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Victoria Honnell

Victoria Honnell began her career at St. Jude during college where she held a student research position in the labs of Elizabeth Stewart, MD, Oncology, and Michael Dyer, PhD, Developmental Neurobiology. During this time, she assisted with the development of clinically relevant models for pediatric solid tumors. After graduation, she continued to work for Stewart as a full-time research technologist collecting pediatric solid tumor patient samples and helping to create orthotopic xenograft models for the Childhood Solid Tumor Network.

Honnell earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2015 from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. During her undergraduate career, she was awarded a research fellowship at the Universidade de Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil through the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program funded by the NIH. In this program, she studied colorblindness through visual screening and genetic examinations and presented this work at the MHIRT Projects Symposium.

Honnell is currently pursuing her thesis in the lab of Michael Dyer, PhD, Developmental Neurobiology, where she focuses on emphasizing the role of super-enhancers across retinal development. She hopes to provide new insights into the complex regulation of Vsx2 in retinal progenitor cells, bipolar cells and Müller glia as well as bridge a fundamental gap in knowledge about the regulation of genes required for retinal development. She earned her master’s degree from the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in June 2019.

“Ultimately, I knew that I wanted to be trained in basic science to build a fundamental foundation for my career,” she says. “I aim to advance cures for various diseases and improve human life.”

Hometown: Los Alamos, New Mexico

Dissertation: The Role of the Vsx2 Super-enhancer in Bipolar Cell Development

Honors and Awards

  • 2019: Helmsley Charitable Trust Scholarship Recipient
  • 2019: National Cancer Institute Scholarship Recipient
  • 2019: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Chromatin Epigenetics and Gene Expression
  • 2018: Member of the class of “20 under 30” by The Memphis Flyer


Norrie J, Lupo M, Xu B, Valentine M, Putnam D, AlDiri I, Griffiths L, Zhang J, Johnson D, Easton J, Shao Y, Honnell V, Frase S, Miller S, Stewart V, Zhou X, Chen X, Dyer MA. Nucleome Dynamics During Retinal Development. Neuron 104:1–17, 2019.

Stewart E, Federico SM, Chen X, Shelat AA, Bradley C, Gordon B, Karlstrom A, Nathaniel R. Twarog NR, Clay MR, Bahrami A, Freeman III BB, Xu B, Zhou X, Wu J, Honnell V, Monica M, Blankenship K, Dapper J, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Downing J, Zhang J, Easton J, Pappo A, Dyer MA. Orthotopic Patient-Derived Xenografts of Pediatric Solid Tumors. Nature Sep 7;549(7670):96-100, 2017. PMID: 28854174. PMCID: PMC5659286

Stewart E, McEvoy J, Wang H, Chen X, Honnell V, Ocarz M, Gordon B, Dapper J, Blankenship K, Yang Y, Li Y, Shaw TI, Cho JH, Wang X, Xu B, Gupta P, Fan Y, Liu Y, Rusch M, Griffiths L, Jeon J, Freeman BB 3rd, Clay MR, Pappo A, Easton J, Shurtleff S, Shelat A, Zhou X, Boggs K, Mulder H, Yergeau D, Bahrami A, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Zhang J, Peng J, Downing JR, Dyer MA; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. Identification of Therapeutic Targets in Rhabdomyosarcoma through Integrated Genomic, Epigenomic, and Proteomic Analyses. Cancer Cell 34(3):411-26, 2018. PMID: 30146332. PMCID: PMC6158019.