Mentor Biographies and Information

Students are paired with one, or occasionally two, mentors for the duration of the summer. 

While students do not select their mentor for the summer, they may express preference for a particular mentor within the application form. Program leadership will attempt to match mentors with students based on interests expressed in their programmatic application. Please note that while many mentors participate in the program every year, some change yearly. 

Faculty Name and Department

Area of Research

Tariq Ahmad, MD


Tariq Ahmad is an expert in pediatric endocrinology at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, focusing on hormone disorders involving the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal gland, and skeleton. He also manages problems with growth and pubertal development as well as conditions related to diabetes. He has published research on pituitary disorders in children with optic nerve hypoplasia and has presented at several international conferences on both endocrine and diabetes topics. His more recent research has focused on the prevalence of endocrinopathies in those with transfusion dependent beta thalassemia.

Anu Agrawal, MD






Dr. Agrawal is the Medical Director for the Inpatient service for Hematology/Oncology at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. He is a committed teacher and mentor and has received several teaching awards. He is the PI on the development of novel therapeutics in pediatric oncology. He is also CoI in a multicenter trial with Seattle Children’s Hospital for the development of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy for relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He is currently coordinating several prospective trials in this region including early discharge in low-risk, febrile neutropenic patients, utilization of low- dose ketamine infusion for end-of-life cancer pain, and utilization of virtual reality technology for easier insertion of vascular access ports.

Lela BachRach, MD MS
Adolescent Medicine

Dr. Bachrach is a physician scientist within the department of adolescent medicine at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland an Assistant Clinical Professor at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on access to care, violence prevention and education of adolescents from underserved populations.

Felicia Chow, MD
Neuro-Infectious Disease


Dr. Felicia Chow is a pediatric neurologist and the Director of the NeuroInfectious Disease Clinic at UCSF who specializes in caring for patients with a wide range of neurological infections. These include brain abscesses, neurocysticercosi, neurosyphilis and other neurological complications of HIV. Dr. Chow's research focuses on studying specific populations with regard to which people develop nervous system infections and neurological complications of infectious diseases. Her goal is to develop and implement diagnostic tools and interventions to improve outcomes for patients with these disorders worldwide

Baylee DeCastro, MS
Research Policy


Baylee Decastro helped establish the Youth Health Equity Council in 2018 as a partnership between the American Heart Association, UCSF Child Health Equity Institute and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals. It is comprised of 10-15 high school sophomores and juniors from San Francisco and Oakland who are from communities disproportionately impacted by health inequities. Decastro has placed summer students on the council in the past several years in order to have the opportunity to examine the social determinants of health, understand public health policy, and develop strategies to advocate. Additionally, individuals on the council learn how to conduct a community needs assessment, develop leadership and public speaking skills, and engage with community leaders and local researchers. The purpose of this council is to elevate youth voices by partnering with community leaders to champion their ideas and advance research, policy, system, and environmental changes in cities and anchor institutions.

Ellen Fun, Phd RD CCD
Nutrition/ Bone Health


Dr. Ellen Fung is the Director of the Summer Student Research Program, and Director of the bone density clinic at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. She has advanced training in nutrition and a long-standing curiosity on the impact of nutrition and physical activity on bone health in individuals with chronic disease. She has a passion for hemoglobin disorders including thalassemia and sickle cell disease and has been conducting research within these populations for the last 2 decades. Additionally, through her mentorship within the Summer Student Research Program, Dr. Fung aspires to encourage participation and persistence in STEM for those with underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ward Hagar, MD


Specializing in the treatment of sickle cell anemia, Dr. Ward Hagar is the program director of the Adult comprehensive center for sickle cell disease at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Additionally, Dr. Hagar works with the apheresis program at the hospital, and supervises improvements in pain management systems for hematology patients. His most recent research has been focused on the musculoskeletal complications of sickle cells disease, such as semi-frequent mandible fractures in young adults with the disease.

