Alex Benton graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, receiving his BA in biochemistry. As an undergraduate he gained translational research experience through working in many industry and academic labs. This included highly competitive internship positions and AbbVie and Pfizer, and research fellowships in the labs of Gary J. Patty and Scott J. Hultgren. Alex is currently a 4th year PhD candidate at The Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. He joined the Daniel J. Powell Jr. Lab in 2020, where he received funding from a T32 grant for pharmacology. Alex’s research focus is on developing safer and more potent cellular immunotherapies using cutting edge genome engineering techniques. This work is the subject of his recently accepted manuscript to be published in Cancer Cell
Vinh Dao MD, Phd
Dr. Dao completed his undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley in 2006, then worked as a research associate at UCSF under the mentorship of Dr. Lawrence Fong. There, he was exposed to cancer immunology research, specifically the use of anti-CTLA for the treatment of prostate cancer. It was this sense of advancement in both science and medicine that defined his plan to pursue a combined MD/PhD degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. While there, he worked under the mentorship of Dr. Tyler Curiel to show that the drug rapamycin (sirolimus) could enhance gamma-delta T cells to prevent cancer entirely in mouse models of colon and skin cancer. His graduate research was funded by the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F30 fellowship). Having completed his residency training in internal medicine at Stanford, Dr. Dao is now in his final year of hematology-oncology fellowship. As part of Stanford’s Translational Investigator Program, Dr. Dao was initially pursuing a lab-based career with a focus on cancer immunology research but recently decided to pursue a different path related to clinical trial design and implementation for patients with GI malignancies.
Chinwe Ewenighi-Amankwah, PhD, MSc, BSc
Dr. Chinwe Ewenighi-Amankwah, Ph.D., MSc., BSc., is an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, College of Medicine, at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Chicago, IL. As a postdoctoral research fellow, her study aims to understand how single nucleotide polymorphism in the ACKR1 gene affects leukocyte infiltration in triple-negative breast cancer. Dr. Ewenighi-Amankwah conducted her Ph.D. research study at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (UIC). Subsequently, she earned a Ph.D. in Immunology from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Nigeria. Her Ph.D. research study at UIC was focused on ‘A Mother-to-Child Transmission Study’ where she assessed the impact of maternal HIV infection and HAART on plasma immunoglobulins, cytokine profiles, and infant outcomes.
Aside from research activities, Dr. Ewenighi-Amankwah has taught Summer Pre-matriculation lectures in physiology at UIC. Dr. Ewenighi-Amankwah is one of the Executive Board members and Director of External Relations at the UIC Postdoctoral Association. She has served on several organizing committees including Organizing Committee Member at ‘Your Future in Science seminar series planning’ where she represents the UIC postdoctoral association, Organizing Committee for the 5th and 6th UIC Career Development Symposium held in 2021 and 2022, and Organizing Committee Member at UIC Inaugural Cardiovascular T32 trainee Symposium in 2021.