Dr. Vivek Verma
Principal Investigator

Dr. Vivek Verma is an assistant professor at The Hormel Institute of the University of Minnesota. Dr. Verma did his M.S. in microbiology from the Central Research Institute at Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh and he earned his Ph.D. from Punjab University, located in the pristine city of Chandigarh in northern part of India. Dr. Verma did his postdoctoral studies in cancer biology and innate immune system, first at Chonnam National University in South Korea followed by Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta, USA. Following his postdoctoral research, Dr. Verma joined Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Center as an assistant professor on research tract where he studied the mechanisms to enhance the anti-tumor responses using immune modulatory antibodies and small molecule inhibitors.

In his free time Dr. Verma likes to go running or watch Hollywood horror movies


Dr. Seyedeh Sahar Mortazavi Farsani (Sahar)
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Sahar did her PhD at Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, Iran. The main field of her Ph.D. research was cancer and hematopoietic stem cells differentiation. As a postdoctoral fellow in The Verma Lab at the Hormel Institute Sahar is studying the role of metabolism in regulating the effector functions in immune cells with a special focus on CD8 T cells. She is also interested in deciphering the resistance mechanisms that render the immune therapies ineffective in brain tumors. When she is not in the lab doing experiments, Sahar likes to play volleyball, swim, paint and maybe sleep.


Welcome Sahar!




Soni Jignesh Mohanbhai
Postdoctoral Associate

Hello! My name is Soni Jignesh Mohanbhai. My research background is in biological sciences (inflammatory diseases) and completed my PhD at INST-IISER-Mohali, India. My doctoral research focused on understanding epigenetic role of melatonin in regulation of inflammation in macrophages and developing nanocarriers for targeted drug delivery, particularly in the context of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Currently, I am a postdoctoral associate at The Hormel Institute in Austin (Minnesota, USA), working in Dr. Verma’s lab where I am investigating the role of mitochondrial metabolism in regulating the effector functions of immune cells, with a particular emphasis on CAR-T cells. I am deeply intrigued by understanding the mechanisms of mitochondrial exhaustion in tumor microenvironment that hinder the effectiveness of immune therapies (CAR-T cells) in solid tumors.

Outside of my research endeavors, I find joy in engaging in various activities. I enjoy playing volleyball, exercise, and understanding myself in solitude (meditation). And of course, finding time to relax and get some well-deserved sleep is also important to me.

Welcome Soni!

Ms Lynsey Knudson
Former Intern

Verma lab is delighted to welcome Ms. Lynsey Knudson as a SURE intern. Lynsey is a junior neuroscience major with a minor in forensic science at Hamline University, Minnesota. After graduating she plans to pursue a masters in psychometrics. In her free time Lynsey enjoys listening to music, going on walks, baking, and watching movies with her sister. Lab hopes to have some very tasty cakes during her stay with us and of course hopes she will learn a lot of science as well.


Welcome Lynsey!




Christen Gibson
Former Intern

We are delighted to host Christen Gibson for the summer intern program. Christen is a senior chemistry major with a minor in public health at Gustavus Adolphus College. After graduating she plans on pursuing either a masters degree or a PhD in organic chemistry. In her free time she likes to crochet, paint, and ride her bike.

Welcome Christen!