Caroline Hastings, MD


Dr. Caroline Hastings is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Dr. Hastings specializes in treating acute and relapsed leukemias, as well as identifying and managing side effects from chemotherapy and radiation. Her research has focused on the role of intensive chemotherapy and radiation on survival rates within individuals with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, in addition to the impact of elevated numbers of white blood cells on survival rate of the same patient population. Dr Hastings is also the Director of the hospital-wide Fellowship Education Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

Janice Kao, MPH
Nutrition/Public Health


Janice Kao's primary research interests include evaluation of community-based programs and policies. Examples include examining the impact of school wellness policies and the effectiveness of healthy food retail interventions. She leads several NPI projects, including evaluation of Policies, Systems, and Environmental change interventions implemented through the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Education program and the development and evaluation of Healthy Vending Guidelines for the University of California.

Elaine Ku, MD


Dr. Elaine Ku is a pediatric nephrologist at UCSF. The global context of her research program focuses on understanding differences in the epidemiology, clinical management, and outcomes of children versus adults with kidney disease and the conduct of clinical trials to test interventions (such as blood pressure control) that will improve survival of patients with kidney disease. She is especially interested in transitions of care, such as that between adolescence and young adulthood, as well as that between advanced chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease (including dialysis and transplant). Specific areas of her research focus currently include 1) cardiovascular risk in patients with kidney disease; 2) disparities in access to kidney transplantation and transplant outcomes; and 3) risk factors for progression of chronic kidney disease.

Ashutosh Lal, MD


Dr. Ashutosh Lal is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland who has investigated hemoglobinopathies (diseases of hemoglobin, including thalassemia and sickle cell disease) for over 20 years. Dr. Lal is the Director of the Comprehensive Thalassemia center at the hospital, which monitors transfusion, iron overload, and nutritional status of the patients who are treated there. Dr. Lal’s current research focuses on the effect of nutrition, exercise, and whether iron-induced injury to mitochondria can explain organ damage within patients with thalassemia.

Carter Lebares, MD


Dr. Carter Lebares is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at UCSF with an active clinical practice in minimally invasive foregut and general surgery. The majority of her research to date has focused on understanding the burden of stress among surgeons, the effect of that stress on cognition and performance, and the individual factors that mediate this process. Dr. Lebares just completed a longitudinal pilot RCT testing the effects of MBSR on mental health, cognition, motor skills and (fMRI) brain networks in surgery interns and just launched a stepped-wedge trial of modified MBSR in Surgery and Anesthesia faculty evaluating stress, burnout, executive function and OR teamwork. Dr. Lebares’ long-term goal is to optimize and evaluate mindfulness-based interventions for enhancing well-being and performance in physicians and surgeons and to incorporate these validated interventions into medical training on a national level.

Janet Lee, MD


Dr. Janet Lee is a clinical fellow in endocrinology at UCSF School of Medicine. Her areas of expertise include pediatric endocrinology, metabolism, and diabetes. Recently, Dr. Lee has been investigating the effects of pubertal suppression on bone density, structure, and strength, in transgender youth.

Dayna Long, MD


Dr. Dayna Long is a pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Her research focuses on the social determinants of health: how where we grow up, what we have access to, and the environment we live in affect our health. Additionally, Dr. Long has investigated Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), negative experiences such as sexual/emotional/physical abuse during childhood, and its links to negative health outcomes later in life.

Jacqueline Madden, PNP


Jacqueline Madden is a pediatric nurse practitioner who has worked at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland for over 17 years. Jacqueline performs clinical research into gastroenterologic disorders including mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) and achondroplasia (genetic dwarfism); she has investigated how intrathecal enzyme replacement has improved symptoms and neurological status in mucopolysaccharidosis type 1 (MPS 1), and assessed the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in MPS as well. Additionally, she serves on the Children’s Hospital Oakland Institutional Review board, participating in the review of research studies for the hospital.

Christine McDonald, PhD


Zinc nutrition is a key focus of Dr. McDonald’s current research. Zinc is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in low-income countries and accounts for approximately 100,000 child deaths each year. Although small-scale studies have demonstrated the benefits of zinc supplementation and fortification, few large-scale efficacy and effectiveness trials have been carried out. Dr. McDonald and her colleagues at IZiNCG and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh are conducting a large community-based trial of zinc supplementation in young Bangladeshi children to determine the optimal physical form, dose, and frequency for reducing the risk of diarrhea and improving linear growth. Other IZiNCG research activities focus on zinc fortification of staple foods for the improvement of health outcomes among women of reproductive age, the development and evaluation of dietary zinc and phytate assessment tools, and the development of a simulation model to test interventions for restoring zinc pools in zinc deficient infants.

