Fellows

2013-15 Fellows

  • Jaclyn Bravo

    Jaclyn Bravo

    Education

    • 2010—Present, Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
    • July 2008—B.Sc., Clinical Laboratory Science, University of Texas Health Science Center,
      San Antonio, TX
    • May 2007—B.Sc., Biomedical Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

    Research Project: To determine whether SH3/ankyrin domain gene 3 (Shank3), a gene required for neurodevelopment, and prenatal stressors including unpredictable mild stress or maternal intake of fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac) can act synergistically to modulate the penetrance of autism-like behaviors in mice.

    Mentor:  Ignatia B. Van den Veyver, M.D.

  • Shaun Davis

    Shaun Davis

    Education

    • 2009—Present, Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine
    • May 2009—B.A. Biology, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL

    Research Project: To examine the role of fatty acids in the regulation of Tailless, an orphan nuclear receptor implicated in the control of aggressive behavior through neuropeptide signaling in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

    Mentor:  Herman A. Dierick, M.D.

  • Stanley Hooker

    Stanley Hooker

    Education

    • 2010—present, Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine
    • December 2004— B.S. Biology, Bowie State University, Bowie, MD

    Research Project: To develop a rare DNA sequence variant analysis method that can detect gene-environment interactions in admixed populations.

    Mentor:  Suzanne Leal, Ph.D.

  • Cheng-Lin Li

    Cheng-Lin Li

    Education

    • 2010—Present, Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
    • July 2006, M.S. Molecular and Cellular Biology, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
    • June 2004, B.S. Biology, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

    Research Project: To apply genetic approaches to identify the components of the signaling pathway mediated by TgrB1 and TgrC1, two immunoglobulin-like cell adhesion molecules involved in self-recognition in Dictyostelium discoideum.

    Mentor:  Gad Shaulsky, Ph.D.

  • Chih-Chun Lin

    Chih-Chun Lin

    Education

    • 2010—Present, Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
    • June 2010, B.Sc. Animal Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei City, Taiwan

    Research Project: To examine the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of lipid metabolism by dietary signals in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

    Mentor:  Meng Wang, Ph.D.

  • Geetali Pradhan

    Geetali Pradhan

    Education

    • 2010—Present, Graduate Research Assistant, Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
    • June 2010, M.S. Cell biology and Histology, University of Connecticut
    • May 2006, B. Tech, Biotechnology, Sathyabama University, Chennai, India

    Research Project: To compare the effects of exercise and caloric restriction on body weight and the development of insulin resistance after consumption of a high-fat diet in wild-type mice and GHSR -/- mice lacking a receptor for the orexigenic hormone ghrelin.

    Mentor:  Yuxiang Sun, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Feng Wang

    Feng Wang

    Education

    • 2010—Present, Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
    • July 2010: B.S. Biological Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

    Research Project: To investigate whether exposure to light exacerbates retinal degeneration in mice deficient in nicotinamide nucleotide adenyltransferase 1 (NMNAT1), and to identify genes differentially expressed in response to light by RNA sequencing.

    Mentor:  Rui Chen, Ph.D.

  • Xiaotian Zhang

    Xiaotian Zhang

    Education

    • 2010—Present, Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
    • 2010 B.S., Fudan University, Shanghai, China
    • Research Project: To test the hypothesis that high dietary glutamine levels will accelerate the initiation of myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms in mice carrying mutations in both isocitrate dehydrogenase-2 (IDH2) and DNA methyltransferase 3A (Dnmt3a).

      Mentor:  Margaret A. Goodell, Ph.D.

2012-2014 Fellows

  • Zongxiao He

    Zongxiao He

    Education

    • Aug. 2010 – Present: Ph.D. Student, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
    • July 2010: B.S. Systems Biology, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, P.R. China

    Research Project:  Method development in genetic mapping of complex traits and their applications in exome/genome sequencing data; Analysis of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions.

