Gollnick Lab Members

Sandra Gollnick, PhD - PI
I earned my BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara and my doctorate from Iowa State University in Biochemistry. My doctorate work was focused on the role of non-classical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules in pregnancy. I went on to do post-doctoral work at DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA where I learned to become a molecular immunologist.

After a stint in industry with ImmunLogic Corporation, where I worked on the role of MHC molecules in autoimmunity, I moved to RPCI. I am a Professor of Oncology in the Cell Stress Biology Department and a member of the PDT Center.  I am also a member of the Tumor Immunology Graduate Faculty. My research is focused on the role of inflammation in the development and treatment of cancer. 

When I am not working, I enjoy biking, running, skiing, walking my dog and gardening.  I have participated in the Ride for Roswell since its inception and last year I shaved my head to raise money for cancer research.

Barb Owczarczak - Technician
I have been an employee of Roswell Park for the last 29 years. I have worked for the past 19 years for Dr. Barbara Henderson in the PDT Center, and I have been working with Dr. Sandra Gollnick for the last 13 years. To say my time here at Roswell has been fascinating is an understatement. I have learned so much, and shared that knowledge with my colleagues time and time again. It is a dynamic place to work, not only in the physical changes around the campus, but in the projects we work on.

In our labs we truly go from bench top to bedside. Our group is a good combination of personalities, which makes coming to work a pleasure. We enjoy our constant interactions, and use each other for assistance, or just for feedback on anything from calculations to better ways of doing techniques in the lab. As for me, I would not stay somewhere where I was unhappy or bored. I enjoy my work and the people I deal with every day.

Kim Ramsey - Technician
I have always lived and worked in the Buffalo area but have only been at Roswell Park for the last 9 years. 5 years ago I joined Dr. Gollnick's laboratory and became part of the Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) group.

Prior to joining the lab I knew nothing about PDT and it's applications, so this has made the last 5 years a great learning experience. I have had the pleasure of working with many interesting, colorful, and talented students as well as patient and dedicated staff. So even though I am a dedicated Yankee fan I hope to remain a member of Dr. Gollnick's lab for many more years.

Shawn Egan - Graduate Student
I was born and raised in Buffalo, went to Frontier High school and then earned my BS in Biology at Canisius College. I entered into the Immunology PhD program in August of 2009 and have been working in the PDT department since fall, 2010 under the tutelage of Dr. Sandra Gollnick. I am an enthusiastic outdoorsman who likes hiking, climbing mountains and adventures with my dogs.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, so I was careful in picking the correct place to develop mine. I am enthralled at the opportunity that Roswell Park provides for me to grow as a scientist and as an intellect. Roswell is truly a unique place where all forms of science and people from all over the world work together in hopes of finding a cure for cancer. Currently, my research project involves investigating the regulation of a protein called Peroxiredoxin 1 (Prx1). Specifically my research involves investigating how Prx1 expression and secretion mold the immunological environment to support the development and proliferation of prostate cancer.

Stephanie Sass - Graduate Student
 I grew up in East Amherst and received my BS in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.  During my junior and senior years at UConn I was fortunate to work in a lab studying mitochondrial membrane proteins.  This rewarding and great learning experience as well as my father being a cancer survivor drove me to pursue cancer research in graduate school.  I began my studies in the Immunology PhD program here at Roswell Park in August 2010.

I joined Dr. Sandra Gollnick’s lab in July 2011 and my thesis project will involve studying the role of Peroxiredoxin1 (Prx1) and tumor-associated macrophages in the regulation and angiogenesis of prostate cancer.  Outside of the lab I like to run, cook, and cheer for my Huskies and the New York Giants.

Patricia (Minan) Wang - Graduate Student
I graduated from East China Normal University in Shanghai with a BS degree in biotechnology. I am a graduate student at UB. Since I am interested in immunology and cancer research, I joined Dr. Gollnick's lab in April, 2009.

