Principal Investigator

Dr. Catherine Blish presenting at Immunology's 30th Anniversary Celebration in 2019.

Dr. Catherine Blish
Associate Professor of Medicine

Division of Infectious Diseases & Geographic Medicine

    Dr. Blish is an associate program director of the Stanford MD-PhD program, an investigator of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, Member of Bio-X and Member of Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI). 

    She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, and a M.D. and a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Washington. She performed postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Julie Overbaugh before moving to Stanford in late 2011. 


Stanford CAP Profile


Lab Staff

Thanmayi Ranganath
Lab Manager



Thanmayi got her MS in Biomedical Engineering from UCLA. Before joining the Blish Lab, she worked at Nemours Children's Hospital in Delaware as a lab manager. She currently works on streamlining lab operations, managing lab budgets and working on diverse research projects. Outside of her lab time, she is also pursuing her MBA from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. In her free time she loves traveling, biking and baking.

Laura Simpson
Research Scientist



Laura received her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at UCSF, where she studied microRNA regulation of T helper cells in asthma. In the Blish lab, she studies in vivo natural killer cell responses to influenza and HIV vaccination, as well as in vitro responses to influenza and dengue virus. Outside of lab, she plays boardgames, drinks excessive amounts of coffee, and spends time enjoying San Francisco.

Arjun Rustagi
Clinical Postdoc



Arjun is a clinical fellow in infectious diseases and a postdoctoral researcher in the Blish lab. He completed his PhD in the Department of Global Health and MD with Honors at the University of Washington, where his research focus was innate immune signaling and antagonism by HIV. He has been focused on human viral immunology for over a decade, while his clinical experience fostered a particular interest in respiratory infections. He is currently studying the virology, pathogenesis, and immunology of SARS-CoV-2. Outside the lab, he enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 daughters and playing ultimate frisbee.

Giovanny J. Martinez-Colon
Postdoctoral Researcher



Giovanny is a biomedical researcher with experience in studying the role of the innate immune system in mounting protective host defenses to both bacterial and viral pathogens. His research mission is to identify strategies to treat and prevent severe infectious diseases. He is currently studying the role of Natural Killer cells in the pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In his free time he likes eating, enjoying craft beer, and watching boxing matches.

Anne-Maud Ferreira
Postdoctoral Researcher

Anne-Maud got her PhD in Life Sciences, at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), where she worked as part of the GENCODE genome annotation consortium. Her expertise includes bioinformatic analyses of biological high throughput data and algorithmic methods development. She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher supervised by Prof. Catherine Blish and Prof. Susan Holmes (Department of Statistics). Anne-Maud develops data analysis tools for data generated in the laboratory and provides statistical support for various projects. In her free time, she likes reading, hiking, and being outdoors to enjoy the sunny Californian weather.


Ruoxi Pi
Postdoctoral Researcher



Ruoxi received her BS in Biological Sciences in Zhejiang University in China, where she conducted research in polyphasic taxonomy in anaerobic bacteria. She received her PhD in Yale University, where she studied the early events of retrovirus infection in animal models. Now in the Blish lab, she is investigating NK cell responses during HIV-1 infection and trying to manipulate the NK cell population to target latently infected cells. Outside the lab, she enjoys hiking and playing her musical instrument.

Julia McKechnie
Graduate Student



Julia received her BS in Molecular Environmental Biology at the University of California, Berkeley where she conducted her undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi. In the Blish laboratory, she is studying the role of natural killer cells during acute dengue infection. She is also investigating how previous dengue infection predisposes certain cell subsets to infection upon secondary exposure and how this impacts intercellular communication. Outside of the laboratory, Julia likes riding horses, running, exercising, and hiking.

Nancy Zhao
Graduate Student



Nancy received her BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. In the Blish lab, she studies the natural killer cell response to HIV infection, with the goal of understanding the mechanisms by which NK cells can recognize HIV-infected cells, and methods to improve NK cell targeting of HIV. She enjoys baking complicated desserts, eating delicious food and (occasionally) exercising.



