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.

Current Students – 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.

2015 Cohort

I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but moved to San Diego to go to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where I graduated with a degree in biochemistry and cell biology. While in college, I did three different industry internships in chemistry labs. After graduating, I worked at Vertex Pharmaceuticals as a research associate in a neurobiology lab where I studied Huntington's disease. I then returned to UCSD and worked as a research associate in an immunology lab studying type II innate lymphoid cells and their role in allergic inflammation. My research interests and experiences have been very diverse and I have not settled on a specific discipline to pursue at Cedars-Sinai, so I am looking forward to meeting with faculty and doing lab rotations. When I am not in lab, I love reading and I enjoy watching and playing sports, especially basketball and volleyball. I also love hiking and backpacking. I am very excited to begin the program at Cedars-Sinai.

I just graduated with honors from California State University, Northridge. My majors are biotechnology and medical technology. I spent two years in a biodiesel lab extracting and analyzing the genetic material of Hymenaea courbaril, a tropical tree. I am passionate about infectious diseases and hope to work on studying them as a pathway to drug discovery and the development of quick, efficient diagnostic tests.

Born and raised in Fresno, my first exposure to research occurred at Fresno City College. Although my intention up until that point was to become a clinician, my first research experience was rooted in chemistry—characterizing carbon fiber microelectrodes with cyclic voltammetry. This project revealed to me an appreciation for the fruits and labors of research and the people that make it possible, and marked a shift in my pursuits from the practice of medicine to the science. Because of my early chemical interests I joined Professor Yadong Yin's nanomaterials synthesis lab upon my transfer to the University of California, Riverside, where I would remain for the majority of my time at the university and until the completion of my bachelor's degree in biochemistry. Most of my work focused on the synthesis of photocatalytic materials designed to harness sunlight for the purposes of energy production, pollutant degradation, and chemical synthesis. Specifically I experimented with the fabrication of heterogeneous photocatalysts composed of copper (I) oxide and titania. Currently one of my interests lies in the biochemical and genetic mechanisms of diabetes and obesity, however as I learn about new fields and pursuits the possibilities continue to grow, and I believe I am compatible with a wide variety of topics including immunology and cancer. I am ecstatic to be here at Cedars-Sinai and I look forward to meeting you all!

I currently live in San Diego, but I grew up in a very small town about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles. I am the first in my family to go to college and I received my bachelor's degree in biology from UCSD. As an undergraduate I began working in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Witztum, a world leader on the role of immune mechanisms in atherosclerosis. After graduating I stayed in the lab as a research assistant for two more years and took on my own independent research project. To further strengthen my research experience and in preparation for a PhD program, I applied to the Biology Masters Program at San Diego State University. It was a great experience and I just graduated this spring. My research focused on identifying the macrophage cell surface receptors that mediate the proinflammatory effects of an oxidized phospholipid analogue on macrophages, and the genes that are regulated in this process.

I am interested in learning more about immune mechanisms and how their inflammatory responses affect pathogenesis and how we can regulate these responses to develop novel therapies. I am very much looking forward to starting the graduate program at Cedars-Sinai and meeting you all.

I was born and raised in Seongnam, South Korea. While I was pursuing my master's degree at Yonsei University under the direction of Drs. Joo-Hang Kim and Jae-Jin Song, I became interested in immunotherapy. My thesis project was to evaluate anti-tumorigenic effects of adenoviral vectors carrying TGF-β1-, 2-, or 3-targeting siRNAs in vitro and in vivo. In 2012, I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and started working as a research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Jean Cook at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for two years. The research interest of the laboratory was focused on the regulation of mammalian cell cycle, especially DNA replication. Cdt1 is known to play a crucial role in the process of DNA replication, especially recruiting Minichromosome Maintenance complex (MCM) to the Origin Recognition Complex (ORC) in G1 phase. However, my preliminary data suggests that Cdt1 also plays an important role in preventing re-replication of DNA in G2 phase by unknown mechanisms. Those underlying mechanisms are still under investigation. In 2014, I moved to the Los Angeles with my family. Although I am still interested in studying immunotherapy for my PhD, I would like to take an advantage of lab rotation opportunities to explore other fields as well, such as regenerative medicine during my first year.

Sara is a born-and-raised New Yorker, and attended high school in Princeton, New Jersey. Her first love for research was cultivated working as a lab tech at Pine Ridge Winery in Napa, and her year was finished at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 with a bachelor's in neuroscience and a bachelor's in psychology, supplementing her education with research with Dr. Francesca Mariani quantifying bone growth in a murine rib-injury model. After graduating, she worked at Cytori Therapeutics as a Research Associate, with her proprietary project being validating the constitutively expressed miRNA profile in clinically derived adipose-derived stem cells. Her second project was with Dr. Bal Ram Singh at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth/Prime Bio Inc. growing enteric neurons and helping develop an ELISA-based assay to detect low concentrations of botulinum neurotoxin in consumables. She matriculated to Keck School of Medicine's Master of Science in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in 2014 where she supplemented her education with follow-up work in Dr. Mariani's lab. Her work focused on the role of chondrocytes, especially their "dark" sub-population, on bone regeneration in murine rib-injury model.

