Mai Abdusamad - MS1
Alma Mater:
Research Interests:
Cancer, genetics, drug resistance, translational medicine

About Mai:
Mai grew up in Portland, OR. She graduated from UCLA with a major in biochemistry and a minor in biomedical research. At UCLA, she developed an interest in cancer biology while working in the lab of Dr. Jorge Torres where she characterized the role of a novel protein in cell division and its implications in cancer. After graduation, Mai joined the Broad Institute as a research associate and Broad Cancer Genomics Scholar in the lab of Dr. Todd Golub. At the Broad, Mai worked on multiple projects that contribute to the generation of a Cancer Dependency Map—a comprehensive preclinical reference map linking genetic features of cancers to vulnerabilities to identify targets for therapeutic discovery. Outside of the lab, Mai enjoys hiking and watching foreign dramas.


Enache O.M.*, Rendo V.*, Abdusamad M., Lam D., Davison D., Pal S., Currimjee N., Hess J., Sanson K., Pantel S., Nag A., Thorner A., Root D., Doench J.G., Vazquez F., Beroukhim R., Golub T.R., and Ben-David U. Cas9 activates the p53 pathway and selects for p53-inactivating mutations. Nature Genetics (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41588-020-0623-4.

Cohen-Sharir Y., McFarland J., Abdusamad M., Marquis C., Tang H., Ippolito M.R., Bernhard S.V., Laue K., Malaby H.L.H, Jones A., Kazachkova M., Lyons N., Nagaraja A., Bass A.J., Beroukhim R., Santaguida S., Stumpff S., Golub T.R., Storchova Z., and Ben-David U. Selective vulnerability of aneuploid human cancer cells to inhibition of the spindle assembly checkpoint. BioRxiv (2020). doi: 10.1101/2020.06.18.159038.

Gholkar A.A., Schmollinger S., Velasquez E.F., Lo Y.C., Cohn W., Capri J., Dharmarajan H., Deardorff W.J., Gao L.W., Abdusamad M. Whitelegge J.P., and Torres J.Z. Regulation of Iron Homeostasis Through Parkin-mediated Lactoferrin Ubiquitylation. ACS Biochemistry (2020). doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.0c00504.

Please refer to my LinkedIn Profile for more information.

John Paul Aboubechara, Ph.D. – MS3
Alma Mater:
UC Davis
Thesis Advisor:
Kimberley McAllister, Ph.D.
MD/PhD Advisor: Kuang-Yu Jen, M.D., Ph.D.
Graduate Group: Neuroscience

About John Paul Aboubechara:
John Paul completed his Ph.D. studying the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptogenesis, and immune factors that modulate this process. He also made use of a mouse model of Maternal Immune Activation to investigate the mechanisms by which infection during pregnancy increases the susceptibility of offspring to the development of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. He is currently exploring multiple clinical specialties during his medical school clerkships. Long term, he plans to practice in academia, wherein he will be a physician, scientist, and educator, while also doing his part to advance healthcare, science, and scientific literacy. Outside of school, he enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and dog, as well as sports, music, outdoor adventures, and traveling. 

Selected Publications and Posters:

Aboubechara, JP. PhD Dissertation, “Alterations in synaptic and immune molecules in a mouse model of maternal immune activation” UC Davis Neuroscience PhD Program. 2020.

Estes ML, Prendergast K, MacMahon JA, Cameron SC, Aboubechara JP, et al. Baseline immunoreactivity before pregnancy and poly(I:C) dose combine to dictate susceptibility and resilience of offspring to maternal immune activation. Brain Behav Immun. 2020.

Canales CP, Estes M, Cichewicz K, Angara K, Aboubechara JP, et al. A temporal map of maternal immune activation-induced changes reveals a shift in neurodevelopmental timing and perturbed cortical development in mice. BioRxiv. 2020.

Cameron S, Estes M, Aboubechara JP, Gandal M, Van der List K, Farrelly K, Martinez-Horta A, Kincheloe G, MacMahon J, Haapanen L, Van de Water J, Carter CS, Schumann CM, Bauman MD, Geschwind D, and McAllister AK. Synaptic and Immune Molecule Expression in the Developing Brain in a Mouse and Non-Human Primate Model of Maternal Immune Activation. Society for Neuroscience poster session. 2018.

Prendergast K, Estes M, Farrelly K, Van der List D, Cameron S, Aboubechara JP, Martinez-Horta A, Kincheloe G, MacMahon J, Haapanen L, Bauman MD, Carter CS, Van de Water J, and McAllister AK. Baseline Immune Response and Poly(I:C) Dose Interact to Cause Behavioral and Biological Phenotypes in Offspring Following Maternal Immune Activation. Society for Neuroscience poster session. 2018.

Canales CP, Estes M, Zdilar I, Su-Feher L, Van der List D, Cameron S, Aboubechara JP, Catta-Preta R, Lim K, Stradleigh T, Haapanen L, Farrelly K, Van de Water J, McAllister AK, and Nord AS. Prenatal Gene Networks Are Altered By Maternal Immune Activation. Society for Neuroscience poster session. 2018.