Jennifer Price Cohen, MD PhD
Gastroenterology & Hepatology


Dr. Jennifer Price is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UCSF and the Director of the UCSF Viral Hepatitis Center. Her research focuses on examining the contributions of novel and traditional factors associated with liver disease progression in large observational HIV cohorts. Within the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study and the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (now the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study), she is examining the roles of metabolic, viral, and host genetic factors on hepatic steatosis and fibrosis. Dr. Price leads the UCSF HCV Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome Program a collaborative model of medical education and care management focused on building capacity for HCV care throughout Northern California. She is the Medical Director of the DeLIVER Care Van, a mobile medical unit aimed at improving access to HCV screening and high quality liver-related health care among medically and geographically marginalized communities.

Zoe Quandt, MD


Dr. Zoe Quandt is a pediatric endocrinology fellow at UCSF. She did Master’s degree in health and medical sciences at UC Berkeley, completed her medical training at UCSF, residency in pediatrics at Stanford and is now conducting a clinical fellowship in endocrinology and diabetes at UCSF. Her research is related to autoimmune disorders of endocrinopathy, including diabetes.

Alison Reed, MD


Alison Reed is a Pediatric Endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital Oakland who specializes in type 1 diabetes mellitus, type 2 diabetes mellitus, care of vulnerable or underserved populations, thyroid disorders, and disorders of growth.

Kim Rhoads, MD Ms MPH
Health Disparities


Dr. Rhoads is an Associate Professor within the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Director of the Office of Community Engagement at UCSF. Her background background and scholarly work spans the full cancer continuum from basic science (endothelial cell regulation and angiogenesis); to clinical care as a colorectal surgeon; through health services research in cancer disparities; and training in health policy and as the inaugural UCSF Philip R. Lee Fellow in Health Policy. She has formal training in community organizing at the Center for Third World Organizing in Oakland, California; and Community Based Participatory Research as a member of the first cohort of academic-community partnership teams trained by the California Breast Cancer Research Program. Before joining the faculty at UCSF, Dr. Rhoads founded the Community Outreach and Engagement program for the Stanford Cancer Institute. Rhoads views community engagement and institutional partnerships as substantive pathways to promote health equity and eliminate cancer disparities.

Lorrene Ritchie, PhD RD
Nutrition Policy Institute


Dr. Ritchie is the Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist at UC Berkeley. The mission of NPI is to conduct research that informs nutrition policy and programs for healthy children, families, and communities. NPI provides nutrition policy leadership built from UC Berkeley’s numerous research, and education activities, and works in synergy with research and outreach efforts being conducted throughout the UC system. Dr. Ritchie has devoted her career to the development of interdisciplinary, science-based and culturally relevant solutions to child obesity and food security. She has conducted studies in numerous settings on the impact of nutrition policies and programs. Current research interests include evaluation of the relationship of school-level programs and policies on student dietary intakes, the impact of policy on nutrition practices in childcare settings, and the relationship of federal, state and community-level programs and policies with child nutrition, weight status and health.

Coleen Sabatini, MD MPH


Dr. Sabatini's research is focused on musculoskeletal health of children globally. Her particular interests are global health/global surgery, pediatric trauma prevention and treatment, clinical outcomes, and improving access to care for children with musculoskeletal conditions, particularly for children in low-resource environments. Dr. Sabatini is very active in international orthopaedic work including education and research in Uganda, where she heads a pediatric orthopaedic research program and is the Principal Investigator of the Uganda Post-Injection Disability Prevention and Treatment Program.

Mala Setty, MD


Dr. Mala Setty is a pediatric gastroenterologist at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Within the hospital, she additionally works with hepatology, and the neonatal gastrointestinal intensive care unit. Recently, Dr. Setty has investigated the gene expression of proteins involved in sphingosine-1- phosphate (S1P) and its metabolism in pediatric individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); S1P has been acknowledge to be pro-inflammatory, and detrimental to individuals with IBD.

