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Lab Members

 

Saul A. Villeda, PhD – Principal Investigator

 

Dr. Saul Villeda earned his PhD. Degree in Neuroscience from Stanford University. He initially trained as a developmental biologist during his time at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the lab of Dr. Patricia Phelps. At Stanford he first trained as a neural stem cell biologist with Dr. Anne Brunet, and went on to complete his doctoral work under the training of Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray. During his time in the lab of Dr. Wyss-Coray he investigated how systemic changes in aging blood contribute to age-related impairments in neural stem cell function and cognitive prcesses. Dr. Villeda joined the UCSF community in 2012 as a UCSF Faculty Fellow in the Department of Anatomy and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Saul

 

 

Xuelai 'Shelly' Fan – Post-Doctoral Fellow 

 

I initially trained as a research pharmacist at Peking University with a focus on cancer pharmacology. I received my doctoral degree in neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, where I studied novel ways to eliminate pathogenic proteins in the brain that are involved in neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. For my postdoctoral work I seek to elucidate the cellular and molecular pathways of rejuvenating factors. I hope to further our mechanistic understanding of age-related cognitive decline and potentially delay or reverse its onset.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Shelly

 

 

 

 

 

  Hank Garcia – Post-Doctoral Fellow

 

In 2009 I graduated with a B.S. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. Afterwards, in 2014 I received my PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) through the University at Buffalo. My research focused on FACT, the target of a class of anti-cancer drugs called Curaxins, and its critical role in cancer cells versus normal cells. I find aging research extremely fascinating, and as such my interests shifted from cancer to aging. I joined the Villeda lab as a post-doctoral fellow to investigate the role of factors in the blood that contribute to rejuvenation of the aging brain. 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Hank

 

 Géraldine Gontier – Post-Doctoral Fellow 

I graduated with a B.S. in Biomedicine from the Descartes University, Paris, France. I then received my PhD in Physiology and Pathophysiology from Pierre et Marie University (UPMC), Paris, France. My research focused on effects of growth hormones in lifespan and neurodegenerative disease. During my PhD, I developed a strong interest for aging research and more particularly for the aging brain. Since Jun 2014, I joined the Villeda’s lab as a post-doctoral fellow to investigate the role of epigenetic on neurogenesis during aging.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Geraldine 

 

 

 

 



 

Manasi Iyer – Research Assistant

 


I graduated with a B.A. in Biology with a concentration in neuroscience from Williams College. During my time at Williams, I worked on characterizing addiction and arousal neural circuits regulated by the neuropeptide hypocretin. As an undergraduate, I was primarily interested in learning about the neural circuits that control homeostatic behaviors. More recently, I have become interested in the interaction between the nervous and immune systems and how that interaction affects the brain as it ages. As a research associate in the Villeda lab, I will examine specific epigenetic changes that regulate adult neurogenesis in the adult brain. 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Manasi



Karin Lin – Neuroscience Graduate Student 

Growing up in Vancouver, BC, I have been lucky enough to enjoy living and studying in such a lovely city. I recently graduated from the University of British Columbia where I majored in pharmacology, but my research experiences during these past years in neuropharmacology and cognition labs have directed me towards the field of neuroscience to pursue my graduate studies. Since arriving at UCSF, I have become increasingly intrigued by the interaction between the immune system and the neural system. While the prevailing dogma had been that these two systems operate primarily independent of each other except for in pathological conditions, a newer frontier in neuroscience explores the bidirectional communication between these systems. I am interested in how classically immune cells and molecules may help shape neural circuits and function not just in development, but also in the aging brain. 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Karin

 



 

Jeremy Shea – Post-Doctoral Fellow

 

 

After graduating from Boston College, I worked as a research technician in the laboratory of Stuart Orkin at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. While there, I developed an interest in the roles that the microenvironment plays in maintaining cellular function, specifically stem cell activity. I moved onto UMass Medical School to pursue my graduate studies in the laboratory of Oliver Rando. My thesis focused on how paternal diet influences offspring metabolic phenotypes. My research found that paternal dietary information is transmitted through the gametes with epigenetic influences acting independently of an unappreciated role for rapid genetic variation in controlling offspring metabolism. My previous experiences have instilled in me a fascination for the ways information travels throughout the body, and is influenced by environmental factors. For these reasons, I joined the Villeda lab to investigate the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect neurogenesis during aging.   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Jeremy

  

 

Luke Smith – BMS Graduate Student

Since graduating from the University of Puget Sound with a BS in Biology, I have had the opportunity to work in industry, as an intern at Alios Biopharma, and in academia, as a research technician in the Villeda Lab at UCSF. During my time as a research technician, I became deeply interested in studying the processes by which the brain ages, and thus, have joined UCSF’s Biomedical Sciences PhD program to continue studying those processes. Specifically, I am interested in how and why the systemic milieu changes with age, and I would like to further tease apart the functional consequences of those changes.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Luke


 

Cedric Snethlage – Master's Student

 

I graduated with a B.S. in Biology from UC Santa Cruz in 2010. After taking 2 years off to work as a tutor and teacher I am currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Biomedical Sciences at San Francisco State in the Professional Science Master's (PSM) program with a concentration in Stem Cell Biology. Since starting work at UC San Francisco, I have become more interested in adult neurogenesis and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. I plan to study the role of immune molecules in adult neurogenesis.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Cedric

 

 

Joe Udeochu – BMS Graduate Student

I graduated from UCLA with a BS in Physiological Sciences. During my time at UCLA, I worked on identifying neuronal populations in the upper cervical spinal cord that are involved in the transmission of pain stimuli. This experience formed my foundation in basic science research and greatly motivated my decision to further my science education in graduate school. As a student in the biomedical sciences program, I hope to study the role of immune cells and signaling factors on cognitive function. As a graduate student in the Villeda lab, I am working on characterizing changes in microglia in the ageing brain with the goal of identifying cell intrinsic and extrinsic pathways that result in aberrant cognitive function and decreased neurogenesis with age.  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Joe 

 

 

Liz Wheatley – DSCB Graduate Student

 

I graduated from Wesleyan University in 2009 with a BA in Studio Art and a minor equivalent in Chemistry. I later joined the Beveridge Lab at Wesleyan to complete my MA in Chemistry with a focus in computational molecular biophysics, and graduated again in 2012. My thesis utilized Molecular Dynamics (MD) calculations to investigate the salt-based conformational stability and transitions of unusual DNA structures, and involved computational structure prediction of an unknown protein-DNA complex. My interests within the biological field strengthened during my previous graduate work, and I joined the DSCB program here at UCSF hoping to pursue my biological studies with a biophysical perspective in mind. While still broad, my interests encompass neurology, stem-cell based tissue regeneration, and applications for treating cancer and disease.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Liz

 

Charles 'Buddy' White – DSCB Graduate Student

In 2014 I graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a dual B.S. in Biochemistry and Biology & Biotechnology. During my time as an undergraduate I had the opportunity to experience careers in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as well as engaging in academic research. I performed my senior thesis in the Mello Lab at UMass Medical School exploring the role of viral proteins during infection. These experiences strengthened my enthusiasm for the life sciences and inspired me to pursue my graduate studies in the DSCB program at UCSF. I have always been interested in the concepts of aging and rejuvenation. In the Villeda lab I plan to look at these processes as they apply to neurogenesis and examine the epigenetic changes that accompany aging.  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Buddy