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Our Lab Members

Dr Yaser Atlasi

Principal Investigator  

Yaser worked in the stem cell field since 2006. During his MSc, he studied the role of OCT4 in pluripotent and cancer cells. During his PhD with Prof Riccardo Fodde, Erasmus Medical Centre Netherlands, he studied the role of WNT-signalling in pluripotent cells and colorectal cancer. During his postdoctoral training at Prof. Henk Stunnenberg lab at Radboud University Netherlands, he gained expertise in genome-wide technologies and studied mechanisms of epigenetic regulation and 3D chromatin organization in stem cells.

In June 2020, Yaser joined Queen’s University Belfast as a Vice Chancellor’s Illuminate fellow and established his lab at the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research. The work in Atlasi lab is focused on stem cell and cancer research.

yaser atlasi
Fatemeh mirzadeh azad

Fatemeh completed her PhD in Molecular Genetics at Tarbiat Modares University (2014-2019), investigating the functional characterization of novel lncRNAs. She then continued her work as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Turin (2019-2021) focusing on the interactions of lncRNAs and epigenetic modifiers during neural differentiation. By joining the laboratory of stem cell epigenetics at PGJCCR, Fatemeh followed her interests in epigenetic regulations of pluripotency and differentiation. Fatemeh’s research is mainly focused on understanding how signalling pathways affect the epigenome in mESCs.

Dr Fatemeh Mirzadehazad

Postdoctoral research associate

ralph samarista

Ralph Samarista

PhD Student

Ralph has conducted his BSc Biology (Hons) at Oxford Brookes University where he developed his interest on stem cell and epigenetics research. During this time, he honed his molecular biology skills through an industrial placement year at Ipsen Bioinnovation Ltd and an undergraduate project focused on planarian stem cells. He then obtained his MPhil degree at Brunel University London where he aimed to develop a combinatorial strategy to eliminate Acute Myeloid Leukaemia cells by investigating the crosstalk between chromatin modifications and signalling pathways. For his PhD, Ralph will continue to develop his interest in stem cell epigenetics by studying the effect of signalling pathways in chromatin regulation of stem cells and how this may dysregulate developmental systems such as in cancer.

axelle larue

Axelle graduated with a first-class BSc(Hons) in Biomedical Science from Queen’s University Belfast (2018-2021). She pursued her education at QUB with a MSc(Res) in Cancer Medicine (2021-2022), where she worked on the therapeutical role of USP7 in regulating epigenetics in colorectal cancer. Axelle was awarded the 2022 DfE-funded competitive PhD position at the PGJCCR and is continuing her MSc investigation on colorectal cancer epigenetics linking USP7 & Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1) as her main PhD project. Her interests are orientated toward cancer cell biology, epigenetic maintenance of stemness, histone mark deposition & potential epigenetic drug clinical applications.

Axelle Larue

PhD Student

sachin website_edited.jpg

Sachin obtained his BSc Biology with Mathematics (Hons) at Keele University where he developed an interest in cancer research. He pursued this interest by achieving a MSc from Queen Mary University Barts Cancer Institute where he studied the role of PKN2 in colorectal cancer and how it affects the Wnt pathway. Following this, he undertook a role as a Research Assistant and was later promoted to Research Scientist at Plasticell studying stem cell and molecular biology focusing on the differentiation of CRISPR modified IPSCs to NK cells for the treatment of Leukaemia. For his PhD, Sachin will focus on investigating the 3D genome re-organization in drug resistant cancer cells and the role of transcriptional enhancers in this process.

Sachin Luharia

PhD Student

ryan kelly

Ryan received his BSc in Biology from the University of Edinburgh. He then moved to Queen’s University Belfast and obtained an MRes in Cancer Medicine, during which time he studied the TGF-b signalling pathway in Triple-Negative Breast Cancers. He continued his work at Queen’s University Belfast, completing an MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics while studying the actions of long non-coding RNAs in cancer. In November of 2021, he joined the lab of Dr Terry Yamaguchi as a joint PhD student between the National Cancer Institute and Queen’s University Belfast. In his current research, Ryan investigates the relationship between chromatin architecture and WNT regulation during early mouse development.

Ryan Kelly

PhD Student (QUB-NCI programme)

kyle thompson

Dr Kyle Thompson

Kyle studied Biomedical Science at Queen’s University Belfast and completed his PhD in Molecular Biology in 2019 which utilised gene knockdown screening to identify genetic losses that could act as immune therapy biomarkers. He then began work with Dr Nick Orr applying functional genomics and molecular biology approaches to study predisposition in breast cancer, with a particular interest in the genetic risk of breast cancer in men. His current project, funded by Breast Cancer Now, focuses on the identification of causal SNPs within functional enhancer elements that influence predisposition to male and female breast cancer. Kyle is also project co-ordinator for MERGE; an international consortium on male breast cancer genetics. MERGE endeavours to illuminate genetic risk factors for male breast cancer primarily by genotyping and performing GWAS across a newly assembled global collection of male cases and controls.

Postdoctoral research associate

(Joint with Orr lab)


Daniel Murray

Former BSc Student - Current scientist at AxisBio

Deirdra Venney

Former PhD student - Current Research Fellow at Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Patrick Preston

Former MSc student - Current PhD student at QUB PGJCCR

atlasi lab members at pgjccr
atlasi lab members at pgjccr
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