June Tester, MD MPH
Childhood Obesity


Dr. Tester has a clinical and research focus on childhood obesity, with board certification in both pediatrics as well as obesity medicine. She is a co-director of Healthy Hearts, which is a multidisciplinary weight management clinic within the Department of Cardiology at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Her research has focused on the influence of children’s environments on their ability to be physically active and have a healthy diet.

Marsha Treadwell, PhD


Dr. Treadwell is the SSRP Co-Director and Co-Chair for the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee at BCH-Oakland. She is also a clinical psychologist with a long-standing interest in sickle cell disease and translational research, with a primary focus on physiologic and psychological aspects of treatment and outcome. Dr. Treadwell uses a unique combination of community outreach and clinical research to impact treatment outcome in this painful disease. Employing multi-component interventions to increase sickle cell trait counseling and testing in targeted communities, Dr. Treadwell is working to broaden community support for sickle cell programs and to implement intensive support strategies for families of children diagnosed with sickle cell disease that foster a sense of empowerment and collaborative disease management, and improve global wellbeing.

Katherine Yang, PharmD


Dr. Yang is a professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at UCSF. She specializes in the treatment of multi-drug resistant infections. Her area of research is in the pharmacodynamic optimization of antibiotics for the treatment of multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She is particularly interested in the treatment of bacterial biofilms, which are particularly difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics. She is also an infectious diseases pharmacist specialist at UCSF Health. In the School of Pharmacy, she is heavily involved in the PharmD curriculum and currently the codirector of the Foundations course.


Basic Science Faculty who Regularly Mentor within SSRP

Faculty Name and Research Focus

Faculty Area of Research

Peter Beernink, PhD
Immunology/Vaccine Development


Dr. Beernink’s laboratory is focused on developing improved vaccines for prevention of disease caused by the bacteria from the genus Neisseria. These microbes colonize mucous membranes, which can lead to invasive infections including sepsis, meningitis, urethritis and other infections. Dr. Beernink’s research includes genetic, biochemical and immunological studies of Neisserial surface antigens, including meningococcal Factor H binding protein. This protein is important for virulence because it enables the bacteria to evade host immunity.

Deborah Dean, MD MPH



Dr. Deborah Dean conducts research into the molecular epidemiology and pathogenesis of chlamydial infections at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. She has previously created the first genotyping project of C. trachomatis (a chlamydial intracellular parasite), and a multi-locus sequence typing scheme that allows for improved chlamydial strain identification. Additionally, Dr. Dean has worked with the World Health Organization to attempt to prevent the propagation of blinding trachoma in Vietnam, as it is one of the leading causes of blindness in third world countries. Most recently, Dr. Dean is working on a vaccine to prevent the spread of chlamydial STDs, as well as a cost and time effective chlamydial screen that can be used in field sites worldwide.

Thuy Doan, MD PhD
Metagenomic Epidemiology


Dr. Thuy Doan directs the Ralph and Sophie Heintz Laboratory at the Proctor Foundation/UCSF. The Heintz Laboratory is a metagenomic epidemiology laboratory that takes innovative approaches to understand how the various human microbiomes (ocular, gut, and upper respiratory tract) respond to clinically relevant perturbations in randomized controlled trials. Specifically, we seek to identify mechanisms by which mass azithromycin distribution to preschool children in Sub-Saharan countries leads to an improvement in childhood mortality. Concurrently, we carefully track antibiotic resistance in these communities to better inform public health policies. In addition to our molecular epidemiology work, we focus on using genomic technologies to efficiently identify causes of ocular infections (e.g. uveitis, conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, and scleritis) with the goal of improving patient care and preventing blindness

Ashley Frakes, PhD
Molecular Cell Biology


Dr. Frakes is a post-doctoral fellow in the Dillin Laboratory within the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. The Dillin lab is investigating cellular stress response during the aging process. It is clear that during the course of life, organisms face a myriad of stresses, which can have some detrimental effects on physiology. Thus, cells have evolved targeted and specific stress responses dedicated to repair any damage that may be caused during stresses, such as heat stress. The lab has found that many of these stress responses can be hijacked, such that their hyperactivation protects cells from the detrimental effects of aging, and extends lifespan. They aim to investigate thoroughly how these processes function and break down during the aging process.