Hosein R and Aboubechara JP. Prohibition of Electronic Cigarette Marketing and Advertising. California Medical Association Policy. December 7, 2014.

Sano E, Maisnier-Patin S, Aboubechara JP, Quinones-Soto S, and Roth JR. Plasmid copy number underlies adaptive mutability in bacteria. Genetics. August 29, 2014.

Wettstein Z, Aboubechara JP et al. Support for Nutrition Label Revision and FDA Review of Added Sugars American Medical Association Policy. June 9, 2014.

Recent Awards/Honors

Ruth Werner Jacobsen Fellowship; Daniel T. O’Connor, M.D. Memorial Research Grant; Graduate Scholars Fellowship; Neuroscience Graduate Program T32 Fellowship; Medical Student Research Fellowship.

Please refer to my LinkedIn Profile for more information

Brendan Cohn-Sheehy – GS4
Alma Mater:
University of California, Berkeley
Thesis Advisor: Charan Ranganath
MD/PhD Advisor: Michael Rogawski
Graduate Group: Neuroscience

About Brendan Cohn-Sheehy:
Brendan is a native Californian from Santa Monica who spent 7 pre-medical years in the East Bay Area, completing a B.A. in Psychology with Honors at UC Berkeley and human cognitive and neuroimaging research at UC Berkeley and UCSF. Brendan has been fascinated by the human brain, how it works, and how to treat its diseases, since first witnessing neurodegeneration in his grandparents at the age of 10. His eventual goal is to become an academic behavioral neurologist with clinical, research, and teaching responsibilities, along which path he has had the privilege of learning from engaged mentors, supportive peers and colleagues, and now the diverse, welcoming community of UC Davis. He was the 2015-2016 President of the Neurology Student Interest Group (SIG). He entered the Neuroscience Graduate Group in 2017, at which time he was awarded a Floyd and Mary Schwall Medical Research Fellowship. With the inestimable support of his PhD advisor, Charan Ranganath (, who directs the UC Davis Memory and Plasticity Program (, Brendan is currently investigating the behavioral and neural underpinnings of memory for complex real-life experiences, in order to advance our understanding of how networks of brain regions support memory, and to eventually translate this basic understanding into better diagnosis and treatment of pre-symptomatic Alzheimer's disease. Aside from following his academic bliss, Brendan helps organize the neuroscience-focused Seminar Outreach for Minority Advocacy series (SOMA), and he regularly composes music and fiction.

Selected Publications:

Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Ranganath, C. (2017). Time regained: how the human brain constructs memory for time. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 17, 169-177. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.08.005

Gardner RC, Possin KL, Hess CP, Huang EJ, Grinberg LT, Nolan AL, Cohn-Sheehy BI, Ghosh PM, Lanata S, Merrilees J, Kramer JH, Berger MS, Miller BL, Yaffe K, Rabinovici GD. (2015.) Evaluating and treating neurobehavioral symptoms in professional American football players: Lessons from a case series. Neurol Clin Pract.

Ossenkoppele, R., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., La Joie, R., Vogel, J.W., Moller, C., Lehmann, M., van Berckel, B.N.M., Seeley, W.W., Pijnenburg, Y.A., Gorno-Tempini, M.L., Kramer, J.H., Barkhof, F., Rosen, H.J., van der Flier, W.M., Jagust, W.J., Miller, B.L., Scheltens, P., Rabinovici, G.D. (2015). Atrophy patterns in early clinical stages across distinct phenotypes of Alzheimer’s disease. Human Brain Mapping, doi:10.1002/hbm.22927.

Ossenkoppele, R., Pijnenburg, Y.A., Perry, D.C., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Scheltens, N.M., Vogel, J.W., Kramer, J.H., van der Vlies, A.E., La Joie, R., Rosen, H.J., van der Flier, W.M., Grinberg, L.T., Rozemuller, A.J., Huang, E.J., van Berckel, B.N., Miller, B.L., Barkhof, F., Jagust, W.J., Scheltens, P., Seeley, W.W., Rabinovici, G.D. (2015). The behavioural/dysexecutive variant of Alzheimer's disease: clinical, neuroimaging and pathological features. Brain 138(9), 2732-49.

Villeneuve, S., Rabinovici, G.D., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Madison, C.M., Ayakta, N., Ghosh, P.M, La Joie, R., Arthur-Bentil, S.K., Vogel, J.W., Marks, S.M., Lehmann, M., Rosen, H.J., Reed, B., Olichney, J., Boxer, A.L., Miller, B.L., Borys, E., Jin, L.W., Huang, E.J., Grinberg, L.T., DeCarli, C., Seeley, W.W., Jagust, W.J. (2015). Existing Pittsburgh Compound B–positron emission tomography thresholds are too high: statistical and pathological evaluation. Brain 138(7), 2020-33.

Gardner, R.C., Hess, C.P., Brus-Ramer, M., Possin, K.L., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Kramer, J.H., Berger, M.S., Yaffe, K., Miller, B., Rabinovici, G.D. (2015). Cavum septum pellucidum in retired American pro-football players. J Neurotrauma, doi:10.1089/neu.2014.3805.

