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Dr. Diana West-Szymanski

Principal – Director of Operations

Diana joined the Plaisance team in 2023 as Principal – Director of Operations. Originally from the DC-metro area, Diana obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from The College of William & Mary (mentor: Richard Kiefer) and Ph.D. in Chemistry at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (mentor: Paul Hergenrother). Diana’s doctoral research centered around the screening and pre-clinical characterization of procaspase activating agents, such as PAC-1, a cancer drug now in clinical trials.

As a postdoc at The University of Chicago (mentor: Suzanne Conzen), Diana studied glucocorticoid receptor modulation in hormone-driven malignancies such as breast and prostate cancers. During her postdoctoral training, Diana was named Embedded Junior Co-Investigator in the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s “Movember” Challenge Award, awarded as an AACR/Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology Scholar-in-Training, and one of her papers was featured in the 2017 Molecular Cancer Research Must-Read Collection. 

As Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the small liberal arts institution Ave Maria University, Diana worked on a collaborative team of faculty and undergraduate students to bring the university its first research grant studying the role of sirtuins in Alzheimer’s disease.

With a desire to return to the bench and study epigenetics, Diana joined the laboratories of Professors Chuan He and Marc Bissonnette at The University of Chicago as a Staff Scientist. There, she worked with on biomarker discovery in over 10 different cancers (including colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancers) using the He lab’s epigenomic technologies. The assays specifically utilized were 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) profiling, 5-methylcytosine (5mC) mapping methods, and the KAS-seq single-stranded DNA method.

Diana also worked to launch AccuraDX, a biotech spin-out from The University of Chicago and she currently serves as the company’s Vice President of Operations. Diana was honored to be named a Top 40 Under 40 Chicago Scientist by Halo in 2019, an award she credits entirely to the efforts of the teams in which she worked, including extremely innovative scientific mentors, colleagues, and team members.

She is now thrilled to be a part of Plaisance team to help grow and support exciting scientific discoveries to bring them to patients and the market. Diana enjoys spending time with her family, volunteer activities, music, painting, crafts, “experimenting” with beginner’s level cooking, and making frequent use of the Oxford comma.     

Dr. Diana West-Szymanski
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