Utz Lab Members

Click here for emeritus members.

Paul J. Utz, M.D.

P. J. Utz joined the Stanford faculty in 1999 and was promoted to Professor of Medicine in 2013. P.J. was born and raised in the Pocono Mountains near Scranton, PA. In 1986, he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Biology from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, with minors in English and Chemistry. While earning his M.D. degree in 1991 from Stanford University School of Medicine, he co-discovered the transcription factor Nuclear Factor of Activated T Cells (NFAT) with J.P. Shaw in Dr. Gerald Crabtree's laboratory. As noted on Dr. Crabtree's website, P.J. incorrectly named the transcription factor (it is not Nuclear, and it is not specific for Activated T Cells). P.J. completed his internal medicine residency, rheumatology fellowship, and post-doctoral training at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston prior to joining the Harvard Medical School Faculty in 1996. He left Dr. Paul Anderson's lab in 1999, and his lab at Stanford began experiments in the Spring of 2000.

P.J. has expertise in the study of autoantibodies and autoantigens, apoptosis signaling pathways, animal models of autoimmunity, proteomics and microfluidics. Members of his laboratory are developing several cutting-edge proteomics technologies for immunological applications, including multiplex autoantigen microarrays and EpiTOF. The Utz lab also studies vaccines for autoimmunity, influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and tuberculosis. Professor Utz is a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of several biotechnology companies, and actively consults with many companies.

Dr. Utz serves as Associate Dean for Medical Student Research where he oversees the Berg Scholars Program, MD-only physician scientist programs, and other medical student research programs. He is director emeritus of the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program and Founder and Faculty Director of the SIMR Summer High School Research Program which celebrated its 20th anniversary in summer 2019. SIMR students work in biomedical research labs on Stanford campus for 8 weeks. To date, SIMR has trained almost 1,000 high school students. He is also Co-Founder of the Physician Scientist Support Foundation (www.thepssf.org) whose goal is to save the “Endangered Physician Scientist,” described in a New England Journal of Medicine article in July 2019.

When not in the lab, P.J. spends most of his free time as an empty-nester with his wife. He enjoys travel, golf, hiking, biking, laying on the beach, watching Warriors and Stanford women’s basketball, and performing ANY non-grant writing activities whatsoever.

Berg Scholars Program

Rizwan Ahmed

Rizwan Ahmed was born in “Rauni” (a small village located near Kannauj city) and grew up in Unnao city in India. He earned his Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Tezpur Central University, India. He then went on to do doctoral degree in Biotechnology at the CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, India, where his research mainly focused in investigating the role of immune cells in disease pathologies. He then moved to Johns Hopkins University, U.S.A for his postdoctoral studies, where he made a paradigm shifting discovery of a previously unknown new lymphocyte (DE cells) that has been shown as key mediators in activating the self-reactive immune cells in autoimmune diseases, specifically, in Type 1 diabetes. Moving forward, he joined Dr. Utz research team as a “Senior Scientist” and interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms responsible for autoimmune pathologies and focusing on designing and developing novel “off-the-self” recombinant immunotherapeutic that can be used in clinical studies to cure the diseases. In spare time, he likes reading, listening to music and channeling his imagination through graphic illustration and architectural design. He loves spending time with family and friends.


Marlayna Harris

Marlayna was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended college in Ohio where she graduated from the College of Wooster and received a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. There, she completed a thesis focusing on creating a Boolean model of crosstalk between senescence and epithelial to mesenchymal transition. She was given the opportunity to present this research over the summer at the NetBioMed 2021 Conference. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games with friends, watching movies, and doing puzzles.


Katherine Konvinse, M.D., Ph.D.

Katherine grew up in rural New York State and earned her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at Cornell University. She then moved to Nashville, Tennessee and completed her MD and PhD training at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She is now a resident physician in the Stanford Pediatric Residency Research Track Program. Her current research in the Utz lab focuses on characterizing the serum antibody responses in pediatric patients exposed to viral infections including COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). When not in lab or caring for patients, Katherine enjoys spending time outside in the beautiful Bay Area with her husband and young son.

Rong Mao

Rong Mao received her B.A. magna cum laude in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Prior to joining the Utz lab, she worked as a grants manager/strategist at UCSF and more recently a scientific writer and program manager at Stanford. She is currently working at a local biotechnology startup company.

Quinton Markett

Quinton was born in Santa Clara and grew up in Los Gatos, California. He attended Loyola Marymount University where he received his B.S. in Biochemistry, with a minor in Biology (2022). During his undergraduate education at Loyola Marymount, he earned his NREMT certification and practiced as an EMT in Los Angeles. Quinton hopes to expand his understanding of the field of immunology and laboratory research before attending medical school. Aside from science, he enjoys hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains, working on cars, reading, mountain biking, and doing yoga. 

Ana Elisa Pacheco-Navarro

Ana was born locally in Santa Cruz but spent much of her life moving progressively further East: first to the border town of El Paso, Texas, where she grew up, then to Massachusetts, where she studied biology and English at Williams College.  Following graduation, she moved to New York City where she spent three years teaching high school science before attending medical school at Weill Cornell Medical College. She attended residency and completed a hospitalist year at Massachusetts General Hospital before coming home to the Bay Area for Pulmonary and Critical Care fellowship at Stanford.  Ana’s research interests involve identifying risk and prognostic factors for critical illness, including the relationship between serum antibody response and long-term outcomes following infections like COVID.  In her free time, she can be found running and exploring the trails around Santa Cruz, accompanied by her husband, Pete, and their two rescue pups.  

Tyler Prestwood

Tyler grew up in rural Northen California and earned his bacghelor's degree in Bioengineering at UC San Diego. After returning from a study abroad program in Brazil, he started working in a viral immunology lab studying dengue virus. He then complete his MD and PhD training at Stanford University School of Medicine studying cancer immunology. He is currently a research track resident at Stanford in the Psychiatry program. His interests involve investigating the serum antibody milieu in patients affected by various illnesses with post-infectious/infection-related compoents including PANS, schizophrenia and post-acute dequelae of COVID. 

Alysa Rallistan

Alysa grew up in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, California, and earned her Bachelor's of Science at UCLA for Human Biology and Society. She joined the lab as a Life Science Research Professional to gain a better understanding of the complexities of autoimmunity and develop her technical research skills. In the future, she hopes to continue her education and pursue an MD. 

Emily Yang

Emily grew up near Sacramento, California and is a graduating senior at Stanford majoring in Biology. She joined the lab as a Life Science Research Professional to learn more about autoimmunity, infection, and techniques in immunology research.   

Xihui Yin

Xihui is an Life Science Research Professional who grew up in Singapore and earned her Bachelor's from UCLA. She is currently focusing on profiling autoantibodies in PANDAS and hopes to earn a PhD in immunology. In her free time, she enjoys watching cute cat videos, petting cats, cooking and exploring films.

Sharon Dickow

Sharon is a seasoned Administrative Associate in the Division of Rheumatology. She helps PJ extricate himself from all of the many administrative fiascos he creates. She can be reached at (650) 723-7038, by Fax at (650) 723-7509, and by email at sdickow@stanford.edu.   


Jeff is our webmaster. He's a freelance programmer and web site developor with skills in C++, PHP, Perl, MySQL, HTML and other programming languages. When not updating this site, he teaches science and robotics in New York City. He coaches  robotics and chess. Besides playing chess in the park, he enjoys biking and reading fiction, biography and about science and nature.