Gardner, R.C., Possin, K.L., Hess, C.P., Huang, E.J., Grinberg, L.T., Nolan, A.L., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Ghosh, P.M., Lanata, S., Merrilees, J., Kramer, J.H., Berger, M.S., Miller, B.L., Yaffe, K., Rabinovici, G.D. (2015). Evaluating and treating neurobehavioral symptoms in professional American football players: lessons from a case series. Neurology Clinical Practice 5(4), 285-295.

Shimamura, A.P., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Pogue, Brianna L., Shimamura, T.A. (2015). How attention is driven by film edits: a multimodal experience. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, doi:10.1037/aca0000025.

Shimamura, A.P., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Shimamura, T.A. (2014). Perceiving movement across film edits: A psychocinematic analysis. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 8(1), 77-80.

Elman, J.A., Rosner, Z.A., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Cerreta, A.G., Shimamura, A.P. (2013). Dynamic changes in parietal activation during encoding: implications for human learning and memory. NeuroImage 82C, 44-52.

Elman, J.A., Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Shimamura, A.P. (2012). Dissociable parietal regions facilitate successful retrieval of recently learned and personally familiar information. Neuropsychologia 51, 573-583.

Schoen, G., Bateman, M., & Cohn-Sheehy, B. (2012, 2013, 2014). Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul (Volume 1, 2, 3).

Selected Talks and Posters:

Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Ranganath, C. Recalling Lifelike Events in the Context of Coherent Narratives. Poster, Context and Episodic Memory Symposium: Philadelphia, May 2018.

Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Ghosh, P.M., Villeneuve, S., Tammewar, G., Madison, C.M., Lehmann, M., Miller, B.M., Grinberg, L.T., Seeley, W.W., Rosen, H.J., Jagust, W.J., Rabinovici, G.D. Liberal Thresholds for PIB-Positivity Optimally Capture High-Burden Postmortem Amyloid Pathology. Talk, Human Amyloid Imaging Conference: Miami, January 2014.

Cohn-Sheehy, B.I., Ghosh, P.M., Wirth, M., Lehmann, M., Madison, C.M., Irwin, W.I., Miller, B.L., Jagust, W.J., Rosen, H.J., Rabinovici, G.D. Temporoparietal cortical thickness outperforms hippocampal volume as a biomarker for early-onset and atypical Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's Association International Conference: Boston, July 2013.

Undergraduate Honors Thesis: “Dissecting the Impact of Background Music on Concurrent Learning”

Gregory Disse, GS2
Alma Mater: UCLA (Neuroscience, French)
Thesis Advisor: Karen Moxon
Graduate Group: Neuroscience

About Greg:
Greg is interested in the field of neuroengineering, hoping to implement new technologies to treat various neurological conditions. In the Neuroscience Graduate Group, he is specifically studying how spinal cord injuries change the brain and how physical therapy and brain machine interface technologies can be used to improve functional outcomes. He is an avid runner and skier.

Awards: TL1 Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program Scholar Award (2020-2021)

Selected Abstracts and Publications:

Disse GD, Bobinski M, Lechpammer M, Steele TO, Shahlaie K. Ectopic Olfactory Neuroblastoma: A Case Report. Poster; North American Skull Base Society Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX. February 2020.

Monzon RA, Coury JG, Disse GD, Lum ZC. Bone Cement in Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty. JBJS Rev. 2019;7(12):e6.

Izadi A, Ondek K, Schedlbauer A, Hsu E, Disse G, Shahlaie K, Gurkoff G. Stimulation of the medial septal nucleus reduces interictal spikes, entrains oscillations, and improves object learning in epileptic rats. Poster presentation at Annual American Epilepsy Society Meeting, New Orleans, LA, December 2018.

Hunter AM, Cook IA, Tartter M, Sharma SK, Disse GD, Leuchter AF. Antidepressant treatment history and drug-placebo separation in a placebo-controlled trial in major depressive disorder. Psychopharmacology. 2015; 232(20):3833-40.

Ariel Jacobi, GS2
Alma Mater:
B.A. in Biochemistry, University of Pennsylvania, 2016
M.S. in Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, 2016

About Ariel:
Originally from the East Bay, Ariel Jacobi studied the effects of D-serine on the NMDA receptor and associated proteins at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After graduating, she spent a year studying the reptilian brain in Gilles Laurent’s lab at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany. In her free time, she enjoys learning new languages and playing the piano.

Research Interests: Biochemistry of the brain, NMDA receptors, and psychiatric illnesses


Tosches MA*, Yamawaki TM*, Naumann RK, Jacobi AA, Tushev G, and Laurent G. Evolution of pallium, hippocampus, and cortical cell types revealed by single-cell transcriptomics in reptiles. Science 360, 881–888 (2018).

Lin H, Jacobi AA, Anderson SA and Lynch DR. D-serine and serine racemase are associated with PSD-95 and glutamatergic synapse stability. Front Cell Neurosci, 10:34. 2016.