My project mainly focuses on elucidating the role of PDT vaccine; what “danger signals” are involved in the PDT vaccine treatment. I am working on identifying the “danger signal” released by dying tumor cells that leads to the activation of dendritic cells which activate cytotoxic T cells and induce the immune response eventually.

Gollnick Lab Alumni

Phil Kousis
I graduated from King's College, London with a BSc in Immunology and joined Roswell Park. Since my main interest was tumor immunology I joined Dr. Gollnick, who at the time was trying to determine how different PDT doses might affect the ensuing tumor specific immune responses.

Using a murine tumor model we described PDT treatment parameters that resulted in robust immune responses capable of eliminating tumors. Our results also pointed out to an important role played by neutrophils infiltrating treated tumors towards the generation of an adaptive immune response.

The findings of the thesis project were included in a report accepted for publication by Cancer Research and will assist the design of treatment conditions in clinical settings. For my postdoctoral training I will be joining the laboratory of Dr Cynthia Guidos at the University of Toronto and study the role of Notch-Fringe proteins in T cell development.

Alan Belicha-Villanueva
I was born in Madrid, Spain and came to the United States in 2000 as an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Buffalo. I began playing soccer before I learned to walk…seriously. I ended up playing very often and eventually played in a semi-pro (Division 3C) soccer team. When I came to the States I was invited to join the UB soccer team. Although I didn't mesh with the coach, I still manage to play soccer, come rain or shine. I have been playing soccer since I landed here and we have an outstanding team (shoot me an email if you dare challenge us!).

Scientifically speaking, I enjoy team work and an interdisciplinary approach. Currently my interests are in the regulation of classical and non-classical class I molecules during PDT and I hope to soon be moving on to other things. I have known that I wanted to contribute to cancer research since I was 14, when a few friends and family members passed away from cancer. I am feeling drawn toward a laboratory that looks at mechanisms that can have broad implication for this disease—as opposed to specific types of cancer - such as angiogenesis, cancer stem cells, metastasis and recognition of HLA-I negative tumors.  I am currently a post-doctoral fellow at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Jonah Riddell - Graduate Student
Life is what you make it: I believe the environment by which you surround yourself is critical to career development and the stimulation of ideas and learning. I am still amazed everyday at both the professionalism and congeniality of all the people in the Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) Center and specifically the Gollnick lab.

I obtained my bachelors in Chemistry and Physics from St. Bonaventure University before joining the PhD program at RPCI in May 2006. Since June 2008 I have worked in the Gollnick on the immunological and vascular regulation of prostate cancer through Peroxiredoxin 1.

My thesis has given me the opportunity to pursue my dream of creating a drug target that can truly go from bench side to bedside. Numerous family and friends have succumb to cancer and it fulfills my lifelong ambition to be part of a program that strives everyday to both enhance established treatments and discover new/superior targets for the clinical treatment of cancer.

I am currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Immune Disease Institute of Harvard working with Dr. Derrick Rossi studying stem cells.

Craig Brackett - Graduate Student
I completed my undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Biology from Saint John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. I was accepted into the Science Scholar program, which made me realize that I enjoyed scientific research. One of the requirements as a Science Scholar was to do one semester of bench-top research under the mentorship of a faculty member. I enjoyed the research so much that I decided to continue with it throughout the rest of my undergraduate career. It was this experience as a Science Scholar that convinced me to pursue a career as a Scientist.

I applied to the Roswell Park Division of the UB Graduate School because I knew that I wanted to contribute to cancer research as the disease hits close to home with my Grandpa having been diagnosed and treated at Roswell Park. Taking Immunology as an Undergraduate convinced me to do my dissertation research in a laboratory that focuses on tumor immunology. With that, I decided to join the laboratory of Dr. Sandra Gollnick since the lab studies the role of Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) induced acute inflammation and the subsequent generation of anti-tumor immunity.

My thesis project focuses on elucidating the mechanism(s) by which IL-17 controls the Gr-1hi neutrophilic response post PDT and the mechanism by which Gr-1hi leukocytes control the generation of CD8+ T cell anti-tumor immunity.