Current Monje Lab Members
Michelle Monje, MD, PhD
Michelle Monje, MD, PhD joined the faculty at Stanford University in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neuro-Oncology. Following her undergraduate degree in biology at Vassar College, Dr. Monje received her MD and PhD in Neuroscience from Stanford University. She then completed neurology residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School program. She subsequently returned to Stanford for a clinical fellowship in pediatric neuro-oncology and a postdoctoral fellowship. The scope of her research program encompasses the molecular determinants of neural precursor cell fate, neuronal-glial interactions, and the role of neural precursor cells in oncogenesis and repair mechanisms. As a practicing neurologist and neuro-oncologist, Dr Monje is dedicated to understanding the neurodevelopmental origins of pediatric brain tumors and the neurological consequences of cancer treatment.
Ankita graduated from the University of Southern California in 2019 with a B.S. in Human Biology. Her previous research explored the neural mechanisms underlying the control of aggression in a rodent model. In the Monje lab, Ankita works alongside Dr. Juliet Knowles as she discerns how maladaptive myelination promotes epileptogenesis in absence epilepsy. Currently, Ankita focuses on colony management, immunohistochemistry, imaging, and data analysis.
Isabelle recently graduated from Stanford with a B.S. in Biology with Honors and now serves as the Tissue Navigator of the Monje Lab. She has previously studied the role of a neuroligin-3 mutation on myelin-forming cell dynamics in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Isabelle's research currently focuses on oligodendrogenesis in reward circuitry. In her free time, Isabelle enjoys trying out new recipes, singing, and exploring new cities.
Sara’s experience includes over 20 years of assisting research labs here at Stanford and previously at UCDavis. In the Monje Lab, she is focused on tissue processing/imaging, cell culture, and lab organization. She brings expertise in isolating and culturing primary glia and neurons. She enjoys volunteering her time to charitable organizations, spending time with her family and sewing.
Lijun’s research experience includes 15 years of being a research associate at Indiana University Cancer Center. She has a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology. In the Monje Lab, Lijun focuses on quantitative microscopy, including electron microscopy (EM), as well as cell culture work. Since her move to the west coast, Lijun enjoys exploring the scenic wonders of the Bay Area during frequent road trips with her family.
Michael is a rising junior at Stanford studying bioengineering. His research focuses on specific epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to the development of DIPG. In his spare time, Michael enjoys playing soccer and keeping up avidly with the San Jose Sharks hockey team. One day he hopes to become a physician-scientist and see the Sharks hoist the Stanley Cup.
With a spirit of inquiry, Pam found her way back to science after receiving a BA in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and graduate work in film studies at the University of Chicago. She has been a neuroscience research assistant at Stanford since 2010 working on a variety of in vivo projects. Currently she focuses on colony management, behavior, and translational research on pediatric brain tumors.
Tara Barron, PhD
After completing a BS in Neuroscience and Psychology from Trinity University, Tara received a PhD in Neuroscience from UT Health San Antonio in 2019. Her graduate dissertation examined electrophysiological interactions between neurons and oligodendrocytes. In the Monje lab, she is using patch clamp electrophysiology to study the functional expression of receptors and channels in glioma cells and the roles they play in neuron-glioma interactions leading to glioma growth.
Anthony Fernández-Castañeda, PhD
Anthony received a BS in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego. After working as a laboratory research assistant for a few years, he obtained a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Virginia in 2019. His thesis examined how oligodendrocyte progenitor cells contribute to neuroinflammation in models of demyelinating disease. In the Monje lab, Anthony is interested in understanding how astrocytes shape neuron-glioma circuits and drive tumor progression.
Anna Geraghty, PhD
Juliet Knowles, MD, PhD
Juliet is a PGY5 Pediatric Neurology resident at Stanford Children's Hospital. She completed her MD and PhD training in the laboratory of Dr. Frank Longo at Stanford, and she looks forward to a fellowship in Epilepsy at Stanford after residency. Currently, Juliet is using optogenetics and other methods to study the effects of seizures upon myelin plasticity, in collaboration with Dr. John Huguenard's lab.
Yuan Pan, PhD
After graduating from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with a B.S. in Biochemistry, Yuan studied membrane protein trafficking in the retina as a PhD student at University of Iowa. She started her career as a postdoc in David Gutmann’s lab to investigate how immune cells shape the microenvironment that drive glioma growth. In the Monje lab, Yuan continues exploring her research interests in glioma microenvironment. Specifically, she will determine the role of neuronal cells on the pathogenesis of pediatric low-grade gliomas, using mouse models of Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1).