Catherine Le – MS3
Alma Mater:
Stanford University
Thesis Advisor:
William Murphy
MD/PhD Advisor: David Pleasure
Graduate Group: Immunology

About Catherine:
Catherine Le is from San Jose, CA.  At UC Davis School of Medicine, she is exploring her interest in immunology and cancer biology research in the lab of Dr. William J. Murphy.  Her dissertation work is focusing on the impact of human modifying factors on the biology of programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) on T cell function, activation, and maintenance.

 She has completed her pre-clinical years at UC Davis School of Medicine and acted as Co-Director of Joan Viteri Memorial Clinic's Women's Clinic, where she was working on improving outreach, health education, and impact for the clinic's target population. She earned an Alpha Omega Alpha Grant to better understand the needs and priorities of the patient population at JVMC.

She graduated from Stanford University with Distinction with a Biology, B.S., and minor in English literature. In between college and medical school, she completed research as a junior specialist in the McDonald Lab at UCSF studying vascular remodeling in chronic inflammation. She enjoys trying new food, adventure biking, and reading on the latest news in immunology.


Le CT, Khuat LT, Caryotakis S, Wang M, Dunai C, Nguyen AV, Vick L, Stoffel KS, Blazar B, Monjazeb AM, Murphy WJ, and Soulika A. PD-1 blockade reverses obesity-mediated T-cell priming impairment. Frontiers in Immunology. 2020 October; 11:590568. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.590568

Wang Z, Aguilar EG, Luna JI, Dunai C, Khuat LT, Le CT, Mirsoian A, Minnar CM, Stoffel KM, Sturgill IR, Grossenbacher SK, Withers SS, Rebhun RB, Hartigan-O'Connor DJ, Méndez-Lagares G, Tarantal AF, Isseroff RR, Griffith TS, Schalper KA, Merleev A, Saha A, Maverakis E, Kelly K, Aljumaily R, Ibrahimi S, Mukherjee S, Machiorlatti M, Vesely SK, Longo DL, Blazar BR, Canter RJ, Murphy WJ, and Monjazeb AM. Paradoxical effects of obesity on T cell function during tumor progression and PD-1 checkpoint blockade. Nature Medicine. 2018, 25(1):141-151.

Canter, R., Le, C.T., Beerthuijzen, J.M.T., and W.J. Murphy. The Impact of Obesity as an Immune-Modifying Factor in Cancer Immunotherapy. The Journal of Leukocyte Biology. 2018, 104(3):487-497.

Martinez-Cerdeno, M., Barrilleaux, B.L., McDonough, A., Jeanelle, A., Yuen B.T.K., Somanath, P., Le, C.T., Steward, C., Horton-Sparks, K., and P.S. Knoepfler. Behavior of xeno-transplanted undifferentiated human induced pluripotent stem cells is impacted by microenvironment without evidence of tumors. Stem Cells and Development. 2017.  26(19): 1409-1423.

Le CT, Laidlaw G, Morehouse CA, Naiman B, Brohawn P, Mustelin T, Connor JR, and McDonald DM. Synergistic actions of blocking angiopoietin-2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in suppressing remodeling of blood vessels and lymphatics in airway inflammation. The American Journal of Pathology. 2015, 185(11):2949-68.

Raymond WW, Xu X, Nimishakavi S, Le C, McDonald DM, and Caughey GH. Regulation of hepatocyte growth factor in mice with pneumonia by peptidases and trans-alveolar flux. PLoS One. 2015; 10(5).

2019                            UC Davis Dermatology Presentation Award

2019                            UC Davis Graduate Student Travel Award 

2019                            AAI Immunology 2019 Trainee Abstract Award

2018                            Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Nomination

2017-2018                   CTSC TL1 Pre-Doctoral Research Training Award

2015                            Alpha Omega Alpha Service Award (August 2015)

2015                            First Lady Helen Lemieux Internship Award (June 2015-July 2015):

Selected Oral Presentations:

Le CT, Dunai C, Khuat LT, and Murphy WJ. PD-1 regulates response to bystander activation of memory CD8 T cells. AAI Immunology 2019 Conference. May 2019.

Le CT, Dunai C, Khuat LT, and Murphy WJ. PD-1 regulates response to bystander activation of memory CD8 T cells. UC Davis Dermatology Research Symposium. May 2019.

Selected Poster Presentation:

Le CT, Khuat LT, Dunai C, Soulika A, and Murphy WJ. Diet-induced obesity impairs induction of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelities and is restored by PD-1 blockade. AAI Immunology 2018 Conference. May 2018.

Le CT, Khuat LT, Dunai C, Soulika A, and Murphy WJ. Diet-induced obesity impairs induction of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelities and is restored by PD-1 blockade. Midwinter Conference of Immunologists. January 2018.

Le CT, Somanath P, Martinez-Cerdeno V, and Knoepfler PS.  qPCR of Human ERV3 and Mouse GAPDH in mouse brains transplanted with human iPS cells. UC Davis Poster Day. March 2016.

