Our Students

Meet the classes of exceptionally talented students currently enrolled in—or graduated from—the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences PhD Program. Learn about their research pursuits, as well as their personal interests.

2022 Cohort

Nick was born and raised in San Jose, California, by two amazing, loving and supportive parents. He graduated from UCLA in 2017 with a bachelor’s in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and a minor in neuroscience, where he studied epigenetic mechanisms of addiction in the Kennedy lab. Since then he spent time at a company developing potential treatments for HIV. During his time at Cedars-Sinai, Nick hopes to focus on modelling and treatment of Alzheimer's disease with an emphasis on epigenetic regulators of the disease state. In his spare time, Nick enjoys rock climbing, playing with his doggie Lumos, and gathering friends together.

Basia Gala earned her bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology from Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN). While attending CSUN, she was an undergraduate student researcher in Dr. Cheryl Van Buskirk’s lab studying the mechanisms and pathways that regulate stress-induced sleep response in the nematode C. elegans. Afterward, Basia pursued a master’s degree in biotechnology at Cal State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI), where she was awarded a scholarship from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Bridges program to perform research in Dr. Rong Lu’s lab at the University of Southern California (USC). As an intern and later as a lab technician in Dr. Lu’s lab, Basia studied and performed experiments investigating the cellular and molecular dynamics of hematopoietic stem cells, through which she developed an interest in how normal and diseased tissue microenvironments regulate hematopoietic stem cell fate. When Basia is not in the lab, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, hanging out at the beach, and figure skating at local ice rinks.

Elena graduated from Russian National Research Medical University in Moscow with a medical degree in biophysics in 2020. After participating in many research projects in Russia, she moved to Philadelphia and joined the Professor Sergei Grivennikov Laboratory in 2019. Her research focus is on in-depth investigation of pro-inflammatory cytokine interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) signaling pathway in different immune cell types within the tumor microenvironment, and its receptor IFN-γR2 in the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and its metastasis. After the Grivennikov Lab relocated to Cedars-Sinai, Elena continued to work on the main project as well as on other projects studying mechanisms of cross-talk between cancer cells, immune cells and bacteria, and subsequently was admitted to the Graduate Program at Cedars-Sinai. Her research interests include host-microbiome interaction, microbiota translocation, gastrointestinal cancer development and progression. In her free time, Elena enjoys traveling, hiking and crafting.

Na Jeong Kim was born in South Korea and moved to United States for education in 2010. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley (Cal), majoring in molecular cell biology with an emphasis on Immunology. After graduating college, Na Jeong has been working at a gene cell therapy startup company. Her passion lies in science and translating discoveries into novel therapies. When Na Jeong has free time, she like to do Pilates, yoga, walking and trying new restaurants.

Originally from Bombay, India, I came to the United States to pursue my undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California (USC), studying human biology. I soon fostered an interest in regenerative medicine, having worked with Dr. Joseph Rodgers investigating a liver-to-muscle signaling axis that affects satellite cell activation. Subsequently, I began researching with Dr. Judd Rice, investigating the recruitment of a non-nuclear protease (MMP-2) for histone tail clipping, an irreversible modification required for myogenic differentiation. I leveraged the data I generated with Dr. Rice and my interest in cancer biology to earn a master's in biochemistry and molecular medicine at USC. Outside the lab, I love reading, trying new restaurants in L.A. and spending time outdoors!

Maya Modak is originally from the Bay Area, where she earned her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), and spent her postgraduate years at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Maya’s background is in microbiology and cancer biology, and she is hoping to study the genetic and proteomic mechanisms that are found at the intersection of the two to gain a holistic approach to disease therapeutics. Maya’s personal interests include cooking, traveling, and spending time with my two cats and dog!

Beyza Odemir was born in Istanbul and raised in Turkey, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. Seven years ago she moved out to Los Angeles to pursue a bachelor of science in human biology and society, an interdisciplinary major at UCLA aimed to bridge life sciences and humanities. Upon graduating in 2019, Beyza joined the Arditi Lab as an RA to study the mechanistic pathways of cardiovascular inflammation in Kawasaki disease using mouse models. Beyza found the microbiome, immune cross-talk and vascular biology fascinating and hopes to build a deeper understanding of their connection. Beyza also enjoys drawing, biking, DIY culture, and going to small venue concerts in her free time.

