The Vardhana lab explores how metabolites regulate immune cell homeostasis, particularly within tumors. We use a combination of traditional immunology, synthetic biology, metabolomics, and bioinformatics to answer fundamental biological questions about the regulation of immune responses with the goal of applying these strategies broadly for the treatment of cancer.

Team Members

Our team is made up of a diverse group of scientists and physicians with backgrounds in immunology, cancer biology, metabolism,and molecular genetics, but we are enthusiastic about integrating members with expertise across physical, life, and computer sciences to achieve our goal of taking novel experimental approaches to understand the complexity of host immunity.

Santosha Vardhana
Assistant Professor, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
MD/PhD, New York University

Santosh is an Assistant Professor in the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and an attending physician on the Lymphoma Service.

He is also a member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Santosh did his graduate training in Michael Dustin’s laboratory at New York University in immunology, clinical residency in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, medical oncology training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and post-doctoral training in metabolism and epigenetics in the laboratory of Craig Thompson.

Luis Felipe Somarribas Patterson
Post-Doctoral Fellow
PhD, Heidelberg University

Luis will join the Vardhana Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in August 2021 as a postdoctoral research fellow.

Luis received his B.Sc. degree in Biology with Emphasis in Biotechnology from the National University of Costa Rica and M.Sc. in Biomedical Sciences with Emphasis in Biochemistry and Cellular Physiology from the University of Costa Rica. He did his PhD in cancer metabolism in Christiane Opitz’s laboratory at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University.



Lisa McGary
MD-PhD Student
BA, University of California, Berkeley

Lisa is an MD-PhD student in the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program.

She received her BA in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley in 2016.

Before beginning her MD-PhD training in 2019, Lisa worked as a research technician in Catherine Smith’s laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco for 2.5 years studying mechanisms of resistance against small molecule inhibitor treatments of FLT3+ AML.

Lisa joined the Vardhana Lab in September, 2021 and looks forward to investigating the interplay between metabolism and the cell fate and function of CD8+ T-cells in order to better understand the immune response to cancer.

Tanmana Mitra
Graduate Student
B. Tech, NIT Durgapur (India) M. Tech, IIT Kanpur (India)

Tanmana joined the Vardhana lab as a Ph.D. student in Fall 2021. She received her B. Tech in Biotechnology from the National Institute of Technology Durgapur (India) and M. Tech in Biological Sciences & Bioengineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (India). In the Vardhana lab, she wants to explore the regulation of T cell metabolism during exhaustion.


Joshua Schoenfeld
Postdoctoral Fellow
MD/PhD, University of Iowa

Josh is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program and Medical Oncology Fellow in the Gastrointestinal Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Josh did his graduate training in Doug Spitz and Bryan Allen’s laboratories at the University of Iowa in Free Radical and Radiation Biology and completed his clinical residency in internal medicine at University of California, San Francisco.

Miseker Abate
Research Fellow
MD, University of California Irvine MPH, Harvard University

Miseker Abate is a Surgical Oncology Research Fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a General Surgery resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell. She received her medical degree from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine and a Masters in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health. Her research of interest now focuses on the immunogenicity, genomics, and molecular characterization of gastric cancer.

Kevin Chen
Graduate Student
BS, National Chiao Tung University MS, National Taiwan University

Yan-Ting (Kevin) is a graduate student in the Gerstner Sloan Kettering program. He received his BS in Taiwan from National Chiao Tung University in 2016 and his MS from National Taiwan University in 2018. Kevin previously studied on vesicular trafficking particularly the tethering proteins at Golgi. His research of interest now is primarily on the interplay between cellular metabolism and T cell activation.

Tiffany Merlinsky
MD/PhD Student
Katarina Liberatore
Graduate Student
Ph.D. student, BCMB, Weill Cornell Graduate School B.S. in Biology, Muhlenberg College

Katarina Liberatore is a Ph.D. student in the BCMB program at the Weill Cornell Graduate School.

She received her B.S. in Biology from Muhlenberg College where she performed research in Bruce Wightman’s lab, investigating insulin signaling and neuronal development in C. elegans. Before beginning her graduate training, she worked as a research technician in the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell. In the Lewis Cantley’s lab she studied kinase substrate specificities and Hippo kinase inhibition of PI3K.

She joined the Vardhana lab as a Ph.D. student in the Spring of 2022 where she seeks to uncover the role of intracellular lipid pools in intratumoral T-cell metabolism and function.

Lauren Melendez
Research Technician
Jahan Rahman
Computational Biologist

Jahan joins the Vardhana Lab/ Center for Hematologic Malignancies as a computational biologist where he’ll be leveraging various sequencing technologies and bioinformatic tools/algorithms to support ongoing research. Jahan previously studied computer science at NYU and worked at Neville Sanjana’s Lab at the New York Genome Center as a research assistant-where he built CRISPR gRNA-generation and analysis algorithms, designed CRISPR screens, and developed web-tools. He looks forward to working towards advancing precision medicine frameworks and engaging with physicians and scientists-alike to improve patient outcomes.


New York, NY
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San Francisco, CA

Funding Sources