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.

Paul Ogrodowski


Paul Ogrodowski, research technician/lab manager

Paul Ogrodowski was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and is the proud son of two Polish immigrants.  He obtained his Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from St. Thomas Aquinas College. He was the first member to join Dr. Ventura’s lab, and as the lab manager/technician, has been involved in multiple projects through the years. Most recently, he has been assisting Ciro Bonetti in dissecting the functional role of Long Noncoding RNAs in cancer. Paul enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, fishing and anything related to the great outdoors.



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:

Raymond Wu

Raymond Wu

Raymond Wu, GSK PhD student

Raymond is a native New Yorker from mixed ethnic neighborhood in Brooklyn. He got his degree in Biology with a concentration in molecular biology at Cornell University in Ithaca NY. While there, he studied RNA aptamers as tools to study transcriptional regulation. He decided to come back to NYC to pursue his graduate studies at Sloan Kettering where he has been busy studying non-coding RNAs and developing novel tools to engineer chromosomal rearrangements in vitro and in vivo. Raymond’s hobbies include stock trading, video games, and long walks in the city.  You can find him at:

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.


Joana Vidigal


Joana grew up in Lisbon, Portugal. She obtained a Licenciatura in Microbiology and Genetics from the University of Lisbon along with an Academic Honors Award. She was also awarded an Erasmus Grant by the European Union, which allowed her to complete her studies abroad at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and—soon after—a Leonardo da Vinci Fellowship, which helped her initiate her academic research at the Max-Planck Institute for infection Biology in Berlin, Germany. Joana went on to pursue her doctoral work at the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, also located in Berlin, under the guidance of Prof. Bernhard G. Herrmann. As a graduate student she was supported by an FCT fellowship and developed an inducible RNAi platform, which she used to dissect gene regulatory networks during mouse embryogenesis. Currently, as a postdoc in the Ventura lab, Joana is investigating how the noncoding genome regulates animal development and disease. Her work is being supported by a Lung Cancer Research Foundation Grant, and has been recognized by Sloan Kettering through the 2016’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Postdoctoral Award. In her free time Joana enjoys traveling, reading, running, biking, skiing, and any other activity that brings her outdoors!
You can contact Joana at, or find out more about her research at:

Turgut Dogruluk


Turgut Dogruluk, Postdoc

Turgut was born in Adapazari, Turkey with an attitude of ‘Istanbul gentleman.’ He received his BSc degree from Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey in 2009 and his PhD from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas in 2016. He is interested in discovering rare cancer driver aberrations and populations by developing technologies and screening pipelines which he likes to name with fancy acronyms. On the side, he dabbles in soccer, history and cooking. You can reach him at:

Gaspare La Rocca

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:

Peter Cook


Peter Cook, Postdoc

Peter is originally from the Washington, D.C. area and majored in biology at Georgetown University. After a brief stint working for Medimmune, Inc. in Gaithersburg, MD, he moved to the west coast to obtain a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California, San Diego. Graduating in 2009, he next returned to the east coast to pursue postdoctoral studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center focusing on brain cancer development and treatment. Peter enjoys science fiction books and rap music, and became a proud father in 2014. His email is:

Sandra Casseus

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Sandra Casseus Administrative Assistant

Email: Email:

Ji Eun Lee (Jinny)


Jinny Lee (PhD) Postdoctoral fellow

I’m from Chuncheon, South Korea. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from Sejong University, Seoul, Korea in 2011. I came to the US to obtain a Ph.D. in Biology from University of Utah where I studied how cells employ the gene regulatory network in response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Graduating in 2017, I joined the Ventura lab to pursue postdoctoral training. I am a foodie and enjoy working out, watching movies, and cooking.
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