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Irina Elcheva, PhD

Irina Elcheva, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Division of Hematology and Oncology
Penn State Neuroscience Institute
Scientific Program:Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis

Research Interests

Dr. Irina Elcheva's research focuses on understanding the regulation of gene expression in human development and cancer. Current projects in Dr. Elcheva's laboratory investigate regulatory pathways of self-renewal and differentiation in normal and malignant stem/progenitors cells with a focus on the hematopoietic system, including regulation of gene expression in leukemia-initiating cells and modeling of myeloid blood development by transcriptional programming of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs).

Dr. Elcheva received her training in stem cell biology in the laboratory of Dr. Igor Slukvin at UW-Madison, Wisconsin, where she discovered that co-expression of endothelial and hematopoietic transcription factors e.g., ETV2 and GATA2, induces hiPSCs' differentiation to blood cells with pan-myeloid phenotype. Currently, Dr. Elcheva investigates the application of the direct programming of hiPSC-based systems for disease modeling and drug toxicity screening.

Besides transcriptional programming, Dr. Elcheva's lab investigates RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that play an important role in maintaining potency and proliferation. Dr. Elcheva, the lead author of the study, showed that Insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA-binding proteins (IGF2BPs) maintain leukemia stem cell properties by regulating transcriptional and metabolic regulators of stemness: HOXB4, MYB, and ALDH1A1. In a recent collaborative study, Dr. Elcheva's, Dr. Schell's, and Dr. Spiegelman's research teams demonstrated that IGF2BPs suppress innate and adaptive immune responses in cancer cells and tumor microenvironment. Currently, Dr. Elcheva's lab investigates the dual role of IGF2BPs in supporting proliferation and inhibiting immune responses, and mechanisms of IGF2BP-mediated immunogenicity in liquid and solid tumors. The ultimate goal of Dr. Elcheva's research is to develop new and improve existing treatments of refractory and relapsed pediatric cancers by targeting cellular processes of self-renewal and differentiation.

  • Messenger RNA
  • Neoplasms
  • Genes
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Leukemia
  • Stem Cells
  • Hemangioblasts
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2
  • Transcription Factors
  • Ligases
  • Ubiquitin

Recent Publications


Singh, V, Walter, V, Elcheva, I, Imamura Kawasawa, Y & Spiegelman, VS 2023, 'Global role of IGF2BP1 in controlling the expression of Wnt/β-catenin-regulated genes in colorectal cancer cells', Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, vol. 11, 1236356.
Elcheva, IA, Gowda, CP, Bogush, D, Gornostaeva, S, Fakhardo, A, Sheth, N, Kokolus, KM, Sharma, A, Dovat, S, Uzun, Y, Schell, TD & Spiegelman, VS 2023, 'IGF2BP family of RNA-binding proteins regulate innate and adaptive immune responses in cancer cells and tumor microenvironment', Frontiers in immunology, vol. 14, 1224516.


Liu, Z & Elcheva, I 2022, 'A six-gene prognostic signature for both adult and pediatric acute myeloid leukemia identified with machine learning', American Journal of Translational Research, vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 6210-6221. <>
McLaughlin, C, Datta, P, Singh, YP, Lo, A, Horchler, S, Elcheva, IA, Ozbolat, IT, Ravnic, DJ & Koduru, SV 2022, 'Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles for Therapeutic Use and in Bioengineering Applications', Cells, no. 21, 3366.


Golla, U, Ehudin, MA, Annageldiyev, C, Zeng, Z, Bastihalli Tukaramrao, D, Tarren, A, Date, AA, Elcheva, I, Berg, A, Amin, S, Loughran, TP, Kester, M, Desai, D, Dovat, S, Claxton, D & Sharma, A 2021, 'Dj4 targets the rho-associated protein kinase pathway and attenuates disease progression in preclinical murine models of acute myeloid leukemia', Cancers, vol. 13, no. 19, 4889.
Koduru, SV, Elcheva, IA, Leberfinger, AN & Ravnic, DJ 2021, 'In silico analysis of RNA and small RNA sequencing data from human BM-MSCs and differentiated osteocytes, chondrocytes and tenocytes', Engineered Regeneration, vol. 2, pp. 19-30.
Elcheva, IA & Spiegelman, VS 2021, 'Targeting RNA-binding proteins in acute and chronic leukemia', Leukemia, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 360-376.


Elcheva, IA & Spiegelman, VS 2020, 'The role of cis-and trans-acting rna regulatory elements in leukemia', Cancers, vol. 12, no. 12, 3854, pp. 1-30.
Galat, Y, Perepitchka, M, Elcheva, I, Iannaccone, S, Iannaccone, PM & Galat, V 2020, 'iPSC-derived progenitor stromal cells provide new insights into aberrant musculoskeletal development and resistance to cancer in down syndrome', Scientific reports, vol. 10, no. 1, 13252.