Evans Lab

Imaging Biomarker Development to Foster Precision Medicine

Research in the Evans laboratory is focused on new biomarker discovery and development for nuclear imaging and medicine applications.  We interact closely with a diverse set of collaborators, including chemical biologists, radiochemists, and medical oncologists, to identify and address major unmet clinical needs for biomarker development in oncology.  Training opportunities in the lab are by nature interdisciplinary, and we recruit talented young scientists from a wide variety of disciplines to meet the special challenges embedded within the field of biomarker development.


Post-doctoral Opportunities

The Evans lab is currently seeking exceptional candidates for a postdoctoral appointment focusing on immunoPET in cancer models.  Those with experience in antibody development, radiochemistry, and organic chemistry are encouraged to contact Dr. Evans directly and provide a copy of their CV and references at michael.evans@ucsf.edu.


Employment Opportunities for staff positions are posted through the UCSF Department of Human Resources


A complete list of publications can be found at Michael Evans UCSF profiles page.


Michael J. Evans, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco. He is an experienced chemical biologist with a focus on molecular imaging, organic chemistry, and biomarker discovery through proteomics. Dr. Evans obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California under the supervision of Professor Benjamin Cravatt, followed by postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Imaging at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York under the supervision of Professors Charles Sawyers and Jason Lewis. He is the co-author of 21 publications in peer-reviewed journals, several conference abstracts, and the co-inventor on three patents.  Dr. Evans was awarded the 2013 David H. Koch Young Investigator Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and a Pathway to Independence award from the National Cancer Institute.  He is also a scientific founder of ORIC Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a bay area biotechnology company dedicated to defining new therapies for treatment refractory cancers.  Dr. Evans is a member of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Center.

Charles Truillet, PhD is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Evans laboratory. He is the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the Department of Defense's Prostate Cancer Research Program. He has experience in chemical nanotechnology for biological applications with a focus on imaging and inorganic chemistry. His postdoctoral work focuses on identifying and exploiting for diagnostics and therapy new biomarkers regulated by central oncogenes.  Dr Truillet earned a M.D. Sc. in Physics and Chemistry of Materials from ENSCI (National School for Industrial Ceramics) at Limoges in France. He obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Claude Bernard at Lyon (UCBL) in France under the supervision of Professor Olivier Tillement. His research was focused on the development of a new multimodal nanoplatform for therapy (radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy) and for imaging (nuclear imaging, optical imaging, MRI).  He is a co-author on 12 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals, 11 conference abstracts, and a co-inventor on one patent. 

Khaled Jami is a 4th year chemistry undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley working over the summer in the Evans laboratory. His interests include organofluorine and medicinal chemistry. After graduating he plans to enter a California graduate school and earn a PhD in organic chemistry.


Loc Huynh was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam and moved the US with his family when he was 19. He attended De Anza College, then transferred to UC Berkeley, and will be expected to graduate in Aug 2015 with a B.S. degree in Chemistry. Being interested in various reaction mechanisms in organic chemistry classes, he joined the Evans’ group to learn practical research experience and obtain a set of laboratory skills in organic chemistry synthesis.

Matthew Parker is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Evans lab.  He received his BSc and MSc in Chemistry from Binghamton University (NY), and his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh under the supervision of Professor Christian Schafmeister.  He is an experienced organic chemist, with four manuscripts published in peer reviewed journals and several abstracts. He was also the recipient of the C. Max Hull Award in Organic Chemistry from Binghamton University, the Lois B. Mackey Award from the University of Pittsburgh, and two poster awards from the American Chemical Society

Yung-Hua Wang went to high school in San Diego and is now finishing his last year at University of California, Berkeley, where he will obtain a B.S. in Chemistry. He joined the Evans laboratory to learn about the application of chemistry in nuclear imaging and medicine. 




Christopher R. Drake, PhD, is a radiochemist at Sofie Biosciences, Culver City, CA.




Leila Ranis, MS, is a scientist at BioRad Laboratories, Hercules CA.  Ms. Ranis received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Master of Science from the University of Notre Dame under the supervision of Professor Seth Brown. Her master's thesis focused on the synthesis and reactivity studies of group VI metal complexes, and their applications to green chemistry and renewable energy storage. She is the first author of a manuscript in Inorganic Chemistry.

Lisa Wu, PhD, Instructor, Department of Chemistry, San Francisco State University.


Research Directions 

Biomarker discovery

We are currently applying proteomic technologies to identify new “imageable” biomarkers in genetically defined cancer models.  The long term goal of this project is to define a privileged list of biomarkers that might be used to identify aggressive from indolent disease, and to monitor the pharmacodynamics effects of targeted therapies.

Measuring androgen receptor activity with “imageable” target genes

Although two potent inhibitors of the androgen receptor (Enzalutamide, Abiraterone) were recently shown to improve overall survival in men with castration resistant prostate cancer, responses are only observed in 50% of patients for about a year.  One explanation for these observations is that we may be “under-dosing” the androgen receptor with the current standard of care doses, and incomplete inhibition of the drug target may lead to poor initial responses or encourage adaptive resistance.  Since we currently have no tools to monitor changes in androgen receptor biology post therapy, I developed a panel of imaging biomarkers with my collaborators to measure androgen receptor biology with positron emission tomography.

In all cases, the ability to measure post therapy changes in androgen receptor activity was visually obvious, and because two of the three radiotracers are already in patients with castration resistant prostate cancer, the opportunity to test the impact of drug dose on patient response is imminent.

Measuring MYC activity with “imageable” target genes

Despite a deep appreciation of the role of the transcription factor MYC in cancer initiation and progression in preclinical models, the cancer community understands very little about MYC activity in human disease.  This consideration is particularly distressing as many indirect inhibitors of MYC (i.e. drugs whose primary target is not MYC, but a direct regulator of MYC activity) are undergoing clinical evaluation now in solid tumors.  To better understand these therapies’ ability to inhibit MYC activity in man, my collaborators and I developed a radiotracer targeting a MYC regulated gene product, the transferrin receptor.  Our preliminary studies have shown that 89Zr-transferrin measures genetically and pharmacologically induced changes in MYC expression/activity in prostate and liver cancer models. In collaboration with Professor Jason Lewis of MSKCC, we are now translating 89Zr-transferrin into patients.