Cultivating an atmosphere of collaboration, camaraderie, and diversity


We aim to ask clinically relevant questions and to answer them with teamwork and scientific rigor.

The Hernando Lab is working to dissect the molecular basis of cancer metastasis, using melanoma as a model.

We apply a multi-pronged approach based on the analysis of human samples, in vitro and in vivo models and cutting-edge cell, imaging and molecular biology techniques to discover fundamental mechanisms underlying tumor progression. This strategy allows us to uncover novel, in- depth molecular mechanisms, which are relevant to patients and have potential for clinical application. Through the past 12 years we have uncovered new roles for noncoding RNA, transcriptional programs and protein glycosylation into melanoma initiation and metastasis, which have been published in prestigious journals such as Journal of National Cancer Institute, Nat Cell Biol, Cell reports, and Cancer Cell. We have been uninterruptedly funded by NCI/NIH, Department of Defense and peer-reviewed programs of the Melanoma Research Alliance and American Cancer Society.

We train our lab members to become the next-generation of molecular and cancer biologists, empowered with the intellectual and technical skills that will allow them to continue leading impact and innovation in translational research. Our goal is to help each and every lab member enjoy life in the lab while fulfilling their maximum potential as scientists. Our team includes a mix of students (undergrads, MS, PhD, and MD-PhD) from NYU downtown and NYU School of Medicine, postdoctoral scientists, staff scientists, and research technicians.

We welcome new ideas and encourage risk taking and exploration, as we are convinced that it is the only path to innovation and high impact discoveries.
We also strive to make the process of doing science fun. Most projects in the lab are structured around small teams. This makes life in lab more enjoyable and pushes projects forward faster than with one person going it alone. Above all, we value hard work, motivation, resilience and drive because often success comes only after trying many ideas and enduring through failures. We promote a culture of high standards, reproducibility and rigor; never letting the pace of discoveries compromise quality. We welcome a diversity of individuals from multiple cultural backgrounds, which makes the lab a lively environment and enriches us as both humans and scientists. We provide advice and support to our trainees in the variety of career choices they contemplate after leaving the lab. 
Our students have successfully competed for F30 fellowships. Many postdoctoral scientists have obtained postdoctoral fellowships, including the EMBO Fellowship, the Human Frontiers Science Program Fellowship, or the National Cancer Center fellowship. Our senior scientists have received career awards from the New York Stem Cell Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Harry Lloyd Charitable Trust and the NIH K22 award. Some of our former trainees are now Principal Investigators at prestigious institutions, such as the VHIO in Barcelona (Spain) and TIGET in Milan (Italy). 

Team Members

Eva Hernando

Eva obtained her PhD in Sciences (Molecular Biology) at the Universidad Autónoma (Madrid, Spain) in 1999. She conducted her post-doctoral studies at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and Cold Spring Harbor laboratories, co-supervised by Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD PhD, and Scott W. Lowe, PhD. She joined the Department of Pathology at NYU School of Medicine in 2006 where she is currently a tenured professor and assistant dean for research integration. She has served as vicechair for the Department of Pathology and associate director for basic science for the Perlmutter Cancer Center, an NCI-designated Cancer Center. She has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles, including reports at Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Cell Biology and Cancer Cell. She is a permanent member of the Cancer Molecular Pathobiology [CAMP] NIH Study Section. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and visiting NYC parks and museums with her husband and two children.

Alcida Karz

Allie is a third year MD/PhD student investigating mechanisms of melanoma brain metastasis. Allie initially joined the Hernando lab as a member of the NYU Summer Undergraduate Research Program in 2016. After graduating from Duke University with a B.S. in Biology and completing her first half of medical school, circular RNAs were still on her mind, so she re-joined the lab for her PhD in spring 2019. Besides pipetting small volumes of liquid from one tube to another, Allie’s passions include breakfast food and rescue dogs.

Victoria Osorio Vasquez

Victoria is a PhD Candidate in the Pacold and Hernando laboratories. She is working toward discovering metabolic vulnerabilities in melanoma in order to create novel therapies to impede brain metastasis. Alongside her work in the laboratory, Victoria serves as Student Diversity Initiative Co-facilitator and is focused on developing a sense of community amongst graduate students that fosters diversity and inclusion in science. When she isn’t in the lab, she enjoys dancing, cooking, and hanging out with her dog.

