Featured Student and Faculty

Featured Student

Victoria Sun

Victoria Sun

VSun@mednet.ucla.edu

Current level:
PhD4 (2020-2021)

Undergraduate institution:
University of Chicago

Research interest:
Developmental Biology

Current lab:
Laboratory of Gay Crooks

Recent publications:
Montel-Hagen A*, Sun V*, Casero D, Tsai S, Zampieri A, Jackson N, Li S, Lopez S, Zhu Y, Chick B, He C, de Barros SC, Seet CS, Crooks GM. In Vitro Recapitulation of Murine Thymopoiesis from Single Hematopoietic Stem Cells. Cell Reports. 2020 Oct 27;33(4):108320. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108320.

UCLA newsletter: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/millions-diverse-t-cells-from-single-blood-stem-cell

Montel-Hagen A*, Seet CS*, Li S, Chick B, Zhu Y, Chang P, Tsai S, Sun V, Lopez S, Chen HC, He C, Chin CJ, Casero D, Crooks GM. Organoid-Induced Differentiation of Conventional T Cells from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2019 Mar 7;24(3):376-389.e8. DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.12.011.

UCLA newsletter: https://stemcell.ucla.edu/news/ucla-scientists-create-renewable-source-cancer-fighting-t-cells

Recent awards:
Broad Stem Cell Research Center (BSCRC) Training Program Predoctoral Fellowship; Rose Hills Foundation Graduate Scholarship (2019-2021)

Featured Faculty

Gay Crooks, MD

Gay Crooks, MD

GCrooks@mednet.ucla.edu

MSTP Role:
MSTP Admissions Committee Member

Affiliations/ Appointments/ Titles:
Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics
Co-Director, Eli & Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Research
Director, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program Area

Biographical sketch:
Dr. Crooks graduated from medical school at the University of Western Australia and completed her FRACP (pediatrics) at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children prior to her fellowship training in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). In 2009 her research program moved to UCLA, where in addition to running her research program, Dr. Crooks is a pediatric bone marrow transplant physician in the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Mattel Children’s Hospital, UCLA.

Featured Student

Prashant Bhat

Prashant Bhat

PBhat@mednet.ucla.edu

Current level:
PhD4 (2020-2021)

Undergraduate institution:
UC Berkeley

Research interest:
Genomics and RNA Biology

Current lab:
Guttman Lab (Caltech)

Recent publications:
Banerjee, M. Blanco, E. Bruce, D. Honson, L. Chen, A. Chow, P. Bhat, N. Ollikainen, S. Quinodoz, C. Loney, J. Thai, Z.D. Miller, A.E. Lin, M.M Schmidt, D.G. Stewart, D. Goldfarb, G. De Lorenzo, S.J. Rihn, R. Voorhees, J.W. Botten, D. Majumdar, and M. Guttman (2020). “SARS-CoV-2 disrupts splicing, translation, and protein trafficking to suppress host defenses.” Cell. (In Press, Accepted)

S. Quinodoz, P. Bhat, N. Ollikainen, J.W. Jachowicz, A. Banerjee, P. Chovanec, A. Chow, Y. Markaki, K. Plath and M. Guttman (2020). “RNA promotes the formation of spatial compartments in the nucleus.” bioRxiv. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.25.267435

S. Quinodoz, N. Ollikainen, B. Tabak, A. Palla, J.M. Schmidt, E. Detmar, M. Lai, A. Shishkin, P. Bhat, Y. Takei, V. Trinh, E. Aznauryan, P. Russell, C. Cheng, M. Jovanovic, A. Chow, L. Cai, P. McDonel, M. Garber, and M. Guttman (2018). “Higher-order inter-chromosomal hubs shape 3-dimensional genome organization in the nucleus.” Cell. 174(3):744-757.

