September is Women in Medicine Month


As part of the American Medical Association (AMA) “Women in Medicine Month”, we at the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute – UT Health San Antonio would like to take a moment and celebrate the female faculty who have dedicated their careers to childhood cancer.



Christine Aguilar, MD, MPH, Faculty Associate, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute 

Dr. Aguilar joined the UT Health San Antonio in 1986. Dr. Aguilar received her Medical Degree from the Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, NL MEXICO.  She also received a master’s degree in Public Health from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston-SPH. She has coordinated an array of diverse studies, from elderly research, depression, community education for high school students in Health Professions, Cochrane Collaboration Systematic Reviews.  She has participated in studies that have observed the psychosocial effects of cancer in adolescent and young adults in which she has several publications; she is participating in Pediatric Research such as Epidemiology of Childhood Cancers, and HPV prevention in childhood cancer survivors.  Her bilingual skills have helped research outreach diverse populations.


Alison Grimes, MD, Assistant Professor/Clinical, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research,

Dr. Grimes joined the UT Health at San Antonio, Division of Hematology-Oncology in 2015. As a pediatric oncologist focused on leukemia/lymphoma and adolescents & young adults (AYA), Dr. Grimes’ clinical experience drives her commitment to ongoing improvements in supportive care. This effort is supported by her position as the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) liaison for the Children’s Oncology Group’s steering committees for Cancer Control (CCL) and AYA. Dr. Grimes also serves as the institution’s Responsible Investigator for CCL and AYA and co-lead the AYA Program at the Mays Cancer Center. Over the past 3 years, she has been involved in the development of three cancer care delivery research protocols, including ACCL15N1CD, evaluating COG guideline-consistent care across NCORP institutions and as vice-chair for the intergroup collaborative ACCL16N1CD, evaluating of guideline-consistent care among AYA’s with leukemia, and ACCL18N1CD aimed at integrating an electronic platform into local EMR’s to improve symptom management in childhood and adolescent cancer care.



Raushan Kurmasheva, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute 

Dr. Kurmasheva joined Greehey CCRI faculty as Assistant Professor at the academic department of Molecular Medicine in 2018, UT Health San Antonio. Her expertise extends from preclinical therapeutic models to more basic studies of cellular signaling and DNA damage repair pathways in pediatric sarcomas.  Dr. Kurmasheva received training at Vienna BioCenter (Austria) followed by postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Soon after, she joined the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP) to serve as the Program Scientific Manager (2010-2015). The PPTP has been renewed as the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Consortium (PPTC) in 2015, at which she is now Co-Investigator on a project studying Sarcomas and Renal Tumors. The PPTP has tested 53 agents in vivo and 58 agents in vitro, and Dr. Kurmasheva has contributed to more than 50 peer-reviewed publications reporting the PPTP/C results, and to overall more than 60 scientific papers. In 2016, she joined a team of investigators on CPRIT grant (2016-2021) to establish the first Texas patient-derived xenograft core facility at the GREEHEY CCRI/UT Health SA and to create a biobank of fully-characterized pediatric tumors.

Zhao Lai, Ph.D. Assistant Professor/Research, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute 

Dr. Lai is the founding Director of Genome Sequencing Facility at Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute. NGSSR. Dr. Lai holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology with more than 20 years of extensive research experience and has authored or coauthored more than 50 peer-reviewed research articles. Dr. Lai was the Unit Leader of Functional Genomics in The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at Indiana University, where she started to use NGS technologies since 2006. She has developed effective expertise in genomics, especially for NGS technologies/ applications, in the past decade. Dr. Lai was recruited to lead the newly established Genome sequencing Facility in the Greehey CCRI at UT Health SA in 2011. She has guided the establishment and development of every aspect of the Genome Sequencing Facility, including project budgeting and coordination, equipment acquisition and maintenance, training and supervising NGSSR staff, establishing all standard operating procedures (SOPs), and creating a working pipeline from experimental design through subsequent data interpretation of experiments with investigators. As the Director of the Genome Sequencing Facility, Dr. Lai has continually established and significantly expanded the NGS services to develop a comprehensive portfolio of NGS protocols, secured NIH instrument grant S10 to improve the genomic infrastructure, and supported diverse cancer research applications and many NIH funded projects.

Subapriya Rajamanickam, PhD, Instructor/Research, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute.

