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Lab Members

Alberto Ayala Sarmiento
Postdoctoral Scientist

Alberto E. Ayala Sarmiento, PhD, earned his bachelor’s degree in biotechnology at the Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico. He obtained his master’s degree and doctorate from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) in Mexico City where he focused mainly on brain tumors, gene therapy, neurogenesis and cerebrospinal fluid physiology. Ayala’s current interest in the Breunig Laboratory includes new brain tumor models and their early diagnosis.

Katie Grausam
Postdoctoral Scientist

Katie Grausam, PhD, earned two bachelor's degrees in human biology as well as psychology at Michigan State University, followed by two master's degrees in neuroscience and science education at Florida State University. In 2018, she completed her doctorate in basic biomedical sciences at the University of South Dakota/Sanford School of Medicine, with a focus on the involvement of transcription factor ATOH1 in metastatic medulloblastoma, the most common pediatric brain tumor. Currently, as a postdoctoral scientist in the Breunig Lab, she will be investigating additional brain tumors, including glioblastoma, and the interaction with the immune microenvironment of the brain, a project in collaboration with Stephen Shiao, MD, PhD.

Naomi Kobritz, MS MBA
Research Associate III

Naomi Kobritz received her master’s degree in biotechnology and bioinformatics with an emphasis on stem cell technology and laboratory management and an MBA from California State University, Channel Islands, in 2018. She studied the role of TNF-α in Alzheimer's disease at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System before joining the Breunig Laboratory as a visiting graduate student through the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program.

Paul Linesch
Graduate Student

Paul Linesch received his bachelor's degree in neuroscience and behavior from University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to joining the Cedars-Sinai Graduate Program, he performed neuroimaging research in nuclear medicine at Cedars-Sinai S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center investigating dementia, Parkinson's disease, and Lyme disease using SPECT and PET scans. Paul's current interest at the Breunig Laboratory involves astrocytes and their role in development and maintaining homeostasis.

Shaunt Mehdikhani, MS
Research Associate I

Shaunt Mehdikhani received his master’s degree in tumor biology from Georgetown University and his bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. During his graduate studies with the Wellstein Lab, he researched the effects of checkpoint inhibitors in murine models of early-stage breast cancer. Shaunt is currently expanding on his undergraduate research with the Breunig Lab, studying chromosomal fusion driven ependymomas.

David Rincón Fernandez Pacheco, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher

David Rincón Fernandez Pacheco, PhD, is a biologist with a master's degree in immunology. In 2016, he completed his doctorate in biomedicine at the University of Córdoba, Spain, under the supervision of Justo P. Castaño, PhD. Rincón Fernandez Pacheco focused his research in the cellular and molecular implications of alternative splicing abnormalities in the context of breast cancer. Currently, he has started his postdoctoral in Breunig Lab where his studies involve the development of new cancer models and the investigation of the role of extracellular vesicles in brain tumor development and progression.

Giovanna Regis, BS
Graduate Student

Giovanna Curci Regis earned her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience & Behavior from Barnard College. Before joining the Cedars-Sinai Graduate Program, she was as a research assistant in the laboratory of Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD. at Cedars Sinai, studying the role of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease. Giovanna is interested in understanding sex as a biological variable in neurological diseases and the homeostatic brain. Currently, she is studying how genetic and immunological sex dimorphisms affect brain tumor development and prognosis.

Sara Sabet, MS
Graduate Student

Sara Sabet, MS, earned her bachelor's degree in neuroscience and psychology from the University of Southern California (USC). Before joining Cedars-Sinai, she completed her master's in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine from USC where she investigated the role of periosteal cells in chondrocyte-to-osteocyte transdifferentiation during bone regeneration in the lab of Francesca Mariani, PhD. Currently, Sabet's research involves probing the role of genetic signatures in cellular competition in glioma, as well as developing more efficient lineage tracing of single cells in brain tissue.

Griselda Metta Yvone, PhD
Postdoctoral Scientist

Griselda Metta Yvone earned her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at Cornell University. For her undergraduate research, she worked on membrane trafficking and cell biology. She then went to work as a Research technician at the Broad Institute assisting in developing high-throughput cancer cell line screening methodology. In 2018, she completed her PhD program in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology at UCLA studying spinal cord development and the role of Reelin-signaling pathway in dorsal horn neuronal migration and pain transmission. As a postdoctoral scientist in the Breunig lab, she will work on generating brain tumor models and investigating potential new therapies for pediatric gliomas.

Alumni Lab Members

Contact the Breunig Lab

127 S. San Vicente Blvd.
Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, Eighth Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90048