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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

 

 

Alana Horowitz – BMS Graduate Student

I graduated from the University of Florida in 2015 with a BS in Biology. While there, I worked in the lab of Dr. Michael Katovich and focused on pharmacological interventions for pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis. My undergraduate thesis evaluated the effectiveness of activating the vaso-protective axis of the Renin-Angiotensin System in pulmonary fibrosis using a selective agonist. This work led me to a fascination with the common factors underlying age-related diseases and prompted my decision to further my knowldege in the biomedical sciences program at UCSF. In the Villeda Lab, I plan to explore central regulators of aging and their interplay with the systemic environment. 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Alana

 

Brit Ventura – Post-Doctoral Fellow



 

I graduated with a B.S. in Biology and minor in Spanish from the University of New Mexico, followed by a M.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Oregon and finally a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Virginia. My graduate work focused on characterizing the composition and contributions of tumor microenvironment cells in medulloblastoma. My work revealed a novel differentiation pathway of tumor cells, which resulted in a distinct tumor microenvironment cell-type which contributed to tumor progression. Now, in the Villeda Lab, I am interested in investigating the intersection of the immune system and neurodegenerative diseases. When not in lab, I am a serious chef and outdoor enthusiast. 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Brit

 

Cesar Sanchez-Diaz – Research Assistant

I recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Molecular and Cell Biology, with an emphasis in Immunology. During my time at Cal, I was very intrigued by the intrinsic changes within immune cells and how the differ between a healthy and diseased organisms. In the Villeda lab, I am exploring how the brain’s immune system operates in times of stress and aging, as well as investigating key regulators responsible for this deviation in homeostasis. In the long run, I hope to better understand the aging process at a cellular and molecular level to further elucidate our mechanistic understanding on brain rejuvenation. Outside of lab, I enjoy playing soccer and going on long bike rides.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Cesar

 

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 

 

 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 

 

 

 



 

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



Adam Schroer – Postdoctoral Fellow

After graduating from Taylor University with a BS in Exercise Science, I completed a MS degree in Exercise Physiology at James Madison University. I next studied at West Virginia University with Dr. David Siderovski, where I received a PhD in Cellular and Integrative Physiology. My research focused on the role of Regulators of G protein Signaling in various physiological and pathological situations. Throughout my studies I maintained a persistent interest in the mechanisms driving aging-related diseases and interventions aimed at extending the healthspan. My current research is aimed at identifying the molecular mechanisms driving brain rejuvenation. 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Adam

 



 

Karishma Pratt – DSCB Graduate Student



 

After growing up in the Bay Area, I completed my bachelor’s degree at UC San Diego in Neuroscience and Physiology. While at UCSD, I investigated the molecular mechanisms behind AMPA receptor localization in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Clark. After college, I worked in the lab of Dr. Deepak Srivastava at Gladstone Institutes as a Research Associate. We researched the epigenetic and transcriptional changes that accompany the reprogramming of fibroblasts to cardiomyocytes, otherwise known as direct cardiac reprogramming, and identified small molecules to improve this process. I also assisted in research that investigated the role of transcription factor cooperativity in congenital heart disease. Now in the Villeda lab, I am excited to explore the epigenetic and transcriptional changes that underlie brain aging and rejuvenation. Outside of lab I enjoy Bollywood dancing and hanging out with friends and family!  

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Karishma

  

 

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