Sempere Laboratory


Sudakshina Chakrabarty
Student intern
DaShaun Ragland
Guest student
Josh Schipper, Ph.D.
Research scientist

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Dr. Josh Schipper received a B.S. in biomedical science from Grand Valley State University (2004) and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from North Carolina State University (2007). During his doctoral work in the lab of Dr. A. Clay Clark, he identified and synthesized a small molecule activator of the pro form of caspase-3 as novel cancer therapeutic, using a diverse array of techniques such as X-ray crystallography, molecular dynamics simulations, enzyme kinetic assays, and in silico compound screening. While a postdoc at Duke University in the lab of Dr. Raluca M. Gordân, Josh used protein binding microarrays to characterize in vitro binding affinities for transcription factors, and developed computational models that were able to describe the complex nature of E2F binding and accurately predict in vivo binding for the first time.

Jeanie Wedberg
Senior administrative assistant II
Jenni Westerhuis, M.S.Ed., M.S.
Research technician

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Jenni Westerhuis obtained her B.S. in neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2008. Upon graduation, she moved to Philadelphia to teach inner-city high school science. While there, Ms. Westerhuis earned her M.S.Ed. in secondary education in 2011 from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2012, she returned to the University of Michigan where she studied P2X2 receptor function in adult mouse muscle. She completed her M.S. in 2014 in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. In 2014, Ms. Westerhuis joined the Sempere Laboratory as a research technician.

Faculty Mentoring Committee

This committee of senior faculty and successful scientists provides Dr. Sempere with support and guidance to optimize his chance to develop and sustain a successful scientific career. This support and advice includes, but is not limited to, the following: developing appropriate milestones to achieve career goals, strategies to develop and submit competitive grant applications, and strategies to maximize the impact of publications.

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D.
Professor in the Center for Epigenetics at VARI
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology at VARI
George A. Calin, M.D.,Ph.D.
Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX




Summer 2015 Sempere Laboratory members with Dr. Bart Williams, Director of VARI’s Center for Cancer and Cell biology and Program for Skeletal Disease and Tumor Microenvironment. From left to right, Dr. Heather Calderone (lab manager), Ms. Jenni Westerhuis (lab technician), Ms. Dani Gomez (summer intern and GVSU Master’s student), Dr. Bart Williams (VARI founding member and professor), Ms. Alyssa Shepard (Meijer Foundation summer intern and CMU junior student), Ms. Shayna Donoghue (summer intern and FSU senior student), Ms. Stephanie Grant (senior administrative assistant) and Dr. Lorenzo Sempere (lab head and assistant professor).


Summer 2014 Sempere Laboratory members with Dr. George Vande Woude, VARI Founding Research Director. From left to right, Dr. Heather Calderone (lab manager), Ms. Jenni Westerhuis (lab technician), Jamie Grit (VAIGS first-year grad student), Dr. George Vande Woude (Distinguished Scientific Fellow and Professor), Nkrumah Grant (MSU first-year grad student), and Dr. Lorenzo Sempere (lab head)

“Standing on the shoulders of a gentle giant who guides us in the quest of scientific excellence and in the formation of future giants”