Meet the Team


Dr. Jewett’s laboratory is focused on finding immunotherapeutic strategies to treat cancer using Natural Killer (NK) cells. She has several patented technologies in different stages of development in her laboratory. Her long term goal is to establish the mechanisms of inactivation and cell death of Natural Killer cells. Natural Killer cells play crucial functions in the host defense against cancer. Dr. Jewett has shown that killing function of NK cells is significantly suppressed in cancer patients by a number of distinct cells. She has previously demonstrated the role of NK cells in specific elimination of cancer stem cells. Indeed, she was the first to coin the term “split anergy” for the function of NK cells. The concept of split anergy in NK cells and generation of regulatory NK cells and their contribution to cell differentiation, tissue repair and regeneration and in tumor resistance remains important areas of studies in her laboratory. In addition to studies on NK cells the members of her laboratory also work on two related projects: 1- the mechanism of toxicity and allergic responses induced by dental resins HEMA and TEGDMA, and bleaching agents and 2-bacterial mediated regulation of immune function. Briefly, she has determined the detailed mechanisms of uptake and clearance of HEMA and TEGDMA, two chemical resins, which are in widespread use as biomaterials in dentistry. She has discovered ways to counter toxicities of bleaching agents and is in the process of conducting clinical trials in patients. Finally, she has characterized an oral bacterium, which induces significant levels of cell death. Moreover, she is also studying the role of probiotics in conditioning of NK cells to support differentiation, tissue repair and regeneration, and prevention of inflammation.

Below are the list of the members of Dr. Jewett’s laboratory and the description of their work:


Dr. Anna Kozlowska

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Dr. Kozlowska is an Assistant Professor from Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland. After receiving her MS degree in biotechnology and PhD in medical biology from PUMS, she gained post-doctoral training at City of Hope Medical Center (Duarte, CA) where she conducted preclinical tests of new cancer immunotherapeutics. She joined Dr. Jewett’s laboratory in order to continue her translational research on immune aspect of human malignancies and immunotherapy of cancer.  As a result of collaboration between PUMS and UCLA, she leads a collaborative project on a novel therapeutic strategy combining whole cell cancer vaccine and adoptive transfer of expanded NK cells in advanced melanoma patients. Since preclinical data obtained from humanized mice has shown great promise, the project will be heading towards clinical trials in human and eventual therapy of melanoma. Her personal objective is to bring innovation and entrepreneurship to Poland.


 

Dr. Kawal Mann

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Dr. Mann is pursuing her PhD degree in Dr. Jewett’s laboratory after obtaining clinical degree in Dentistry and a Master’s degree at UCLA. Her research focuses on optimizing the expansion of super-charged Natural Killer cells for use in clinical trials in cancer patients. In addition, she is studying the role of immunosuppression in osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) as well as the effect of high fat diet in initiation and progression of pancreatic cancers. She uses humanized mice as well as gene knock out mice for her studies of Natural Killer cells.


 

Paytsar Topchyan

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Paytsar is a graduate student conducting translational immunotherapy research in Dr. Jewett’s cancer immunology laboratory at UCLA. Her current research focuses on the role of probiotic bacteria and adoptive Natural Killer cell transfer in the humanized mouse model, as immunotherapy against Oral Squamous Carcinoma Stem Cells (OSCSCs). She also collaborates with fellow lab members in studying NK immunotherapy in the pancreatic cancer model as well as the melanoma model. In the future, Paytsar plans to pursue a career as a physician scientist, hoping to both contribute to the discovery of new scientific knowledge within the scope of tumor immunology, and its use in the clinical setting. Her goal is to serve patients in two ways simultaneously: by advancing medical knowledge on a large scale as a researcher and also on a personal level by directly working with patients to improve their quality of life.


 

Christian Mendoza

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Chris is a second year graduate student, working on novel immunotherapeutics against cancer in Dr. Jewett’s lab.  His work focuses on optimizing the expansion and functionality of NK cells to use in preclinical research in humanized mice.  He uses newly patented technology to expand large numbers of Natural Killer cells with potent function to lyse stem-like cancer cells which seed the cancer. Chris hopes to continue his research as he pursues a career in clinical dentistry.


Edmund Celis

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Edmund is a 2nd-year graduate student at UCLA. He is currently working on a study using a patented technology developed in Dr. Jewett’s laboratory to mitigate the harmful effects of teeth bleaching to prevent mutations which could result in oral cancer. His thesis focuses on the mechanisms by which NAC inhibits cell death and promotes wound healing.


Nick Ohanian

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Nick is a graduate student in Dr. Jewett’s laboratory studying the role of probiotic bacteria regulating the function of Natural Killer cells to promote optimal differentiation of tumor cells and prevention of invasion and metastasis of tumors. He earned his Bachelors of Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara with “Distinction in the Major” in Cell and Developmental Biology.  Nick was also a research assistant at the Brigg’s Lab where he was awarded the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Grant to help elucidate the relationship between habitat dynamics and Lyme disease prevalence in the California chaparral.


Diana Wang

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Diana is a 3rd year UCLA dental student who hopes to specialize in Oral Pathology and receive a PhD degree in Immunology. She plans to obtain a faculty position while practicing clinical oral pathology. Her research at Dr. Jewett’s lab focuses on establishing strategies to protect oral tissues using N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). She is in the process of conducting clinical trials in order to determine the protective role of NAC on decreasing pain, inflammation, tissue damage and hypersensitivity with bleach whitening. Ultimately, her project will establish a methodology to prevent the adverse effects of bleaching agents including mutations which may cause cell transformation and cancer.


Jessica Chiang

 

Jessica graduated from UCLA in 2015 with a degree in Psychobiology. She is pursuing graduate work in the laboratory of Dr. Jewett. She is currently working with Dr. Jewett and other graduate students to investigate the role of Natural Killer cells in eliminating tumors in humanized mice model system. She hopes to incorporate her studies and findings from research into her future clinical work.


 

Jessi Cook:

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Jessi is a 3rd year undergraduate researcher in Dr. Jewett’s lab, pursuing a degree in Biology.  Jessi works under the mentorship of Dr. Kawal Mann, studying the expansion of Natural Killer cells and how they can be used in the fight against cancer.  With Kawal, Jessi is working on several projects, including determining how we can use probiotics and osteoclasts to enable NK cells to become effective tumor fighting cells.  Using this knowledge, Jessi aspires to work on developing novel immunotherapy based cancer treatments.  Working closely with graduate level researchers and Dr. Jewett, Jessi has committed herself to this line of research, and hopes to continue as she applies to and attends dental school.


Matt Wasilewski

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Matt is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA studying Physiological Sciences. Through learning from and working with graduate mentors in the lab, he has discovered a passion for the fight against cancer using natural-killer-cell-based immunotherapy. His work with Dr. Jewett’s lab has inspired him to incorporate cancer immunology research into a career in dentistry.


Eric Lee:

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Eric is a third year Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology undergraduate student working in Dr. Jewett’s Lab. He is interested in the future of cancer research, and is excited to work on novel treatments for the disease. He is inspired by the researchers in Dr. Jewett’s lab and will be working under the mentorship of Paytsar Topchyan. Eric hopes to apply to Dental School during his senior year and continue research in the future.


 

Erik Whitney

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Erik is a first-year undergraduate studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at UCLA. Inspired by the potential for immunotherapy to cure cancer, Erik aspires to collaborate with Dr. Jewett and graduate students in the lab to discover alternative cancer treatments. As he prepares for a career in oncology, Erik hopes to gain insight to better treat patients under his care in the future.