Research and Development Staff

IMBCR’s Research Staff


The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research has brought together a highly qualified group of internationally recognized scientists in our mission to develop new and cutting-edge therapies for those who suffer from myeloma and bone cancer.

James R. Berenson MD | Chief Executive Officer & President | Medical & Scientific Director

Dr. Berenson is the founder of the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR) and has specialized in research related to myeloma and metastatic bone disease both in the basic and clinical areas for more than 20 years. He has been involved in many of the major breakthroughs that have brought new treatments for patients with these diseases resulting in both an improvement in the length and quality of their lives.

In addition to his research interests in myeloma and metastatic bone disease, he also studies antibodies, T-cell receptors, cytokines, cancer genes, viruses and blood vessel development. Dr. Berenson has also conducted numerous clinical trials related to the treatment of multiple myeloma and metastatic bone disease. Because he is internationally known for his expertise and accomplishments in these areas, he has also been asked to give numerous lectures and organize many meetings both nationally and internationally. Dr. Berenson has a private practice in Los Angeles, which specializes in the treatment of patients with myeloma and metastatic bone disease. He is also President and Chief Executive Officer of Oncotherapeutics, Inc., a corporation that conducts clinical trials related to myeloma and metastatic bone disease as well as other cancers. Read Dr. Berenson’s complete bio.

Dr. Berenson’s many innovations and successes have included:

    • A leader in developing techniques that will rid cancer in stem cells for myeloma patients
    • Discovery of new genes in myeloma bone marrow that will be potential new targets for innovative treatments
    • Development of a new way to sensitively and accurately measure malignant cells which has provided significant improvements in determining the effects of new drugs as well as treatments for tumors
    • Discovery of new treatments for myeloma patients that effectively give a much better quality of life for patients through the significant reduction of toxicity
    • Revolutionized in vivo models making them highly effective to serve as quick ways to optimize drug dosing and treatment techniques for myeloma and bone cancer patients
    • Identified a new herpes virus that is a promising modality to attack myeloma
    • Revolutionized research techniques at a genetic level rather than using the traditional protein approach

Haiming Chen MD, PhD, | Director of Research Laboratory

Dr. Chen became a hematologist in China and passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) in 2002. He currently serves as a reviewer for the Philip Morris External Research Program and is a member of the American Society of Hematology.

Dr Chen received his doctoral degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine, Biochemistry Institute, Chinese Academy of Science, and University of Southern California. He completed his postdoctoral training at the University of British Columbia and served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California from 1994 to 2001. Dr. Chen received a NIH training grant (1994-1996) for genetic development biology.

In his research, he has discovered that myeloma tumors produce a protein, pleiotrophin, that assists tumor growth by a completely novel mechanism in which a type of white cell called a monocyte turns into a new blood vessel. This discovery has opened exciting new avenues in the development of treatment for myeloma patients and the paper has been published in the prestigious Blood (Chen H. et al. 1; 110: 287-95, 2007).

Dr. Chen has also developed innovative siRNA technology that has led to new advances in controlling the growth of myeloma tumors in the bone as well as stemming the loss of bone density. The paper, “Interference with nuclear factor kappa B and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase signaling by TRAF6C small interfering RNA inhibits myeloma cell proliferation and enhances apoptosis” has been published in Oncogene (Chen H. et al. 25; 6520-7, 2006) He continues to design new uses for this technology to target anti-myeloma therapies to specific genes. Furthermore, Dr. Chen led the discovery of a novel platelet binding protein that allowed advancements in research for new therapies for multiple myeloma and lymphoma.

Eric Sanchez Associate Director of Animal Research

B.A., integrative biology, University of California BerkeleyEric previously worked at the UCLA Spine Institute working with animals on experiments investigating ways to heal spinal cord injuries Eric is currently working on preclinical models of bone disease including multiple myeloma, prostate and breast cancer to evaluate cutting edge anti-cancer therapies.

Mingjie Li Research Associate

B.S. WuHan University of Technology and Science
Mingjie is a former laboratory assistant in the Pathology Department at UCLA. Currently he works with DNA, RNA purification, RT-PCR, immuno-histology and cell culture, cell and protein purification, Western blot, flow cytometer, MTT assay, and patient’s sample processing.

Shoulin Wang Research Associate II

B.S., Shanghai University
Ms. Wang isolates patient samples including bone marrow, blood serum and plasma cells, and supervises the lab’s cell lines. She also assists in characterizing patient samples by cell staining and serum analysis.

Jennifer Li Research Associate II

B.S., Human Biology, University of California San Diego

Jennifer has been investigating the role of the inhibitory Fc receptor, FcγRIIB, on multiple myeloma (MM). FcγRIIb is expressed on plasma cells and controls their persistence in the bone marrow in addition to Ig production. Cross-linking of FcγRIIb induces apoptosis of plasma cells. She first found that MM patients’ serum IgG has much lower FcγRIIb-binding ability than normal human IgG (P<0.05) and lower SHIP phosphorylation/total SHIP following exposure to MM patient serum compared to normal human serum which is consistent with the lack of FcγRIIb signaling.

Her novel findings were presented orally at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in 2010. Jennifer continues to work on her FcγRIIB research project and eventually hopes to develop an effective therapeutic treatment that will benefit myeloma patients clinically.


IMBCR’s Development Staff

MarcusMartin

Marcus M. Martin PhD

Dr. Martin received his doctoral degree from the University of Florida, in Microbiology and Cell Science, where he was part of a team that established an animal model for HIV vaccine design, developed novel FIV vaccines and identified critical HIV/FIV conserved epitopes important to both cellular and humoral viral immunity. Prior to that, he was a Fogarty research fellow at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is a versatile biological science professional with extensive experience in the design and execution of fundamental, pre-clinical, outcomes and clinical research.

Dr. Martin is experienced in the design and execution of research in several different fields. He is a highly skilled in molecular biology, possessing both technical experience and a published research background in HIV Vaccinology, Immunology, Orthopedics and Neuro-immunology. He is also skilled in scientific communication to diverse groups, leading skilled teams, team building, FDA regulations, collaborative research initiation and research project management.