Team


About Us

Michael S. Mulligan, MD

Principal Investigator

Professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery (University of Washington)

Director of the Lung Transplant Program

Director of Advanced Lung Disease Surgery Program

Co-Director, CT Research CORE

Co-Director, ExoCORE

Dr. Mulligan is a UW professor of cardiothoracic surgery and the director of the Lung Transplant Program and the Advanced Lung Disease Surgery Program. He is clinically busy in lung transplantation and lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS). He also is the surgeon in the Pacific Northwest who performs pulmonary endarterectomies for chronic pulmonary embolic disease.

In addition, Dr. Mulligan directs the Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Program. He performs a range of lung cancer resections regularly. He is considered a national expert in video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy and leads regional and national courses on the subject. He also has considerable experience in the management of esophageal cancer.

He has won local and national teaching awards and runs an NIH-funded laboratory. His areas of scientific investigation include the mechanisms of acute lung injury following lung transplantation, regulation of tolerance in long-term lung graft acceptance, and lung ischemia reperfusion injury.

Billanna Hwang, MPH, DHSc

Research Scientist / Baby Principal Investigator

Founder of the WestCo Exosortium

Co-Director, CT Research CORE

Co-Director, ExoCORE

Billanna (Billie) is currently a Research Scientist and baby PI under the direction/training of Dr. Michael S. Mulligan. She received her BS in Biology at Seattle University, furthered her studies by obtaining an MPH, and completing her doctorate. She trained extensively in transplant immunology at Fred Hutchison Cancer Research looking at the role of T cells, more specifically regulatory T cells in bone marrow and solid organ transplantation (lung and VCA), tolerance mechanisms, and GVHD. As an affiliate, she continues to do collaborative research with FHCRC investigators. Currently, she investigating the use of cell immunotherapy in pulmonary diseases and as a platform for tolerance induction in a solid organ transplant setting. Additionally, the lab now is focusing on the role of exosomes in immune responses, therapeutics, disease signatures, and regenerative medicine. Outside of research, she continues to play volleyball at the top level in the region and runs a volleyball club/training program.

Brian Beard, PhD

Research Consultant

Brian received his B.A. in biology with a minor in chemistry from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, USA and his PhD in biochemistry from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, USA. After he received his PhD he worked as a clinical research scientist for ten years on genetic therapy of bone marrow transplantation at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, USA. Since 2013 Brian has volunteered with various organizations working on community and global health in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, and Asia.

Thomas Hady

PhD Student

Thomas Hady is a Bioengineering PhD student at the University of Washington who joined the Bryers and Mulligan/Hwang laboratories in 2016. He is currently investigating exosomal cell signalling mechanisms that impact adaptive immune modulation and regeneration with the ultimate intent to engineer exosome therapies. He completed his BSc in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2016, and has previously worked as a molecular genetic and concussion diagnostic researcher.

Nathan Chan

PhD Student

Nathan R Chan is a Molecular Engineering PhD student who joined the Bryers and Mulligan/Hwang laboratories in 2018. He received his Bachelors Degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Nathan is currently investigating the polarization of macrophages and the quantification of cell types within porous scaffolds as a response to nutrient gradients. Previously, he has worked in industry at Stemcell Technologies on nanoparticle development and researched at the Michael Smith Laboratories on cellular therapies and aptamer selection.

Jen Merk

1st year Medical Student (University of Washington)

Jen holds a B.A. in Biological Pre-Medical Illustration from Iowa State University and a B.B.A. from Georgia State University with a concentration in Accounting, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She began volunteering at the Mulligan/Hwang lab in January 2018. She is currently a 1st year medical student at the University of Washington. She volunteers at the Marymoor Community Food Bank Garden and enjoys riding horses, yoga, biking, and hiking.

Rachel Waworuntu

Research Scientist

Rachel joined the Mulligan Lab in 2014 and began assisting in hematology counts and ventilation protocols. She started at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center learning about hematology in bone marrow transplants with the Transplantation Biology group and worked with the HIV Vaccine Trials unit. Afterwards, she moved to the Center of Lung Biology researching the effects of mechanical ventilation and lung ischemia reperfusion injury. She graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Molecular Cellular Biology and is currently working on her MPH.

An Tran

Research Technician

An recieved her B.S in Biochemistry with minors in Mathematics and Anthropology from University of Washington in 2017. She joined Mulligan/Hwang Lab at the end of her sophomore year as a research technician. After graduated, she continues working on multiple projects, investigating the roles of scaffold-derived-exosomes in regeneration and plasma-derived-exosome in patients with lung fibrosis. Having experience as a undergraduate to fail a lot and expand on the techniques is integral part of being prepared for the graduate programs that she hopes getting into. Besides the lab work, she also enjoys working as an EMT in King County.

Taylor Watson

Graduate Student Intern

Taylor is a senior in Bioengineering at the University of Washington. She’s currently conducting her Capstone project on the 3-dimensional culture of MSCs. She will continue this work, with an emphasis on the optimization of exosomes for vaccine delivery, in pursuit of her Master’s.

Sean Hoeger

Student Intern

Sean Hoeger graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A in Molecular Biology. He’ll be applying for admission towards a Ph.D program in immunology with the goal to conduct further research in the field of innate immunology. When he’s not in school or in the lab he enjoys running along the Burke-Gilman Trial or commuting through Seattle traffic.


CT Clinical Research Core

Farhood Farjah, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery (University of Washington)

Dr. Farjah is a thoracic surgeon, clinical epidemiologist, and health services researcher interested in personalizing care delivery and improving outcomes for individuals at-risk for and/or diagnosed with lung cancer. His goal is to increase the value of diagnostic modalities used in screening, staging, and/or surveillance. Dr. Farjah trained at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Cardiothracic Surgery and University of Washington in General Surgery. He obtained a M.S. in Epidemiology.

Erika Lease, MD

Associate Professor, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine (University of Washington)

Medical Director, UW Lung Transplant Program

Dr. Lease is a transplant pulmonologist and solid organ transplant infectious disease specialist within the UW Department of Medicine. Since 2014, she has been the Medical Director of the UW Lung Transplant Program, the only lung transplant program in the Pacific Northwest.

Tobi Afolayan, MD

General Surgery Resident PGY3 (University of Washington)

Tobi is a General Surgery resident interested in thoracic surgery. His research interest is in quality improvement and pulmonary infectious diseases.

David Miranda, MD

General Surgery Resident (R3) (University of Washington)

David got his BA and MS at Johns Hopkins University and his MD at Harvard Medical School. His interests are in Global Health, Infectious Diseases, and Surgery. He is particularly motivated by the challenges of surgical complications related to infections and alterations in microbiomes.

Ryan Abbaszadeh, MD

Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellow (University of Virginia)

General Surgery Chief Resident (University of Washington)

Eric Morrell, MD

Senior Fellow in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine (University of Washington)

Eric is interested in alveolar immunology of ARDS and lung allograft rejection.


Kathleen Berfield, MD

Aaron Cheng, MD

Qian (Vicky) Wu, MS,PhD

Assistant Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson CRC