Sara's extracurricular interests include racing down a mountain on skis, low-visibility scuba diving, tending to her bees, long yoga sessions, multiple airport layovers and pretty much any other numinous blood flowing activities. She loves to cook, and definitely falls in the "lives-to-eat" category (as her waist line can attest to). She speaks French and is currently trying to learn Russian.

2014 Cohort

I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and went to college at the University of California, Davis, majoring in biotechnology with a minor in technology management in 2010. After undergrad, I got a job at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), in the Department of Neurosurgery. I was lab manager and did research for a small lab researching glioblastomas and worked there for three-and-a-half years. After UCSF I wanted to get some industry experience so I got a job at Tricida, a biotech startup working on a novel polymer therapy for blood acidosis due to renal disease. I really enjoyed working at Tricida and in the six months that I've been there they went from nothing to having multiple drug candidates and are gearing up for clinical trials in the next few months. I'm very excited to start at Cedars-Sinai and am hoping to get into cancer biomarker research but am open to other types of labs as well.

I graduated from University of California Irvine in 2012 with a degree in biology and was on the Dean's list for consecutive years. My initial exposure to academic research began while I was a student at the University of California, Irvine, and I joined Dr. Michael Buchmeier's lab in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. I worked as a student researcher in his lab for over two years on a project to determine how certain proteins of the SARS-Coronaviruses rearrange host cell membranes to aid in the viral life cycle. I was able to present my results at the 2012 Undergraduate Research symposium and won "the UCI Best Undergraduate Research Symposium Award." This work also resulted in a publication in Mbio (American Society for Microbiology). In order to further pursue my interest in biomedical science, I volunteered as an independent student researcher for Dr. Margareta Pisarska in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai since 2013. The focus of my research while working in Dr. Pisarska's laboratory has been to study members of the TGF-β family that are differentially expressed which may affect trophoblast function and placentation, thus contributing to adverse pregnancy outcomes. While these studies are ongoing, I have already presented some of my findings at this year's Cedars-Sinai Research Day V. I have also co-author several abstracts that I will present at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in October 2014.

Victoria received her bachelor's from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 2011. During her undergraduate studies she held several academic and industrial internships including a position at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center working on hematopoietic stem cell mobilization and at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in the Neurodegenerative diseases group working on projects related to Huntington's disease. After graduating from UCSD in 2011 she was hired at Vertex as a Research Associate in the Huntington's groups working on teams to develop Medicinal Chemistry assays and eventually moved to the Discovery Operations group as a Research Associate II where her primary responsibility was to maintain and oversee the automated production of human bronchial epithelial cultures used in the Cystic Fibrosis program. Most recently she was employed at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) as an Scientific Associate operating an ultra-high throughput automated assay platform capable of screening up to 400,000 wells per day, running assays supporting all the therapeutic areas at GNF. Her research interests lie in regenerative medicine and its application for directly developing therapies as well as a tool for building increasingly disease relevant models for drug discovery. In her free time, she enjoys biking, swimming, running, rock climbing, going to the beach, hanging out with friends and trying new types of cuisine.

I earned my bachelor's in molecular biology from the University of California, San Diego, where I participated in various undergraduate research programs. My undergraduate research focused primarily on cancer, testing a potential anticancer drug in-vitro and investigating mechanisms of dysregulated signaling in breast cancer. I also investigated the mechanism by which heart disease decreases the contraction force of the myocardium. I then continued pursuing my interest in cancer research by working at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where I worked to verify pancreatic cancer biomarkers and develop immunological assays to detect potential serum biomarkers in lung cancer. My current work at UCLA is an analysis of the evolution of HBV drug resistance in HBV-HIV coinfection and we have identified HBV minority variant species known to be responsible for drug resistance. As a future graduate student, I hope to master the skills and knowledge necessary to uncover new ways to diagnose and treat disease.

Alyson received her bachelor's degree in biology from Colorado College in 2010. She has conducted clinical and basic research at the University of Colorado, Denver, while an undergraduate, and post-graduation. Her first undergraduate research project, completed with Dr. Edward Hoffenberg, determined that substantially increasing the infusion rate of the anti-TNF-a was safe and cost effective for pediatric patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Her second project, under the purview of Dr. Edwin Liu, was to assist in the creation of retroviral constructs containing gliaden-reactive human T-cell receptor sequences isolated from patients with celiac disease, for use in humanized models. After graduation and keeping with tradition, Alyson became the clinical research coordinator for yet another Ed, Dr. Edwin de Zoeten, as part of the Pediatric IBD Center at UCD. She wrote and maintained human-based research protocols, consented patients, collected and processed biological samples and data, for a number of clinical and translational research projects. After contriving ways to spend more time in the lab, Alyson was promoted to lab manager in 2013. The main focus of deZoeten lab is the characterization and manipulation of the endogenous regulatory pathways controlling the suppressive response of the regulatory T-cell in colitis, to find specific targets for therapies. She has utilized mouse models, in vitro models, and human samples, in her projects. Her research interests include genetic regulation and immunology. Outside the lab, you can find her getting extreme in the mountains, eating snacks, and reading books.