Sunita Ho, MS PhD
Restorative Dental Services


Dr. Ho is a Professor in the School of Dentistry at UCSF. The laboratory uses an interdisciplinary approach to address unmet clinical challenges by synchronizing basic science with clinical needs. Members of the team work in close partnership with clinicians in Schools of Dentistry and Medicine. Clinical significance is guided by translation insights through research on specimens from humans and in vivo animal models. They study both biomechanics (study of form and function of biological systems including the tooth inside an alveolar socket forming a dentoalveolar joint, and the temporomandibular joint) and biominerals (mineral deposits in unwanted locations of the human body, e.g. dental calculus and salivary stones).

David Kililea. PhD


Dr. Killilea is the SSRP Program Manager as well as the Manager of the CORE lab facility on the MLK campus at UCSF. The research program in the Killilea laboratory converges on the measurement and analysis of metals within diverse biological systems, ranging from human cells to population studies. Current projects include identification of novel biomarkers for mineral deficiencies, evaluation of clinically-relevant metal chelators, and development of best practices for mineral assessment in clinical or field studies. Dr. Killilea also established an academic core that provides comprehensive elemental detection services to the scientific community.

Sarah King, PhD
Cardiovascular Disease


Dr King is a research nutritional scientist and laboratory supervisor for the Krauss laboratory on the MLK campus of UCSF. The focus of their laboratory is on interactions of genes with dietary and drug treatments that affect metabolic phenotypes and cardiovascular disease risk. The primary goals are to identify genetic and metabolic determinants of atherogenic dyslipidemia (elevated bad fats, low good fats) that are subsequently linked to obesity, and to investigate the cross-play between genes and drug treatment for atherogenic dyslipidemia.

Ronald Krauss, MD
Cardiovascular Disease


Dr. Krauss is a senior scientist and the director of atherosclerosis research at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Dr. Krauss has published nearly 400 research articles and reviews on genetic, dietary, and drug effects on plasma lipoproteins and coronary artery disease. In recent years Dr. Krauss’ work has focused on interactions of genes with dietary and drug treatments that affect metabolic phenotypes and cardiovascular disease risk. His lab’s primary goals are to identify genetic and metabolic determinants of atherogenic dyslipidemia (elevated bad fats, low good fats) that are subsequently linked to obesity, and to investigate the cross-play between genes and drug treatment for atherogenic dyslipidemia.

Frans Kuypers, PhD
Molecular/Red Cell Biology


Dr Kuypers is an Adjunct Professor within the Division of Hematology at UCSF. His lab studies aspects of membrane lipid organization and their relation to health and disease. The proper lipid composition and organization, essential for the function of plasma membranes, is maintained by a complex system of enzymatic and signal transduction pathways. The lab’s long-term goal is to understand how the molecular structure of the proteins involved, as well as their interaction with each other and with their lipid environment, determines membrane lipid organization. For their studies, they use human samples, and blood and tissue from murine models for thalassemia and sickle cell disease (SCD). These models have proven to be very useful for studies to understand red cell pathology at the molecular level, and for the evaluation of treatment strategies.

Samantha Lewis, PhD
Molecular Cell Biology


Dr. Lewis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology on the UC Berkeley Campus. Within each of our cells, the genetic control of metabolism is split between the nuclear genome and thousands of small, circular mitochondrial genomes. The co-regulation of these two genomes is required for aerobic life, yet paradoxically, their replication and inheritance are uncoupled. Defects in mitochondrial DNA cause hereditary metabolic diseases that impact tissues with high energy demand such as the brain, muscle and heart and are also linked to cancer and the innate immune response. The Lewis Lab team aims to reveal the mechanisms that ensure mtDNA integrity and inheritance in animal cells, using quantitative imaging, genetics, and systems biology approaches.