Roberta Piras was born and raised in Sardinia, Italy, an island in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea renowned for beautiful beaches, a traditional and healthy lifestyle, and being the first Blue Zone. Roberta received her master of science in biotechnology in medicine in 2016 from Bicocca University of Milan, Italy. After graduating, she joined the R&D section of a clinical GMP facility where she mainly worked on generating and functionally characterizing human pancreas organoids for regenerative medicine applications. Currently, Roberta is working at Cedars-Sinai as a research associate. Roberta’s research primarily focuses on studying the role of circular RNAs in sarcoma and dissecting the composition of the sarcoma microenvironment. Her current research interests include generating organoid 3D models that integrate the tumor immune and nonimmune microenvironment and understanding how cancer cells “corrupt” the neighboring stem cells. In her free time, Roberta enjoys outdoor activities, exploring L.A. and participating in all kinds of social events.

Inga Yenokian graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. While at UCLA, she did research in Dr. Igor Spigelman’s neuropharmacology lab studying alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder. Simultaneously, she studied subdural hematomas and various treatment options to obviate the need for surgical intervention at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute. She then pursued a master’s degree in integrative anatomical sciences, which she earned from the University of Southern California (USC). Since then, she has been working in Dr. Hongwei Dong’s lab at UCLA studying the networks and connectivity patterns between brain structures in healthy and diseased brains. On her free time, Inga enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

2021 Cohort

Giorgia is originally from a small town in the north of Italy. She is a biotechnologist and graduated from the University of Padua. Her background is in cancer-applied pharmacology and epigenetics. Upon graduation, she spent almost two years studying the epigenetic mechanisms that play a role during the development and the progression of diffuse large B cell lymphoma; she is currently working on human prostate cancer. Her determination and passion for science recently led her to move to Los Angeles in pursuit of becoming a great scientist. As a PhD student at Cedars-Sinai, she hopes to have the opportunity to do high-level cancer and immunology translational research, but she is open to expanding her knowledge and get involved in other research fields as well. Besides her strong interest and commitment to science, her other passions include love for animals, cooking and yoga. Giorgia is a dynamic person and during her free time she loves hiking and scuba diving.

Emily Hatanaka graduated from California State University, Northridge (CSUN), with a degree in biology. While attending CSUN she became an intern for the CSUN-UCLA CIRM Bridges program where she worked in Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael’s lab with Dr. Irene L. Llorente studying white matter stroke and repair using a human glial cell-based therapy. Through working as an intern and later as a lab technician she became interested in understanding molecular mechanisms of repair in neurodegenerative diseases as well as the usage of stem cell-based therapies to induce further repair. When not in the lab, Emily enjoys outdoor activities such as camping and hiking all throughout California.

Xen was born and raised in Selangor, Malaysia—land of good food and perpetual humidity. Xen came to the U.S. to pursue her undergraduate studies and graduated from UCLA with a BS in biochemistry in 2019. She is interested in understanding the cross-talk between immune cells and their microenvironment during disease progression (i.e., cancer) and translating her research into novel therapies. During her free time, Xen enjoys hiking, finding new eateries and napping.

Natalia graduated from Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University in Moscow, Russia, with an MD degree specializing in biochemistry (2020). In February 2019 she moved to Philadelphia and joined Ekaterina Koltsova’s lab to perform her diploma thesis titled “The role of IL-17RC signaling in intestinal epithelial cells in the development of atherosclerosis.” The lab translocated to Cedars-Sinai this August and now Natalia continues to work on the project as well as on other projects addressing the role of cytokine signaling in local and distant sites in the development of atherosclerosis. Her research interests include but are not limited to the impact of mucosal immunity, barrier tissue homeostasis, cytokines signaling, microbiota and/or their metabolites, inflammatory conditions in the gut (including IBD) on cardiovascular disease development and progression. Natalia is very excited to join the Graduate Program!

