sbp students and faculty

Our Students, Graduates
and Faculty

Our Community

Current Graduate Students

Click Read More for more information about our current graduate students.

  • Karina Barbosa Guerra, B.S.
    Karina’s research focuses on understanding the dysregulation of epigenetic mechanisms in hematological malignancies to improve therapeutic interventions
  • Nicole Bata, B.S.
    Nicole’s work focuses on exploring STK3/STK4 kinases as modulators of autophagy in cancer. 
  • Meher Beigi Masihi, M.S.
    Meher’s work is focused on understanding underlying molecular mechanisms of pediatric brain tumor development to identify potential therapeutic targets.
  • Numana Bhat, B.S.
    Numana is interested in studying B-cell immunology and is utilizing mouse genetic models to understand how perturbations in the immuno-regulatory pathways in B-cells lead to autoimmune diseases.
  • Betsaida Bibo Verdugo, M.S.
    Betsaida investigates the molecular sorting mechanisms that dictate the distribution of neutrophil serine proteases in azurophil granules.
  • Katja Birker, B.S. 
    Katja’s work focuses on elucidating the molecular, cellular, and morphological processes of candidate congenital heart disease genes in the Drosophila heart.
  • Francesca Boscolo Sesillo, M.S.
    Francesca Boscolo Sesillo is interested in understanding the role of cellular senescence in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
  • Clyde Campbell, B.S.
    He plans to utilize his experiences to help develop new genetic tools to manipulate gene function and elucidate the mechanisms involved in diseases associated with the liver and pancreas.
  • Alex Campos, B.S.
    Alex's work focuses on understanding how cancer utilizes adaptive responses to stress, such as oxidative and metabolic stress, to provide growth, proliferation, and survival advantages over normal non-transformed cells.
  • Lisa Elmen, M.S.
    Lisa's research is focused on establishing the etiological role of the gastrointestinal microbiome in colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Adam Field, B.S.
    Adam’s core focus lies in understanding the role of epigenetic processes in aging and age related diseases. Particularly, how these are processes are modulated by longevity associated interventions such as Rapamycin.
  • Joe Fromm, B.S.
    Joe is studying neuronal signaling and the function of G-protein coupled receptors in signal cascades of the brain.
  • Anjali Gupta, M.S., M.B.A.
    Anjali is studying a novel molecular signaling pathway and its role in cardiomyopathy. She is also exploring the effects of altered gravity on the cardiovascular system using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system, in collaboration with NASA. Anjali is a recipient of the prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein NIH Predoctoral Fellowship which provides funding support for her research.
  • Mallika Iyer, M.S.
    Mallika will use structural bioinformatics to study how mutations in specific protein regions or interfaces could drive cancer.
  • Marco Maruggi, M.Eng.
    My work revolves around understanding the impact of hypoxia on the DNA repair process, specifically in the context of resistance to targeted therapy to cancer.
  • Ayako Murao, B.S.
    Ayako will be studying the role of TMEM2 in brain development using TMEM2 conditional knockout mice.
  • Daniel Ojeda Juarez, B.S.
    Daniel works in HIV-induced brain injury, a degenerative disease if the brain. His research is aimed to further increase our understanding of the pathological mechanism behind virally induced damage of the central nervous system.
  • Cameron Pernia, B.S.
    Cameron is interested in utilizing stem cells to model neurological disorders, as to gain a better understanding of how changes on the molecular scale in the brain results in complex changes in behavior and cognition.
  • Róisín Puentes, M.Pharm 
    Róisín Puentes will be researching the regulation of Ras signaling for cancer therapy.
  • Amir Razai, M.A.
    Amir’s research involves the development of new technologies to help identify the activation state of tumor-associated proteases in the tumor microenvironment.
  • Miguel Reina Campos, M.S.
    Miguel’s research is mainly focused on the study of the role of atypical PKC’s pathway in cancer and cellular homeostasis thorough the identification of selective substrates for this PKC subfamily.
  • Huiyu Ren, B.S.
    Huiyu’s research is focused on identifying and characterizing signaling molecules and intracellular pathways involved in cell death and survival.
  • Pavel Ryzhov, B.S.
    Pavel is using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods to investigate conformational dynamics of the pro-apoptotic protein BAX as it translocates between cytosol and the outer mitochondrial membrane resulting in programmed cell death.
  • Marisa Sanchez, B.S.
    Marisa’s research is focused on understanding eIF2a-mediated stress response pathways in cells under oxidative and endoplasmic reticular stress on a fundamental level as well as in prostate cancer. 
  • Paloma Sanchez Pavon, B.S.
    I study the role that lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) plays in a neurological disease called hydrocephalus, trying to counteract its effects and improve the life of the patients. 
  • Jessica Stupack, B.S.
    Jessica is interested in elucidating underlying molecular mechanisms of various neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Tiara Tirasawasdichai, B.A.
    Tiara is studying the role of desmosomal protein, desmoplakin, in Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/Cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C) using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells as a disease modeling.
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Cameron Pernia
Cameron Pernia, B.S.