Haber H, Conlon CE, Opsichuk ND, Salcedo MC, and Le CT. JVMC Women’s Clinic Outreach Initiative. Alpha Omega Alpha AOAle Brew Benefit. February 2016.

Ruth Lee, MS2

Alma Mater: B.S. at UC Davis – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major + Psychology minor
M.S. at UC Davis – Molecular, Cellular, & Integrative Physiology
Thesis advisor: Dr. Heike Wulff, PhD
MD/PhD advisor: Dr. Bennett Penn, MD, PhD
Graduate Group: Molecular, Cellular, & Integrative Physiology

About Ruth:

Ruth is a proud UC Davis alum and is continuing to work on her trifecta/quadfecta as an Aggie. For her PhD, she is studying the roles ion channels play in brain-related injuries/disorders (i.e., stroke, neurodegeneration) with Dr. Heike Wulff. Ruth is also working on a start-up with her team, where we aim bring a novel detector for neurodegeneration to market.

Research interests: Translational medicine, neurodegeneration, aging, inflammation, therapeutics

Monica K. Lieng – MS3
Alma Mater: Juniata College
Thesis Advisors: James Marcin, M.D., M.P.H.
MD/PhD Advisor: Nick Kenyon, M.D., M.A.S.
Graduate Group: Epidemiology

About Monica:
Monica is fascinated by the interface of information technology and medicine. Her dissertation work focuses on evaluating transitions in care from generalists to specialists and studying changes in provider communication associated with telemedicine. In addition, her research interests include evaluating the impact of telemedicine on medically underserved patient populations as well as clinical data analysis and visualization. Monica is grateful for camaraderie, mentorship and opportunities at UC Davis.

Monica graduated from Juniata College with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Studio Art and Spanish. During the pre-clinical years in medical school, she served as a Co-Director of Flu Crew and Knights Landing One Health Clinic. Monica derives much joy from mentoring premedical and pre-graduate students. In her spare time, Monica enjoys exploring new places with her family, creating art, trying new fitness trends and run-walking.

For more information/expanded CV, please see Monica’s Github website.

Dissertation: "Evaluation of Telemedicine to Facilitate Care Transitions between Generalists to Specialists"

Awards: University of California Office of the President Dissertation Year Fellowship, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Dissertation Fellowship, TL1 Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program Scholar Award

Selected Publications:

Kim, C.H., Lieng, M.K., Rylee, T.L., Gee, K.A., Marcin, J.P., Melnikow, J.A. “School-Based Telemedicine Interventions for Asthma: A Systematic Review.” Academic Pediatrics 0, no. 0 (May 21, 2020).

Lieng, M.K., Siefkes, H.M., Rosenthal, J.L., Sauers-Ford, H.S., Mouzoon, J.L., Sigal, I.L., Dayal, P., Chen, S.T., McBeth, C.L., Dial, S.D., Dizon, G., Dannewitz, H.E., Kozycz, K., Jennings-Hill, T.L., Martinson, J.M., Huerta, J.K., Pons, E.A., Vance, N., Warnock, B.N., Marcin, J.P. Telemedicine for Interfacility Nurse Handoffs*. Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. 2019;20(9):832.

Rosenthal, J.L., Lieng, M.K., Marcin, J.P., Romano, P.S. Profiling Pediatric Potentially Avoidable Transfers Using Procedure and Diagnosis Codes: Pediatric Emergency Care. March 2019:1.

Ariana Moghbel – MS2 
Alma Mater: UC Berkeley
MD/PhD Advisor: Dr. Colleen Clancy, Ph.D.
Research Interests: computational neuroscience, brain-computer interface, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury

About Ariana:
Ariana’s research background is in the area of traumatic brain injury and astrocytic inflammatory pathways associated with blood-brain barrier perturbation. She completed her thesis research under the guidance of Dr. Helen Bateup (UC Berkeley), investigating novel treatments for tuberous sclerosis complex-related cortical abnormalities. Outside of the lab, she enjoys poetry, speculative fiction, and critical theory. 

Dhiraj Nallapothula – MS1
Alma Mater: UCLA, 2019
Research Interests: Basic and translational immunology and autoimmunity, social determinants of health in precision medicine

About Dhiraj:
Dhiraj is a first year in the MD/PhD program and loves immunology. His primary interest is in investigating autoimmune diseases but is open to anything related to immunology, including host-pathogen immunology.  Dhiraj investigated sex bias in lupus and semi-invariant T cell biology in the Autoimmunity and Tolerance Laboratory run by Dr. Ram Raj Singh at UCLA. He hopes to continue investigating autoimmune diseases at the basic and translational levels during his training. Dhiraj is also passionate about studying how the social determinants of health can be integrated into precision medicine and hopes to get involved in this work through the UC Davis Center for Precision Medicine and Data Sciences. Dhiraj is also interested in teaching and hopes to find teaching opportunities throughout his training.