Hayley earned her bachelor's degree from the Honors Program at Vietnam National University, Hanoi. Hayley then moved to the United States to study at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she conducted research on the function of histone methyltransferase complex subunits in the cytoplasm. Hayley has been working at Cedars-Sinai since 2019 and is currently focusing on inflammation and innate immunity.

Edward Novinbakht was born in South Carolina and moved to the Los Angeles area when he was 10. Edward graduated from UCLA in 2018 with a major in neuroscience and he hopes to continue studying the brain as he continues his research endeavors. His research interests also include the role the central and peripheral nervous system plays in metabolism, energy homeostasis and obesity. During his free time Edward enjoys playing basketball, lifting weights, exploring L.A. and traveling.

Irina was born and raised in Siberia, Russia. After moving to Los Angeles, she graduated from UCLA with College of Letters and Science Honors and cum laude Latin Honors with a bachelor of science in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. While at UCLA, Irina joined Dr. Mario Deng Advanced Heart Failure translational research lab where she studied cardiac pathophysiology, the mechanisms of organ failure, and worked on developing preoperative molecular biomarker tests to predict long-term survival and functional outcomes in heart failure patients. Subsequently, Irina earned co-first authorship in the “Initial Independent Validation of a Genomic Heart Failure Survival Prediction Algorithm” paper. At Cedars-Sinai, she is interested in researching molecular regulation of immune responses, immunological mechanisms in organ failure and transplant rejection, and differential gene expression of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In her free time, she likes to play piano, practice yoga, swim, cook and spend time with family and friends.

2020 Cohort

I grew up in Monterey, California, and attended the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), where I earned my bachelor of science in genetics and genomics in 2018. During my time at UC Davis, I researched a novel protein degradation method to knock down essential proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans meiotic embryos. For the past two years, I have worked at BioLegend in San Diego developing recombinant antibodies using single B-cell cloning. My experience at BioLegend sparked my interest in the field of immunology, and specifically T-cell immunology. I am interested in studying molecular signaling pathways involved in the regulation of T-lymphocyte function in inflammatory diseases and cancer. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy experimenting with various recipes in the kitchen and trying new fitness classes.

I received a bachelor of science from Azusa Pacific University in 2013 and a master of science in experimental and molecular pathology from the University of Southern California in 2017. After my schooling, I worked in a research lab at the University of California, San Diego, where I found a great interest in studying human illnesses through my project on cardiac hypertrophy. During the PhD program, I plan on studying cardiac disease in more depth, but I also want to use my time at Cedars-Sinai to get exposure to new fields of science. In my free time, I enjoy staying active through long-distance running and rock climbing.

I majored in biomedical engineering for my undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, after which I pursued a master's in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine from the University of Southern California. I'm interested in research related to both heart disease and cancer, especially in studying disease mechanisms to find viable therapeutic targets. I am a third-culture kid, growing up in both India and Dubai. I'm also the proud mother of two guinea pigs, Matt and Kenny. On weekends, you'll find me hanging out with them, cooking for my friends, or at a beach!

I am originally from China. I came to the U.S. when I was 17 years old and attended Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. I then moved to Chicago for more training in biomedical sciences. I graduated from Loyola University Chicago in May 2019 with a master's in physiology under the supervision of Jonathan Kirk, PhD. My thesis studied the effects of adolescent binge drinking on the growing heart. During my gap year last year, I published my thesis work and then joined Dr. Rongxue Wu's lab at the University of Chicago to study the function of endothelial hypoxia induced factors to the heart after cardiac ischemia. My main research interest is in the cardiovascular field, but I would love to learn different research areas. I will be new to L.A., so I would also love to explore the city and meet new friends.