Aaron Wilk
Graduate Student



Aaron received his BS in Biology, Chemistry, and Music at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. In the Blish lab, he is using high-dimensional single-cell profiling to study how various innate immune cell subsets protect from, and contribute to, disease pathology in influenza, SIV, and SARS-CoV-2 infections. He is also developing bio-orthogonal transfection techniques for NK cells to facilitate the mechanistic study of the molecules involved in NK cell recognition of target cells. Outside of lab, Aaron enjoys playing the piano, kiteboarding, and making lots of pizza.

Maddie Jane Lee
Graduate Student



Maddie received her B.A. in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, where she conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Todd Fehniger’s lab. In the Blish lab, she is studying natural killer cells in the context of pediatric HIV. Outside the lab, she enjoys cooking, listening to podcasts, and playing board games with her friends.


Rosemary Vergara
Research Assistant

Rosemary Vergara received her BS in Biology from Santa Clara University, with minors in Public Health and Biotechnology. She works on a diverse set of experiments working with all members of the lab, aids Thanmayi with managerial duties, and works on her own individual projects. Her current project focuses on NK cell function in PANDA/ PANS. Outside of lab she is passionate about creating more diversity in the medical pipeline, holding leadership positions with MiMentor and the Summer Health Professions Education Program. She also loves to spend time with her family and her pets Shakira, Lilo and Beto. Beginning summer 2020, Rosemary will begin a five year Masters/ MD program in Michigan.

Geoff Ivison
Graduate Student

Geoff received his BA in the biochemistry of human health from Hampshire college. For his PhD work, he has been co-mentored by Dr. Blish and Sean Bendall. He has studied the natural killer intracellular signaling pathways regulating the cytotoxic response in the context of both antibody dependent and independent cell killing. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, he has shifted his focus to developing antivirals against SARS-CoV-2. During normal times, he likes hiking, biking, backpacking, and climbing. During all times, he likes board games, science fiction novels, baking, and gardening.


Taylor Hollis
Research Assistant

Taylor received her BA in International Studies from Soka University of America, with a minor in Japanese. She has worked on experiments that range from making antigen binding fragments (fabs) to propagation of influenza in embryonated chicken eggs to running cells on Aurora flow cytometry. Now, her most recent projects are focused on NK cell function in PANDA/PANS and also running scRNA Seq-Well. She will be learning how to run CyTOF within the next year and take over projects left by her colleague, Rosemary. She is an alumni from various programs like Mi Mentor and Stanford L.E.A.P. She is heavily involved in  breast cancer research at Stanford’s Center for Population and Health Sciences as well as the Community Engagement Center. Taylor is looking to join the SHC Cancer Patient Advisory Council for all of the East Bay Area in a partnership with Alameda Health Alliance. She volunteers with the Stanford Radiology department, Lifelong Medical Care in East Oakland, and Roots Clinic. She will be participating in the Community Health Ambassadors (CHA) Community Service Learning Program this year.


Lab Alumni

and where they are now

  • Dr. Elena Vendrame, Director of Clinical Research - Virology at Gilead Sciences and Adjunct Clinical Instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Dr. Mathieu Le Gars, Biomarker Lead for Therapeutic HPV & Prophylactic Polio & SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines at Johnson & Johnson
  • Dr. Lisa Kronstad, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Midwestern University
  • Dr. Susan Canny, Fellow in pediatric rheumatology are Seattle Children’s hospital
  • Dr. Christof Seiler, Assistant Professor at Maastricht University
  • Dr. Nicholas Bayless, Research Scientist at Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Dr. Joanne Lau, Neurology resident at University of California San Diego
  • Dr. Dara Strauss-Albee, Data Science Manager at Stripe
  • Jacob Shahidi, optometry student at the New England College of Optometry
  • Dr. Olivia Hatton, Assistant Professor at Colorado College
  • Dr. Alexander Kay, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Director of the Global TB program, Baylor College of Medicine, based in Mbabane, eSwatini
  • Dr. Emily Liang, Internal Medicine resident at Stanford Hospital
  • Dr. Chin Chen, laboratory manager
  • Camille Roque, medical student at UC Davis
  • Dr. Lindsay Sceats, surgical resident at Stanford School of Medicine
  • Mary Rieck, lab manager for the Bluestone Lab at UCSF
  • Dr. Ozge Dogan, Pediatrics resident at UCSF-Fresno