Dhiraj is an avid sports fan and loves his hometown Bay Area sports teams, having grown up in San Jose. Dhiraj also loves to run, hike, camp, and try out new restaurants (when there isn’t a pandemic). He also loves reading sci-fi short stories, long form journalism, struggles through the New York Times Crossword, and will never part ways with his HBO subscription.


Self-glycerophospholipids activate murine phospholipid-reactive T cells and inhibit iNKT cell activation by competing with ligands for CD1d loading.
Halder RC, Tran C, Prasad P, Wang J, Nallapothula D, Ishikawa T, Wang M, Zajonc DM, Singh RR. Eur J Immunol. 2019 Feb;49(2):242-254. doi: 10.1002/eji.201847717. Epub 2018 Dec 18.PMID: 30508304 

M-LoCUS: A Scalable Intervention Enhances Growth Mindset and Internal Locus of Control in Undergraduate Students in STEM.
Nallapothula D, Lozano JB, Han S, Herrera C, Sayson HW, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Maloy J. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2020 May 29;21(2):21.2.46. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v21i2.1987. eCollection 2020.PMID: 32528611 

Heparin and aspirin combination therapy restores T-cell phenotype in pregnant patients with antiphospholipid syndrome-related recurrent pregnancy loss.
Wang M, Zhang P, Yu S, Zhou G, Lv J, Nallapothula D, Guo C, Wang Q, Singh RR. Clin Immunol. 2019 Nov;208:108259. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2019.108259. Epub 2019 Sep 9.PMID: 31513884 Clinical Trial.

Potential utility of anti-TNF drugs in synovial chondromatosis associated with ankylosing spondylitis.
Yu S, Wu M, Zhou G, Ishikawa T, Liang J, Nallapothula D, Singh RR, Wang Q, Wang M. Int J Rheum Dis. 2019 Nov;22(11):2073-2079. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.13734. Epub 2019 Oct 24.PMID: 31647182 Review.

David Perekopskiy – MS1
Alma Mater: CSUS, 2018
Research Interests:  Pain, neuroscience, addiction, and neuropharmacology  

About David:
David was born and raised in Sacramento, CA.  He studied at California State University, Sacramento where he graduated with a degree in biochemistry.  After graduating he worked at the National Institute on Drug Abuse under Dr. Eugene A. Kiyatkin in the Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch. There David used in-vivo methods to analyze fluctuations in brain oxygen levels induced by opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone. 


Thomas SA, Perekopskiy D, Kiyatkin EA. Cocaine added to heroin fails to affect heroin-induced brain hypoxia. Brain Res. 2020 Nov 1;1746:147008. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2020.147008.  
Bossert JM, Kiyatkin EA, Korah H, Hoots JK, Afzal A, Perekopskiy D, Thomas S, Fredriksson I, Blough BE, Negus SS, Epstein DH, Shaham Y. In a Rat Model of Opioid Maintenance, the G Protein-Biased Mu Opioid Receptor Agonist TRV130 Decreases Relapse to Oxycodone Seeking and Taking and Prevents Oxycodone-Induced Brain Hypoxia. Biol Psychiatry. 2020 Feb 24:S0006-3223(20)30103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.02.014.  
Perekopskiy D, Afzal A, Jackson SN, Muller L, Woods AS, Kiyatkin EA. The Role of Peripheral Opioid Receptors in Triggering Heroin-induced Brain Hypoxia. Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 21;10(1):833. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-57768-3. 
Perekopskiy D, Kiyatkin EA. 6-Monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM), Not Morphine, Is Responsible for the Rapid Neural Effects Induced by Intravenous Heroin. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2019 Aug 21;10(8):3409-3414. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00305.  



Mohammad Pourhosseinzadeh – MS2
Alma Mater: B.S. at UC Davis – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
MD/PhD Advisor: Dr. Luis Fernando Santana, Ph.D.
Research Interests: computational neuroscience, brain-computer interface, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury

About Mohammad:
Mohammad was born and raised in the Greater Sacramento region and received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Davis. As an undergraduate he worked as a research assistant in Dr. Neil Hunter’s lab studying the molecular mechanisms of meiotic recombination in budding yeast. After graduating, Mohammad joined Dr. Mark Huising’s lab as a junior specialist, where he studied the mechanisms of pancreatic delta cell function. He enjoys baking and watching Netflix in his spare time.    

Niraj Punjya - GS2
Alma Mater: B.S. 2015. Stanford University (Biology)
Thesis Advisor: Dr. David Segal, Dr. Kyle Fink
MD/PhD Advisor: Dr. Brian Jonas
Graduate Group: Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (BMCDB)

Niraj Punjya’s research interests include using gene therapies to treat genetic disorders. At UC Davis, he works with Dr. David Segal and Dr. Kyle Fink to study 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (DiGeorge syndrome) using CRISPR activation technologies to upregulate the deleted genes characterizing the disorder. His previous research experiences involved developing gene­editing technologies to study myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) in the Porteus lab at Stanford University. He is fascinated with the field of genome engineering and its promise to bring these technologies into a clinical setting to treat genetic diseases.


