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Meet the Team

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Alex Jaeger, PhD

Principal Investigator

Alex received his BS in Biomedical Science from The Ohio State University before completing a PhD in Pharmacology at Duke University. At Duke, Alex studied the structural and functional evolution of Heat Shock Transcription Factors using protein crystallography and other biochemical techniques. For his postdoctoral studies, Alex transitioned to the Whitehead Institute of Technology under the supervision of Susan Lindquist, where he began investigating the role of Heat Shock Protein 90 in shaping MHC-I antigen presentation. Alex then moved to the lab of Tyler Jacks at the Koch Institute of MIT where he began to utilize sophisticated genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMS) of cancer to decipher antigen presentation in the tumor microenvironment. During this time, Alex built new mouse models that enable precise purification of MHC complexes from specific cells in vivo, technologies that serve as the foundation of the Jaeger Lab. When not thinking about tumor antigens, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, watching Ohio State Football, cooking anything over an open flame, and golfing.

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Anika Ali, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Anika received her BS in Microbiology and her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of South Florida. She conducted her PhD research in Dr. Charles Chalfant’s lab where she worked on elucidating the role of ceramide-1-phosphate in Anaplasma phagocytophilum pathogenesis and Golgi-ER retrograde trafficking. During this time, she had also worked on projects that investigated the implication of ceramide-1-phosphate in wound healing. Apart from science and her lab time, she loves food, enjoys cooking, going to the gym, watching food and workout reels on Instagram, long walks and biking in the winter time.


Emily Brennan, BS

Research Technician

Emily received her BS in Biomedical Sciences from Marymount Manhattan College. Upon graduating, she began work as a Project Assistant in the Integrated Genomics Operation core facility at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. There she oversaw the flow of samples through numerous genomics applications and assisted investigators in the planning of their projects. She recently moved back to her hometown of Tampa, FL and is excited to delve deeper into the basic biology of cancer. As a lifelong dancer, Emily enjoys teaching classes at her local dance studio, as well as hiking the beautiful Florida landscape and spending time with her cats.


Emma Adhikari, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Emma received her M.Sc. in Biology from University of Utah, and PhD in Cancer Biology from Moffitt Cancer Center in affiliation with USF. Emma’s M.Sc work in the lab of Professor Leslie Sieburth focused on understanding the signaling pathway that coordinates shoot development with conditioned perceived by the roots in model organism Arabidopsis Thaliana. For her PhD work, Emma transitioned to Cancer Biology field under the supervision of Dr. Eric Lau at Moffitt Cancer Center. Her PhD work focused on understanding the role of secreted fucosylated proteins from Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in breast cancer brain metastasis. Her current research primarily focuses on antigen presentation by a subtype of CAFs that express MHC-II in Pancreatic cancer. Apart from science, Emma enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband, playing board games & video games, dancing, and travelling.

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Andrew Weeden, BS

Research Technician

Having recently graduated from Boston College with a BS in Biology, Andrew moved back to Tampa to work and study under Alex Jaeger at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. He is a Research Associate assisting with projects involving antigen presentation in cancer, a field known as immunopeptidomics. Previously, Andrew spent a summer at Moffitt in John Cleveland’s lab studying metabolites in the context of B cell lymphomas as well as T cell immunobiology. As an undergraduate, Andrew was a member of BC’s Mendel Society and completed pre-medical coursework. With experience in an urgent care and as an EMT, Andrew is taking a few gap years to dive deeper into research before pursuing graduate school. Once a competitive soccer player, Andrew plays in an adult soccer league weekly and enjoys all the outdoor activities Florida has to offer, especially fishing.

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Andrew Deonarine, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Andrew received his BS in Biology from the University of Florida and his PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of South Florida. His PhD research was performed in the lab of Dr. Sandy Westerheide where he focused on examining the function of Heat Shock Factor 1 during organismal aging in C. elegans. After his PhD he briefly worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Veena Prahlad at the University of Iowa studying regulation of Serotonin signaling in neurodegeneration in C. elegans. Returning home to Florida, his current research examines the role of MHC-II in tumor immunobiology. Outside of the lab he is an adventurous cook, enjoys road biking, and taking in Florida’s many beaches.

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Christopher Polera, BS

Graduate Student

Chris received his BS in Biomedical Science with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida. While at UCF, he completed undergraduate research in medicinal chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Otto Phanstiel. It was during this time he learned to synthesize and biologically validate small molecule inhibitors of polyamine transport in addition to other relevant cancer targets. Eager to continue his journey as a cancer researcher Chris decided to join Moffitt’s Cancer Chemical Biology PhD program where he intends to study MHC Class I antigen presentation. Outside of working at the bench he enjoys playing tennis, watching the Tampa Bay Lightning, and spending time out on the water.

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