Dr. Xhabija joined the Department of Natural Sciences in September 2022 as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry. Her laboratory aims to understand the effects of toxins on early embryonic development utilizing embryonic stem cells because they provide a new tool and opportunity to investigate the impact of environmental exposures and their interactions with genetic factors on human development and health. To fully realize these potentials, she believes that it is important to understand the molecular basis of the defining characteristic of the stem cells. More specifically, she is interested in investigating how stem cells play a role in shaping the expression program during development and how mechanisms of self-renewal and differentiation during mammalian development regulate cellular fate decisions.
My lab has two main areas of focus: molecular characteristics of head and neck cancer, and the intersection of regulatory genomics and pathway analysis. With head and neck cancer, we study tumor subtypes and biomarkers of prognosis, treatment response, and recurrence. We perform integrative omics analyses, dimension reduction methods, and prediction techniques, with the ultimate goal of identifying patient subsets who would benefit from either an additional targeted treatment or de-escalated treatment to increase quality of life. For regulatory genomics and pathway analysis, we develop statistical tests taking into account important covariates and other variables for weighting observations.