Dr. Rajamanickam has trained in biochemistry, molecular biology, and preclinical studies during her doctoral and postdoctoral program, she has a practical approach in designing experiments to unravel mechanism underlying cancer initiation and progression. In addition, she also gained experience in designing and utilizing mouse models for chemoprevention, chemotherapeutic, and metastatic studies. Dr. Rajamanickam’s initial postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado at Denver supports the claim that natural products can modulate various molecular pathways involved in cancer initiation and progression. Her research findings focus on the use of natural products as they modulate different molecular mechanisms involved in colon and prostate cancers and target for tumor growth inhibition, apoptosis, and angioprevention. She joined Dr. Manjeet Rao’s lab in December 2013 to continue her pursuit of translational research. Dr. Rao’s laboratory is focused on understanding the role of genetic and epigenetic modifiers in breast cancer and pediatric cancers growth and progression. In Dr. Rao’s laboratory, she says there are nearly limitless opportunities to work with both basic and translational research. Currently, she is evaluating the efficacy of various small molecule inhibitors as a safe and potent therapeutic regimen to treat breast and pediatric cancers. Rao’s mechanistic studies revealed that these small molecule inhibitors might inhibit the activity of proto-oncogene FoxM1 and associated signaling. Imipramine blue is one among them which derived from an FDA approved drug imipramine. We are now pursuing the early phase 1 clinical trial, to test the anticancer effects of imipramine at UT Health San Antonio, Mays Cancer Center.

Terry Jo Shackleford, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute

In addition to being faculty at UT Health SA, Dr. Shackelford is an Assistant Professor at St Mary’s University. Originally from Kansas, she received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Kansas State University where she worked in the lab of Mike Kanost, Ph.D. for two years. For graduate work, she joined the Department of Systems Biology at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She worked in the laboratory of Francois X. Claret, Ph.D. at MDACC studying the role of JAB1 in breast cancer.  Following graduate school, she had a unique opportunity to work with John Heymach, MD Ph.D. at MDACC in a role that focused on grant writing and pharmaceutical contracts.  She then continued her career as a postdoctoral fellow at the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute in the laboratory of Peter J. Houghton, Ph.D. Her research investigated potential mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapy in pediatric sarcomas and identified combinations of targeted therapy to optimize the therapeutic efficiency of insulin-like growth factor-I Receptor (IGFR) targeted agents. With the continued mentorship of Dr. Houghton and the support she receives at UT Health San Antonio, the project has potential to uncover unique cellular mechanisms that provide a rapid and robust response that overcomes resistance to targeted therapies.


Further, this work has also provided the basis for training of several undergraduate students at St Mary’s University.  She is excited to combine her experience with the advice of her previous mentors to further train young men and women with the hope of inspiring the future generation of scientists.  When Dr. Shackleford is not doing or teaching science, she spends time with her husband and three kids.

Dr. Gail Tomlinson, MD, Ph.D. Professor, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute 

Dr. Tomlinson joined UT Health San Antonio in 2007 as the Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and currently also serves the Mays Cancer Center as co-Director of the Population Science and Prevention Program.  Since her arrival, Dr. Tomlinson also served as Interim Director of the Greehey CCRI and Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics.  Dr. Tomlinson received her M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Duke University. She completed an internship and residency at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She did a research fellowship in cancer genetics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, followed by a formal fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She was a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from 1992 to 2006, where was a tenured Associate Professor and held the Children’s Cancer Fund Distinguished Professorship in Pediatric Oncology Research. She currently is the holder of the Greehey Distinguished Chair in Cancer and Genetics.   Dr. Tomlinson is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric hematology-oncology. Her research interests are in the genetic origins of childhood cancers, particularly tumors of the liver. She leads a multi-site program working with cancer-prone individuals and families throughout South Texas.  She has also initiated an investigation of predisposing factors underlying the increased incidence of leukemia in children of Hispanic background in South Texas. She has served on multiple national and state committees focusing on advancing research, education, and advocacy in childhood cancer and has published over 180 scientific papers.  She currently is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors.

Angelina Vaseva, Ph.D., Assistant Professor/Research, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute 

Dr. Vaseva received her Ph.D. at Stony Brook University where she studied p53 functions in cancer and oxidative brain damage. Her postdoctoral studies were focused on oncogenic RAS signaling in pancreatic cancer and made a significant impact toward understanding how RAS and MYC cooperate to promote tumor cell growth and maintenance and how we can exploit this cooperation to design better therapeutic strategies. Her current and long-term career focus is the identification of therapeutic vulnerabilities in pediatric cancers driven by oncogenic RAS and/or MYC signaling.

Xiaojing Wang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor/Research, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute, 

Dr. Wang received two bachelor’s degrees in agriculture and bioinformatics from Zhejiang University and subsequently received her Ph.D. in bioinformatics from Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2009. She completed her postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University in 2014 and became a faculty member first at Vanderbilt, then Baylor College of Medicine. She moved to Greehey CCRI in 2017 as an assistant professor. Dr. Wang specializes in algorithm development, especially in integrating proteomic and genomic data. She helped conceptualize the proteogenomics field. Her software packages, including custom ProDB and ProBamSuite have been downloaded thousands of times each year and are widely used in the field. She has published as a major author in nature, cell, molecular and cellular proteomics, journal of proteome research, and other peer-reviewed journals. At Greehey, she is interested in using machine learning methods to understand how a tumor’s genetic profiles may dictate its responses to molecular therapies.

Click HERE for more info about AMA’s “Women in Medicine” Month.

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