Steve Mack, PhD
Genetics/Big Data


Dr. Mack is an Associate Scientist at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute interested in Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) for over 20 years. HLA’s are key proteins that function to distinguish “self” from “non-self”, and create the basis of the immune system and its response to viruses, bacteria, and cancer. Similarly, during a bone marrow transplant or organ transplant also requires both donor and patient to have very similar HLA types, otherwise the host body will begin attacking the transplant. Dr. Mack’s current research focuses on developing innovative software in order to improve donor-patient matching for bone marrow and cord blood transplants, and to further research in highly variable HLA and Killer-cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR) genes and gene regions.

Marisa Medina, PhD
Cardiovascular Disease


Dr. Medina is an Associate Professor in the Dept of Pediatrics at UCSF. The goal of the Medina Lab is to identify novel molecular mechanisms and pathways, as well as human genetic variation impacting these pathways, which contribute to inter-individual variation in levels of plasma LDL cholesterol as well as response to cholesterol lowering drugs. In particular, we are focused on the role of variation at the level of the transcriptome (or gene expression), investigating how changes in coding and non-coding transcript levels and/or structure modulate cholesterol metabolism. By understanding the molecular and genetic determinants of variation in plasma LDL cholesterol, Dr. Medina hopes to significantly contribute to our understanding of cardiovascular disease risk, development and treatment.

Mercedes Paredes, PhD


Dr. Paredes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at the UCSF School of Medicine. The Paredes lab studies cortical development to understand the molecular and cellular basis of neuropsychiatric conditions, such as epilepsy, and brain malformations. Their hypothesis is that the gyrencephalic brain has evolved developmental processes and a prolonged timeline that, when disrupted, will lead to cortical disorganization and aberrant connectivity. They are currently focused on identifying features of neuronal progenitor proliferation and migration, with an emphasis on the perinatal period, that are unique to the gyrated brain.

Yuanyuan Qin, PhD
Cardiovascular Disease


Dr. Qin is a postdoctoral fellow in the Medina Laboratory at the MLK building, UCSF. The focus of the research in the laboratory is to identify novel molecular mechanisms and pathways, as well as human genetic variation impacting these pathways, which contribute to inter-individual variation in levels of plasma LDL cholesterol as well as response to cholesterol lowering drugs.

Angela Rivers, MD PhD


Dr. Rivers is an Associate Professor within the Division of Hematology, Department of Pediatrics at UCSF. She has extensive research experience focused primarily on sickle cell disease (SCD) and how to ameliorate the common clinical morbidities associated with the disease. Her current research focuses on the role of erythrocyte mitochondrial retention in sickle cell disease as well as mitophagy as a potential therapeutic target in sickle cell disease.

Julie Saba, MD PhD


Dr. Saba is a Pediatric Oncologist and Senior Scientist at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. She holds the John and Edna Beck Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). Dr. Saba’s recent research focuses on sphingosine phosphate lyase, an intracellular enzyme that controls the removal of certain types of lipids from the body. The development of this enzyme controls many biological activities such as cell migration, survival and death, and cell division. Recent research has shown that some individuals may be born with an insufficient amount of sphingosine phosphate lyase, and Dr. Saba intends to identify therapeutic strategies for these patients.

Kevin Tharp, PhD


Dr. Tharp is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Surgery at UCSF School of Medicine. He is currently working in the Weaver Lab where the research focus is on clarifying how mechanical force within a cell (ECM stiffness and cell contractility) modulates breast tumor progression and treatment efficacy with a focus on signaling and epigenetics using two and three dimensional (2D/3D) monolayer and organotypic culture models, xenograft/syngeneic and transgenic mouse models and clinical specimens and a repertoire of approaches to measure and manipulate mechanical force.

Jasmine Wong, PhD


Dr. Wong completed her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Waterloo, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Molecular and Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at UCSF. Her research interests include: monosomy 7, hematopoietic stem cells, myelodysplastic syndrome, acute myeloid leukemia, chromosome engineering, mouse models, Ras signaling, inherited predispositions to myeloid malignancies, preclinical cancer therapeutics, response and resistance to cancer therapy.