Utz Lab Emeritus Members
Mel Balboni, M.D., Ph.D.
Mel grew up in Manchester Connecticut. In 1990 she received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Colby College (Waterville, ME) and entered the University of Connecticut MST Program. She received her M.D. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Science in 1999 and completed her Residency in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (Orange, CA) in June 2002. She joined the Utz lab in 2003, during her pediatric rheumatology fellowship, to study autoantibody profiles of pediatric lupus patients. She is now an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford. When not in the lab or taking care of patients, Mel can be found enjoying happy hour with friends, rescuing stray wildlife from the jaws of death, cycling around the bay area, or training for her next marathon (of sleep that is).
Erika Bongen was a PhD student in the Immunology program. She earned her bachelors at the University of Illinois, where she studied molecular biology, chemistry, and Japanese tea ceremony. She used both traditional and computational immunology techniques to explore the role of epigenetics in autoimmunity.
Sarah Chang was a Research Assistant in the Utz Lab who is from the Bay Area. She earned her Bachelor's in Human Biology at the University of California San Diego. She went on at UCSD to earn her Master's degree in Biology studying receptor targets in pancreatic cancer. She is currently a scientist at Genentech.
Faraaz worked in the Utz lab during the summers in 2001-2003 as well as during winter break. He first started to work in Dr. Utz's lab as an intern in the CCIS summer program, the predicessor to the SIMR program), which gives high school students the opportunity to work in medical research labs at Stanford. Faraaz worked on the mitochondrial localization signal of SRP68. Faraaz left the Utz Lab to study Bioengineering in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley. Faraaz entered the M.D./Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia in the fall of 2005. He hopes work on such things as the development of surgical tools and prosthetics/implants. When not studying or working in the lab, Faraaz likes to hike, ski, drive and watch movies. Among his favorite foods are Persian, Mexican, and Chinese food. He also enjoys all types of music, including country.
Peggie was born and raised in Hong Kong. After moving to the Golden State in the late '90s, she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from UC Davis. Prior to joining the Utz lab as a senior research scientist, she earned her Ph.D. Degree in Biology from Stanford University and completed her post-doctoral training in chromatin biology and immunology at Stanford. While not in lab, Peggie enjoys spending time with her three dogs and two young children.
Regina (Wedge) Cheung
Regina is a New Jersey-bred California girl: after getting her BS (in engineering) at Caltech, she spent 5 years in Boston (getting an MS in mechanical engineering at MIT in the process) before returning to CA to work on a Ph.D. in Immunology at Stanford, where she integrated her engineering degrees with technology and lupus research. Her thesis elucidated dendritic cell signaling in SLE. As such, she was a member of both the Utz and Nolan labs. While she's taking care of her son Julian (born Sept 2008), she is considering options for her future career. She and enjoys playing video games with her husband Robin, hiking, cooking, and photography (which is usually mixed up with all her other hobbies).
Andrej completed his medical studies and residency at the Stanford University School of Medicine and is a cardiologist at the Stanford University Medical Center. He joined the Utz lab in July of 2005 as a Postdoctoral Fellow. His research interests involve the application of proteomics technology to cardiovascular disease. He is a physician scientist at the University of Toronto. Andrzej's interests encompass sailing, going fishing, running and skiing.
Pam was our lab manager. She left the Utz Lab to become a research assistant at Yale University
Nicole Alexandria Conlon
Nicole completed her B.A. while majoring in Biochemistry at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She joined the Utz lab as an Immunology Ph.D. student in April of 2007. Her research interests include developing peptide MHC arrays to look at autoreactive T cell responses in diabetes and in Lupus. She completed her law degree in Washington, D.C., and works as a patent attorney at McNeil Baur. In her spare time she enjoys doing yoga.
Carla DiGennaro worked in the lab as a Research Assistant from June 2000 until she entered UC Berkeley grad school in the fall of 2001. She disappointed all of us by turning down Stanford.