Featured Faculty

Mitchell Guttman, PhD

Mitchell Guttman, PhD

MGuttman@caltech.edu

Affiliations/ Appointments/ Titles:
Professor of Biology
Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute

Honors:
NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, Agilent Early Career Professor Award, Pew-Steward Scholar for Cancer Research, Sontag Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award, Searle Foundation Scholar, Forbes magazine ’30 under 30′, NIH Director’s Early Independence Award

Biographical sketch:

Featured Student

Cody Aros

Cody Aros, PhD

CAros@mednet.ucla.edu

Current level:
MS3 (2020-2021)

Undergraduate institution:
Stanford University

Research interest:
Stem Cell Biology, Regenerative Medicine

Current lab:
Gomperts Lab

Recent publications:
Aros, C. J., P. Vijayaraj, C. J. Pantoja, B. Bisht, L. K. Meneses, J. M. Sandlin, J. A. Tse, M. W. Chen, A. Purkayastha, D. W. Shia, J. M. S. Sucre, T. M. Rickabaugh, E. K. Vladar, M. K. Paul and B. N. Gomperts (2020). “Distinct Spatiotemporally Dynamic Wnt-Secreting Niches Regulate Proximal Airway Regeneration and Aging.” Cell Stem Cell. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2020.06.019.

Aros, C. J., M. K. Paul, C. J. Pantoja, B. Bisht, L. K. Meneses, P. Vijayaraj, J. M. Sandlin, B. France, J. A. Tse, M. W. Chen, D. W. Shia, T. M. Rickabaugh, R. Damoiseaux and B. N. Gomperts (2020). “High-Throughput Drug Screening Identifies a Potent Wnt Inhibitor that Promotes Airway Basal Stem Cell Homeostasis.” Cell Rep 30(7): 2055-2064 e2055. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.059.

Featured Faculty

Brigitte N. Gomperts

Brigitte Gomperts, MD

BGomperts@mednet.ucla.edu

Affiliations/ Appointments/ Titles:
Vice Chief of Research for Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
Co-Director Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center – Cancer Stem Cell and Biology Program

Honors:
STOP Cancer Foundation award for Lung Cancer Research, Margaret E. Early award for cancer research, Ablon Scholar award for cancer research

Biographical sketch:
Dr. Brigitte Gomperts is Professor of Pediatrics and Pulmonary Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Gomperts earned her medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and completed her residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis/ St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She is a graduate of the Pediatric Scientist Development Program (PSDP). She co-directs the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Stem Cell Biology Program and is Vice Chief for research in the UCLA division of pediatric hematology/oncology. She treats young children with cancer and blood diseases. Observing the side effects that chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplant had on her patients’ lungs, Gomperts became interested in lung repair and regeneration. Her scientific research focuses on repair and regeneration of the lungs, and how the normal repair mechanisms are altered in lung diseases. She is particularly interested in stem/progenitor cell populations in the lungs and determining the regeneration potential of each of these subpopulations in order to better understand repair and the possibility of cell-based therapies for lung diseases. Her lab is using novel bioengineered models to understand repair and regeneration in the proximal and distal lung and has expertise in adult stem cell models of lung diseases and patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell lung disease modeling and high throughput drug screening. The ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to develop novel targeted therapies and prevention strategies for lung diseases. Major areas of interest include lung fibrosis, mucociliary clearance, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and premalignant lesions with stepwise progression to lung cancer. As a physician-scientist, her lab is particularly interested in translational research that will result in new therapies for lung diseases.

