Lab Members

Jasmine Plummer

Jasmine Plummer, PhD

Project Scientist Email: jasmine.plummer@cshs.org

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Jasmine Plummer, PhD, completed her HonBSc in biology and chemistry at the University of Toronto, Canada, where she worked with J.J.B. Smith, PhD, on sensory circuitry. Plummer joined the Department of Physiology and BioPhysics at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) in the laboratory of Roger Croll, PhD. She completed her master of science in neuroscience, specializing in comparative neurobiology and neurodevelopment. In her doctoral work, under the supervision of Joseph Culotti, PhD, at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Plummer took a genetic approach to identifying new genes that regulate the development of the nervous system. She moved to the laboratory of Pat Levitt, PhD, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for her postdoctoral work. Plummer’s postdoctoral fellowship focused on systems biology approaches to understanding genetic risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. As an Autism Speaks postdoctoral fellow, her research focused primarily on the discovery and function of gene regulatory networks involving autism risk genes. Her research also broadened to include and interrogate other neuropsychiatric disorder loci, including schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. In 2016, Plummer joined the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics to lead the Functional Genomics and GWAS team together with Simon Gayther, PhD.

Stephanie Chen

Stephanie Chen, BS

Research Associate III Email: stephanie.chen2@cshs.org

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Stephanie Chen has worked extensively in the ovarian cancer field, first at the University of Southern California (USC) with Susan Ramus, PhD. At USC, Chen used the Nanostring nCounter technology to detect gene expression and analyzed over 1,920 ovarian tumor samples from formalin-fixed paraffin embedded material for tumor profiling. She also performed targeted sequencing and loss of heterozygosity analysis of breast cancer cases with both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. In the Gayther Laboratory, Chen has taken on the position as lab manager and helps develop and perform functional genomic techniques including chromosome conformation capture methods (3C/4C) on breast, ovarian and prostate cancer lines. Chen also uses ChIPseq to identify transcription factor binding sites for key transcriptional regulators of ovarian cancer.

Brian Davis

Brian Davis

Research Associate III Email: brian.davis@cshs.org

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Brian Davis joined the Gayther Laboratory after working at the Molecular Genomics Core (MGC) at the University of Southern California (USC). At USC MGC, Brian oversaw library preparations to be run on Illumina’s Next-Generation Sequencing Systems, the NextSeq500 and MiSeq platforms. Along with sequencing, Brian is adept at single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping and gene and miRNA expression. He has experience with sample extractions and movement, using various liquid-handling Tecan robotics. Davis extracts and prepares all samples for the Gayther Lab’s ongoing transcriptome projects. He also oversees our epigenetic profiling (ChIPseq) projects, with the goal of establishing tissue ChIPseq for ovarian and breast cancer tumor analyses.

Michelle Jones, PhD

Project Scientist Email: michelle.jones@csmc.edu

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Michelle Jones, PhD, completed her bachelor of science in molecular biology at Murdoch University, Western Australia, where she worked with Scott Wilson, PHD, at the University of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, on gene discovery in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In 2007, Jones joined the Division of Endocrinology at Cedars-Sinai, where she continued her work on the genetics in PCOS and completed her doctorate. Her postdoctoral fellowship focused on systems genetics approaches to PCOS, integrating variant, methylation and expression data at germline risk loci. Jones remains an active analyst in the iPCOS Genetics Consortium. In 2016, Jones joined the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics to lead the Genetic Epidemiology and Variant Discovery team together with Simon Gayther, PhD.

alberto reyes

Alberto Reyes

Research Associate I Email: albertoluiz.reyes@cshs.org

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Alberto Reyes attended UCLA from 2012 to 2016, where he earned a bachelor of science in statistics. He served as an undergraduate research assistant under Jingyi Jessica Li, PhD, from 2013 to 2014. He participated in various projects involving RNA-seq and differential gene expression. Reyes was also an undergraduate research assistant in the Kosuri Lab under Sriram Kosuri, ScD, from July to December of 2016. While there, Reyes investigated underlying causes of dropout rate in multiplex gene synthesis. He joined the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics in January 2017 and works under Michelle Jones, PhD, Simon Gayther, PhD, and Benjamin Berman, PhD.

Justyna Kanska, PhD

Postdoctoral Scientist Email: justyna.kanska@cshs.org

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Justyna Kanska, PhD, has focused her postdoctoral research on novel mechanistic studies of ovarian cancer development. Initially, she studied signaling pathways that increase ovarian cancer cell plasticity and heterogeneity upon glucose starvation, leading to the identification of a novel ZEB1/NNMT signaling axis and the metabolic enzyme NNMT in ovarian cancer. Since joining the Gayther Lab in June 2016, Kanska has developed mutant TP53-mediated early stage transformation models of normal ovarian and breast precursor cells with the primary goal of establishing the functional consequences of genetic variants and candidate genes. These models will be the primary research tool in understanding a host of functional mechanisms in ovarian/breast cancer pathogenesis and in the identification of novel early-stage clinical biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

Norma Rodriguez-Malave

Norma I. Rodríguez-Malavé, PhD

Postdoctoral Scientist Email: norma.rodriguez-malave@cshs.org

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Norma Rodríguez-Malavé, PhD, joined the Gayther Laboratory after completing her doctorate in the laboratory of Dinesh Rao, MD, PhD, at UCLA, where she studied the role of lncRNAs in B-cell malignancies and their possible role as clinical biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Rodríguez-Malavé has extensive experience in in vitro and in vivo approaches for delineating the role of lncRNAs in cancer cell survival. Her current research is focused on lncRNA and transcription factor mechanisms in ovarian cancer development, in particular analysis of the role of the Wilms Tumor 1 anti-sense (WT1-AS) lncRNA and its sense gene product Wilm’s Tumor 1 (WT1) transcription factor. She is investigating the role of WT1-AS specifically in the high-grade serous histotype of ovarian cancer and the interplay between this lncRNA and WT1, an important biomarker for high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Nikoo Safi, MS

Nikoo Safi, MS

Research Associate II Email: seyedehnikoo.safi@cshs.org

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Nikoo Safi completed her master's degree in molecular biotechnology from the Universiti Putra Malaysia where she worked with Abdul Rahman Omar, PhD, in the Laboratory of Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics on different viral mechanisms. Safi is experienced with various laboratory techniques including cell culture, different animal models handling, virus propagation and quantification, DNA, RNA and protein extraction, western blot, IHC, ELISA, Luminex, nano string and qPCR. She joined the group of Justyna Kanska, PhD, in the Gayther Laboratory and is involved in functional studies of the oncogenic function of different genetic variants. Safi is involved in developing various cancer cell lines as models for CRISPR screens to identify potential causal targets for breast and ovarian cancer.