Section Leaders

/Section Leaders

Zigang Dong

Zigang Dong, M.D., Dr. P.H.
Executive Director
McKnight Presidential Professor in Cancer Prevention
Hormel-Knowlton Professor
Cellular & Molecular Biology

Ann Bode - The Hormel Institute

Ann Bode

Ann Bode, Ph.D.
Cancer Biomarkers & Drug Resistance
Cellular & Molecular Biology

Ann M. Bode is the Associate Director of The Hormel Institute and leader of Biomarkers and Drug Resistance and co-leader of Molecular and Cellular Biology research sections at The Hormel Institute. Dr. Bode received her B.S. and M.S. from Southern Illinois University and her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. She did her post-doctoral work in the Department of Biochemistry in the School of Medicine at the University of North Dakota. She was a full-time tenured faculty member in […]

George Aslanidi - The Hormel Institute

George Aslanidi

George Aslanidi Ph.D
Associate Professor
Molecular Bioengineering and Cancer Vaccine


George Aslanidi Research - The Hormel Institute

Our research focuses on development, production and application of adeno-associated virus (AAV) as a vector for gene- and immuno- therapies:

We developed a capsid-optimized AAV vectors with good balance of safety and immunogenicity for possible use as anti-cancer vaccine. Our novel AAV based system has overcome many of the shortcomings of past cancer vaccine technology.

These include: a) Greater transduction efficiency: Genetic modification of surface exposed regions on the AAV capsid increases transduction efficiency and antigen […]

Mohammad Saleem Bhat, Ph.D. - The Hormel Institute

Mohammad Saleem Bhat

Mohammad Saleem Bhat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Molecular Therapeutics and Cancer Health Disparity

Rhoderick E. Brown

Rhoderick E. Brown

Rhoderick E. Brown, Ph.D.
Membrane Biochemistry

Essential for the existence of cells are barriers to envelope their contents. The barriers must be selectively permeable for nutrient entry and toxic by-product export. To meet this need, cells produce specialized lipids that are polar at one end and nonpolar at the opposite end. The polar ends are well-suited for contact with water but the nonpolar ends are not. As a result, they readily form thin, flexible layers only two molecules thick, i.e. bilayer, which forms the basic structural platform for cell membranes. In addition to corralling the cell contents, membranes […]

Ilana Chefetz - The Hormel Institute

Ilana Chefetz

Ilana Chefetz
Assistant Professor


Ilana Chefetz Menaker obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Food Engineering and Biotechnology from Technion. Ilana earned a PhD with Eli Sprecher working on rare dermatology disorder, Familial Tumoral Calcinosis. As a graduate student she was awarded Neeman Excellence Scholarship and Technion Woman Excellence Scientist Prize to continue for postdoctoral studies abroad.

After finishing her PhD Ilana joined the laboratory of Gil Mor at Yale Medical School where she was awarded three-year Life Science Postdoctoral Fellowship and was a recipient of 2010 AACR Scholar-in-Training Award. After a Postdoctoral position with Dr. Gil Mor at Yale, Dr. Chefetz moved to […]

Yibin Deng

Yibin Deng, M.D. Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Cell Death & Cancer Genetics

Sergio Gradilone

Sergio Gradilone

Sergio Gradilone, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor
Cancer Cell Biology & Translational Research

Dr. Gradilone initiated his basic research interests back in his home country, Argentina, where he first obtained a B.S. degree in Chemistry, then a M.S. in Biotechnology and finally the Ph.D. in Biological Sciences degree at the National University of Rosario. He moved to the U.S. in 2006 to continue his research training in the biomedical field at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where he was a postdoctoral research fellow until 2010 when he obtained his first faculty position there and focused his research […]

