Principal Investigator

Issam Ben-Sahra, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

Issam received his Master's research degree in Genetics, Development, and Immunity from the Côte d'Azur University in France in 2007. He obtained his Ph.D. from the same university in December 2010, where he studied the molecular and cellular effects of metabolic perturbators on cancer cells and tumor growth under the supervision of Dr. Frederic Bost. In 2011, Issam joined the laboratory of Prof. Brendan D. Manning in the department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. There, he combined his knowledge in metabolism and signaling pathways to understand how mTORC1 drives anabolic cell growth and proliferation. In January 2017, Issam joined Northwestern University/Feinberg School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

Lab Manager

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Michael D. Torno

Research Lab Manager

Michael earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Michael is the Research Laboratory Manager and has expertise encompassing a broad range of techniques, including molecular biology, virology, biochemistry, cell culture, plant genetics, and pathology. He has also critical knowledge in laboratory management. Michael joined the Ben-Sahra lab at Northwestern University in January 2022. His research is geared towards understanding the regulation of cellular metabolism in cancer cells.

Education:                                                                                                           B.S.L.A.S., 1999, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, U.S.A.


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Eunus S. Ali, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow

After obtaining his Master degree in medicinal & protein chemistry at Stockholm University Arrhenius Laboratory, Eunus earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry & cell biology at Flinders University School of Medicine (Adelaide, Australia) where he identified and proposed a model where low cellular Ca2+ levels help synthesize more lipids in fatty liver cells. In the Ben-Sahra laboratory, Eunus is interested in the molecular interface between signal transduction pathways and cellular metabolism in cancer.


Ph.D., 2016, Flinders University School of Medicine, Australia

M.S., 2010, Stockholm University, Sweden


Umakant Sahu, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow

Umakant did his M. Sc. in Biotechnology at the University of Allahabad (Allahabad, India). He earned his Ph.D. degree from the Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore, India) where he studied the transcriptional metabolic regulation of non-fermentable carbon compounds in a methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris. In the Ben-Sahra laboratory, Umakant is interested in understanding the regulation of nucleotide metabolism in cancer cells. 


Ph.D., 2017, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India


Elodie Villa, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Elodie obtained her Ph.D. degree at the Côte d'Azur University, where she studied cell death escaping mechanisms developed by cancer cells, which consist of the selective elimination of damaged mitochondria by autophagy, identifying a new ubiquitin ligase as a key player in this process. She also studied the molecular characterization of the Caspase Independent Cell Death (CICD). In the Ben-Sahra laboratory, Elodie is interested in understanding how TSC loss of functions and oncogenes regulate metabolic pathways in human cells. Elodie is supported by the TS Alliance Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.



Ph.D., Dec 2017, Côte d'Azur University, Nice, France


Mushtaq Nengroo, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow

Mushtaq obtained his Ph.D. degree at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. His doctoral studies at the Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR) focused on the role of CXCR4 in tumor growth and metastasis in the context of chemotherapy resistance. In the Ben-Sahra and Mendillo labs, Mushtaq is using CRISPR-Cas9 screening to untangle the metabolic reprogramming and vulnerabilities of tumor cells



Ph.D., Nov 2021, (CSIR-SRF), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India


Olivia Vidal-Cruchez, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow

Olivia obtained her Ph.D. degree at Côte d'Azur University in Nice, France. Her doctoral studies at the Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging (IRCAN) enabled the identification a novel mechanism of drug tolerance to MEK inhibitors (MEKi) that involves Processing Bodies (PBs). In the Ben-Sahra laboratory, Olivia is interested in understanding how signaling and cellular metabolism control cell biomass production and contribute to oncogenic transformation.


Ph.D., Dec 2021, Côte d'Azur University, Nice, France


Konrad T. Sawicki, M.D./Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow, Physician Scientist Training Program

Konrad received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry with Honors from the University of Michigan in 2010. He subsequently obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at Northwestern University, where he studied cellular and mitochondrial iron regulation in the heart and post-transcriptional regulation of hepatic metabolism under Dr. Hossein Ardehali. In 2017, Konrad joined the Physician Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University and has completed his internal medicine residency and the majority of his clinical cardiology fellowship. Konrad is conducting his post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth McNally, in close collaboration with the Ben-Sahra laboratory. Konrad is interested in understanding how mitochondrial membrane proteins regulate cardiac metabolism and the regulation of myocardial substrate utilization in cardiovascular health and disease.



M.D., Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine

Ph.D., Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine

Former Members


Brendan P. O'Hara

Brendan O'Hara was the Research lab Manager of the Ben-Sahra lab from March 2019 to January 2022.

His research was geared towards understanding the regulation of signaling, cellular metabolism in proliferating cells.

Education:                                                                                                           Master of Biochemistry, UK, 2004

Zied Djabari

Zied Djabari was the Research lab Manager of the Ben-Sahra lab from April 2017 to May 2019.

His research was geared towards understanding the regulation of cellular metabolism in cancer cells.

Current position: Research Engineer at the Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging (IRCAN), Nice, France


B.S., 2004, University of Nice – Sophia-Antipolis, France.

Sandy Giuliano, Ph.D.

Visiting scientist from the Scientific Center of Monaco

Aug-2017 - Dec 2017


Current position: Principal Investigator at the Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging (IRCAN), Nice, France