I will soon graduate from a master's degree program in integrative biology and physiology at Sorbonne University, Paris. As part of my master's program, I was a visiting graduate student in Kathrin Michelsen's laboratory at Cedars-Sinai from February to August 2020, where I studied the role of tumor necrosis factor like cytokine 1A in Paneth cell biology and small bowel inflammation. From May to August 2019, I studied the role of BATF3-dependent dendritic cells in metabolic syndrome and intestinal epithelial homeostasis, also in the Michelsen Lab. My research interests lie in immunology and microbiology, particularly in the context of inflammatory bowel diseases. I am very excited to start the program, meet everyone, and learn more about biomedical and translational sciences!

I was born and raised in Los Angeles after my parents emigrated from Zacatecas, Mexico. I was awarded a bachelor of science in molecular, cell and developmental biology from UCLA and later received a master of science in cell biology from Yale. I came upon an open position in Celine Riera's laboratory shortly after graduating and have been at Cedars-Sinai ever since. My research interests include technological advancements in microscopy and other imaging approaches and how they can be applied to study neuroendocrinology-related pathologies, in particular.

I graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2018, with a master's in neuroimaging and informatics. I then worked with Meredith Braskie, PhD, at USC on Alzheimer's disease risk factor identification and brain imaging analysis. Before joining USC, I studied chemistry at Sun Yat-sen University and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in China. I have strong interests in neuroscience and cardiology and want to design and optimize methods to recognize biological and pathological patterns and advance medical solutions.

Since graduating from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2011, I have had the opportunity to pursue a range of topics within molecular biology, including neurogenesis, cardiovascular disease and autoimmunity. As a doctoral student at Cedars-Sinai, I aim to continue my research into intracellular and intercellular inflammatory signaling pathways. When not reading or in the lab, I can be found hiking with my German shepherd, at home conducting tabletop games, or touring local breweries with my wife, Maria.

2019 Cohort

Mark Alonzo was born and raised in Bataan, Philippines. At the age of 15, he moved to the United States with his family. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology at Cal Poly Pomona, graduating with a McNair scholar distinction. As a McNair scholar, he performed undergraduate research in Dr. Peter Arensburger's lab, studying the transcriptomics of silk production between male and female Dysdera spiders using bioinformatics and next-generation sequencing analysis. He continued his education at Cal Poly Pomona, obtaining a Master of Science in biological sciences as an NIH MBRS-RISE graduate fellow and a Sally Casanova Scholar. His thesis project involved profiling and determination of silk-gland specific transcripts across 5 different species of spiders. His research interests are in genomics and bioinformatics, and their applications to biomedical sciences. As a PhD student at Cedars-Sinai, he hopes to become well versed in both computational and biological aspects of biomedical sciences. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books, playing RPG-based video games, assembling computers, watching movies and TV shows (including anime) and listening to his growing collection of LPs. If he is not doing any of those, he is probably eating ramen or pho.

I was born and raised in Brazil by two physicians who got me into science and medicine at a very young age. I moved to New York for college, the first of my family to migrate out of the country, and studied neuroscience and behavior at Barnard College. In the year I spent researching social behavior for my senior thesis, I discovered there was a lot more to science than medicine and decided to put a hold on going to medical school. What most fascinated me about medicine was understanding how the body worked, and research was the tool that I never had the opportunity to consider. After graduation I moved to Los Angeles and started working at a human behavior lab at UCLA and with Dr. Maya Koronyo at Cedars-Sinai. I quickly discovered the part of research I liked most was really inside a wet lab, at the bench. I started working full time with Maya last year and couldn't picture myself doing anything other than research in the near future. Pursuing a PhD is something not even my parents had planned for me, so I'm in uncharted waters and I'm so excited about it. I've always been deeply interested in biology and its mechanisms, especially in the brain which I humbly believe to be the most mysterious organ in the body. Recently I've found myself drawn to women's biology, as it's another greatly under-researched area. Since I've been studying Alzheimer's for the past two years, it really called my attention to how two-thirds of the population living with the disease is made up of women, yet there's few research on the possible mechanisms behind this disparity. Furthering that curiosity, I've read about several other instances, both in health and disease, where the male and female body simply work differently and we're not entirely sure why. This is where I hope to focus my PhD on. Of most immediate interest to me, beyond neuro, is the case for the cardiovascular and immune systems, both tightly related to the brain, especially in disease. As I've personally experienced, serendipity is one of the greatest qualities of science (and life) and I'm looking forward to what the next five years will bring.

