About Us

In 2016, several faculty research groups from CSUN Biology and Chemistry/Biochemistry formed an interdisciplinary focus group called DECAFOG (DEvelopment and CAncer FOcus Group) that meets monthly for trainee presentations and discussion. Out of these meetings arose a sense that there could be even greater synergistic value in organizing a regional meeting to highlight ongoing and ignite new interdisciplinary cancer research efforts within the California State University (CSU) system.

Thus, the CSU-ICM was established with generous support from ASCB, CSUN, CSUPERB and industry sponsors. The meeting is designed to be trainee-run with general oversight provided by faculty mentors (see below for bios). Colleagues across the CSU system and from the NIH-funded SDSU-UCSD Cancer Center Partnership have expressed great enthusiasm for this meeting. The inaugural event was held on November 6, 2018 with nearly 200 in attendance.

The organizing committee is already planning for the next CSU-ICM meeting and we are pleased to share the exciting news that Dr. Carolos Arteaga will be our keynote speaker on Friday, November 6, 2020.

We hope you will put this date on your calendar and keep an eye out for more updates over the coming months.

Questions pertaining to any aspect of this meeting should be emailed to csuicm@gmail.com.


Jonathan Kelber, Ph.D.

Dr. Jonathan Kelber is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Cal State Northridge. His lab seeks to characterize the molecular mechanisms and functions of genes that play critical roles in cancer and tissue regeneration. Their work integrates molecular/cellular biology, signaling biochemistry, animal models of normal development and disease, and microscopy imaging to answer questions in these fields.

Daniel Tamae, Ph.D.

Dr. Daniel Tamae is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Cal State Northridge. His lab is investigating glucose and hormone metabolism in cancer and interrogating the molecular mechanisms linking the metabolic syndrome with elevated cancer risk. His research utilizes analytical chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology approaches to interrogate cancer metabolism.

Maria Elena De Bellard, Ph.D.

Dr. Maria Elena De Bellard is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Cal State Northridge. Her lab is interested in studying neural crest cell migration and developing new methods for studying this process in vitro. They carry out classic cell (e.g., normal and cancer cell migration, molecular signaling), embryology (e.g., live embryos and genetic manipulations) and the evo-devo experiments across early vertebrates including snakes, turtles, geckos, sharks, and rays.

David Bermudes, Ph.D.

Dr. David Bermudes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Cal State Northridge. His lab studies tumor-targeting microbes. They use a number of biochemical, cell and molecular biological techniques to generate novel mutant microbial variants, and to determine their physiological effects and their ability to kill cancer cells. Their investigations also include combination chemotherapeutic approaches using cytotoxic and biologic agents.


Alina Simonyan

Alina is involved in abstract review for CSU-ICM, assisting the abstract submission team as needed and recruiting additional abstract reviewers beyond our current organizing committee. She is currently a senior at CSUN majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology and conducts research with Dr. Bermudes, studying matrix metalloprotease inhibitor expression in Salmonella and developing a COVID-19 vaccine via in silico methods.

Muthumalavika (Malavika) Sugumar

Malavika is involved in collaborating with the abstract review team to help identify a list of faculty from accepted abstracts who can serve as judges for the conference, respectively. She is currently an international student at CSUN and is a Senior majoring in Microbiology. She previously conducted research under the tutelage of Dr. Rogers characterizing the expression and co-expression of transcription factors during the early developmental stages in chicken embryos. Recently, she joined the lab of Dr. Bermudes and is working to develop a project of focus.

Roland Lacap

Roland is responsible for maintaining our social media platforms (Twitter and LinkedIn) with daily retweets and new posts to help circulate news of our conference. He is currently a first year CSUN graduate student in the Biology department and conducts research with Dr. de Bellard, studying the roles of different protein receptors on melanoma and melanocyte motility in the hopes of further elucidating their role in melanoma development.

Ryan Boggess

Ryan is responsible for managing the registration component of our website, providing updated information of registrant details, including their institution and region of residence. He is currently a second-year master’s student in the CSUN Biochemistry Department and conducts research with Dr. Tamae, studying metformin’s capability to scavenge methylglyoxal.

Cameron Geller

Cameron is responsible for managing website traffic, preparing regularly updated information on website viewer demographics including country of residence and number of user website views. He is currently a third-year master’s candidate in the CSUN Biology department and conducts research with Dr. Kelber, studying the role of different oncogenes and their role in mediating breast cancer metastasis.

Francesca Sanchez

Francesca is responsible for mediating email communications between conference registrants, abstract authors, and speakers. Additionally, Francesca is currently leading a committee collaboration to develop a logo to represent our conference. She is currently a third year Master’s student in the CSUN Biology department and conducts research with Dr. Kelber, studying the reprogramming of the premetastatic niche and its implications in priming breast cancer cells for metastasis from the primary tumor.

Leticia Reque

Leticia is responsible for providing our committee with various demographics of presenting authors as well as their submitted abstracts. Additionally, she is working with our social media team to develop methods for increasing submission participation. Leticia is a second-year graduate student in the CSUN Biochemistry department and conducts research with Dr. Tamae, with a dual focus on organic cation transporter expression and investigating how metformin can scavenge carbonyls in cancer cell lines.

Campus Support:

Erika Reyes

Erika works at CSUN in the Department of Research and Sponsored Programs as a Project Specialist. Her roles include processing award letters to faculty, maintaining updates in our research management system, and coordinating and planning events around student and faculty research. Through her roles, she is helping our team to carry out all necessary steps for organizing our conference.