Andrey Rubanov

Andrey is a PhD student interested in developing prognostic models for early-stage melanoma metastatic dissemination. He received his bachelor’s in Human Biology from UCSD, as well a master’s in Biology studying honey bee innate immune priming and gut microbiome host-pathogen interactions. Subsequently he spent 3 years as a technician at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute performing high-throughput screening and molecular profiling of small molecule cGAS/STING agonists in primary human dendritic cells for enhanced antigen presentation in the tumor microenvironment. Outside of the lab Andrey enjoys reading and spending time in nature.

Nicole Eskow

Nicole is a third year MD/PhD student interested in dissecting the interactions between the immune system and melanoma brain metastases. She graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University in 2019. Outside of lab, Nicole enjoys baking and knitting, and she is a certified fitness instructor.

Pietro Berico

Pietro is a postdoctoral fellow who received his PhD in cancer biology at the Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire (IGBMC) in Strasbourg, France. Before that, he received his bachelor and master’s degrees in molecular genetics at the University of Milano Bicocca, Italy, where he focused his research on the gene regulatory functions of the transcription factor SOX2 in embryonic and pathological conditions. During his PhD thesis in France, Pietro’s interests in the dynamics of gene expression got seduced by the complexity of transcriptional dysregulation driving melanoma biology. Here, he discovered GATA6 and BAHCC1, two novel transcriptional regulators involved respectively in drug resistance and melanoma proliferation. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Hernando Laboratory, Pietro will seek to better understand which melanoma phenotypic states contribute to melanoma progression and which are the transcriptional regulators essential to maintain those states. Outside the lab, Pietro is addicted to food, gym and motorcycle and his dream is to do the route 66 on his Indian motorcycle.

Maria A. Gomez Munoz, PhD

Maria Angeles is a postdoctoral fellow who obtained her PhD in biomedicine and molecular biology at the Instituto de Biomedicina de Seville (Spain). Maria carried out her PhD in Neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood tumor which arises from malignant neural crest cells during embryonic development. Neural crest stem cells (NCCs) are a very plastic and specially migratory cell population which indeed also give rise to melanocytes during physiological development. Indeed, it has been described that somehow, melanoma tumor cells can re-adopt a NCC-like phenotype which, due to their cellular characteristics, allow them to overcome therapy and eventually give rise to recurrence in melanoma patients. This previous findings lead her to got interested in the possible relevance of this population in significant melanoma clinical challenges such as therapy resistance, relapses and metastasis. In her non-scientific time, what Maria enjoy the most is spending quality time with her people and cat, trying new food or wine, dancing, running or any other activity which keep her away from the sofa.

Marija Simic, PhD

Marija is a postdoctoral fellow in the Hernando lab working on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms around how and why melanoma cells metastasize to the skeleton to evade conventional therapies. In 2016, Marija graduated with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Biomedical Science from the University of Technology Sydney. Marija obtained her PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2022 where her PhD project explored cellular pathways that contribute to myeloma-induced bone disease, which was conducted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Outside of work, Marija enjoys reading, baking, and visiting museums and exhibitions.

Dania Annuar

Dania is a first year graduate student in the Systems and Computational Biomedicine program. She is interested in studying interactions within the tumor microenvironment of melanoma metastasis. She received her Bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and earned her Masters in Biomedical Informatics at NYU. Outside of the lab, she enjoys good food, running and traveling.

Fatemeh Vand Rajab Pour, PhD

Fatemeh is a postdoctoral fellow who received her Ph.D. in Medical Genetics from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. She holds a master’s in Human Genetics and a bachelor’s in Cellular and Molecular Biology. During her Ph.D., she conducted research on the expression of EMT and stemness key regulatory genes and lncRNAs in the spectrum of skin cancers from basal cell carcinoma (which is less metastatic) to squamous cell carcinoma (which is moderately metastatic) and melanoma (which is the most metastatic skin cancer). She believes that reconsidering current models for studying metastatic and metastatic suppressive molecular pathways could provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of metastasis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she collaborated remotely with Dr. Robert Judson-Torres’ lab to gain a deeper understanding of epigenetic regulators in melanoma. Besides cancer research, Fatemeh has a keen interest in genetic diseases and collaborating with others. Currently, she is interested in identifying the key molecular and epigenetic drivers of melanoma brain metastasis. Fatemeh enjoys exploring cities, being in nature, and practicing yoga.

