Our Staff

The Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Diane Da Silva, PhD, MS

Education:  Loyola University Chicago – PhD in Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy; University of Southern California – MS in Regulatory Science

Research Focus: Her current research interests span multiple areas of study that include applying immune modulation strategies to enhance natural and vaccine-induced immunity against HPV, investigating the molecular and cellular determinants in the tumor microenvironment that lead to cervical cancer progression and metastasis, and assessing the clinical significance of the cervico-vaginal microbiota in relation to chronic inflammation and cervical precancerous lesion progression.

Background: Dr. Da Silva currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at USC and is the Co-Director of the Beckman Center for Immune Monitoring at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has spent the past 15 years studying human papillomavirus (HPV) interactions with host immune cell receptors and immune escape mechanisms used by HPV, and has been involved with development of therapeutic vaccine strategies against HPV-induced cancers. Additionally, Dr. Da Silva has co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, review articles, and book chapters and has presented her research at numerous national and international scientific meetings. She serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for several scientific journals, including the Journal of Immunology, Journal of Virology, Virology, Vaccine, Viral Immunology, Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Currently she is excited to be directing a newly developed undergraduate Introductory course in Modern Oncology for the USC Minor in Health Care Studies that started in Spring 2015.

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The Research Technicians

IMG_5929Elena Chavez-Juan, MS – Lab Manager

Education: Cal Poly Pomona – MS in Biological Sciences; Cal Poly Pamona, BA in Biological Sciences

Background: Elena joined the lab in October of 2015 and has become the hands that make the Immune Monitoring Core function. A native of Los Angeles, Elena attended college at Cal Poly Pomona and worked in the laboratory of Dr. Adler-Moore. Her studies focused on developing and utilizing a murine HSV-intravaginal infection models to study the effects of a novel HSV vaccine as well as the potential therapeutic effects of a synthetic cannabanoid in treatment of ongoing HSV-infections.


Kim Luhen, BaSC

Education: Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Enschede, The Netherlands

Background: Back in 2011, Kim did her graduation project for her Bachelor degree in Biology and Medical Lab Research at the Kast lab, and has been working as a lab technician in several labs in the Netherlands since then. In March 2017 Kim came back to Los Angeles and joined the lab as a technician to mainly work for the Immune Monitoring Core, and has been a spitfire of energy and amazing technical skill..

Hobbies: Crossfit, Movies, Fashion