Celebrating 40 Years of Service

Barbara Jean Hill

For the past 20 years, Barbara Hill has worked tirelessly and with great devotion in support of several laboratories, maintaining those laboratories’ living stocks of Drosophila strains. The laboratory fruit fly Drosophila has been a potent tool for the genetic analysis of embryonic development, genetic basis of birth defects, physiology, and the molecular basis of human cancer. Much of the usefulness of Drosophila for understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie these processes comes from the extensive collections of mutant Drosophila. However, the fruit flies cannot be frozen, so the many genetic strains must be maintained as live cultures. This requires meticulous care to propagate each strain monthly, rigorous record keeping, and complete reliability. Barbara Hill has performed this daunting task faithfully and reliably for many years. Barbara’s work has been a pillar of our efforts to understand how cells differentiate in adult stem cell lineages. We are extremely grateful to her for her reliable and essential help in our research.

Developmental Biology is a family, we have drama, excitement, contentment and sorrow. In our family, Barbara is the heart and soul, the moral compass, the chief hugs officer, she is our mother. She teaches the graduate students how to get their work done (kind of like telling your kids to do their homework). She organizes and cooks for our holiday parties. She keeps our staff in line (kind of like disciplining your kids). Don’t get out of line or Barbara will give you the look! Need to talk to someone, go to the fly room where no matter how busy she is, she will make time for you. If that means she has to stay an extra hour or two, that is what she will do.

We know her family, and she knows ours. How many people have come back to visit the department after being gone for years? One of the first things they do is to go see Barbara. She has left her mark on countless students, staff, even faculty. We could not think of the department without thinking of Barbara. Developmental Biology is a family, and Barbara is our mother.

Margaret Fuller, PhD (supervisor)

Wendy Leong

Wendy has literally grown up along with the field of histocompatibility in her 40 years affiliated with Stanford. She began this journey as a student and graduate of the Stanford School of Medical Technology. Upon graduation, she was hired by Dr. Rose Payne, acknowledged to be the “Mother of HLA,” to work in the fledgling clinical Tissue Typing Laboratory. Wendy’s prior training and experience in Tissue Typing as an undergraduate at UCLA was a factor that inclined her to choose this field and for Rose to offer her a job. Since then, Wendy has been continuously employed in the Histocompatibility Laboratory, through its evolution from Tissue Typing Laboratory to the present. With this unique and rich background, she has been, and still is, in the front lines contributing to the advancements and improvement of organ and bone marrow transplantation under the past direction of Dr. Carl Grumet and present co-directorship of Drs. Dolly Tyan and Marcelo Fernández-Viña.

One might apply the title of “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” to Wendy, since she has been involved with virtually every aspect of the laboratory operations. She is used to wearing a variety of different hats in the course of her work. Some of the current responsibilities include (but are not limited to) performing clinical testing, analyzing test results, writing and reviewing SOPs, reviewing and signing out clinical reports, reviewing QC/QA documentation, etc. In addition to her laboratory “day job,” she was involved for many years in the “on call” service which provides around the clock support for the Multi-Organ Transplant Program.

Wendy is one of the world’s rare HLA historians, as she has been exposed to and worked on so many methods and has lived through, and understands, nomenclature changes used in the specialty. This experience means that Wendy can make sense of the limitations of testing and understands the correlation with methods and names currently used. Wendy has contributed to the advancement of histocompatibility through active participation in several International Histocompatibility Workshops and as a member of the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI). Much of Wendy’s career had been focused in the area of serological typing, but her skills and knowledge have been expanded to the molecular area and the various associated technology. Currently, her activities in the laboratory focus primarily in the performance and evaluation of a test that measure the proportion of engraftment of hematopoietic stem cell transplants. This test is offered in only a few labs in the world, and the skill Wendy brings to this specialized test allows Stanford bone marrow clinicians to provide some of the best patient care anywhere. In addition, Wendy trains new staff members, visiting scientists, clinical and research post-doctoral fellows in this area and has provided in-services in other various histocompatibility testing procedures. She has been an excellent educator and lecturer in the Clinical Histocompatibility Scientist (CHS) Training Program currently offered by the Stanford Histocompatibility Laboratory. With her experience and expertise in the histocompatibility field, she has been and continues to be an important resource and asset to the Histocompatibility, Immunogenetics and Disease Profiling Laboratory.

Sheryl Pask (supervisor)

Melchor Madrigal

Melchor Madrigal began his career in 1972 within the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine (DLAM) as an Animal Caretaker. Early on he established himself as a steady and reliable worker. He received numerous accolades for his contributions to the research being conducted at Stanford University with regards to animal care and welfare. He was consistently given high marks for his ability to build relationships, gaining the trust and respect of coworkers. Over the years, he has also received accolades from scientists for his reliability. As one research professor put it: “His consistent superior work is greatly appreciated by all.”