Amanda Flores Yanke

Amanda is a Research Associate in the Hernando Lab. She obtained a Bachelor degree in Biomedical Sciences, majoring in Clinical Pathology, from Anhembi Morumbi University, Brazil. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking for her family and friends, walking with her dog, and having picnics in the park. Amanda will be studying the molecular basis of melanoma metastasis, using a combination of genetic approaches and in vitro and in vivo models of melanoma.


Former Postdocs

Rana Moubarak, PhD

Current position: Medical Science Liaison at Bristol Myer Squibbs

Praveen Agrawal, PhD

Current position: Assistant Professor at Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein School of Medicine

Doug Hanniford, PhD

Doug was a graduate student, post doc, and then instructor in the Hernando laboratory. His focus was on elucidating functions and mechanisms of circular RNA in melanoma metastasis.

Miguel F. Segura, PhD.

Current position: Principal Investigator at Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR); Barcelona, Spain

Maria V. Guijarro, PhD

Current position: Senior Research Scientist at University of Florida; Gainesville, FL

Chanh Huynh, MD PhD

Current position: Medical Oncologist at Cancer Care Associates of York; Hershey, PA

Raffaella DiMicco PhD

Current position: Principal Investigator at TIGET Institute; Milan, Italy

Verónica Davalos Vega, PhD

Current position: Research Associate, Josep Carreras Institute, Barcelona, Spain

Luca Paoluzzi, MD

Current position: Director, Sarcoma/Melanoma Medical Oncology Program at Montefiore and Assistant Professor, Department of Oncology at Albert Einstein Medical School, New York.

Alfredo Floristán, PhD

Current position: Clinical scientist at ROVI; Madrid, Spain

Gillian Baptiste, MD

(2020-2021) worked on melanoma brain metastases and now she continues her residency in general surgery at NYU Langone Health.

Former Grad Students

Kevin Kleffman, MD, PhD

Current position: Hem/Onc Resident at Mass General Hospital

Ovaun Latouche

Ovaun was a first year Masters student in the Hernando laboratory. He is interested in studying the epistatic relationship between oncogenes in melanoma progression.

Laura S. Danielson, PhD;

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Research, NYUSoM, NY.
Current: Senior Science Communications Manager at Cancer Research UK

Avital Gaziel, PhD

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Research, NYUSoM, NY.
Current: Co-founder; Head of Medical Affairs at Trialjectory

Lisa Koetz-Ploch, PhD;

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Research, NYUSoM, NY.
Current position: Associate Medical Director at TrialJectory

Barbara Fontanals-Cirera, PhD

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Research, NYUSoM, NY.
Current position: Associate Medical Director at TrialJectory

Alejandro Ulloa-Morales, PhD

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Research, NYUSoM, NY.
Current position: Post-doc, Max Plank Institute, Germany

Gabriela Berzoti, PhD

University of Sao Paolo, Brazil
Current position: Post-doc, University of Sao Paolo, Brazil

Jiexi Li, MS

New York University, NY
Current position: Graduate Research Assistant, MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth

Former Visiting Grad Students

Pilar Gonzalez-Gomez, PhD

Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain

Sebastian Stefan, MS

University of Vienna, Austria

Silvia Alvarez, PhD

Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Madrid, Spain

Lorena Arranz, PhD

Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain

Marc Coussens, PhD

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Research, NYUSoM, NY.

Maria Diaz-Martinez, PhD

Centro Superior Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Madrid Spain

Karin Lijia, PhD

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Research, NYUSoM, NY.

Former Research Technicians

Elif Karasu

Arman Alberto Sorin Shadaloey, MD

Current position: Surgery Resident at NYULH Long Island

Richard Von Itter

Richard was a Research Technician in the Hernando laboratory interested in studying regulators of melanoma metastasis and immunotherapy. He currently is getting his PhD at NYU.

Silvia Menendez, MS

Xavier Jirau-Serrano

Elena Sokolova, MD.

Claudia D. Lovell

Diana Argibay, MS

Research Associate at Pandemic Response Lab/Opentrons

Grace Levinson

Former Undergraduates

Claudia D. Lovell

Ana de Pablos Aragoneses

Ainhoa Ruiz Iglesias

Ines Delclaux

Francisco Galan

Elena Garcia-Castellanos

Vanessa Ortiz Barahona

Stephanie K. Yuen

Olivia Maguire

Vivian Low

Lab Life

Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life
Hernando Lab Team, Lab Life


Thank you for your interest in our lab! To apply, please send an email with the following: 


Your CV with a list of publications

A short summary of your present and future research interests

For postdoc candidates only: A list of three references with names, phone numbers and email addresses