Stefani Spranger

Stefani Spranger

Principal Investigator
Education: PhD in 2011, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

Stefani is from Munich, Germany and received her B.S./ M.S. in Biology from the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. She continued her doctoral work there under Professor Dolores J. Schendel at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Munich, Institute for Molecular Immunology, receiving her Ph.D. in 2011. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago. She enjoys cooking, hiking and is a passionate skier.


Tim F.

Tim Fessenden

Postdoctoral Fellow (Cancer Research Institute)
Education: PhD in 2017, The University of Chicago

Tim got his B.A. in biology amidst the redwood forests at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His start in the world of cancer research came after when he was a technician studying breast cancer at UCSF in Thea Tlsty's lab. Tim traveled east to Chicago where he did his doctoral work in Margaret Gardel's lab, studying biophysics and cell invasion. He has traveled farther east to join the Spranger team where he will focus on the motility and interactions of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. 

Tim F.

Brendan Horton

Postdoctoral Scholar
Education: PhD in Cancer Biology in 2017, The University of Chicago

Brendan spent time in multiple locations growing up, including Germany and several towns in Maine. Brendan stayed in the Northeast for college, earning his B.A. in 2009 from Boston University in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His undergraduate research focused on oncogenic signaling in lymphoma cells. Brendan continued his interest in cancer research in the Cancer Biology Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago where he performed his doctoral work with Dr. Thomas Gajewski. Brendan’s graduate thesis focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of agonist anti-4-1BB immunotherapy. In the Spranger lab Brendan is studying more basic aspects of immune responses against cancer, with an emphasis on factors that mediate immune exclusion from tumors. Brendan enjoys cooking, running, exploring new bars and restaurants, and brewing deliciously well-balanced not-too-hoppy beers. 

Elen T

Elen Torres Mejia

Postdoctoral Scholar
Education: PhD in 2018, Technical University of Munich, Germany

Elen is from Caracas, Venezuela and received her B.S. in Biology from the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas. She got her Master’s degree in cell biology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. She continued her doctoral work in Sabrina Desbordes’s lab at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Munich, Institute of Developmental Genetics. During her doctoral work, Elen studied Schwann cell migration during the regeneration of the peripheral nervous system, receiving her Ph.D. in 2018. She then continued her research studying how the tumor extracellular microenvironment influences tumor progression in Frank Gertler’s lab at the Koch Institute at MIT. In the Spranger lab, she is interested in understanding the signaling pathways in cancer cells that lead to an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Elen enjoys dancing, playing Derbake, hiking, and traveling.       

Graduate Students

Vidit Bhandarkar

Vidit Bhandarkar

Graduate Student
Education: B.S., Biology, Duke University, 2019

Vidit grew up in Mumbai, India and received his B.S. in Biology from Duke University with minors in Psychology and Chemistry. During his undergrad, his work in the Gersbach Lab was focused on better understanding glucocorticoid receptor (GR) biology and improving the specificity of diverse CRISPR systems. For graduate school, Vidit wanted to shift gears and move into the more disease-centric fields of immunology and cancer biology. Outside of lab, he enjoys playing soccer, cooking, reading, and pretty much anything outdoors/sports related.

Fiona Chatterjee

Fiona Chatterjee

Graduate Student
Education: B.A., Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2019

Fiona grew up in Santa Clara, California and earned her B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. Her first research experience was in Leslea Hlusko’s lab studying mammalian skeletal variation. Realizing that molecular biology was her true interest, she then joined Douglas Koshland’s lab, where she studied the molecular basis of sister chromatid cohesion. Fiona is currently a graduate student in the Biology Department at MIT. In the Spranger lab, she is interested in the different ways dendritic cells can impact immune responses against cancer. Fiona is an avid dancer and also enjoys baking, traveling, and playing piano.

Teresa Dinter

Teresa Dinter

Graduate Student
Education: B.S., Biology, Tufts University, 2016

Teresa grew up in California and moved to Boston where she received her B.S. in Biology at Tufts University. She completed her undergraduate thesis in the lab of Dr. Sergei Mirkin, studying the mechanism of large-scale CAG-trinucleotide repeat expansions in yeast. After graduating, she worked as a research technician in Dr. Paul Yu’s lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, investigating bone morphogenetic protein signaling in pulmonary hypertension. Teresa then joined the MIT Biology Department as a graduate student. In the Spranger lab, Teresa is interested in understanding T cell fate decisions. Outside of lab, she enjoys hiking, baking, and reading.

