Simon Lacey is a graduate of Imperial College, London University, UK, where he received an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. He completed his Ph.D at the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, studying viral enzymes involved in nucleotide metabolism. He then held a position as staff scientist at the Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham UK, investigating mechanisms of HIV resistance to antiviral nucleoside analogs. A postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University, North Carolina followed, where he studied T cell mediated immune responses to HIV.
In 1998 Dr. Lacey moved to the Beckman Institute of the City of Hope, where, as an Associate Research Professor and Principal Investigator in Don Diamond’s Laboratory of Translational Vaccine Research, he studied viral and tumor immunity. During this period he was the recipient of investigator awards from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, NIAID and NIDDK. In 2010, he assumed the Directorship of the Clinical Immunobiology Studies Laboratory at the Beckman Institute. In 2012 he moved to the University of Pennsylvania to where he served first as Associate Director of the Translational and Correlative Studies Laboratory, and since October 2013, as Director.
Dr. Lacey has published multiple primary research and review articles in the field of T cell immunity to viruses and cancer.
Publications in PubMed
Vanessa E. Gonzalez M.B.A. – Associate Director (Operations)
Vanessa E. Gonzalez has a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master in Business from the Turabo University. She has over 10 years of experience working in regulated laboratories in the pharma (Bristol Myers Squibb Inc., Mayaguez, PR), biotech (Xcyte Therapies Inc., Seattle, WA) and food industries (JLA Laboratory/IEH Inc., Edenton, NC) where she gained extensive knowledge of the cGMP/GLP and ISO 17025 regulations. In 2009, while working in JLA as supervisor, Vanessa led the microbiology lab to the ISO 17025 accreditation. Vanessa joined the TCSL in 2013 to work as a Data Manager and in 2015 formally assumed the responsibilities of TCSL Quality Manager and leading the TCSL's efforts to close the gap between existing practices and GCLP standards. In 2019, as the TCSL became a Service Center she assumed the responsibilities of establishing the foundation of the new business model. In 2020 Vanessa was appointed TCSL Associate Director.
Jeffrey Finklestein M.Sc., Research Specialist, Laboratory Manager
Jeffrey Finklestein earned his M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, he was employed for 2.5 years in the biotechnology field performing product development and R&D inquiry as a Research Associate with BioNano Genomics (BNG). In anticipation of BNG’s relocation to California, Jeffrey came to the TCSL in mid-2012 as a high level Research Specialist and relished the opportunity to become the Laboratory Manager in early 2014.
He thoroughly enjoys the cultural diversity within the group and enjoys the challenge of managing the needs of a large team.
Jeffrey has previously been educated and employed in research laboratories at Pennsylvania State University, The Wistar Institute, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
He has broad expertise in cell and molecular biology techniques.
Irina Kulikovskaya M.Sc., MB(ASCP)CM – Lead Molecular Platforms
Irina Kulikovskaya holds a M.Sc. and is a certified technologist in Molecular Biology (ASCP). She graduated from Lomonov Moscow State University and then worked in the Institute of Medical Parasitology and Tropical Medicine, Moscow. She followed this with research on recombinant gene expression at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom and on protein purification and characterization at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She joined the University of Pennsylvania in 1999 and TCSL in 2010. Irina has broad expertise in research laboratory techniques including molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, and protein chemistry.
Fang Chen Ph.D. – Lead, Biochemical Platforms
Dr. Chen studied Biology at Peking University before coming to the US. She completed her PhD study with Dr. David Puett at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. She then became a postdoctoral fellow of Dr. Bert O’Malley at Baylor College of Medicine supported by a NIH training grant. She subsequently joined the Merck Research Laboratories with Dr. C. Thomas Caskey and stayed there as a senior scientist/research fellow for about 14 years. In 2009, she left Merck and moved to cancer biologist Dr. Wafik El-Deiry’s laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine. She joined TCSL in 2013 due to the departure of Dr. El-Deiry from Penn.
Her project areas range from glycoprotein hormones, nuclear receptor superfamily, obesity, bone biology to cancer therapies. Her research experiences cover academic research, small molecule and biologics drug discovery and development, biomarker identification/validation, and translational research. She has extensive hands-on experience on many of the technologies developed for the genome research and post-genomic research and application, such as various microarrays, genotyping, multiplexing. She is also strong in new assay establishment/automation and streamlining the workflow and information flow. She has published 16 first author papers and holds several patents throughout the years in different research fields. She created and taught a course “The Art of Making Modern Medicine” at Penn for three semesters. She also had many years of experience in recruiting/supervising staff and students.
Lifeng Tian, MD, Ph.D., Project Manager, Lead Flow Cytometry Assay and Technology Development
Lifeng Tian earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Pathology and Pathophysiology from the Harbin Medical University in China. She then became a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Xuemin Zhang at the National Center of Biomedical Analysis (NCBA in China), where she studied oncogene MDM2 interaction proteins by yeast two-hybrid system. In 2006, she joined Dr. Richard Pestell’s lab at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Her biomedical research in the field of Breast Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University focused on a comprehensive understanding of PPARγ signaling and its role in breast cancer initiation and progression. In 2008, she left Thomas Jefferson University and joined Hui Hu’s laboratory at The Wistar Institute, where she focusses on the T characteristics of Foxp1 Knockout mice. She came to the TCSL in August 2016 and was appointed project manager of Flow Cytometry Assay and Technology Development (FCATD) in early 2017.
Minnal Gupta M.S., Project Manager, Lead Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and Assay Automation
Minnal Gupta earned her M.S. Biotechnology degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Following graduation, she joined the Translational and Correlative Studies Laboratory (TCSL) as a full time Research Specialist. From 2012 to 2018, Minnal supported molecular assay development and molecular correlatives pipelines and brought in automation to theTCSL. She advanced to her current position as a Project Manager in TCSL in 2019. As Project Manager, she manages the NGS pipeline, assay automation, molecular correlatives and automated instruments in TCSL. She has broad experience in molecular and cell biology techniques.