Pavel-Dinu M, Wiebking V, Dejene BT, Srifa W, Mantri S, Nicolas CE, Lee C, Bao G, Kildebeck EJ, Punjya N, Sindhu C, Inlay MA, Saxena N, DeRavin SS, Malech H, Roncarolo MG, Weinberg KI, Porteus MH. Gene correction for SCID-X1 in long-term hematopoietic stem cells. Nat Commun. 2019;10(1):1634. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-09614-y

Hendel A, Kildebeck EJ, Fine EJ, Clark J, Punjya N, Sebastiano V, Bao G, Porteus MH. Quantifying genome-editing outcomes at endogenous loci with SMRT sequencing. Cell Rep. 2014;7:293-305. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.02.040

Huang NF, Okogbaa J, Lee JC, Jha A, Zaitseva TS, Paukshto MV, Sun JS2, Punjya N, Fuller GG, Cooke JP. The modulation of endothelial cell morphology, function, and survival using anisotropic nanofibrillar collagen scaffolds. Biomaterials. 2013;34(16):4038-4047. doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.02.036

Anna SadovnikovaGS3, IBCLC, MPH, MA, is a mammary gland biology and breastfeeding medicine trainee in the Hovey Lab.

Low milk production is one of the main reasons mothers stop breastfeeding. She joined the Hovey Lab because she wanted to build upon the research skills she gained in public health and social entrepreneurship to become a leading physician-scientist in the lactation field. Through her doctoral work, Anna will develop research expertise in comparative mammary gland biology, specifically in the genetic regulation of milk production.

During her dual-masters, Anna focused on international human donor milk banking policies and practices. Anna is the CEO of LiquidGoldConcept, a company specializing in simulation-based training of healthcare professionals in clinical lactation and maternal-child care.  


NIH NICHD 1F30HD101295, 2020-

NIH NICHD SBIR Phase 1, awarded to LiquidGoldConcept, 1R43HD 103530-01, 2020-

Daniel T. O’Connor, M.D., Memorial Research Grant 2020

Henry A. Jastro Graduate Research Award, 2018, 2019 

1st place, Oral Presentation, Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology Symposium, 2018

UC Davis Clinical Translational Sciences Center TL1 Scholar, 2018-2019
UC Davis Keller Pathways Fellow, 2015-2016

Publications and selected abstracts

Anderson, O, Weirach, K, Roper, R, Phillips, J, Chuisano, A, McCabe, C, Sadovnikova, A. The Efficacy of Hybrid Telesimulation with Standardized Patients in Teaching  Medical Students  Clinical Lactation Skills: A Pilot Study. Breastfeeding Medicine. (Accepted December 2020)

Anderson OS, McCabe CF, Chuisano SA, Wicoff E, Grabowski A, Sadovnikova A. Virtual Experiential Learning: A Description of an Internship Framework That Engages Students to Build Public Health Competencies. Pedagogy in Health Promotion 2020:2373379920977537.

Grabowski A, Anderson OS, Zielinski R, Scott M, Hammer L, Bassil M, Chuisano SA, Sadovnikova, A. Midwifery students better approximate their self-efficacy in clinical lactation after reflecting in and on their performance in the LactSim OSCE. Advances in Simulation 2020;5:28.

Sadovnikova A, Chuisano SA, Ma K, Grabowski A, Stanley KP, Mitchell KB, Eglash, A, Plott, J, Zielinski, R, Anderson, A. Development and evaluation of a high-fidelity lactation simulation model for health professional breastfeeding education. International Breastfeeding Journal 2020;15:8.

Sadovnikova A, Wysolmerski JJ, Hovey RC. Chapter 14 - The Onset and Maintenance of Human Lactation and its Endocrine Regulation. In: Kovacs CS, Deal CL, editors. Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Endocrinology, Academic Press; 2020, p. 189–205.

Sidhu S, Ma K, Sadovnikova A. Features and Educational Content Related to Milk Production in Breastfeeding Apps: Content Analysis Informed by Social Cognitive Theory. JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting 2019;2:e12364.

Ecoiffier T, Sadovnikova A, Yuen D, Chen L. Conjunctival Lymphatic Response to Corneal Inflammation in Mice. J Ophthalmol 2012;2012.

Yuen D, Leu R, Sadovnikova A, Chen L. Increased Lymphangiogenesis and Hemangiogenesis in Infant Cornea. Lymphat Res Biol 2011;9:109–14.

Selected Abstracts

Sadovnikova, A, Sommers, J, Oberhelman, S. Preliminary results from a survey of the pharmacologic, herbal, and nutritional galactagogue prescribing practices of physicians in the United States and Canada. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. November 2020. (Abstract)

Sadovnikova, A, Mathews, AT, Garcia, S, Trott, J, Hovey, RC. Effect of a single high dose of dexamethasone on milk production, composition, and mammary gland gene expression. American Dairy Science Association. Cincinnati, Ohio. June 23-26, 2019. (Abstract).