    Mentor: Dr. Suzanne Leal 

  • Ruchi Masand

    Ruchi Masand

    Education

    • Aug. 2010 – Present: Pre-doctoral student in Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
    • Aug. 2008 – Present: Ph.D. Student, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
    • May 2008: M.Sc. Biotechnology, Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Mumbai University, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
    • May 2006: B.Sc. Biotechnology, Vivekanand Education Society’s College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai University, Mumbai, India

    Research Project:  Mitochondrial Porin or the Voltage Dependent Anion Channel (VDAC) is an integral membrane protein present in the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) and plays a key role in a variety of fundamental cellular processes including energy metabolism, oxidative metabolism, calcium buffering and apoptosis. Porin deficient flies exhibit phenotypes that model primary mitochondrial disease and secondary respiratory chain deficiencies observed in common adult neurological cases. VDACs have been implicated to have a role in multiple cellular pathways through various protein interactions and as a docking site for various cytosolic proteins such as hexokinase, glycerol kinase and creatine kinase. The primary focus of my research is to identify suppressors of porin mutant phenotypes in fruit flies to identify new interacting pathways to gain mechanistic insights into VDAC function.

    Mentor: Dr. Brett Graham 

  • Linda Polfus

    Linda Polfus

    Education

    • 2010 – Present: Fellow in the Houston Laboratory and Population Sciences Training Program in Gene-Environment Interaction at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    • 2009 – Present: Ph.D. Candidate / Epidemiology, University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health, Houston, TX
    • 2000 – 2002: Master of Public Health / Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA

    Research Project: “Identifying gene by smoking interaction associated with coronary artery calcification in GWAS data and uncovering gene-based rare variant by smoking interaction associated with fibrinogen in exomes.”

    Mentor:  Dr. James Hixson

  • Priya Sivaramakrishnan

    Priya Sivaramakrishnan

    Education

    • August 2010 – Present: Ph.D. Student – Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
    • June 2008: M.Sc – Human Genetics, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai , India
    • April 2006: B.Sc – Zoology, Stella Maris College, Chennai, India

    Research Project: The goal of my project is to study the consequences of the conflict between transcription and the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). DSBs are the most severe form of DNA damage, caused by exposure to environmental agents such as ionizing radiation. I have found that loss of transcription factors that bind RNA polymerase and modulate transcription increase or decrease sensitivity to environmental DSB-inducing agents. My objective is to examine the mechanism behind this sensitivity and understand how the interaction between transcription and DSB-repair influences cell survival..”

    Mentor:  Dr. Christophe Herman

  • Shiuan 'Kevin' Wang

    Shiuan 'Kevin' Wang

    Education

    • 2008 – Present: Ph.D. Student, Program in Developmental Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
    • June 2004: B.S. Pharmacy – National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

    Research Project: Delineate the molecular and cellular mechanisms for the maintenance of photoreceptor function.

    Mentor:  Dr. Hugo Bellen

  • Xia Wang

    Xia Wang

    Education

    • August 2009 – Present: Ph.D. Student, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
    • July 2009: B.S. Biological Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

    Research Project: To identify disease causal genes for Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) patients with Next-generation sequencing (NGS), explore the molecular function of novel LCA genes, and build bioinformatics pipeline for NGS data analysis.

    Mentor:  Dr. Rui Chen

  • Yijie Zhai

    Yijie Zhai

    Education

    • August 2010 – Present: Ph.D. Student – Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
    • September 2006: B.S. Biotechnology, Nankai University, Tianjin, China

    Research Project: A prospective cohort study of transcriptional response to acute respiratory virus infection and host genetic factors in influenza infection.

    Mentor:  Dr. John Belmont

  • Yan Zheng

    Yan Zheng

    Education

    • September 2010 – Present: Ph.D. Student, Epidemiology – University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas
    • May 2010: MPH, Epidemiology – Emory University, RSPH, Atlanta, Georgia
    • July 2008: Masters, Internal Medicine – Fudan University Shanghai Medical School, Shanghai, China
    • July 2005: Bachelor, Clinical Medicine – Capital Medical University, Beijing, China

    Research Project: Exploring the associations between the human serum metabolome and diseases, and further investigating the underlying gene-environment (e.g., SNPs-dietary patterns) interaction influencing diseases behind the thousands of metabolites.

