Super Bowl party with Aghi Lab 2021-2022
Super Bowl party with Aghi Lab 2021-2022

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Aghi Lab 2019-2020

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Super Bowl party with Aghi Lab 2021-2022
Super Bowl party with Aghi Lab 2021-2022

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The Aghi Lab

What We Do

The Aghi lab investigates the tumor microenvironment of malignant brain tumors like glioblastoma or brain metastases and benign brain tumors like pituitary adenomas. We use techniques such as single cell sequencing, novel xenograft models, and collaborations with industry partners to investigate the role of the tumor microenvironment in the aggressive biology and therapeutic resistance of these tumors. Our research is generously supported by funding from the NIH and a number of private foundations and philanthropic sources.


Areas of Research in the Aghi Lab

Just a few examples of areas of active study in the Aghi lab


c-Met/beta1 integrin complex in glioblastoma and metastases

We have identified a structural complex between c-Met and Beta1 integrin that drives invasive resistance in glioblastoma and metastatic spread of cancer. Current work seeks to identify small molecule inhibitors blocking the formation of this complex.

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Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts in Glioblastoma

We have identified cancer-associated fibroblasts in the subventricular zone of glioblastoma, a role for cancer stem cells in attracting these cells, and numerous pro-humoral functions of these fibroblasts.


Neutrophils in Glioblastoma

We have defined pro-tumoral functions of neutrophils in glioblastoma, which we are working to inhibit in preclinical models.

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3D Bioengineered Models to Study GBM Invasion

We have partnered with the Kumar lab in the UC Berkeley bioengineering department to use 3D tissue models for screening of druggable mediators of invasion and invasive resistance in glioblastoma.


Published Work

The Fruits of Our Labor

Safaee M, Wang EJ, Jain S, Chen J-S, Gill S, Zheng A, Garcia JH, Beniwal AS, Tran Y, Nguyen AT, Trieu M, Leung K, Wells J, Maclean JM, Wycoff K, Aghi MK.  CD97 is associated with mitogenic pathway activation, metabolic reprogramming, and immune microenvironment changes in glioblastoma.  Scientific Reports, in press.

Lau D, Wadhwa H, Sudhir S, Chang AC, Jain S, Chandra A, Nguyen AT, Spatz J, Pappu A, Shah SS, Cheng J, Safaee M, Yagnik G, Jahangiri A, Aghi MK. Role of c-Met/ß1 integrin complex in the metastatic cascade in breast cancer. JCI Insight. 2021;6(12):e138928.

Haddad AF, Chen JS, Oh T, Pereira MP, Joshi RS, Aghi MK. Higher cytolytic score correlates with an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and reduced survival in glioblastoma. Scientific Reports 10: 17580. 2020.

Chandra A, Jahangiri A, Chen W, Nguyen AT, Yagnik G, Pereira MP, Jain S, Garcia JH, Shah SS, Wadhwa H, Joshi RS, Weiss J, Wolf KJ, Lin J-M G, Mueller S, Rick JW, Diaz AA, Gilbert LA, Kumar S, Aghi MK.  Clonal ZEB1-driven mesenchymal transition promotes targetable oncologic anti-angiogenic therapy resistance. Cancer Research 80: 1498-1511. 2020.

Yagnik G, Rutkowski M, Shah S, Aghi MK. Stratifying nonfunctional pituitary adenomas into two groups distinguished by macrophage subtypes. Oncotarget 10: 4350, 2019.

Jahangiri A, Sidrov M, Han SW, Mascharak S, De Lay M, Wagner JR, Castro BA, Imber BS, Lu K, Bergers G, Weiss WA, Aghi MK.  c-Met/β1 integrin: A cross-activating c-Met/β1 integrin complex drives metastasis and invasive resistance in cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114: E8685-E8694. 2017.

Yagnik G, Jahangiri A, Chen R, Wagner JR, Aghi MK. Role of a p53 polymorphism in the development of nonfunctional pituitary adenomas.  Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 446: 81-90. 2017.

Kuang R, Jahangiri A, Mascharak S, Nguyen A, Chandra A, Flanigan PM, Yagnik G, Wagner JR, De Lay M, Carrera D, Castro BA, Hayes J, Sidorov M, Garcia J, Eriksson P, Ronen S, Phillips J, Molinaro A, Koliwad S, Aghi MK.  GLUT3 upregulation promotes metabolic reprogramming associated with anti-angiogenic therapy resistance.  JCI Insight 2:e88815. 2017.

Castro BA, Flanigan P, Jahangiri A, Kuang R, De Lay M, Chen W, Yagnik G, Mascharak S, Sidorov M, Wagner JR, Shrivastav S, Kohanbash G, Okada H, Aghi MK.  Downregulation of macrophage migration inhibitory factor causes oncologic therapeutic resistance.  Oncogene 36: 3749-3759. 2017.