Minhui Su, PhD
Minhui studied Biochemistry in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She received her PhD from the Molecular Biology Program – International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) at the Georg August University Göttingen, Germany. She is currently investigating voltage-sensitive mechanisms of glioma growth. Glioma progression is dependent on neuronal activity via growth factors and integration into neural circuits. Minhui wants to understand how membrane depolarization regulates glioma growth in the tumor microenvironment.
Kathryn Taylor, PhD
After graduating from the University of Portsmouth with a BSc in Biomedical Science, Katy started her career in cancer research by investigating kinase inhibition in rhabdomyosarcomas. Katy obtained her PhD from the Institute of Cancer Research/University of London in 2016, where she studied translational genomics of diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas. Her current research within the Monje Lab focuses on the interaction between pediatric gliomas and their microenvironment. In particular, she studies the neurodevelopmental mechanisms which are leveraged by glioma cells to advance their own progression.
Humsa Venkatesh, PhD
Humsa Venkatesh is a postdoctoral researcher focused on understanding the neuroscience of cancers. She received her B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley in Chemical Biology and her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Cancer Biology. Her postdocotral research, co-mentored with Dr. Robert Malenka, uses novel neuroscience techniques applied to gliomas to interrogate the critical role of neurons in the tumor microenvironment. Her work has recently demonstrated that malignant tumor networks electrically integrate into neural circuitry to promote their own growth. She hopes to apply these novel findings to other brain malignancies with the aim of further identifying new targets for cancer therapeutics.
Belgin Yalcin, PhD
Belgin received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2016, after completing an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Istanbul Technical University in 2011. In the Monje lab, her research focuses on understanding myelin plasticity of the brain. Specifically, she is investigating the basis of heterogeneity in the response of myelin-forming cells to neuronal activity.
Shawn M. Gillespie
Cancer Biology Program
Shawn graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 2009 with a B.S. in human biology and anthropology. Before attending Stanford, he spent several years in Boston studying chromatin regulation in cancer. As a PhD student in the Cancer Biology program, Shawn is interested in better understanding how cancer cells interact with one another and with normal cells of the microenvironment. In the Monje lab, he is focused on elucidating mechanisms mediating neural regulation of pediatric high-grade glioma pathophysiology.
Cancer Biology Program
Rebecca graduated from Binghamton University in 2019 with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. Her previous research explored the interactions between cancer and its surrounding immune microenvironment. Rebecca is currently a PhD student in Stanford’s Cancer Biology program, exploring similar questions in the context of pediatric high-grade glioma. Her work in the Monje Lab aims to elucidate the role of microglia in establishing the hyperexcitable neural networks which drive glioma.
Cancer Biology Program
Kiarash graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 2017 with a B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology. Before joining the Cancer Biology program at Stanford, he spent two years studying the neural basis of perception at UC Berkeley. As a Ph.D. student, Kiarash is interested in a systems neuroscience approach to understanding the interaction of tumor cells and their microenvironment in brain cancer. In the Monje lab, he is studying the neuron-glioma interactions at the circuit level to discern how patterns of activity within a neuron-glioma network influences the behavior of the cancer as a whole.
Razina graduated from Amherst College in 2014 with a BA in Neuroscience. Before starting medical school at Stanford, she spent two years conducting research at Massachusetts General Hospital. In the Monje lab, Razina studies pediatric high-grade glioma invasion that is mediated by neural activity, with a strong interest in the therapeutic targets that will arise from a better understanding of this process. She hopes to pursue Child Neurology and continue research in the field.
Helena is a rising junior at Stanford studying Human Biology and Art Practice. Her research focuses on the neurodevelopment mechanisms that contribute to pediatric glioma progression. In her free time, Helena loves to draw, read, and explore the outdoors with her family and friends. She enjoys volunteering, teaching, and hopes to help others through art, science, and empathy.
Vilina is a rising junior at Stanford studying neuroscience and cancer biology. Her in vivo drug studies research focuses on the impact of anti-epileptic drugs on glioma growth through reduction of neuronal activity and direct effects on glioma cells. Outside of the lab, Vilina enjoys writing, editing, volunteering, and playing piano.
Emmanuelle Elise Williamson
Emma is a rising sophomore at Stanford majoring in Human Biology and East Asian Studies. Her research focuses on voltage-gated calcium signaling pathways in neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs) and the potential signaling molecules involved in these pathways. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time hiking, reading, and participating in Stanford's Effective Altruism group.