Welcome to the lab of
Richard Daneman, PhD - Assistant Professor
Kaja Bajc - Lab Manager, Research Associate
I am from Slovenia and joined the Daneman lab in mid 2016 to do an internship and write my Master's thesis. After finishing my Master's in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, I returned to San Diego and started working as a Research Associate in the lab. I work closely with Marie on her project about regional differences of the BBB and have some lab manager responsibilities. During the past few years I've spent a lot of time traveling solo in New Zealand, Southeast Asia and South America. Currently I really enjoy being in San Diego and spending all of my free time surfing.
Nicole Lummis, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow
I've always been fascinated by scientific research; by how we can elucidate unknown aspects of biology to better understand disease and ultimately improve human health. During my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Biophysics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I studied the activity of brain-derived molecular motors in response to anesthesia. I continued pursuing my interest in neuroscience by completing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at University of California San Diego, where I researched the role of lipid signaling in the initiation of neonatal post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus under Dr. Jerold Chun. In May 2019, I was thrilled to join Dr. Richard Daneman's lab as a postdoctoral scholar to investigate the effects of disease, such as stroke and EAE, on the function of the blood-brain barrier, with a particular focus on pericytes.
In addition to my passion for science, I love any kind of game, podcasts, and trying new foods.
Catie Profaci - Graduate Student
After graduating from Georgetown University in 2012 (Hoya Saxa!), I worked for two years studying the progression of Alzheimer's pathology with Dr. Karen Duff at Columbia University. Now as a Ph.D. student in the UCSD Neurosciences program, I am excited to continue studying disease in the nervous system. In the Daneman lab, I will be working on discovering the mechanisms behind the breakdown and repair of the blood-brain barrier in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Besides my love for the brain and all its mysteries, I enjoy (in no particular order) running, cooking, Bruce Springsteen, the beach, NPR, baseball games, cheese, outdoor activities, and writing for our program's neuroscience blog, NeuWriteSD.org!
Meghan Rossi - Graduate Student
I graduated from Berkeley (Go Bears!) in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Molecular & Cell Biology, and then earned a master’s in Brain Sciences at University College London in 2015. There, I worked with Dr. Kate Jeffery on how head direction cells might encode complex spatial information. After forgetting what the sun looked like, I moved back to California to work with Dr. Shane Crotty in characterizing immune responses to HIV vaccine candidates in order to better inform HIV vaccine design. Now, as a Neurosciences PhD student, I am super excited to start my project in the Daneman lab examining interactions between the periphery and the blood-brain barrier. Outside the lab, you can find me singing loudly at inappropriate moments, stopping to pet every dog that crosses my path, and pretending to be proficient at beach volleyball.
Kevin Tenerelli - MSTP Student
After attending Palomar College, I graduated from California State University San Marcos in 2017 with a B.S. in Biology concentrated in molecular and cellular biology. I then began UC San Diego’s MD/PhD program and joined the Neurosciences Graduate Program. Co-mentored by Eric Nudleman and Rich Daneman, my interests lie in blood-retinal barrier dysfunction in blinding eye diseases and elucidating mediators of fibrosis in the retina. In my free time I like to paddleboard on Mission Bay with my family, play racquetball and discover new music.
Sean Harvey, Graduate Student
I graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2017 with a B.S. in Microbiology. My enthusiasm for biomedical research began as an undergraduate research assistant in Craig Montell’s lab at UCSB, where we sought to identify ion channels and transmembrane receptors that regulate taste and feeding behaviors in Drosophila. After graduating, I joined Gary Steinberg’s lab at Stanford University, where my projects focused on post-stroke neural circuit dynamics and molecular mechanisms driving functional recovery in murine models of ischemic stroke. I began my PhD in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program in the Fall of 2019. Now in the Daneman lab, I aim to investigate the role of blood-brain barrier dysregulation in Alzheimer’s Disease pathogenesis. When I am not grappling with science-related problems in lab, you can find me training the “gentle art” of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, surfing, and enjoying San Diego's endless variety of burritos and beer.
Iris H. Garcia-Pak, MSTP Student
My pronouns are she/her/hers. Originally from Honolulu, I flew to the other end of the country to earn my Bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering at Brown University in 2015. After college, I spent 3 years as a post-baccalaureate IRTA fellow at the NIH in Bethesda studying the maturation of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Then in 2018, I came to UCSD as an MSTP student to pursue my dream of becoming a physician scientist. After completing the first half of medical school, I find myself leaning toward Pediatrics, Neurology, and Psychiatry specialities, but still too early to tell! I am currently in the Neurosciences Graduate Program and, as a member of the Daneman lab, am investigating the role the BBB might play in glutamate regulation. In my free time I dabble in snowboarding, dance, and smashing the patriarchy. I love plants, eating bread, and keebs, but I love none of these things as much as I love BTS.
Lucija Pintaric, Visiting Student
Hi! I'm from Croatia and I have completed my bachelors in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in Krems an Der Donau, Austria. In 2017 I worked on a clinical study concerning the genetic analysis of an ocular disease called Retinitis pigmentosa at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. In 2018 I graduated and enrolled into a Master's program in Molecular Biotechnology at FH Campus Wien. I joined the Daneman lab and my research focuses on the role of fibrotic scar tissue formation in stroke and the mechanisms that lead to fibrotic scar formation following stroke. When I am not in the lab you can see me dancing and singing at inappropriate places, doing sports, hiking, or partying.
