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Makowski Lab Bios

Liza Makowski-Hayes (aka Liza Makowski), Ph.D., Principal Investigator.

Dr. Liza Makowski UTHSC Faculty Page

Dr. Makowski is a Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. She is jointly appointed in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry in the College of Medicine. She is also jointly appointed in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Makowski is a member of the UTHSC Center for Cancer Research. She serves as Associate Director for education and development and is faculty advisor for the UTHSC Translational Sciences Shared Resource.

Dr. Makowski earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health in the Division of Medical Sciences. She also received a Masters in Medicine concurrent with her Ph.D. studies as a Lucille P. Markey Fellow from Harvard Medical School. She completed a 1 year postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases where she was awarded an F32 NRSA postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Makowski continued postdoctoral studies in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology & Cancer Biology at the Duke University Medical Center in the Stedman Center for Nutrition and Metabolism with F32 funding. During her postdoc at Duke, she was awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award to transition from postdoc to faculty. After 8 years as faculty at UNC Chapel Hill in the top ranked Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, she moved to Memphis to join the University of TN Health Science Center.

Makowski lab focuses on immunotherapy and immunometabolism for which Dr. Makowski has received a K99/R00, U01, R21, and R01 grants from the NIH and Mark Foundation Endeavor Award, Mary Kay Foundation, American Heart Association, and other funding from foundations. Recent work focuses on reprogramming of the immunosuppressive microenvironment, microbially-derived metabolites, and efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade therapies in obesity-induced breast cancer. She has published in journals such as Science Advances, Journal of ImmunologyMolecular Metabolism, Breast Cancer Research Treatment, Frontiers in Oncology, Scientific Reports, Immunological Reviews, JBC, and Obesity (cover). She has served on planning committees at AACR (obesity and cancer), Southeastern Immunology Society, South East Lipid Research Conference Organizing committee (now the Fredrickson Lipid Research Conference), and The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)/EB). With Dr. Brandt Pence, Dr. Makowski recently formed the Metabolism, Immunity, and Inflammation of the Mid-South interest group (MIIMS). Dr. Makowski is standing member of the Cancer Genetics (CG) study section and has served on study sections including Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Fellowship Review Panel, Tumor Microenvironment (TME), a special emphasis panel (SEP) for NCI’s Provocative Questions (PQ), SEPs for metabolic reprogramming the microenvironment in cancer (OTC-Y and OTC-A), as well other foundations including American Heart Association and The Mary Kay Foundation.

Dr. Makowski take great pride in her trainees! To date, medical students, graduate students, and fellows have received funding from NIH (NIH NRSA F32, NIH Integrative Vascular Biology T32, NIH Medical Student T35), industry/foundation (Komen, The Obesity Society, AACR, Sanofi-Aventis), and/or internal merit-based (UNC Chancellor’s Fellowship, Royster Society of Fellows, UTHSC Center for Cancer Research). Previous graduate students have gone to postdoctoral positions at MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, UCSF-Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania, or to pursue an MD. Undergraduates trained have gone to Harvard Med, Wash U Med, UNC Med, UNC Dental, UTHSC Med, UTSW Med, and Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Last, postdocs have obtained positions as a scientist at USDA, in industry, or as tenure track faculty. 

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ORCID link for Liza Makowski



Samson Eugin Simon, M.S., Ph.D.

Dr. Samson Eugin Simon is from India. He graduated with his Ph.D. in Biology from Sunway University Malaysia and a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology from Bharathidasan University India. He is passionate about science and interested in advanced oncology research. He joined Dr. Makowski’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Hematology/Oncology in 2022. He likes to travel and has a strict routine with badminton and the gym. 

Sandesh Marathe, M.S., Ph.D.

Dr. Sandesh Marathe grew up in Ahmednagar, India. He earned his BSc and MSc in Biotechnology from the University of Pune. He then moved to Mumbai to pursue his Doctoral research at the Institute of Chemical Technology. He joined Makowski lab in 2023 to study the role of microbial-derived metabolites in protective immunity in obesity-driven cancer risk. In his free time, he enjoys swimming and working out at the gym. 

Minjeong Kim, M.S., Ph.D.