Sadovnikova, A. Chuisano, S., Ma, K., McQueer, B., Larson, S., Watkins, M., Anderson, O. Breastfeeding Training of Hospital Staff in the United States: A Nationwide Survey of “Step 2” Implementation in Baby-Friendly Hospitals. Abstracts from The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine 23rd Annual International Meeting San Francisco, California November 14–17, 2018. Breastfeeding Medicine 2018;13:S-1.

Sadovnikova A, Zielinski R, Anderson O, Hammer L, Scott M, Ma K, et al. A Mixed-Methods, Innovative Pilot Program to Assess the Impact of Teaching Midwifery Students Hands-On Breastfeeding Management Using a Lactation Simulation Model. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing 2018;47:S6.

Anderson OS, Connolly M, Sadovnikova A. Professional portfolio development in a nutrition capstone course to guide student self-regulated learning and curriculum assessment. The FASEB Journal 2017;31:975.3-975.3.


Annica Stull-Lane – GS4
Alma Mater:
Oberlin College
Thesis Advisor: Renee Tsolis
MD/PhD Advisor: Jay V. Solnick
Graduate Group:  Integrative Pathobiology

About Annica:
Annica is fascinated by our microbial world, from the commensal microbiome to pathogens of infectious disease. Microbiological laboratory research became her passion over time through work and research during her liberal arts education at Oberlin College, via a postbaccalaureate APHL/CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory Fellowship, and at a startup biotech position. Annica is excited to train at UC Davis, furthering this work that will guide her towards her career goal: to serve as a physician-scientist who heads an academic lab; teaches and mentors; and collaborates with scientists, physicians and patients. She is interested in studying infectious diseases of global and public health importance, elucidating molecular mechanisms of disease, and addressing complex health problems through the One Health approach. In the clinic, Annica values working with underserved populations, improving health outcomes through teamwork and dedication. Ultimately, she looks forward to collaborating with creative thinkers to alleviate health disparities through discovery. Apart from her clinical and research interests, Annica enjoys hiking, cooking, and singing.


Stull-Lane A, Lokken-Toyli KL, Diaz-Ochoa VE, Walker GT, Cevallos SA, Winter ALN, et al. Vitamin A supplementation boosts control of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella infection in malnourished mice. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2020;14(10).

Lokken KL, Stull-Lane A, Poels K, Tsolis RM. Malaria Parasite-Mediated Alteration of Macrophage Function and Increased Iron Availability Predispose to Disseminated Nontyphoidal Salmonella Infection. Infect Immun. 2018;86(9).

Delisle J, Mendell NL, Stull-Lane A, Bloch KC, Bouyer DH, Moncayo AC. Human Infections by Multiple Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiae in Tennessee. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2016;94(6):1212-7.

Baumblatt JA, Dunn JR, Schaffner W, Moncayo AC, Stull-Lane A, Jones TF. An outbreak of bed bug infestation in an office building. J Environ Health. 2014;76(8):16-8.

Patterson JL, Stull-Lane A, Girerd PH, Jefferson KK. Analysis of adherence, biofilm formation and cytotoxicity suggests a greater virulence potential of Gardnerella vaginalis relative to other bacterial-vaginosis-associated anaerobes. Microbiology. 2010;156(Pt 2):392-9.

Lillian Zhang – MS3
Alma Mater: UCLA
Thesis Advisor: Andreas Baumler
MD/PhD Advisor: Richard Harper
Graduate Group: Immunology


Rivera-Chavez F, Lopez CA, Zhang LF, Garcia-Pastor L, Chavez-Arroyo A, Lokken KL, Tsolis RM, Winter SE, Baumler AJ. Energy Taxis toward Host-Derived Nitrate Supports a Salmonella Pathogenicity Island 1-Independent Mechanism of Invasion. MBio. 2016 Jul 19:7(4): 443-54.

Rivera-Chavez F, Zhang LF, Faber F, Lopez CA, Byndloss MX, Olsan EE, Xu G, Velazquez EM, Lebrilla CB, Winter SE, Baumler AJ. Depletion of Butyrate-Producing Clostridia from the Gut Microbiota Drives an Aerobic Luminal Expansion of Salmonella. Cell Host Microbe. 2016 Apr 13;19(4):443-54.

Leung TH, Zhang LF, Wang J, Ning S, Knox SJ, Kim SK. Topical hypochlorite ameliorates NF-kB-mediated skin diseases in mice. J Clin Invest. 2013 Dec; 123(12):5361-70.

Leung TH , Zhang LF, Wang J, Ning S, Knox SJ, Kim SK.Topical hypochlorite ameliorates NF-κB-mediated skin diseases in mice. J Clin Invest. 2013.

Chan CK, Lindau P, Jiang W, Chen JY, Zhang LF, Chen CC, Seita J, Sahoo D, Kim JB, Lee A, Park S, Nag D, Gong Y, Kulkarni S, Luppen CA, Theologis AA, Wan DC, DeBoer A, Seo EY, Vincent-Tompkins JD, Loh K, Walmsley GG, Kraft DL, Wu JC, Longaker MT, Weissman IL. Clonal precursor of bone, cartilage, and hematopoietic niche stromal cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013.