Because of the lung’s complexity, growing lung cells in two-dimensions in the laboratory doesn’t always provide a clear picture of lung disease. To overcome this challenge, Gomperts’ lab uses stem cells to create three-dimensional lung-like organoids that mimic the air sac structures of actual lungs. Gomperts and her team were the first to create these lung-like organoids, which represent the initial steps toward generating patient-specific transplantable lung tissue in the future. In the meantime, the organoids are useful for disease-in-a-dish modeling, high-throughput drug screening and testing for compounds that could be toxic to the lungs. Gomperts’ lab is using these three-dimensional lung organoids to study idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, a chronic lung scarring disease that makes the lungs thick and stiff, resulting in shortness of breath and lack of oxygen to the brain and vital organs. Gomperts and her team are also using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patients with IPF grown on hydrogels to create disease-in-a-dish models of fibrosis to study the nature of the disease and identify compounds that may prevent or reverse fibrosis. Gomperts’ research also focuses on understanding the tissue-specific stem cells of the epithelium of the upper airways, the layer of cells that are directly in contact with environment and that we breathe in. Gomperts hopes that a better understanding of the molecular processes behind self-renewal of these cells will lead to methods to prevent lung cancer and breathing problems.

Featured Student

Justin Lee

Justin Lee

justinlee@mednet.ucla.edu

Current level:
PhD3 (2020-2021)

Undergraduate institution:
Johns Hopkins University

Research interest:
Synthetic Biology, Cellular Engineering, Immunotherapy

Current lab:
Shapiro Lab (Caltech)

Recent awards:
2020 PD Soros Fellow 

Featured Faculty

Mikhail Shapiro, PhD

Mikhail Shapiro, PhD

mikhail@caltech.edu

Affiliations/ Appointments/ Titles:
Professor of Chemical Engineering
Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute

Biographical sketch:
Mikhail Shapiro is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and an Investigator of the Heritage Medical Research Institute at Caltech. He received his PhD in Biological Engineering from MIT and his BSc in Neuroscience from Brown and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Miller Fellow. The Shapiro laboratory develops biomolecular technologies allowing cells to be imaged and controlled inside the body using sound waves and magnetic fields, to enable the study of biological function in vivo and the development of cell-based diagnostic and therapeutic agents. Mikhail has been awarded the Packard Fellowship, the Pew Scholarship, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Burroughs Welcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface, the DARPA Young Faculty Award and Director’s Fellowship, the Sontag Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award, the Roger Tsien Award for Excellence in Chemical Biology, the Vilcek Prize and the Technology Review TR35 award for top innovators under age 35. More information about the Shapiro Lab can be found online at shapirolab.caltech.edu.

Featured Student

Richard Morgan, PhD

rmorgan@mednet.ucla.edu

Current level:
MD3 (2019-2020)

Undergraduate institution:
California State University, Northridge

Research interest:
Molecular and Medical Pharmacology

Current lab:
Don Kohn, MD, PhD

Dissertation title:
Gene Therapy Vectors for Sickle Cell Disease

Featured Faculty

Donald B. Kohn, MD

dkohn@mednet.ucla.edu

Titles:
Donald B. Kohn, MD
Distinguished Professor

Professor, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, Pediatrics (Hematology/Oncology), Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, Member: Eli & Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Research, Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC), UCLA Chrildren’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, Immunity, Microbes & Molecular Pathogenesis GPD Home Area, Molecular Pharmacology GPB Home Area, Genetics & Genomics GPB Home ARea, Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Blood and Marrow Transpant Center, CTSI, Pilot and Collaborative Translational Clinical Studies Program

Honors:
Dr. Donald B. Kohn was the President of the American Society for Gene Therapy (2003-2004) and ws the recipient of an Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award from the Pedicatric AIDS Foundation and a Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Donald B. Kohn earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and his medical degree in 1982 from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. He completed a pediatric internship and residency in Wisonsin followed by a medical staff fellowship in the Lymphoid Malignancies Branch (formerly the Metabolism Branch) of the National Cancer Institute. He began working on gene therapy as a fellow at the National Institute of Health in 1985. He was at Children’s hospital Los Angeles, USC Keck School of Medicine for 21 years, where he rose to the rank of Professor and sered as the Head of the Division of Research Immunology/Bone Marrow Transplantation from 2002-2009. His research program studies gene therapy using hematopoietic stem cells, performing basic studies of gene trasfer and expression and translating these finding to clinical trials of gene therapy for congenital immunie deficiencies and pediatric AIDS. Website