Meet The Team
I earned my BS degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and my PhD from Cornell University in NYC. I completed postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, and started the Nayar laboratory at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2021. I'm passionate about making an impact on the lives of cancer patients, and mentoring the next generation of researchers.
In my non-science life, I'm a professionally-trained Indian classical dancer, and adore music, travel, food, and the arts. I'm also (unfortunately?) a political junkie, and a sucker for rhetorical debates over beers.
I was born and raised in Huangshan, China, and I earned my bachelor degrees from China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing and the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow with a major in biochemistry and pharmacology. I enjoy doing research and have participated in several research projects in respect of biochemistry, pharmacology, and cancer biology during my undergraduate. I am now a first year PhD student in Nayar Lab studying inflammatory signaling and the immune microenvironment in targeted-therapy resistant advanced breast cancer. During my spare time, I love music (a big fan of pop&rock music), watching movies (all types as long as it’s a good one), and playing basketball with friends.
I am a Molecular & Cellular Biology major at JHU as well as an aspiring immunologist. My research interests intersect cancer biology and immunology with health advocacy/equity. I am also passionate about grassroots community work per my Brooklyn upbringing! In my free time, I enjoy cooking, roller skating with my sisters, and taking candid pictures of my cat, Wiggle.
Avanthika Priya Balu
Hello everyone! I'm a ScM student in the Nayar lab. I received my B.S degree in Biological Sciences at NC State University. My passion for research started in high school and I have been involved with many projects in my undergrad. I aspire to be a cancer biologist and work toward adding to science. In addition, I work in child injury prevention at foster care homes, to help my community be a better place to live in. Outside academia, I enjoy dancing, playing badminton, cooking and I'm a big Indian movie buff!
Tianli (Alwyn) Guan
Greetings. My name is Tianli (Alwyn) Guan and I am a second year ScM student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I earned my Bachelor of Pharmacy degree along with a SLIGHT Aussie accent from the University of Sydney. My research interests are cancer biology and translational studies, and currently I am working on identifying HER2 activating mutations in breast cancer patients as well as probing resolutions for treatment resistance caused by such mutations.
Work hard but play harder, quite often I would pick up hobbies on a whim. I like cooking, singing, crocheting/knitting, I also have profound love for video games. However, as a proud owner of two cats, I do invest lots of time (and money unfortunately) in them as they would reward me with mental stability.
Dr. Gizem Yayli-Vokshi
Hello, I’m a post-doctoral fellow in Nayar Lab. I was born and raised in Turkey. I earned my BS degree in Biochemistry at Ege University and my MSc as well as my PhD in Phamarceutical Biotechnology at Marmara University. Previously, I was a post-doctoral fellow in Tora Lab at IGBMC, France. My main interest in research is transcriptional regulation and epigenetic reprogramming, now in Nayar Lab in the context of breast cancer.
In my personal life, I’m married, and we have a 6 month old baby boy, Isaac Mercan. Named after Isaac Newton ☺️. Nowadays, I devoted my whole time to him but before him, I travelled quite a lot, I finished Paris Marathon in 2018. I was an amateur aquathlon and triathlon runner.
I also studied Philosophy in University so here is my favorite quote from my favorite philosopher Spinoza, “Not to laugh, not to lament, not to curse, but to understand.” It also explains why I’m doing science, to understand.
I graduated from UNC Charlotte with a BA degree in Biology and a minor in Spanish. I am an aspiring medical student with a strong passion for research. My background in research began with studying muscle biology and physiology during my undergraduate career, but I have since developed an interest in cancer biology and epidemiology. I am originally from Baltimore, and love being back in my home city, working with JHU. I enjoy playing tennis, reading, trying new coffee shops, and playing with my dog!