"A great feature of SBP graduate school is its size, we have more faculty members than students, so I have easy access to mentors. I could not be happier with my decision to pursue my Ph.D. at SBP, and I am confident it will be one of the best choices I will ever make."

Miguel Campos photo
Miguel Reina Campos, M.S.

"I was drawn to SBP for its clinically oriented goals, state of the art facilities and the great talent that inhabits the institution. It appeared to me as the perfect blend of the will to cure and the genuine curiosity that drives the finest basic research."

Marisa Sanchez, in the lab
Marisa Sanchez, B.S.

"I chose to study at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute because it is leading the frontiers of translational biomedical research. I have always had a fascination for research and discovering new ways to improve the lives of people suffering from disease."


"Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute graduate students are bright and highly driven with a clear focus on their next career step. Upon graduation, most of our students have moved on to become successful biomedical researchers in both fields of industry and academia."

— Malene Hansen, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Student Affairs

Ryon Graf, Ph.D.

"Biomedical Sciences at SBP exposed me to the beating heart of scientific and medical innovation that defines the Torrey Pines mesa in San Diego. SBP program in particular exposed my classmates and I to a wide variety of scientific and industrial avenues, and was geared at producing versatile scientists that could thrive in industry, academia, or beyond."

Ying Zhang, Ph.D.

"I have benefitted greatly from the rich environment of scientific research at SBP. In my opinion this is a perfect place for pursuing graduate school in interdisciplinary research areas. I was so lucky to be surrounded by world-class research laboratories in the study of cancer pathology, aging, infectious diseases, biochemistry, and computational biology."

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Alumni

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  • Wesley McKeithan
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Reengineering an Antiarrhythmic with Human Pluripotent Stem Cells
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Scholar, Mercola Lab in the Cardiovascular Institute at Stanford University School of Medicine

  • Monica Gonzalez
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: The role of caspases in inflammation
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Associate, Salvesen Lab at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

  • Jinsha Liu
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: T-cadherin and Adiponectin in hippocampal synaptic functions and behaviors
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Scientist, Eli Lilly & Company

  • Victoria Thaney
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Neuroprotection by IFN-beta in HIV/gp120 Brain Injury
    Current Position: HCA Technical Sales Specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific

  • Khooshbu Shah
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Pathological Interactions of Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/Cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C) Cardiomyocytes with ARVD/C Mesenchymal Stromal Cells
    Current Position: Applications Scientist at Bio-TecFaculty Member, Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeleshne

  • Gianluigi Lichinchi
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Dynamics of RNA methylation during HIV and ZIKV infections
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in the Rana Lab, University of California, San Diego

  • Mirco Guigli
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Investigation of Structured Illumination Confocal Microscopy for High Content Screening
    Current Position: Instrumentation Engineer at Vala Sciences

  • Stephen Soonthornvacharin
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Systems-Level Analysis to Elucidate the Regulation of the RIG-I-Mediated Antiviral Innate Immune Response

  • Paula Coutinho Toto
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Cell Quiescence, Proliferation and Differentiation by Brahma-based SWI/SNF Chromatin-Remodeling Complex

  • Matthew Tierney
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Regulatory mechanisms controlling muscle stem cell behavior during skeletal muscle repair
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in Fuchs Lab at Rockefeller University