Carbonell WS, De Lay M, Jahangiri A, Park C, Aghi MK.  Targeting Beta1 Integrin Potentiates Bevacizumab Therapy and Inhibits Growth of Bevacizumab-Resistant Glioblastoma Multiforme.  Cancer Research 73: 3145-3154. 2013. (image from article featured in full size on cover of Cancer Research)

Jahangiri A, Carbonell WS, De Lay M, Hu Y-L, Lu K, Paquette J, Tokuyasu TA, Tsao S, Chaumeil MM, Ronen SM, Bergers G, Aghi MK.  Gene expression profile identifies mesenchymal tyrosine kinase c-Met as a targetable mediator of anti-angiogenic therapy resistance.  Clinical Cancer Research 19: 1773-1783. 2013.  (with a commentary by Joseph H. McCarty.  Glioblastoma resistance to anti-VEGF therapy: has the challenge been MET?. Clinical Cancer Research 19: 1631-1633. 2013).

De Lay M, Jahangiri A, Carbonell WS, Hu Y-L, Tsao S, Tom MW, Paquette J, Tokuyasu TA, Aghi MK. Microarray analysis verifies two distinct phenotypes of glioblastomas resistant to anti-angiogenic therapy. Clinical Cancer Research 18: 2930-2942, 2012.

Hu YL, Jahangiri A, DeLay M, Aghi MK.  Tumor cell autophagy as an adaptive response mediating resistance to treatments like anti-angiogenic therapy.  Cancer Research 72: 4294-4299. 2012.



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Manish K. Aghi, MD PhD

Principal Investigator


Ananya Pappu, BS

Aghi Lab Manager

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Saket Jain, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow


Jacob Young, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow


Alex Haddad, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow


Elaina Wang, BS

Medical Student Research Fellow

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Ryan Phelps, BS

Medical Student Research Fellow


Joseph Garcia, BS

Medical Student Research Fellow

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Sabraj Gill, BS

Research Fellow


Previous Lab Newsletters

Circulated every January to collaborators, patient families, and supportive donors.

To subscribe to our newsletter email using the subject "subscribe"


Aghi Lab Journal Covers

Over the years we've been fortunate to have some of our work featured on the covers of journals.

Cancer Research

May 2013

This cover art illustrates immunostaining showing unregulated perivascular beta1 integrin expression in glioblastomas resistant to anti-angiogenic therapy

Seminars In Cancer Biology

November 2020

This cover art illustrates mechanisms of resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy.

Journal of Neuro-Oncology

February 2021

This cover art illustrates convection-enhanced delivery of drugs to glioblastoma.

Journal of Neuro-Oncology

March 2021

This cover illustration demonstrates mechanisms of interaction between viral therapies and immunotherapy for glioblastoma.


Lab Photo Album

Aghi Lab At Work and Play Over the Years

UCSF SRTP Poster Session 2019

Joseph Chen presents his poster summarizing work completed in the UCSF Summer Research Training Program (SRTP)

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ASCI 2019 Meeting

Sumedh Shah presents his work on tumor-associated neutrophils done as part of an HHMI fellow at the 2019 ASCI meeting in Chicago


SNO 2018 Meeting

Members of the Aghi lab giving talks at the Society for Neuro-Oncology 2018 annual meeting in New Orleans gather outside the lecture hall


UCSF PhD Graduation 2018

Aghi lab member Arman Jahangiri gathers with the lab after earning his PhD through the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) graduate division at UCSF


San Francisco Giants Game 2018

The nice part about having a lab walking distance from a baseball stadium is the chance for the lab to catch a ball game.  Hoping to do the same when the Warriors stadium opens in fall 2019.


SNO 2017 Meeting

Ankush Chandra stands next to his award winning poster from the 2017 Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Annual Meeting in San Francisco


SNO 2016 Meeting

Postdoctoral fellow Garima Yagnik stands by her poster which won best poster at the 2016 Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Annual Meeting


Lab Alumni


Garima Yagnik, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2014-2019

After completing her postdoctoral fellowship in the Aghi Lab, Garima became a Senior Scientist at Allogene, where she works on CAR-T cell therapies.


W. Shawn Carbonell, MD PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2010-2012

After completing his postdoctoral fellowship in the Aghi lab, Shawn has gone on to become founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Oncosynergy, developing integrin blocking antibodies as a therapeutic for cancer.


Arman Jahangiri, MD PHD

HHMI fellow 2011-2013
UCSF PhD student 2013-2018

After completing three years of medical school at UT Southwestern, Arman joined the Aghi lab as a Howard Hughes fellow 2011-2013 and as a BMS graduate student at UCSF 2013-2018. He is currently a neurosurgery resident at Emory University


Michael Safaee, MD

Post-Doctoral Fellow 2018-2019

Mike completed a postdoctoral fellowship funded by an F32 grant from the NIH and a Neurosurgery Research Education Foundation (NREF) Fellowship.

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Taemin Oh, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2019-2020

Taemin Oh completed a yearlong research fellowship and is completing his neurosurgery residency at UCSF.

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Ramin Morshed, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2020-2021

Ramin Morshed completed a yearlong postdoctoral fellow and is now completing his neurosurgery residency at UCSF.


