Principal Investigator

Adetunji Toriola, Associate Professor of Surgery. MD, MPH, PhD

As a molecular cancer epidemiologist, I address methods for the use of biomarkers of energetics, metabolic imbalance, and inflammation, and their application in cancer etiology and prognosis, with a focus on breast and gastrointestinal cancers. My hobbies include traveling, playing cricket and soccer.


Dr. Alena Ahrens

I joined the Toriola Lab in 2018 as a public health research coordinator. I have a diverse background that includes communications, management, and transdisciplinary research. I received my Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in teaching and learning processes from The University of Missouri – St. Louis. My prior education includes an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in which I explored connections between mindfulness and arts-based practices. I enjoy spending time with my family, painting, and running.

Ava Weibman

I graduated from Oberlin College in 2015, where I majored in biology and minored in chemistry. Since then, I’ve worked as a clinical research coordinator in diverse areas of research, including psychiatry and otolaryngology. I joined Dr. Toriola’s lab in May 2019 so that I could gain experience working on chemoprevention clinical trials. In my free time I enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and baking.

Dante Chao

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology. I then went on to the University of Chicago where I received my M.A. in Social Sciences in 2019, researching the concept of the perception of manipulation and what its effects were. I joined the Toriola Lab in 2019 because I wanted to gain more experience in clinical research and helping patients in a healthcare setting. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, watching shows and movies, and playing video games.

Irene Wang

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2021, majoring in Biology and Film & Media Studies. I joined the lab to gain insights into aspects of clinical research and to learn about patients’ needs and concerns. I’m also just interested to see how science impacts each individual’s day to day life and learn about what we can do to help them. During my free time, I enjoy an easy drive on a sunny day, a long walk with friends and making videos of fleeting moments.

Graduate Students

Polly Haun

I am currently a second-year graduate student studying public health with an emphasis in epidemiology and biostatistics. Prior to joining the Toriola lab, I worked at the Biospecimen Repository at the University of Kansas Cancer Center and taught at a bilingual secondary school in Madrid. My interests include cancer epidemiology and clinical research. When not working or studying, I enjoy running, hiking, and trivia nights.

Undergraduate Students

Sarah Ning

I am currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in Anthropology: Global Health & Environment and minoring in Dance. I joined the lab to gain insight into how clinical research is conducted and to gain some overall experience. In my free time, I enjoy trying new restaurants, watching movies, and spending time with my friends.

Yousaf Malik

I am currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in Political Science and minoring in Biology. By joining the lab, I hope to learn more about the patient experience partnered with research at an academic institution. In addition, I wish to gain insight into the clinician’s role as an educator for both patients and other team members. In my free time I enjoy reading, rock climbing, and discovering new music.

Hasan Salim

I am currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Jewish and Islamic Studies. I joined the lab to understand and experience how clinical research is carried out on a day-to-day basis. I am also able to explore a newfound interest of mine which is community health. In my free time, I love spending time with family/friends, playing basketball and spike-ball, and watching sit-coms.