I am from Hyderabad, India, and I moved to Houston to complete my master's in biotechnology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. I worked briefly at MD Anderson Cancer Center before moving to the Baylor College of Medicine. I worked at Baylor for three years on breast cancer and studied about the role of Her2 mutations on relapsed patients. I am very much interested in understanding more about the mechanisms of different cancer types using next-generation sequencing tools and utilizing the data to optimize patients' lives.

I am originally from Phelan, California. I started at Victor Valley College and transferred to California State University, San Bernardino, where I graduated with a bachelor's in biochemistry in 2014. I then received my master's in biochemistry from California State University, Long Beach in 2018, where I studied the use of designer collagen peptides for delivery of nucleic acids and small molecule drugs. Since then, I have been working at City of Hope as part of a small to team to manufacture viruses for clinical productions. My research background is primarily in cancer research, and I am interested in investigating targets and/or therapeutics relevant to improving human health.

Samantha Nadeau was born in Torrance, California and graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor's in physiology and neuroscience. She has worked in the Martins Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai investigating mechanisms of Blimp-1 regulation in T cells and macrophages and is interested in immune regulation at mucosal sites.

Micheal Ramos graduated from California State University, San Bernardino, with a Bachelor of Science in biology. He went on to complete a CIRM Bridges Research internship at the University of California, Riverside in a tissue engineering lab for six months. He studied the effect of scaffold stiffness on lineage specific differentiation of iPSCs. He worked in the Sareen Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai for two years and learned iPSC cell culture and differentiation into motor neurons. He also developed differentiation protocols of iPSCs into pancreatic islet and acinar lineages and 3D printed laboratory equipment. Interests include development, regeneration, disease modeling, cell therapy and stem cells.

My name is Keshav B. Suresh and I am an incoming PhD student at Cedars-Sinai. I graduated from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in June 2019 with a major in neurobiology and a minor in comparative literature. During my time at UCI, I focused on neuroscience research; one of my labs focused on the effects of early term stress on the brain in mice, and my other lab studied opiate addiction circuitry in rats. My prior research experience has mostly been at the circuit level and I spent most of my time doing histological sectioning and confocal imaging. At Cedars-Sinai, I am excited to expand both the topics I study and the techniques I use. I am still interested in neuroscience, especially glial cells, but I want to do more cellular and molecular work. I am also interested in working on the gut-brain axis and the digestive system's role in a wide range of diseases. Toward the end of my time at UCI I took a few biomedical engineering classes and loved them, so I am looking to explore these concepts through things like tissue engineering, gene therapy or biomaterials. Finally, I also want to learn coding especially with how bioinformatics and computer science in general can help further research. Overall, while my research interests are a bit all over the place, I hope I can explore each of these things thanks to the highly collaborative nature of Cedars-Sinai. In my free time you can usually catch me watching sunset at the beach, looking for a new hiking trail or at a farmers market trying to find some good fruit. I look forward to meeting and working with you all.

2018 Cohort

Rebecca graduated Magna Cum Laude from Yeshiva University's Stern College for Women with a bachelor's in biology and sociology in 2014. She gained both clinical and laboratory research experience as a student at Yeshiva University. She also authored articles for Derech HaTeva: A Journal of Torah and Science and research abstracts for Women in Science. She subsequently earned a master's in biotechnology from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University. While at Columbia, she examined the motility and differentiation of cartilage progenitors into bona fide cartilage in the laboratory of Dr. Chloë Bulinski. She completed her master's thesis on The Human Microbiome, exploring its contribution to the overall homeostasis of the human body as well as the relationship between dysbiosis in the gut and the immune system. She then interned at Akari Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in New York. She was a research associate at the Jacobs Lab of the UCLA Microbiome Center where she explored the role of RORgt-dependent T cells in shaping the intestinal microbiome. She worked as a process development associate at Capricor Therapeutics working on the characterization and the upscale development of exosomes produced from cardiosphere-derived cells.

