Debattama (Deb) Sen, PhD is a Principal Investigator in the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cancer Research and a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. She received her B.S. from Columbia University in Biomedical Engineering & Computer Science before training with Nick Haining at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her principal research focus has been understanding the regulatory pathways that drive immune dysfunction in chronic viral infection and tumors, as well as exploring strategies to reverse these changes. Outside the lab, she attempts to recreate Great British Bake Off recipes and enjoys falling down mountains in a controlled manner (aka skiing).

Chang-Yu (Alex) Chen joined the Sen lab in 2021 as a postdoctoral fellow. He received his B.S/M.S. in Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology from Taipei Medical University, where he discovered his passion for cancer immunology in Dr. Chien-Ho Chen’s Lab. He then went on to receive his Ph.D. at The University of Tokyo, working in the lab of Dr. Kouji Matsushima, studying the combination strategies (HMGN1 + CD4 depletion/PD-L1 blockade) to reverse T cell exhaustion and improve T cell-based therapy. In the Sen lab, Alex focuses on deciphering T cell epigenetic imprinting to understand how specific tumor environments shape T cell exhaustion/dysfunction. Outside the lab, Alex enjoys running, cooking, and traveling.

Richard Davidson joined the Sen lab in November 2020 as a research technician, after completing his graduate degree at Boston University. He had previously worked at Pfizer studying neurological inflammation in cases of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases through rodent models. Now investigating the process of T cell exhaustion at the Sen lab, Richard develops in vitro models in addition to providing support for collaborative projects between Sen & Sharpe labs. Richard enjoys trying new boardgames, will one day perfect his meatloaf recipe, and can usually be found taking midnight walks about Brighton.

Keely Ji is an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis studying cell biology and researching pancreatic cancer in Hwang lab. As an undergraduate research student in Sen lab, she hopes to learn about cancer immunology and explore the possibility of enhancer editing in T cell exhaustion to enhance T cell activity against cancers.

Paola Lirofonis has been a member of Mass General’s Center for Cancer Research since 2014, where she supports various aspects of labs’ research projects. She has been working with the Sen Lab since April 2022 as our lab manager and resident expert on all things on the administrative side. On weekends, you can find Paola cheering her kids at sports and musical events, planning the next party, and relaxing while cooking!

Sarah Weiss is a MD/PhD graduate student leading the joint Sen/Sharpe lab enhancer-deleted mouse project. During undergrad, she majored in Biological Engineering at MIT and worked in the Wilson lab studying memory consolidation during sleep by modulating hippocampal activity with engineered ion channels. In the Sharpe lab, she will be pursuing projects related to genetic recording in cancer cells and T cells. When Sarah is not in lab, she enjoys running and biking outside, baking and eating sweets, and giving her doggie Luna all the belly rubs.

Cansu Yerinde is originally from Istanbul in Turkey, where she obtained her B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bogazici University. She continued her masters at the same university where she worked on the oncogenesis of melanoma cells by using CRISPR based technologies. For her PhD, Cansu moved to Berlin, Germany. She did her PhD at Berlin School of Integrative Oncology and Charite Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the lab of Britta Siegmund. During her PhD, she investigated the role of epigenetic regulators in T cells by using a combination of tumor models in mice and genomic approaches.  Apart from lab work, Cansu enjoys traveling and hiking.

Lab Alumni

Patrick Adolphus is an undergraduate at Harvard College concentrating in chemistry with a secondary in psychology. He joined the Sen lab in summer 2021, analyzing single-cell RNA-seq data to identify genes of interest in tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells. Some of his hobbies outside the lab include tennis, hiking, guitar, and photography.

Murphy Kenny joined the Sen lab for summer 2021, after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in Physiology and Neurobiology. During undergrad, she did research on the neuroanatomical basis of learning and memory using a rat model. In the Sen lab, she worked on optimizing gene delivery into mouse T cells. She is now working as a research assistant in the Ostroff lab at University of Connecticut.

Sydney Loh is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania studying physics with a minor in architecture. In her free time she loves to go on hikes, do ceramics, and climb with friends. As a research assistant in the lab in summer 2020, she performed single-cell RNA-sequencing data analysis of exhausted T cells in chronic infection.