The Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Drug Discovery and Development unit’s (IBD3) team is comprised of research-scientists and clinicians with experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, as well as clinical research.

Our team’s diverse background ensures we understand the biotech industry’s needs for drug development and creates better coordination and fosters interdisciplinary cooperation to advance the discovery and sharing of leading-edge knowledge to improve the lives of individuals living with inflammatory bowel disease.

Lab Leadership: From left to right:
Dr. Stephan Targan, Dr. Janine Bilsborough, and
Dr. Dermot McGovern.

Janine Bilsborough, PhD
Head of IBD Drug Development Unit

Janine Bilsborough, PhD, leads the IBD3 activities. She worked in the biotech/biopharma industry for more than 15 years. Her role in the industry included directing both discovery research and drug development teams in their efforts to develop therapeutics for diseases such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, systemic lupus erythematous and inflammatory bowel disease. Bilsborough has her doctorate in immunology from the University of Queensland, Australia, and is focused on the development of successful therapeutics for inflammatory diseases.


Robin Bolek
Research Specialist I

Robin Bolek received her bachelor of science in biology with a focus in microbiology from The Ohio State University in Columbus. Her passion for pharmacy led her to drug development in the biotech and pharma industries. She has more than 21 years of laboratory experience in the therapeutic areas of oncology, autoimmunity and inflammation. Bolek's current research is supporting the discovery and development of small molecule drugs for the treatment inflammatory bowel diseases.

Marie Fiorino
Research Specialist II

Marie Fiorino earned her MBA and master’s degree in biotechnology from California State University, Channel Islands. She has 16 years of in vivo biology experience, including six years in the pathology department of a leading biopharmaceutical company. Fiorino specializes in the development of preclinical models within a variety of disease areas, including inflammatory bowel disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, diabetes and angiogenesis.


Bradley Henkle
Research Specialist I

Brad Henkle has more than 18 years of laboratory experience, including 11 years in biotech. During his tenure in biotech, he developed primary human immune cell assays supporting drug development for inflammatory diseases. Henkle has a bachelor’s degree in physiology and cell biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Alka Potdar, PhD
Research Bioinformatician I

Alka Potdar, PhD, received her doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and her master’s degree from University of Alabama of Huntsville. She is a systems and computational biologist/bioinformatics scientist with more than 11 years of experience. She currently leads the bioinformatics and biostatistics efforts in the IBD3. She is responsible for the analysis of large-scale clinical and biological datasets (such as genotype, expression and sequencing) within the Bilsborough Laboratory as well as for external industry collaborators. Potdar has extensive experience working in interdisciplinary teams and applying engineering, mathematical and statistical concepts to answer biological and disease related questions. She has developed mechanistic, predictive computational models for various biological pathways such as inflammation, cancer cell migration and iron metabolism. She has created custom bioinformatics pipelines to predict novel candidate variants/genes to drive basic/clinical research and drug discovery and development.

Frank Sun
Research Associate I

Frank Sun received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from UCLA. He has three years of research experience from his time as an undergraduate under Jaclyn Winter, PhD, from the Tang Laboratory and as an intern for Masayuki Fukata, MD, PhD. As a student researcher, Sun studied proteomics and analytical techniques relevant to his work in fungal polyketides under Winter and intestinal epithelial permeability under Fukata. Sun's current project focuses on the impact of certain genetic polymorphisms on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and looks to contribute to the development of personalized medicine for future IBD patients.

Lauren Ysais
Research Associate I

Lauren Ysais joined the IBD3 research team in 2016 as a research associate. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) with a bachelor of science in neuroscience. At UCSC she worked as an undergraduate researcher in a neurotoxicology lab, and her senior project aimed to determine if chronic postnatal manganese exposure altered the dendritic spine density of medium spiny neurons within the dorsal striatum. Since joining the Bilsborough Laboratory, Ysais performs in vivo experiments utilizing murine models to study IBD. She has gained hands-on experience in fibroblast isolation, cell culture and cell staining. Additional duties entail rodent husbandry, molecular biology techniques and ordering laboratory supplies. One of Ysais’s current projects investigates the efficacy of various small molecule targets to ameliorate colitis using the chronic dextran sodium sulphate model.