Kruttika did her Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Mumbai in India. She then completed her master's in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Southern California in 2016. Her thesis project involved testing the effect of Vicrostatin, or VCN, (a disintegrin engineered in the lab) against canine osteosarcoma. Her findings on VCN suggested that it behaved as an ECM (extra-cellular matrix) mimetic, inhibiting cancer cell migration and invasion. Kruttika is currently working as a Research Associate II in Dr. Simon Gayther's lab at Cedar-Sinai. One of the many focuses of this group is to understand the underlying causes of ovarian and breast cancer initiation and development. She works in collaboration with a post-doctoral fellow in establishing early stage transformation models of normal ovarian and breast cancer pre-cursor cells. In her spare time, she likes to read books, travel, hike and play badminton.

Amber is a recent graduate of UCLA with a bachelor's degree in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics. At Cedars-Sinai, she is interested in studying the human microbiome. While at UCLA, she worked with the Wayne and Sork labs participating in several conservation genetics research projects. She also helped analyze and catalog soil microbiome samples from across California with CALeDNA. While at UCLA, she studied abroad for a quarter in Costa Rica, researching a microorganism used to control fungal diseases on coffee plantations. In her free time, she enjoys listening to movie scores, hiking and backpacking, and cooking healthy food.

I am from Los Angeles. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor's in psychology a few years ago. My professional interests shifted, and I took courses in biology, chemistry and physics while working at Dr. Yousang Gwack's lab at UCLA, studying calcium signaling pathways in immune cells. I am currently interested in furthering my knowledge in molecular immunology, specifically looking at the molecular and cellular mechanisms of chronic inflammation and its impact on a wide variety of diseases. In my free time, I like to swim, hike, play piano, sing and write.

I am a MD from Austria (cardiology fellow) and have worked in Dr. Gottlieb's laboratory since February 2017. So far I have been working on a large animal model on swine, where I performed an MI and local hypothermia via pericardial irrigation with cold saline to study the effects of therapeutic hypothermia on remodeling after ischemia/reperfusion injury. Papers are under review at the moment. For my thesis I am looking forward to remaining in the field of autophagy, inflammasome, mitochondria, MI and remodeling in order to learn more about the molecular mechanisms behind adverse remodeling. The final goal being to decipher mechanisms which can be modulated and to widen the therapeutic spectrum for heart failure and eventually prevent the prevention of chronic heart failure after MI.

Peter graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 2013 with a bachelor's in biochemistry from California State University, Long Beach in 2018, where he received a master's in biochemistry. Under the direction of Dr. Deepali Bhandari, his master's thesis focused on delineating the molecular mechanism(s) that promotes cell survival during endoplasmic reticulum stress. It is through Dr. Bhandari that Peter developed a special interest in studying the biochemical signals that promote cancer cells to thrive where he hopes to one day use those findings to design and deliver potential therapeutic drugs to their targets. Following graduation, he was offered a position in Dr. Bhandari's lab as a research assistant where he manages the lab, teaches biochemical techniques to new lab members, and conducts experiments. During his free time, Peter enjoys cooking food, spending time with Bear (his dog) and understanding the different mechanics/parts of a car.

Born and raised in beautiful Central Oregon, I received my bachelor's in biology from Pacific University before moving to Boston where I spent several years in the regenerative medicine field with organogenesis as a Process Development Scientist. I returned to the West (best) Coast in late 2014 when I relocated to Los Angeles to work with Capricor Therapeutics in their Product Development group. My primary focus with Capricor has been on pre-clinical and cGMP process development for their novel exosome based regenerative therapies. When not at the benchtop or buried in a BSC you can generally find me outside searching for slices of nature in in the big city with my wife and daughter or chasing a wayward golf ball off the fairway somewhere. I am thrilled to be joining the 2018 cohort and very honored to work with and contribute to the flourishing research community here at Cedars-Sinai.

