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Welcome to Silva-Fisher Lab

Exploring the Wonders of RNA

People: Welcome
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Jessica Silva-Fisher, Ph.D. (she/hers/ella)

Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor

Dr. Jessica Silva-Fisher was born and raised in San Antonio, TX where she received her B.S. in Biology at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. She began her research training as an undergraduate cancer biologist working in Dr. Linda DeGraffenried’s molecular oncology breast cancer lab at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She next obtained her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/Cancer Biology from Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science under the mentorship of Dr. David Smith. Her multi-disciplinary approach has led to some of the first identified functionally relevant long non-coding RNAs in cancer when she was a graduate student. Her postgraduate career focused on gaining bioinformatic skills at the McDonnell Genome Institute under Drs. Elaine Mardis and Richard Wilson and continued with a postdoctoral fellowship in translational research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis under Dr. Christopher Maher.

Dr. Silva-Fisher started her lab in the Division of Oncology in 2020 as a NIH K22 Cure Scholar and NIH NRMN SETH Program Scholar. She evaluates how RNAs promote multiple myeloma, breast cancer, and colon cancer. She continues to integrate RNA biology, genomics, epitranscriptomics, and molecular biology to better understand the basic mechanisms of long non-coding RNA:protein interactions for potential future use as diagnostics, prognostics, and novel therapies.

Dr. Silva-Fisher is also a leader in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Department of Medicine. She is a Diversity Faculty Scholar, served as the Co-Chair of the Trainee Inclusion and Cultural Awareness Task Force, is a mentor and role model for many URiM students at WUSM and within the scientific community. She has also been highlighted in Molecular Cell on her thoughts and efforts in DEI work.

In addition, she is the Director of the Mentorship to Enhance Diversity in Academia (MEDA), the first mentorship program for connecting senior level faculty with under-represented trainees. She is also a Faculty Advisor for the Diversity in Cancer Research High School Initiative at WUSTL. More recently she helped create the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association Women Physicians and Scientist Group and is currently on their Board as Secretary.

Dr. Silva-Fisher is also associated with Washington University in St. Louis Division of Biology and  Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) Cancer Biology Program and is on the Cancer Biology Program Admissions Committee.

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Prasanth Thunguntla, M.S. (he/him/his)

Senior Research Technician

Prasanth is a Master's graduate of Texas Tech University. He has extensive experience in molecular biology and genetic techniques. His work focuses on determining the importance of downstream regulation of lncRNA-protein interactions. 

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Katelyn Bagwill, M.S. (she/her/hers)

Bioinformatic Research Assistant

Katelyn has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Saint Louis University where she recently received her Master’s in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. She was a SLU intern in Dr. Jess lab in 2021 and joined the lab in June 2022, is excited to work on identifying novel non-coding RNA biomarkers in patients who receive High-dose Melphalan with autologous stem cell transplant (HDM-ASCT) therapy with 3-drug regiment.

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Savannah Gonzales (she/her/hers)

McDonnell Genome Institute OGR Extensive Research Program Scholar

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Savannah Gonzales recently graduated from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Bioinformatics. She is a post-bacc researcher in the McDonnell Genome Institute's Opportunities in Genomics Research Program. Her research interests include hematology, oncology, biomedical data science, and  computational medicine. In her free time, Savannah enjoys exploring nature and reading memoirs. She hopes to attend graduate school and become a professor. She is focused on multiple projects studying drug resistant lncRNAs in multiple myeloma and late-stage relapse breast cancer.

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Haley Hashemi (she/her/hers)

My name is Haley and I am originally from Boston, MA! Aside from running western blots or doing tissue culture, you can find me at the climbing gym, singing Taylor Swift to my cats, or having hour long phone conversations with my sister 🙂 I love to ski, climb, and read, and I am huge fan of unhealthy energy drinks (sponsor me, Celsius!)

Haley research focuses on identifying RNA modifications and their association with protein binding in multiple myeloma. 

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Yash Rajana 


Yash is an undergraduate student at Washington University in St. Louis studying Biochemistry and Anthropology in Global Health and Environment.

Yash research focuses on understanding lncRNAs and protein stability.

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Dr. Jess Sassy Bobble-Head (she/her/hers)

Bobble-head Investigator

Dr. Bobble-Head oversees the lab from her high position on the shelf. Nodding away at the crazy exciting science going on in the lab.

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Dr. Yessica (she/her/hers)

RNA Biologist

Dr. Yessica loves learning about RNA. 

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Dr. J Lego (she/her/hers)


Dr. Lego is always by Dr. Bobble-Heads side. She cant wait to put down her flask.

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Silva-Fisher Lab Alumni

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Alex Benton (he/him/his)

Alex is DBBS Cancer Biology student doing a rotation on using CRISPRi genome wide screen to detect functional lncRNAs, RNAish to assess RNA and protein in multiple myeloma, and assessing tumorigenic associated phenotypes.

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Alexander Miller, M.S. (he/him/his)

Bioinformatic Research Assistant (now in BioIndustry)

Alex has a Bachelors Degree in Economics from University of Houston and a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. He  worked on analyzing multiple sequencing platforms and becoming an expert at scRNA-seq, meRIP-seq and CLIP-seq experiments in the lab.

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DeAnna Wells (she/her/hers)

WashU U-STAR Summer Program (current WashU undergraduate)


DeAnna is a rising sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis with a major in Mathematics and double minor in biology and Chemistry on the pre-Med track. Her hobbies include dancing, nature walks, and pageantry. She is interested in science dealing with cell regeneration and tumor growth. DeAnna is working on determining importance of LINC00355 in tumor tissues from late-stage relapse breast cancer and its global impact in cancer.

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Kyla Gelev, B.S.  (she/her/hers)

OGR Extended Program Fellow (now PhD candidate at UCLA)

Kyla has a Bachelors Degree from the University of Southern California. She has interest in personalized medicine and cancer genomics. She wants to use computational tools to understand changes to the genome and how they can result in cancer and alter therapies. She worked on lncRNAs that bind to proteins in late stage relapse breast cancer that affect cell cycle.

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AJ Murphy (he/him/his)

McDonnell Genome Institute Opportunities in Genomic Research Summer Scholar (now Sophmore Brown)

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I am a rising sophomore at Brown University and am concentrating in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I have an interest in genetics and more specifically genetics of aging and cancer. Hobbies of mine include board games, soccer, and running. I focused on characterizing lncRNAs that are associated with poor response to ASCT 3 drug regiments in multiple myeloma.

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Tormey McManaman (he/him/his)

Washington University Diversity High School Initiative Science Coach (now High School Senior)


Tormey is a rising senior from Jackson High School in Jackson, MO. He worked on validation of m6A modifications in Multiple Myeloma.

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Joshua Wilson (he/him/his)

MARCuSTAR student

Josh is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis who will obtain his Bachelor's in psychology. He worked on metastasis of late stage relapse breast cancer.

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Sydney Anderson, B.S. (she/her/hers)

Opportunity in Genomics Research Extended Study Program Fellow (now PhD candidate at Ohio State)

Sydney has a bachelor's degree from University of Pittsburgh in chemical engineering. She worked on scRNA sequencing in myeloma.

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