    Mentor:  Dr. Eric Boerwinkle

2011-2013 Fellows

  • Tiantian Cai

    Tiantian Cai

    Education

    • Sept. 2008–Present: UTHealth – Graduate School of Biomedical Science
    • July 2008: M.S. Biology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
    • July 2005: B.S. Biological Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

    Research Project: Inner ear development and the mechanisms of hearing loss

    Mentor: Dr. Andrew Groves 

  • Rocio Dominguez-Vidaña

    Rocio Dominguez-Vidaña

    Education

    • Sept. 2007: B.S. Genome Sciences, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico (UNAM)
    • Aug. 2008–Present: Graduate Student – Baylor College of Medicine

    Research Project:  Identifying gene networks that modulate resistance and sensitivity to the anti-cancer drug Lapatinib in Her2+ breast cancers.

    Mentor: Dr. Thomas F. (Trey) Westbrook 

  • Thuy Le

    Thuy Le

    Education

    • 2006–Present: MD/PhD Program, UT Health Medical School, and UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Science, Houston
    • 2002-2006: B.S. Biology/Theology, University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX

    Research Project:  Understanding how genetic and environmental factors contribute to disease states in order to better translate the insights gained into novel treatment modalities.

    Mentor: Dr. Michael Blackburn 

  • Maria Namwanje

    Maria Namwanje

    Education

    • 2009: B.A. Biology, Grinnell College
    • 2009-Present: PhD Student, Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine 

    Research Project:  My research project will utilize cells, mouse models and human subjects to investigate environmental contributions to obesity. One aim of my project is to examine the effects of Growth Differentiation Factor 3 (GDF3), a TGF-beta family member, on adipocyte differentiation and function.

    Mentor: Dr. Chester Brown 

  • Jessica Sowa

    Jessica Sowa

    Education

    • Sept. 2010-Present: PhD Student – Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
    • May 2010: B.S. Molecular Genetics, University of Rochester, Rochester NY

    Research Project:  Characterize the environmental and genetic factors that regulate reproductive health during aging.

    Mentor: Dr. Meng Wang 

  • Bing Yu

    Bing Yu

    Education

    • Jan. 2011–Present: PhD Student – Epidemiology, UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston
    • Jan. 2010: M.S. Student – Epidemiology, UTHealth Medical School, Houston
    • June 2008: M.S. Biostatistics, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
    • July 2003: B.M. Medicine, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

    Research Project:  The first one is a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of high sensitivity cardiac troponin T level which is strongly associated with incident heart failure and subsequent mortality in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC). The second project is analyzing rare variants (minor allele frequency less than 0.05) using multiple statistical tests developed for this purpose. The most recent project I have been working on is to detect the influence of genetic loci and hundreds of human metabolites in African-Americans from ARIC.

    Mentor: Dr. Eric Boerwinkle 

2010-2012 Former Fellows

  • Gibson Ian

    Gibson Ian

    Education

    • 2009-Present: PhD program in Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine
    • 2006-2009: Undergraduate curriculum in Biology, University of South Carolina
    • 1999: Bachelors degree in philosophy from the University of Hull (England)

    Research Project:  Identification of CNVs in 2 datasets, and detecting CNVs using exome sequence data.

    Mentor: Dr. Suzanne Leal 

  • Heney Melanie Anne

    Heney Melanie Anne

    Education

    • 2009 – Present: PhD Program in Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine
    • 2007: Masters of Science in Biology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON

    Research Project:  Gene X Environment Interactions in Smith-Magenis and Potocki-Lupski Syndromes

    Mentor: Dr. James Lupski

  • Heather Highland

    Heather Highland

    Education

    • 2007: B.S. Biology, cum laude, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX
    • Fall 2007 – Present: PhD Program at University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, TX

    Research Project:  Genetic Risk Factors for Common Obesity 

    Mentor:  Dr. Craig Hanis

  • Linda Polfus

    Linda Polfus

    Education

    • 2009 – Present: Doctoral Student / Epidemiology, University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health, Houston, TX
    • 2000 – 2002: Master of Public Health / Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA

    Research Project: Genetic Epidemiology Network of Atherosclerosis (GENOA) Study

    Mentor:  Dr. James Hixson

  • Bo Xiong

    Bo Xiong

    Education

    • 2007 – Present: Graduate study (Ph.D. Level), Program in Developmental Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
    • 2003-2007: Graduate study, Molecular Development Lab, Department of
      Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, P.R. China
      Major: Biological Sciences, Academic Degree: Master of Science

    Research Project:  Mutations in Crag and light-induced retinal degeneration in Drosophila.

    Mentor:  Dr. Hugo Bellen