2017 Cohort

I received my bachelor's in microbiology, with a minor in chemistry from California State University, Long Beach. After which, I pursued the Clinical Laboratory Scientist Training Program through California State University, Los Angeles, with clinical rotations at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Upon finishing the program, I received my board certification as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). I have since been working at the Harbor-UCLA Microbiology Laboratory. My primary research interests are in microbiology and infectious disease, with a focus in bacterial pathogenesis and antimicrobial resistance mechanisms.

I am very excited to be joining the team at Cedars-Sinai this fall! Professionally I am most interested in the field of cancer genetics. I am also peripherally interested in sequencing the gut microbiome and therapeutic applications of CRISPR.

When I'm not thinking about genetics I am usually tweaking my latest and greatest baking recipe. I also enjoy swimming, hiking and kickboxing.

Fun fact: I had a pet peacock when I was five. I do a great impression of one as well.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a bachelor's in microbiology/medical technologies. I am currently working at UCLA in Dr. Donald Kohn's gene therapy laboratory where we are focused on the development of new gene therapies of blood diseases, specifically sickle cell disease through the use of lentiviral vectors. During my free time I can be found outside hiking, camping or playing a round of golf. I am thrilled to be a part of the growing scientific community at Cedars-Sinai and look forward to working with all of you. Cheers!

I received my bachelor's in microbiology and master's in biology with a Certificate in Biotechnology from California State University, Long Beach. My master's thesis work focused on the role of sex steroids in regulating the expression of autism-associated genes in the cerebellum, a region of the brain known to be affected by this neurodevelopmental disorder. Some of my research interests include neurobiology and stem cell biology.

I am a recent graduate from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor's in biology, concentrating in physiology and molecular biology. I have been in a research setting since my first year of college, and was part of a NIH-funded research training program called BUILD (BUilding Infrastructure Leading to Diversity). Recently, I have been investigating the nootropic effects of a drug on an Alzheimer's model mice called the ZnT3 KO under Dr. Jorge Busciglio at University of California, Irvine. On my free time I love to try out new restaurants, play video games and hang out with my friends and family. I am looking forward to joining the Cedars-Sinai graduate program to further my scientific endeavors.

Florian was born in Germany and holds a bachelor's in biology from the University of Marburg and a master's in biotechnology from the University of Münster. He gained experience at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology (Marburg), the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm) and the Institute for Plant Biology and Biotechnology (Münster). He worked on projects related to molecular genetics, bioactive polymers, cell regulation and plant-pathogen systems. Florian joined the functional genomics group of Simon Knott at Cedars-Sinai as a Research Associate in October. 2016. Here he is currently working on the development of novel tools for large scale CRISPR screens aimed to decode heterogeneity of tumor cells.

I am a native San Diegan with roots in Jordan and the Philippines. I studied biology and Islamic and Arabic Studies at San Diego State and have been working in a tumor immunology lab since graduating in 2016. I love the sunshine, so moving to L.A. seems to be a natural fit! With that, I enjoy indoor rock climbing, hiking, open water swimming and longboarding. My research interests include immunology and infectious disease and I am eager to participate in the diversity of research taking place at Cedar-Sinai. I am looking forward to meeting all the faculty and students in the fall.

I obtained my master's degree in molecular biology-systems biology from the University of Montreal in Canada. During my research there, I used cell biology and microscopy techniques to study DNA damage in cancer cells. Prior to moving to Southern California, I worked as a Clinical Molecular Laboratory technologist for almost two years at the Greenwood Genetic Center in South Carolina.

I'm passionate to learn more and utilize knowledge to eventually benefit patients and that is why I decided to join the Cedars-Sinai graduate program to do translational research in one of the areas of my interest which include Genetics, Cancer, Immunology and Molecular and Cell biology. I am looking forward to starting my PhD at Cedars-Sinai soon!

A few words on a personal level: I currently live in Pasadena with my husband. I've been told that I am: persevering, observant, open to new ideas, energetic and friendly. I am a nature-lover and like painting and dancing as well.