Teresa Dinter

Ellen Duong

Graduate Student
Education: Sc.B., Chemical Biology, Brown University, 2011

Ellen is from Rhode Island and received her Sc.B. in Chemical Biology from Brown University. After graduating, she studied the HIV antigen processing activities of dendritic cells and macrophages at the Ragon Institute.  She then pursued cancer immunotherapy research at Jounce Therapeutics. Ellen is a graduate student in the Biology Department at MIT.  In the Spranger Lab, she is interested in broadly exploring the roles of antigen-presenting cells in the tumor microenvironment.  Ellen enjoys writing, learning piano, and cooking Vietnamese dishes in her spare time.

Kim Nguyen

Kim Nguyen

Graduate Student
Education: B.A., Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2014

Kim grew up in the Central Valley of California and received her B.A. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley. Previously she worked in Jack Dixon's lab at UC San Diego, investigating the function of members of a novel family of secreted protein kinases. She is broadly interested in understanding the crosstalk between cancer and immune cells. Kim dabbles in photography, appreciates travel and is fond of aimless walks. She likes eating good food too.

Kim Nguyen

Maria Zagorulya

Graduate Student
Education: B.S., Biochemistry, University of Rochester, 2017

Maria is from Moscow, Russia and received her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Rochester. While in college she performed research projects spanning the fields of genome editing, aging and cancer. Curious to continue disease-focused research, Maria joined the Biology Department at MIT as a graduate student. In the Spranger lab, she is interested in studying how microenvironmental factors can impact dendritic cell function in cancer. Maria enjoys traveling, swimming, dancing and going on spontaneous adventures in the city.

Undergraduate Students

Chloe McCreery

Undergraduate Student
Education: Punahou School

Chloe is from Honolulu, Hawaii, and attended Punahou School. Here at MIT, she plans to major in biological engineering while minoring in music, and is excited to learn more about immunology at the Spranger Lab. In her free time, she loves playing the cello, taking trips to enjoy restaurants around Boston, working on MIT's student newspaper, and watching scary movies. 

Jennifer Wen

Undergraduate Student
Education: Lawton Chiles High School

Jennifer is from Florida, and she has always wanted to study biology or bioengineering. Jennifer has previously conducted research in psychology, neuroscience, and environmental science, and she has recently become interested in learning more about cancer immunology. During her free time, Jennifer enjoys dancing, visiting art museums, playing Mario Kart with her friends, and exploring yummy food options in Boston.

Sally Weng

Undergraduate Student
Education: Livingston High School

Sally hails from a northern New Jersey suburb and attended Livingston High School. At Wellesley, she plans to major in Biological Sciences. She has no prior research experience but is excited to learn about immunology! Outside of research/class, you can find her playing the viola, volunteering in a teaching program, or discovering new places to eat in the city.

Leon Yim

Undergraduate Student
Education: Taipei American School

Leon was originally from California, but grew up in Taiwan, where he developed an interest in biological research. Previously, Leon had conducted research in synthetic biology, even competing in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) conference. Since then, he has developed an interest in studying how the human immune system is capable of combatting all kinds of diseases. Leon enjoys reading, running, biking, and photography.

Izabella Zamora

Undergraduate Student
Education: Riverside STEM Academy

Izabella grew up in Southern California. At MIT she plans to double major is Computer Science and Biology, and learn more about immunology in the Spranger lab. Her free time is spent baking, swimming, and exploring Boston with friends.

Julian Zulueta

Undergraduate Student
Education: Belen Jesuit Preparatory School

Julian is from Miami, Florida, where he attended Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. He plans to pursue biological engineering at MIT, and is excited to apply his knowledge to better learn about immunology in the Spranger Lab. Outside of class, Julian spends time rowing on the Charles River, touring Boston, listening to reggaeton, and (his personal favorite) enjoying Yamato’s sushi buffet.


Paul Thompson


Melissa Duquette

Research Technician

Paul Thompson


Paul Thompson

Administrative Assistant

Alumni (current position)

Christopher Copeland

Jocelyn Koelb (Undergraduate student, Northeastern University)

Therese Cordero Dumit (PhD candidate, Yale University)

Lionel Dufour

Annmarie Wang

Gyuna Kim

Henry Dwaah (Medical student, Tufts University School of Medicine)

Marwa Saad (PhD candidate, Rockefeller University)

Kate Pearce

Linyue (Joy) Fan (PhD candidate, Columbia University)