Leigh-Ana Rossitto, Graduate Student
(she/her/hers) I earned my BS in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT in 2018, and I did my undergraduate research on gene therapies for Huntington's Disease in the lab of Dr. Guoping Feng. Post-bacc, I worked as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Mustafa Sahin at Boston Children's Hospital, investigating nutrient sensing in the brain and its role in epileptogenesis. After spending my whole life in New England, I decided to move to San Diego to join the Biomedical Sciences graduate program at UCSD, another East Coaster turned West Coast (with no regrets). I am co-mentored by Dr. David Gonzalez and am interested in applying multiomics to further elucidate the gut-brain axis in health and disease. Outside of the lab, you can find me trying out new coffee shops, breweries, and dog parks with my pup Murphy.
Reid Larsen, Graduate Student
Originally from the Boston area, I went to the University of Michigan to study Biomedical Engineering. During my time there, I worked in Dr. Peter Tessier’s lab doing antibody engineering research and at Selecta Biosciences, a small biotech company outside of Boston, doing drug development and testing. After graduating in 2019, I spent a year teaching English in Santiago Chile and traveling in Patagonia. I joined the Biomedical Sciences program at UCSD in the Fall of 2020. Now in the Daneman lab, I am interested in studying the composition and role of the sugar coating that lines the blood vessels in the brain. Termed the glycocalyx, this structure acts as the first barrier in the blood-brain barrier and could be important in many disease pathologies. Outside of the lab, you’ll find me playing rec sports or searching San Diego for the best burritos. I love to be out in nature, whether that’s hiking, snowboarding, or with my feet in the sand on the beach.
Ricardo Lozoya, Graduate Student
During my undergrad summers, I was part of an HHMI-funded summer research program that gave me the opportunity to first study and learn about the blood brain barrier while working in Dr. Chenghua Gu’s lab at Harvard Medical School. After graduating from Rice University in 2019 with a degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, I joined my old undergraduate mentor, Christian Schaaf, in Heidelberg, Germany to study the role of CHRNA7 gene dosage on neuropsychiatric disorders using patient-derived iPSCs. Now I am a PhD student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSD and am excited to continue learning about the BBB as a member of the Daneman lab! When I’m not in lab, you can usually find me pouring over old family recipes, playing/watching soccer, and dancing salsa and bachata.
Audrey Miglietta, Graduate Student
I attended UC Davis, not too far from my home in the Bay Area, where I majored in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. Aside from running with the cows and turkeys, I worked at NeuroMab producing and characterizing monoclonal antibodies for neuroscience research. Upon graduating in 2018, I moved to sunny San Diego to work in the lab of Dr. Nicola Allen at the Salk Institute. As a research assistant, I investigated the roles of astrocytes in the development of CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder, a rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorder. In the Fall of 2020, I joined the Neurosciences Graduate Program at UCSD, where I am now delighted to be in the Daneman lab exploring the role of the blood-brain barrier in hippocampal function in health and disease. When not grinding in lab, I enjoy obsessing over my planner, frolicking around breweries, and fiddling with arts and crafts.
- Montserrat Rodriguez
- Navid Ghazi
- Alex Zhang
- Michelle Lin
- Amanda Argoncillo
Former Lab Members
Alex Zhang - Undergraduate Student, Volunteer
Now, Medical Student at Denver University
Amanda Argoncilla - Undergraduate Student, Volunteer
Now, Lab Tech - Salk Institute
Cayce Dorrier - PhD Student
Now, Postdoc at NIH
Rob Pulido, PhD Student
Now, Clinical Scientist at Ionis Pharmaceuticals
Wenshuai Jiang, Research Associate
Now, PhD Student at Cornell University
Tony Zhang - Undergraduate Student, Volunteer
Now, Medical Student at Drexel University
Joseph Miller - Master's Student, Research Associate
Now, Medical Student at California University of Science and Medicine
Marie Blanchette, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Now, Scientific Evaluator at Health Canada
Mario Malfavon, Postdoctoral Fellow
Now Scientist, Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC)
Tamara Chan - Master's Student, Research Associate
Now graduate student at Stanford University
Stephanie Liaw - Lab Manager
Now consultant at 1798
Geoffrey Weiner - MSTP Student
Now intern at Stanford
Ezekiel Haenelt- Undergraduate Student
Jessica Gutierrez- Undergraduate Student
Austin Batugal- Undergraduate Student
Gabby Whiten- Undergraduate Student
Now graduate student at NYU
Anne Cabangcola - Undergraduate Student
Yuqi Cheng - Visiting Professor
Conor Mcloughlin - Visiting Student
Summer 2016 Trinity College Dublin
Alena Bartakova, MD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Dan Peng- Undergraduate Student
Sidar Aydın - Visiting Student
Soumya Kurnool - Undergraduate Student
Now medical student at UCSD
Fabien Sohet, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Allison Soung - Assistant Specialist
Now graduate student at Washington University
Christina Lin - Assistant Specialist
Now in Med School at UCSD
Nadine Ruderisch, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Now a Postdoc at Roche, Switzerland
Seo Yeon Lee - UC Berkeley Undergrad
Amanuel Kebede, MS - Staff Research Associate