2013 Cohort

I moved to the United States from India when I was 4 years old and have been bouncing around to various cities across the country ever since. After elementary and middle school on the East Coast, high school in the San Francisco Bay Area and college in the Midwest (Go Badgers!) I'm excited to continue the next chapter of my life in sunny L.A.! I was first introduced to research as a CIRM BRIDGES intern in Dr. John Rossi's lab at City of Hope and wrote my master's thesis on the effects of KLF4 upregulation on hematopoietic progenitor cell proliferation and maintenance. Working in such a fast-paced lab amongst so many experienced scientists challenged and inspired me, and motivates my decision to pursue a PhD. I'm most looking forward to exploring areas of research that are concerned with promoting preventative healthcare, something I feel very strongly about and know I'll approach with a lot of passion.

In my spare time I love to read (see: check out several books and read parts of all of them) and donate hundreds of dollars a year to my local libraries (see: late fees). I also love live music, farmers markets, walkable neighborhoods and city skylines. My favorite freeway in L.A. is the 110. My least favorite movie genre is horror. I want to learn how to draw and I wish I could sing. In conclusion, I'm so excited to see where the next few years take me and look forward to the new friends and travel opportunities they will bring!

I was born in Southern California and have lived here for most of my life. I enjoy learning about history and culture through travel and reading. My most memorable traveling experience is my stay in Costa Rica, where I lived with a family in a rural village and spent time learning about their culture and traditions. Aside from travel, my favorite activities are biking, hot yoga, cooking, hiking, and hanging out with my dog.

I received my bachelor's degree in biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. My background is in diabetes research from the Salk Institute, under Professor Wylie Vale. It was in this lab that I found my passion for science while studying the roles of stress hormones in insulin regulation and glucose metabolism. Later, I joined the chemical engineering laboratory of Professor James Liao at UCLA. My research focused on engineering new pathways into cyanobacteria and Arabidopsis plants to replace inefficient native pathways for biofuel production. I am fortunate to have been a part of these research groups that have enriched my desire to contribute to scientific research. I aspire to become a contributing member in biomedical research and pursue a career in academia.

I am a Los Angeles native and have lived in the small suburb of Westchester my entire life. I love Southern California, the beaches, hiking, and great city life it has to offer. I just recently graduated from Loyola Marymount University Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry in May 2013 and was awarded as the Program Scholar of the Year for the department of biochemistry. During my time at LMU, I was involved in Chemistry Society and was a teaching assistant for a variety of labs including organic chemistry, analytical chemistry and biochemistry.


Additionally, I was inducted into Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society and into Alpha Sigma Nu, The Jesuit Honor Society and I hope to continue on with the Los Angeles chapter in terms of volunteering and service. Furthermore, the undergraduate research I conducted while attending LMU focused on amyloidogenic proteins including Aβ-42 and IAPP. My main research project consisted of creating random mutagenic IAPP libraries in search of inhibitors of wild type IAPP, involved with the progression of type II diabetes, using a screening method involving EGFP. I loved my lab and my research at LMU and I cannot wait to start a new chapter at Cedars-Sinai! I am excited to begin pursuing new areas of research that I have yet to be exposed to. Whenever I have free time, I enjoy a plethora of activities ranging from oil painting (I love Bob Ross) to ocean kayaking. I am fond of classic literature, felines, action movies and 80s music. I am so very excited to meet everyone and to begin this amazing program at Cedars-Sinai!

I am originally from Tempe, Arizona. I have a bachelor's degree in molecular biosciences and biotechnology from Arizona State University. My research history consists of working with the gene VPU, which is an accessory membrane protein in HIV-1, by expressing and purifying the gene in Nicotiana Benthamiana. The goal of isolating this protein was to both characterize the protein and utilize X-ray Crystalography to identify the 3D structure. I conducted this research under the Biodesign Institute, located within Arizona State University campus, for roughly two years. I am new to Los Angeles and I look forward to becoming part of the Cedars-Sinai community.

I was born in Kansas but have lived outside Washington, D.C., in Fairfax, Virginia, for the majority of my life. I graduated from George Mason University over a decade ago. For the last seven years I have been the manager of the Deeken lab at Georgetown University's Lombardi Cancer Center. I have been studying chemotherapy multidrug resistance signatures, Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy interaction in both cancer development and in treatment. Another region of study has been pharmacogenomics particularly in Head & Neck and Colon cancers. The last two years I have launched two pharmacogenomics CLIA diagnostics for determining both the dose and drug of choice for cancer patient treatment. Previously, I spent five years at the National Cancer Institute at NIH as a fellow in the molecular therapeutics branch under Dr. Susan Bates studying the multidrug resistance transporter ABCG2 and working on securing FDA approval for the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Romidepsin for the treatment of Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma. I have focused my career on translational cancer research and look forward to starting some new areas of translational research.

I'm married to an incredibly accommodating woman, Kim, who works in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health. We are excited to move across the country and start something entirely new to us. We are big fans of camping, hiking and fishing—OK, she's not so much a big fan of the fishing.

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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
8687 Melrose Ave.
Suite G-532
West Hollywood, CA 90069