Meet the 2019 Sanford Burnham Prebys graduate student class

| Written by Monica May
2019 new Graduate Students; left to right: Benjamin Van Espen, Linda Chang, Jordan Friedlein, Zong Ming Chua, Michaela Lynott, Steven Sakuma

For nearly fifteen years, Sanford Burnham Prebys has been honored to educate the scientists of the future through our Graduate Program. Today, more than 40 alumni are advancing biomedical research at esteemed institutions around the world.

Who are the scientists who will join this illustrious group of alumni? Read on to learn about our new students and the bold projects they will undertake as part of our 2019 incoming class.

Graduate Student Linda Chang

Linda Chang

  • Hometown: Tainan City, Taiwan
  • Joins us from: UC San Diego, where she studied skin innate immunity and the host defense mechanism in the Department of Dermatology.
  • As a Ph.D. student: She will study brain immune cells and molecules that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, under the guidance of Huaxi Xu, Ph.D.



Graduate Student Zong Ming Chua

Zong Ming Chua

  • Hometown: Singapore
  • Joins us from: UC San Diego, where he worked on ENCODE, an ambitious project that aims to identify all functional elements in the human and mouse genomes.
  • As a Ph.D. student: He will focus on better understanding the pathogenesis of the blood cancer acute myeloid leukemia (AML), under the guidance of Peter Adams, Ph.D.


Graduate Student Jordan Friedlein

Jordan Friedlein

  • Hometown: Rockford, Minnesota
  • Joins us from: California State University, Fresno, where he completed his master’s degree in biology. While a student, he sought to understand how certain cancers become resistant to cell death signaling.
  • As a Ph.D. student: He will search for vulnerabilities in how cancer cells proliferate and survive in order to develop new targeted therapies, under the guidance of Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D.


Graduate Student Michaela Lynott

Michaela Lynott

  • Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
  • Joins us from: San Diego startup CB Therapeutics, where she produced plant compounds from genetically modified yeast cells.
  • As a Ph.D. student: She will work to find medicines that boost the heart muscle by mapping novel cardiac pathways and leveraging an automated screening pipeline under the guidance of Alexandre Colas, Ph.D.



Graduate Student Steven Sakuma

Steven Sakuma

  • Hometown: Shingletown, California
  • Joins us from: Sanford Burnham Prebys, where he studied the physiological importance of certain pieces of nuclear pore complexes—the gatekeepers to the cell’s nucleus, where DNA lives—in the lab of Maximiliano D'Angelo, Ph.D.
  • As a Ph.D. student: He will continue his research into the biology of nuclear pore complexes, including their role in aging and disease, under the guidance of D'Angelo.


Graduate Student Benjamin Van Espen

Benjamin Van Espen

  • Hometown: Charleroi, Belgium
  • Joins us from: UC San Diego, where he researched the underlying causes of autoimmune diseases.
  • As a Ph.D. student: He will research signaling pathways that regulate cellular stress response, under the guidance of Ze’ev Ronai, Ph.D.



For more information about the Sanford Burnham Prebys’ Graduate Program, visit our website.

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