Present Lab Members

Tuna Toptan
Research Instructor
Tuna joined the lab in 2010 and works on both Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Some of her current projects are: Development of search tools for new pathogen discovery, role of human polyomaviruses in disease and cancer, and application of mitotic p4E-BP1(S83) as a potential biomarker. Tuna discovered a new rat polyomavirus and is the go to person for everything.
Rui Sun
Postdoctoral Scholar
Rui joined the lab in 2017 and works on the principles of protein translational regulation in cell cycle and virus-host interaction, including 4E-BP1 regulated cap-dependent protein translation and new protein coding behaviors in tumor viruses.
Justin Wendzicki
Graduate Student
Justin is a 4th year PhD student in Molecular Virology and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from Duquesne University in 2013. A true Renaissance man, Justin spends his free time playing his blue ukulele, writing songs and plays, and studying Romance languages.
Yingci Liu
Graduate Student
Yingci is a graduate student in the oral biology program. She joined the lab to investigate the presence of polyomaviruses in the oral cavity in the immunosuppressed patient populations, and is broadly interested in determining viral contribution to diseases in the head and neck region.
Yoko Shuda
Lab Manager
Yoko joined the Chang-Moore lab in 2013 as a lab manager. Her research responsibility is to provide high level skills to the lab, including basic biochemistry and molecular biology techniques, and regarding cell culture and animal experiments. Her hobbies include doing yoga-like poses while she cooks and listening to classical music.
Bizunesh Abere Alamirew
Postdoctoral Associate

Generally, I am interested in virus-induced oncogenesis. My project aims at survey of circular RNAs encoded by DNA tumor viruses and defining their role in diseases progression as well as in the biology of their respective viruses.
Jennifer Orellana Alvarez
Postdoctoral Fellow

Jennifer joined the lab in 2017. She is interested in investigating the role of the mTOR pathway in regulating viral replication of pathogenic human polyomaviruses. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys baking and watching hockey games.

Paul Herman
Medical Student
Paul is an MD student at the University of Pittsburgh. He joined the lab during during 2018 for an NIH Summer Student Research Training Fellowship. He is interested in the role of non-coding RNA in cancers and will be investigating non-coding RNAs in cancers caused by two human tumor viruses, KSHV and EBV.
Simon Cao
Undergraduate Student
Simon joined the lab in 2018 and is an undergraduate student majoring in Molecular Biology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Felicia Steele
Administrative Assistant
Samantha Garfinkel
Administrative Assistant