  • Alessandra Dall'Agnese
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: MYOD-directed changes in the nuclear architecture during myogenic conversion of somatic cells
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Associate at the Whitehead Institute

  • Giuseppina Claps
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Redefining AFT2 in Braf-driven melanoma

  • Saumya Nagar
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Role of MEF2 in photoreceptor degeneration

  • Yi Ding
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Structural and Functional Studies of the Outer Membrane Protein Ail from Yersenia Pestis
    Current Position: Master Student, Statistics, Stanford University

  • Sara Gelino
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Investigating the Mechanisms of Autophagy-Mediated Longevity During Dietary Restriction
    Current Position: Project Manager at Anza Innovations

  • Angel Bottini
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Drug Discovery Studies on Influenza A Virus and Yersinia Outer Protein H (YopH)
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in the Bottini Lab at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

  • Ryan Esquejo
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: Integration of Lipid Synthesis and Other Biological Processes via Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

  • Domenico Fasci
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: New Insights into the Regulation of SUMO Dynamics by the Human SUMO-specific Proteases (SENPs) 
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow at Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands

  • Lorenzo Giordani
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institut de Myologie in Paris, France

  • Ryon Graf
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: The Regulation of Breast Cancer Metastasis by Caspase-8 
    Current Position: Project Manager, Pharma Services at Epic Sciences

  • Janna Hachmann
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Activity and Specificity of the Human Paracaspase MALT1
    Current Position: Scientist at Inhibrx

  • Philip McQuary
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Understanding the longevity of rsks-1/S6K C. elegant mutants
    Current Position: Scientist at AltheaDX

  • Goonho Park
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: Investigation of Aberrant Epigenetic Mechanisms in Parkinson's Disease Pathogenesis
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Edward Koo at UCSD

  • Judith Scheliga
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: Role of elf3e in mRNA Translation 
    Current Position: Technical Applications Scientist at Illumina

  • Danhua Zhang
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis Title: The Specification of Ductal Lineages in Liver and Pancreas
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Farham Imam at UCSD

  • Xin Wang
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: Loss of Sorting nexin 27 Continues to Excitatory Synaptic Dysfunction Via Modulation of Glutamate Receptor Recycling in Down Syndrome 
    Current Position: Principal Investigator, School of Medicine at Xiamen University 

  • Wenqing Cai 
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: Stage-Specific Cell Fate Commitment During Cardiac Differentiation in mESCs 
    Current Position: Research Fellow at Boston Children's Hospital

  • Runquan Zhang
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: Novel Synthetic Ligands of CCR5 and CXCR4: Biochemical Characterization and Preclinical Studies  

  • Corrine Lee 
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences 
    Thesis Title: Spinal Disinhibition in a Rodent Model of Painful Diabetic Neuropathy 
    Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Mark Tuszynski's Lab at UCSD

  • Cheng-Ho Chung
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis title: Adult Beta Cell Regeneration 
    Current Position: Physician, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

  • Johanna Samuelsson
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
    Thesis title: DNA Demethylation of SST1 Pericentromeric Repetitive Elements in Human Cancer 
    Current Position: Senior Research Scientist at Active Motif, Carlsbad, CA

  • Ying Zhang
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Biosciences
    Thesis Title: Integrating Computational Structure-Function Analyses for the Genome-Scale Modeling of Metabolic Networks 
    Current Position: Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island

  • Annelies Zinkernagel
    Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine

    Thesis title: Exploring Bacterial Pathogen Interactions with Host Phagocytes to Identify Novel Approaches to Infectious Disease Therapy
    Current Position: Attending and Physician Scientist at University Hospital Zürich, Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology

  • Lorena Puto
    Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine

    Thesis title: Epigenetic Control of Apoptosis and Autophagy Gene Expression and Promotion of Tumorigenicity by Nuclear Body Protein, Daxx
    Current Position: Faculty Member, Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles

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Graduate School Faculty


Gelino S, Chang JT, Kumsta C, She X, Davis A, Nguyen C, Panowski S, Hansen M
PLoS Genet 2016 Jul;12(7):e1006135
Dall'Agnese A, Puri PL
Bioessays 2016 Sep;38(9):917-26
Tierney MT, Sacco A
Trends Cell Biol 2016 Jun;26(6):434-444