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Velpula Molecular Neuro-Oncology Lab

Dr. Velpula writes on a white board, while two other people take notes and listen.

Areas of study

Our research is centered on glioblastoma, the most common brain tumor in adults. Our aim is to identify novel therapeutic avenues and develop small molecule inhibitors for these devastating tumors. Our specific expertise and strengths lie in tumor metabolism, progression and growth. We use patient tumors and patient derived xenograft models that enable to translate novel treatment approaches. Our research laboratory is connected to the Illinois Neurological Institute and OSF Hospital (Peoria, IL) and is widely associated with a network of national and international collaborators.

Current lab projects are:

  • Elucidating the role of PDK1 in GSC metabolism
  • Identifying the metabolic pathways coupled to RTK signaling
  • Developing small molecule inhibitors for targeting tumor metabolism
  • Generation of PDX and RCAS mouse models for tumor metabolism

Research Team Heading link

The Velpula Lab also collaborates with students and faculty at UI-COM and in external institutions to conduct research.

Justin D. Lathia, PhD

Associate Staff/Associate Professor
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland OH
Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine
Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

Jann N. Sarkaria, MD

Professor of Radiation Oncology
Mayo Clinic
200 First Street SW
Rochester, MN

Jack A. Tuszynski, PhD, D.SC

Allard Research Chair, Department of Oncology
Department of Physics, University of Alberta
Edmonton Alberta, Canada

Craig Horbinski, MD, PhD

Associate Professor Director
Northwestern Nervous System Tumor Bank
Departments of Pathology and Neurosurgery, Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

Swapna Asuthkar, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology. University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria
Peoria IL


University Distinguished Professor and Pegasus Professor
Director, Advanced Materials Processing Analysis Center and Nanoscience Technology Center
Professor and Interim Chair, Materials Science and Engineering
University of Central Florida

Michael Olin, PhD

Associate Professor
University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center
Department of Pediatrics
3-136 Cancer and Cardiovascular Building
Minneapolis, MN

Sarah E. Martin, MD

Assistant Clinical Professor of Pathology
Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Peoria IL
Neuropathologist, Central Illinois Pathology

David J Daniels, MD, PhD

Pediatric Neurosurgery
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
Associate Medical Director of Pediatric Trauma
Mayo Clinic

Nigel H. Greig, PhD

Chief, Drug Design & Development Section Translational Gerontology Branch
Intramural Research Program
National Institute on Aging
NIH Baltimore, MD

Neil J. Price, PhD

Research Chemist GS-14
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Peoria, IL

UI-COMP Students currently at the lab

  • Yining Lu, James Scholar
  • Neha Jain
  • Michael Pajor, James Scholar
  • Chase Smith
  • Simon Park, James Scholar
  • Ryan Wilbur, James Scholar
  • Joseph Sahagun, James Scholar
  • Anvesh Jalasutram
  • John Canglia

Where are they now?

  • Collin Labak, MD (2015-2019) – Case Hospitals, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Carlen Yuen, MD (2015-2017) – University of Chicago, Illinois
  • Rishab Arora (2016) – Washington University, St. Louis
  • Paul Wang (2016) – Northeastern University, Boston
  • Ian Purvis (2016-2017) – University of Colorado, Denver
  • David Anson (2017-2018) – University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria
  • Pooja Agarwal (2017-2018) – University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria
  • Yeshaswini Reddy, MD (2018) – University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria
  • Srijan Valasapalli (2018) – University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria
  • Arpit Sahoo (2018) – Truman State University, MO
  • Sankeerth K. Reddy (2018) – Truman State University, MO
  • Charlie Cain (2018-2019) – University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria
  • Matthew Rashid (2019) – Wesleyan University, Illinois
  • Onechang W. Lee, MD – Spine Care Center, Manassas, VA