Edward “Ted” Hinchcliffe

Edward “Ted” Hinchcliffe, Ph.D
Cellular Dynamics

The goal of the proposed research is to investigate the mechanisms underlying the role of cPLA2alpha in mediating the switch from pro-inflammation to anti-inflammation lipid production.  In particular, we are interested in understanding how the cell utilizes cPLA2 alpha and the mediators of eicosanoid production when the cPLA2alpha-C1P interaction is disrupted by genetic mutation.  Characterization of a cPLA2alpha knock-in mouse by the Chalfont lab has revealed that the disruption of the phospholipase/ceremide-1-phosphate interaction prevents the onset of sepsis. During this grant period we will characterize this pathway, identify the components, and […]

Luke Hoeppner - The Hormel Institute

Luke Hoeppner

Luke H. Hoeppner, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Molecular Biology and Translational Cancer Research


Luke H. Hoeppner is an Assistant Professor at The Hormel Institute and leader of the Molecular Biology and Translational Cancer Research section at The Hormel Institute. Dr. Hoeppner received his B.S. from University of Wisconsin-Madison and identified several novel prostate cancer antigens working with Dr. Douglas McNeel.  He then received a Ph.D. from University of Minnesota studying with Dr. Jennifer Westendorf to elucidate the β-catenin-dependent regulation and role of an alternative Lef1 transcript in osteoblast maturation.  Luke’s doctoral studies provided him with a strong foundation in molecular biology, biochemistry […]

Ningling Kang

Ningling Kang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Tumor Microenvironment & Metastasis


Ningling Kang, an expert in tumor invasion of the liver, is the section Leader in the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis at The Hormel Institute.

Prior to working at The Hormel Institute, (Ningling Kang) worked as (Associated Consultant and Assistant Professor) for Mayo Clinic.


Professional achievements and awards

2006 Sheila Sherlock Clinical and Translational Research in Liver Diseases Award, ALF/AASLD
2007 The Howard Temin Award, NCI
2008 Young Investigator Award, Mayo Clinic Angiogenesis Symposium
2009 Research Early Career Development Award, Mayo Clinic
2010 P30 Pilot and Feasibility award, the Mayo Clinic Center […]

Shujun Liu - The Hormel Institute

Shujun Liu

Shujun Liu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Cancer Epigenetics & Experimental Therapeutics

Rebecca J. Morris

Rebecca Morris, Ph.D.
Stem Cells & Cancer

James Robinson

James Robinson
Assistant Professor & Section Leader
Cell Signaling & Tumorigenesis


Dr. Robinson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota and a Member of the Masonic Cancer Institute. He received his Ph.D. in Tumor Biology from Queen Mary, University of London and postdoctoral training at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. His research specializes in the cell signaling events that drive tumor growth and resistance to targeted therapies. He is the recipient of an American Cancer Society, Research Scholar Grant to determine and validate Resistance Mechanisms to targeted therapy in Melanoma and a National […]

Anna Sundborger - The Hormel Institute

Anna Sundborger

Anna Sundborger
Assistant Professor
Cryo-EM and Molecular Cell Biology



Anna Sundborger, an expert in Cryo-Electron Microscopy and Cell Biology, is the Assistant Professor and Section Leader for the Cryo-EM and Molecular Cell Biology Section at The Hormel Institute. Prior to coming to the The Hormel Institute, Anna Sundborger worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.


Professional achievements and awards

NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence


Education, degrees  and certifications

Post-doc              National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD          Biochemistry/Cryo-EM

Ph.D.                    Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden Neuroscience

M.S.                      Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden Medical Biology

B.S.                       Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden Medical Biology


Research Interests […]

Rendong Yang -The Hormel Institute

Rendong Yang

Rendong Yang
Assistant Professor
Computational Cancer Genomics


Current Projects

  1. Developing novel algorithms for indel detection. Our most recent work has been in the development of clinical genomic variant detection pipelines for our customized oncology gene panels in the University of Minnesota Molecular Diagnostic Lab. Briefly, we developed new algorithm named ScanIndel to accurately detect insertion and deletion (indel) mutations in human genome from next generation sequencing data. In particular, ScanIndel reliably detects medium-size and large indels. With this method, indels contribute to pathogenesis of constitutional and somatic diseases can be identified quickly and accurately which is important for targeted therapy or patient prognosis.
  2. […]