also been involved in the establishment of a set of reference standards and calibrators for RPMAs that will be used in the transition of this technology into a calibrated assay that can be used for standardization and quantification of staining intensities across arrays and between experiments. Dr. Wulfkuhle’s research interests include proteomic profiling of solid tumor tissues, including breast, prostate, lung and brain, for designing personalized therapeutic strategies, and identification of signaling mechanisms underlying resistance to targeted therapeutics.
Weidong Zhou, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Weidong analyzes serum, tissue and cell lines using liquid chromatography-coupled tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for biomarker discovery relevant to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, infectious disease, schizophrenia, and atrial fibrillation.