Alex Tankka

Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Biomedical Sciences
atankka at


B.S. Biopsychology, University of California Santa Barbara, 2017


Alex is a Ph.D student in the Biomedical Sciences program at University of California, San Diego. Previously, she received her B.S. in Biopsychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she participated in a variety of research opportunities in the labs of Dr. Zach Ma, Dr. Michael Miller and Dr. Hillary Young. She also spent a summer in the lab of Dr. Liwen Jiang at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. After graduating, Alex spent two years in the lab of Dr. Jayanta Debnath in the UCSF Department of Pathology where she studied the role of selective autophagy in the regulation of tumor cell plasticity, differentiation and metastasis. During this time, she developed a strong interest in the role of gene expression during cellular transformation and tumorigenesis. In the Yeo lab, Alex is excited to be working with a talented group and is focused on developing techniques for measuring mRNA translation in cancer models.


  • Einstein JM, Perelis M, Chaim IA, Meena JK, Nussbacher JK, Tankka AT, Yee BA, Li H, Madrigal AA, Neill NJ, Shankar A, Tyagi S, Westbrook TF, Yeo GW. “Inhibition of YTDHF2 triggers proteotoxic cell death in MYC-driven breast cancer.” Molecular Cell (2021).

  • Kaur J, Goldsmith J, Tankka A, Gimenez A, Debnath J, Vlahakis A. “The mitophagy adaptor Atg32 sustains spermidine and nitric oxide production essential for heat stress tolerance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Journal of Cell Science 10.1242 (2021).

  • Marsh T, Kenific CM, Suresh D, Tankka A, Gonzalez H, Mei W, Leidal A, Werb Z, Debnath J. “Autophagic Degradation of NBR1 Restricts Metastatic Outgrowth During Mammary Tumor Progression.” Dev Cell 2020.01.025 (2020).

  • Castel P, Evenman D, Urisman A, Cheng A, Papageorge A, Cuevas Navarro A, Tankka A, Galeas J, McCormick F. “RIT1 Oncoproteins Escape LZTR1-Mediated Proteolysis.” Science 363, 1226-1230 (2019).