By 1988, Melchor had reached the level of Animal Caretaker III. During this time, he had developed a number of skills, including a knack for facility maintenance, which did not go unnoticed. In 1989, he transitioned to a full-time Maintenance Mechanic, one of only two of its kind dedicated to what is now known as the Veterinary Service Center (VSC) within the Department of Comparative Medicine. Having dedicated maintenance personnel, like Melchor, receives high marks from regulatory agencies such as AAALAC International, which conducts regular site visits. During these visits to our facilities, Melchor accompanies the team and makes on-the-spot repairs. Site visitors truly appreciate and admire Stanford for having such dedicated maintenance personnel readily available.

During his time as a maintenance mechanic, Melchor attended outside classes to become a certified welder. His welding skills enable him to repair various types of metal caging that otherwise would need replacement or outside repair at a significant cost. He has certainly proven himself invaluable in this regard. Melchor has also acquired skills in many different trades, such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical. These skills are very important to the success of the VSC in its support of the research effort at Stanford University. Melchor’s significant contributions over the years enable the VSC to achieve the highest levels of excellence.

DeVere Charron (supervisor)

Zera Murphy

Working in Student Affairs, and in her role as Director of Student Life, Zera has the opportunity to make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of our students. She is involved with our students from their earliest days, when she plays a leading role in organizing the new student orientation, all the way to spearheading plans for their graduation.  She handles small details for students, like arranging dictation services for students starting their clinic rotations, to larger undertakings like helping the many student organizations plan and stage activities.  From matriculation to graduation, Zera is there for our students.

Zera wasn't always at the School of Medicine.  She started her career in Stanford University's Real Estate department, gradually rising to the position of Director of Lands Management, a position she held for seven years. From 1985 until 1992, Zera was responsible for the management of the Stanford Research Park as well as all the commercial, and off/campus residential and agricultural lands owned by the University.

After facing and conquering those challenges, it was not surprising that she chose to do something else for a few years, working with several companies in Malaysia. She returned to Stanford and, in 1997, joined the School of Medicine.

Zera's special knack for listening to the students and hearing what they are really trying to communicate has allowed her to build close and lasting ties with many of our students.  She helps them to grow and mature, and Zera notes that she finds it a two-way street, where she enjoys the experience and learns from these fascinating and talented students.

Through her tireless efforts, Zera helps make the Medical School a special place every day. The Office of Student Affairs joins the rest of the Medical School in congratulating you on your 40 years of service to Stanford University.

Char Hamada (supervisor)

Lynne C. Olds

Lynne Olds began her career on The Farm as a research assistant at Children's Hospital at Stanford in the laboratory of Dr. John Miller from 1972-1992. Her research in the Miller lab was focused on the basic science of juvenile arthritis.

Lynne subsequently worked at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Moss investigating the pathophysiology of cystic fibrosis.

Lynne is currently a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Sibley in the Department of Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In the Sibley Lab, she is involved in research on the mechanisms regulating intestinal development.

Over the years, Lynne has contributed as an author to 25 research publications, has trained numerous Stanford students, residents and fellows in laboratory methods, and has provided outstanding research support for the faculty with whom she has worked. Congratulations, Lynne!

Eric Sibley (supervisor)


Anca Ruhlen

Anca Ruhlen has seen research at Stanford progress from notecards and Selectrics to the digital age. Most of Anca’s career at Stanford has been as a librarian, and it is clear that she has a love for books and people. Her first job was at Hoover Press as an office assistant, and after that she went to Green Library as a library assistant.  She attended the Berkeley School of Library Science, earning a Master's degree in 1981. Applying her information and language skills (Russian, among others), Anca has contributed to maintaining several different library collections at Stanford. She joined the Center for International Security and Arms Control as their librarian in 1987. (In keeping with the times, the center changed its name to become the Center for International Security and Cooperation when the Cold War ended.) Anca was there until 2004.

In her current role as an Administrative Assistant in the Department of Genetics, Anca navigates a profusion of details for multiple faculty members, as well as for the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine. Fortunately for our department, her cheerful enthusiasm extends towards all areas of lab life, be it helping seminar speakers or graduate students and post-docs. Without Anca's careful attention to detail, there is a good chance that some very expensive reagents for our DNA sequencers would be lost in transit and never arrive in time to 'feed' the machines. Similarly, when a piece of finicky lab equipment breaks, we know that the vendor's field engineer will come forthwith because Anca has kept track of and renewed the warranties. I am not sure if Anca ever expected to find herself working in the School of Medicine having started in Political Science, but since joining the Genetics Department in 2005, she has keenly absorbed the barrage of technical jargon and evolving technologies that come her way. With our Center's upcoming move to a new building, I have the utmost respect for Anca's abilities to help manage a smooth transition for all involved. Congratulations and Thank You, Anca for all of your daily triumphs! I look forward to celebrating many future successes together.

Dr. Ghia Euskirchen (supervisor)