2016 Cohort

I am from Surabaya, Indonesia. In 1998, I came to the U.S. when I was 5 years old with my family. I then pursued an undergraduate degree at Azusa Pacific University, where I studied molecular biology. I spent my summers as a research student in Dr. Gage Crump's lab at the University of Southern California investigating the role of fox genes in craniofacial development in zebrafish. After college, I accepted a post-baccalaureate position at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Dr. Yavin Shaham's lab studying the neural mechanisms underlying relapse to methamphetamine in rats. I am extremely excited to attend Cedars-Sinai's PhD program in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine in the Fall of 2016! At Cedars-Sinai, I hope to conduct cancer, immunology, stem cell or neuroscience research.

Blandine is a master's candidate at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health. With a major in infectious disease and microbiology, Blandine is currently completing her master's thesis on Human Genetic and Microbial Factors contributions to the development of HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorder. Originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, Blandine began her research experience in the MBRS-RISE program at her undergraduate institution, Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. Upon graduating with a bachelor's in biology, Blandine began a post-bac Research Education Program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. During her year in the post-bac program, Blandine worked on an independent project examining immune responses during mucosal exposure to the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). Blandine then spent the next several years working on HIV vaccine research as a Research Specialist at the Yerkes Vaccine Center within the university. Her efforts yielded co-authorships on two papers in the Journal of Virology and the Journal of Immunology. Blandine is led by her curiosity and plans to use all that she's learned to improve society and the quality of life of those burdened by disease. Her attributes are what drive her to want to be an impactful scientist within the research community.

I'm a L.A. native that grew up swimming and surfing in the South Bay. My hobbies include tinkering with cars and computers, and growing exotic carnivorous plants. I attended Loyola High School and earned my degree in Neuroscience from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Currently I work in nuclear medicine here at Cedars-Sinai as a Clinical Research Associate primarily focusing on dementia research. I'm very excited to be part of the graduate program and look forward to meeting everyone!

I was born and raised in Oxnard, CA. I attended Ventura College for two years before transferring to a four year undergraduate program at the University of California, San Diego, where I majored in neuroscience and physiology with a minor in psychology. After completing my bachelor's degree in 2012, I stayed in San Diego to work as a staff research associate for an asthma immunology lab at UCSD's department of medicine. My current research focuses primarily on the Orosomucoid-like 3 (ORMDL3) gene which has been strongly linked to asthma through genome-wide association studies. More specifically, I'm establishing a phenotype for smooth muscle cell-specific ORMDL3 KO strain of mice. I enjoy watching films, taking walks and learning new things. I'm extremely excited to be part of this program and look forward to meeting all the faculty.

I am from Westchester, New York (about 25 minutes north of New York City) and am currently working in the neuroscience department at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where I have been since last June. I graduated in 2014 from the University of Scranton with a degree in Neuroscience. My hobbies include running, reading and traveling. Before beginning at Cedars-Sinai I am going on a trip for two months to Thailand and Spain and driving to LA! I am very excited to meet everyone and be a part of the PhD program at Cedars-Sinai.

I joined Cedars-Sinai in 2015 as a Research Associate in the Regenerative Medicine Institute. My current research is focused on identifying how genetic defects found in IBD patients contribute to the development of disease. Prior to joining Cedars, I obtained a master's degree in molecular and developmental biology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Aside from my research in academia, I've also spent time working in the biotech industry. I enjoy being outside and like to cook, eat, surf, dive and travel. I'm looking forward to being a student in the graduate program at Cedars-Sinai and meeting more of the great people who are a part of it.

I was born and raised in San Diego. I am currently finishing my master's degree in biomedical engineering at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo through the CIRM Bridges program. During my undergraduate and graduate career, I have worked in a microcirculation and vascular regeneration research lab performing small animal surgeries and in vivo microscopy. Most recently I worked at a biotech company, Capricor Therapeutics, which focuses on cardiac stem/progenitor cell therapy for myocardial infarction. In my spare time, I enjoy playing and listening to a wide range of music genres, I build computers, and I maintain an 80-gallon freshwater aquarium. I am eager to begin the PhD. program and to work in some of the fantastic research labs at Cedars-Sinai.

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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
8687 Melrose Ave.
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