Principal Investigator

David Neil Hayes, MD, MPH
Neil Hayes is a native of Winston-Salem, NC and graduate of Davidson College with a BS in chemistry. He completed his medical degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and then a Masters of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. His residency was at the Boston City Hospital in the Boston University School of Medicine program and then fellowship training in Hematology / Oncology at the Tufts New England School of Medicine where he also completed a Masters degree in Clinical Research.  In conjunction with his fellowship he completed post-doctoral training in the lab of Dr. Matthew Meyerson at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Upon completion of clinical training he took a faculty position at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Medicine where he saw patients with aerodigestive tumors. At UNC, Hayes was a professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Cancer Surgery and Director of Clinical Bioinformatics. He is in his tenth year as a co-principal investigator of The Cancer Genome Atlas project focused on characterizing the spectrum of human cancers. He has dedicated himself to the translational study of cancer genomics.  During his tenure at UNC, he has been a key personnel to numerous grants in his field of study and has approximately 150 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Hayes is an internationally recognized investigator who leads and co-leads several national multicenter cancer care clinical trials. In 2017, Dr. Hayes assumed a new set of responsibilities in a move to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center as the Scientific Director of the University of Tennessee West Institute for Cancer Research. He is also a Van Vleet Endowed Professor in Medical Oncology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, with appointments at the Department of Medicine, the Department of Genetics, Genomics, and Informatics and the Department of Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. This transition will bring these clinical trials to Memphis, opening up many more investigational therapies for the people of Memphis and the Mid-South.

In Tennessee, Hayes will assume direction of a significant initiative supported by the combined efforts of The West Cancer Center, University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Methodist Le Bonheur Health Care in support of a program of precision cancer medicine and advancement of adult cancer care in this area.  By integrating and organizing the research efforts between the academic partners and community leaders into programs, clinical research, drug development, discovery research and cell biology. These programs will be used as a springboard to recruit other scientists to Memphis and apply for a designation as a National Cancer Institute Center.

UTHSC Lab Members

Xiaobei Zhao

Xiaobei Zhao, Computational Biologist, PhD







Heejoon Jo

Heejoon Jo, Computational Biologist, PhD








Hyo Young Choi

Hyo Young Choi, Computational Biologist, PhD








   Jeremiah Holt, MD student

Jeremiah is a current second year medical student at UTHSC. He graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2017. His current research focuses are in the clinical and functional applications of bioinformatics and genomics in cancer.


   Janine Twitchell, Sr. Administrative Assistant 

Janine is a new comer to the Memphis area, she recently moved from Oklahoma and we are delighted to have her as part of the Hayes Lab Team. She brings over 19 years administrative experience to the team. This is a highly productive team and in addition to her professional contributions she is an approachable individual with a pleasant attitude and her willingness to create a positive environment keeps everyone smiling. During her “spare-time” she enjoys anything outdoors, i.e., running, hiking, cycling, kayaking and tinkers with photography. She maintains an active lifestyle and finds delight encouraging others to find their way into the great outdoors.



Matthew Stein, Fellow


UNC Lab Members

Michele Hayward

Michele Hayward, RD

Michele came to UNC in 2007 and is a results-focused translational science researcher. As a long-term colleague of Dr. Hayes, she supports ongoing collaborations between UNC and UTHSC.  At UNC, she provides executive oversight of the Office of Genomics Research, building productive teams that are committed to fighting the devastation that a cancer diagnosis brings.  She keeps busy in her spare time as a proud mom of two and is active in her church choir. When there is down time, you can find her with a good book or an action-packed forensic drama and a cup of tea.   She feels very blessed to be surrounded by brilliant minds and challenging science




Xiaoying Yin

Xiaoying Yin, MD








Ashley Salazar

Ashley Salazar, BA








Paul Little

Paul Little, PhD student
Paul is from Fayetteville, NC. He came to UNC in 2007 as an undergraduate after graduating from NCSSM in Durham, NC. During his undergraduate years, he majored in Mathematics and Asian Studies, minored in Physics, and started learning tennis for fun. After graduating, he worked for a few months at WebAssign as a programmer.  After almost a year, he came back to UNC for a masters in biostatistics. After the first year classes and exposure to research computing and genetics through part-time research opportunities, he applied to transfer into the PhD program. In the midst of his second year in the PhD, Paul joined the Hayes lab.  His research interests include human genetics and cancer genomics. His aim is to develop analytical methods for studying DNA germline and somatic variants and their associations with clinical outcomes.


Matthew Cousins

Matthew Cousins, MD, PhD student