Dr. Minjeong Kim embarked on her academic journey in Seoul, South Korea, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from Sogang University before pursuing her Ph.D. in Integrated Omics and Biomedical Sciences at Yonsei University. During her Ph.D. program, she earned recognition as a Young Scientist in the International Korean Genome Organization. Then she started her postdoctoral career at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Minjeong joined the Makowski Lab in October 2023 and started her second postdoctoral research fellow position. Beyond academia, Minjeong cherishes her love for dogs, expresses her creativity through drawing, and finds inspiration in fashion, fine arts, and sports games.

Margaret Bohm, Doctoral candidate

Margaret Bohm grew up in Michigan and earned her BS in Biochemistry from Northern Michigan University. She then worked at the University of Michigan Medical School as a research technician before moving to UTHSC to pursue her PhD in Biomedical Sciences. She joined the Makowski lab in 2022 to study the role of the microbiome in obesity and cancer and is the 2023 recipient of the College of Graduate Health Sciences Alma and Hal Reagan Fellowship. Margaret is an avid stress baker who enjoys hiking and knitting in her free time. 

Sydney Joseph, MS Candidate

Sydney Joseph grew up in Memphis, TN. She has earned her BS in Biology from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and her MS in Biomedical Sciences here at UTHSC. She joined the Makowski lab in 2021 as a research technician. She plans to attend dental school and during her free time, she enjoys being with her family, reading, and journaling. 

Rhodes College students

Barbara Anne Harper

Barbara Anne Harper grew up in Florida and attends Rhodes College here in Memphis, TN. She is pursuing a BS in Neuroscience and Chemistry and plans to attend medical school. At Rhodes College, she has been awarded the Presidential Scholarship and membership into the Nu Rho Psi, the National Honor Society of Neuroscience. Barbara Anne joined the Makowski Lab in the summer of 2023 as an undergraduate research assistant and in her free time, she enjoys running, crocheting, and baking chocolate chip cookies. 

Logan McGrath

Logan McGrath grew up in upstate New York before moving to Nashville. Logan is currently a student at Rhodes College here in Memphis, Tennessee, pursuing a BS in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry with a minor in computer science with hopes to pursue medical school after graduation. Logan joined the Makowski lab in the 2023 summer as an undergraduate research assistant. In his free time Logan enjoys reading, running, and exploring local Memphis restaurants.  

Zeid Mustafa

Zeid Mustafa grew up in Irbid, Jordan, and moved to the US in 2021 to attend Rhodes College. He is currently working to earn a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Zeid joined the Makowski Lab in 2023. At Rhodes College, he has been awarded the Omicron Delta Kappa Sophomore of the Year Award, the Presidential Scholarship, and the John C. Hugon International Study Fellowship when he completed a term abroad at the University of Kent in the UK. He plans to attend medical school. He enjoys filmmaking as a hobby and has had his short films screened at film festivals in Japan, Italy, Greece, England, and Wales.

Technical Support/Research Associates

Boston Simmons, B.S., B.A.

Boston Simmons grew up in Memphis and attended the University of Memphis.  He currently has obtained a BS in Biology and BA in Philosophy with a minor in social work.  Boston joined the Makowski lab in the Summer of 2022. He currently has plans to pursue a higher degree in the Biological Sciences with a particular interest in the fields of virology/infectious diseases. In his free time Boston enjoys spending time in nature hiking and kayaking.

Arvind Ramesh, B.S.

Arvind Ramesh grew up in Memphis, TN, and attended Rice University, earning his B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. During his undergraduate years, Arvind performed translational research in a central nervous system (CNS) tumor lab, investigating the molecular, clinical, and genetic aspects of CNS neoplasias. Arvind earned a Distinction in Research and Creative Work from Rice University for his senior thesis on the quantification and sequencing of microRNA (miRNA) in the diagnosis and treatment of CNS neoplasias. He joined the Makowski lab in June 2023 as a research technician. He is currently focused on medical and surgical weight loss interventions in cancer risk, progression, and response to immunotherapy. In his free time, Arvind likes to exercise and explore Memphis’ restaurants and nature scenes. Arvind hopes to attend medical school and one day become a physician-scientist.