Current lab members

Andrea Ventura

Andrea Ventura, Lab Head

Andrea grew up in Sicily, in the small and quaint village of Furci Siculo. He obtained a medical degree from the Catholic University of Rome and a PhD in molecular and cellular biology from the European Institute of Oncology (Milan). In 2003 he crossed the pond to train as a postdoctoral fellow with Tyler Jacks, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Andrea’s hobbies include chess, soccer, volleyball, and simracing.

Kevin Chen

Kevin Chen, Research Assistant

Kevin was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey. He completed a BSc in Animal Science at Rutgers University, with a focus in Laboratory Animals. He is the latest addition (for now) to the Ventura lab, having joined in Decemeber 2020. Science is not his only passion, he is a dog lover and in the process of getting a Boston terrier!. He also enjoy playing indie and pop music with my guitars. You can reach him at:

Ram Kannan

Ram Kannan, Postdoc

Ram is from Chennai, famous for idli, dosa and street food. He obtained his bachelors in Biotechnology from PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore. He completed his doctoral training with Dr. Peter Baumann at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute & Stowers Institute For Medical Research in Kansas City where he demonstrated a novel function for the spliceosome in generating 3’ ends of telomerase RNA in fission yeast and filamentous fungi. Currently, Ram is funded by the MSKCC-TROT fellowship and is employing genome-editing technology to generate new models for lung and pancreatic cancer. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis and following cricket. Email:

Xiaoyi Li

Xiaoyi Li, GSK Graduate Student

Xiaoyi grew up in Guiyang, China. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Tsinghua University in 2014. Her undergraduate research with Dr. Wei Guo, trying to identify molecular mechanisms underlying T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia brain infiltration, boosted her interest in cancer research. She decided to pursue a doctoral training in MSKCC afterwards and joined Ventura lab in the July of 2015. She is currently interested in cancer genetics and non-coding RNA biology. Besides science, she loves photography and swimming.


Rui Gao

Rui Gao , Graduate Student

Rui grew up between Singapore and Beijing, China. She received a BSc in Biochemistry from Imperial College, London. A formative research experience during her undergraduate studies where she investigated novel regulators and interactors of mitotic spindle morphogenesis using high-throughput, combinatorial RNAi screens in Drosophila cells led to a burgeoning interest in understanding how when cells malfunction, cancer can arise. She joined the Ventura lab in 2017 to pursue her doctoral research, where she has/is exploring both technology related and mechanistic studies using CRISPR editing as a linchpin. Outside of the lab, she can be found with her nose in a book, listening to podcasts, or exploring the city in the quest for delicious food.  Email:

Gaspare La Rocca

Gaspare La Rocca, postdoc

Gaspare got his M.Sc. Molecular Biology and PhD in Molecular Oncology at the University of Palermo, although he always dreamed of becoming a professional piano bar singer. In the Ventura lab Gaspare tries to understand what microRNAs are for. His favorite superhero is Spiderman. Email:

Minsi Zhang

Minsi Zhang, MD. Fellow

Minsi was born in China and grew up in Massachusetts.  After she completed her undergraduate studies in chemistry and molecular biology at Johns Hopkins University, she entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at Duke University.  As a MD/PhD candidate in the lab of David Kirsch, she studied the role of hypoxia inducible factors in tumorigenesis, metastasis, and response to radiation therapy in primary mouse models of soft tissue sarcoma.  She recently completed the Radiation Oncology Residency Program at MSKCC and is currently working in the Ventura lab as a K12 fellow.  She is interested in using genome editing technology to identify novel targets for enhancing tumor response to radiation therapy.

Email: Zhang, Minsi/Graduate Medical Education

Chiara Mastroleo

Chiara Mastroleo, research technician

Chiara grew up in Veneto, Italy. She obtained her Master Degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Bologna. She has been working at MSKCC hospital since 2015. She joined our lab in 2017 as a research technician and since then she has been involved in different projects. Chiara loves cooking, traveling and playing ping pong. Email:

Sue Woube

Sue Woube, Administrative Assistant

Sue grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at Longwood University in Virginia. Sue joined MSK as an administrative assistant for Drs. Ventura and Benezra in 2016. She is currently working on earning her Master’s Degree in business administration and hopes to advance her career in research administration at MSK. Email:

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