Darryl Lau, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2017-2018

Darryl completed a one year postdoctoral fellowship in the Aghi lab funded by Precision Health Science TL1 (PRESCIENT) and Neurosurgery Research Education Foundation (NREF) fellowships


Martin Rutkowski, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2016-2017

Martin completed a one year postdoctoral fellowship during neurosurgery residency at UCSF funded by the Precision Health Science TL1 program. He is currently a skull base fellow at USC.


Sumedh Shah, BS

HHMI Fellow 2018-2019

Sumedh was a HHMI fellow in the Aghi lab during the final year of the HHMI program and is a current University of Miami medical student.


Ankush Chandra, BS

AANS/NREF Summer Fellow 2016 HHMI Fellow 2017-2018

Ankush was a summer fellow followed by a yearlong HHMI fellowship. He is a current Wayne State medical student.

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Jonathan Rick, MD

HHMI Fellow 2017-2018

Jonathan Rick was a UCSF medical student and HHMI Fellow in the Aghi lab. He is currently a dermatology resident.

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Daniel Hoffman, MD

HHMI Fellow 2016-2017

Dan was a UCSF medical student who did an HHMI fellowship in the Aghi lab. He is a current UCSF general surgery resident.


Patrick Flanigan, MD

ABTA/NREF Medical Student Research Fellow 2016-2017

Patrick was a Cleveland Clinic medical student who spent a year in the lab funded by the ABTA and NREF. He is a current neurosurgery resident at UCLA


Brandyn Castro, MD

HHMI Fellow 2013-2015

Brandyn was a Boston University medical student who did an HHMI fellowship in the Aghi lab. She is a current University of Chicago neurosurgery resident.


Brandon Imber, MD

RAPtr fellow 2013-2014

Brandon was a UCSF medical student who did a RAPtr fellowship in the Aghi lab. He is currently a radiation oncology resident at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

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Matheus P. Pereira, MD

Medical Student Research Fellow 2019-2020

Matheus Pereira was a UCSF medical student in the Aghi Lab who completed a yearlong research fellowship. He is now a neurosurgery resident at the Medical University of South Carolina.

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Rushikesh Joshi, MD

Medical Student Yearlong Fellow 2019-2020

Rushi was a UCSD medical student and yearlong research fellow in the Aghi Lab. He is currently a neurosurgery resident at the University of Michigan.

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Angad Beniwal, BS

Junior Specialist 2019-2021

After working as a junior specialist for two years, Angad went on to pursue his MD.

Alexander Chang, BS

Aghi Lab Manager 2020-2021

After working as lab manager, Alex went on to the University of Pittsburgh to pursue his MD and PhD.

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Sweta Sudhir, BS

Aghi Lab Manager 2019-2020

After serving as Aghi lab manager, Sweta went onto medical school at Mt. Sinai in New York City.


Harsh Wadhwa, BS

Aghi Lab Manager 2018-2019

Harsh was the Aghi Lab Manager from 2018-2019, after which he attended Stanford Medical School.


Alan Nguyen, BS

Aghi Lab Manager 2016-2018

After serving as Aghi lab manager, Alan went onto medical school in Michigan

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Ruby Kuang, BS MS

Aghi Lab Manager 2014-2016

Ruby was the Aghi lab manager from 2014-2016 and is a current UCLA medical student.


Smita Mascharak, MD

Aghi Lab Manager 2013-2014

Smita was the Aghi Lab Manager from 2013-2014, after which she attended medical school at UCLA.  She is currently a general surgery resident at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.


Michael De Lay, PhD

Aghi Lab Manager 2010-2013

Michael was Aghi lab manager from 2010-2013, after which he earned his PhD from Columbia University


Eshita Sharma

Undergraduate Research Fellow 2019-2020

Eshita was an undergraduate research fellow while at UC Berkeley


 Public Resources Generated by the Aghi Lab

The Aghi Lab is proud to have generated the following resources which are available for public use

Gene Expression in Bevacizumab-Resistant Xenografts

Our novel multi-generational xenograft model of bevacizumab resistance was analyzed by microarray, revealing increased expression of mesenchymal genes. Data is stored in the GEO repository.

Gene Expression in Bevacizumab-Resistant Patient GBMs

We analyzed patient glioblastomas before and after bevacizumab resistance and reported their gene expression changes in the Array Express repository.


Join Our Team

Research Opportunities

Check out the positions available in our lab as we continue to pursue new projects and improve our experimental capacity. To apply, please email us at a cover letter, CV, and contact details of at least three references. We’ll get back to you shortly with our response and further details regarding the hiring process.

Postdoctoral Fellow

January 25, 2019

Looking for an energetic go-getter who has completed PhD training in the US to join our team as a post-doctoral fellow as part of this recently funded NCI R01 from the Cancer Tissue Engineering Collaborative (CTEC).

Lab Manager

January 25, 2021

Looking for a lab manager with a recently completed BS degree looking to spend time with us before starting graduate or medical school.  There will eventually be autonomy on your own project as well as administrative duties.

Test Tubes

How to Support Our Work

Click on the link below. 

Click on the "Direct your gift to a specific area" link

Specify other, and enter: "Aghi brain tumor lab" 


Contact Us

1450 3rd St Room HD-415
San Francisco, CA 94158


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Jordan Spatz, MD PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2019-2021