Vivian K. Diep
Vivian is originally from Arlington, Virgina, but spent most of her childhood in the San Joaquin Valley of California. She completed her undergraduate studies at University of California, San Diego, where she majored in human biology and psychology. Vivian joined the Utz Lab in April 2012 and was a research assistant. She was involved with multiple projects including the study of antigen reactivity profiles in pediatric lupus patients with severe proliferative nephritis. She is currently a Physician's Assistant student Samual Merritt in Oakland. Outside of work, Vivian participates in many health fairs, volunteering her phlebotomy skills to non-profit organizations that provide free blood tests throughout the Bay Area community. In addition, Vivian enjoys hiking, cycling, reading, and coming up with the best combinations for the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.
Katerina Drouvalakis, Ph.D.
Mai Dvorak grew up in the Bay Area and earned her bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she studied biology. She joined PJ's lab as a Life Science Research Professional with hopes to gain more research experience. She is currently enrolled as a PhD student in the Biology program at Stanford.
Derek fong graduated from Los Altos High School and graduated from Yale University in 2005. Derek was one of PJ's first CCIS High School Summer Students. CCIS is the predicessor to the SIMR program, which gives high school students the oppurtunity to work in medical research labs at Stanford.
As a child growing up in Oklahoma, Reem dreamed of being a professional basketball star. However, his dream was dealt a tremendous blow when he discovered that nary a college program had any need for a short, slow guy with absolutely no talent. After recovering from the shock of being passed over in the NBA draft as a high school entrant, Kareem decided it was time to turn his energies elsewhere. Upon graduating from Rice University with a Bachelor's in Biochemistry in 1999, he took his act to the West Coast. His research interests include murine models of autoimmune disease and autoantigen arrays. When, not in lab, Reem enjoys skiing, reading, and honing his table tennis skills (with considerable aid from Mike Kattah and Steve Chan). Kareem left his position as Assistant Professor at Emory to join the biotechnology workforce here in the SF Bay Area.
Ritu was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She migrated to India, completed premedical studies there and earned degree of Bachelor in Medicine, Bachelor in Surgery (MB.BS.) at M.R. Medical College of Karnataka (India) and completed internship at Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi (India). She then joined the Utz lab, from 2005 until 2013. She enjoys trekking, alternative rock, and spending time with her German Shepherd, Shoolu.
Rohit K. Gupta
Rohit was the Director of the Human Immune Monitoring Center Biobank (HIMC Biobank). Rohit got his start in Dr. Lawrence Steinman's lab in 2003 studying Multiple Sclerosis, and is the former lab manager for Dr. Utz's lab. While in Dr. Utz's lab, his focus was on establishing and sustaining the Immunology Registry and Repository. This led to the development of a center for biobanking, under the HIMC (Director: Dr. Holden Maecker). Rohit is the inaugural Chief Biobank Officer at UCSF.
Jamie grew up in the Great White North and received his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Victoria. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in medical genetics in Dr. Kelly McNagny's lab at the University of British Columbia. Jamie joined the lab as a post doctoral fellow in the Utz Lab in December 2010. He is interested in developing and using new technologies to learn about the mechanisms underlying autoimmune disease. He is investigated the role of autoreactive T helper cells in the pathogenesis of sytemic lupus erythematosus. Away from work, Jamie likes to spend time with his family, travel, mountain bike, play soccer and read. Currently, he is a Scientist at Genentech.
Winn Hayes was a PhD student in biomedical informatics. Before studying at Stanford, Winn got his bachelor's degree at Hendrix College and worked as a bioinformatician at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Winn's research focused on integrating publicly available datasets to broaden our understanding of the mechanisms and relationships of human diseases. Winn currently works at a biotechnology company in Santa Barbara. Winn enjoys spending his free time with his wife and daughter.
Wolfgang Hueber, M.D.
Justin is a California-native, born and raised in the Bay Area. He currently lives in the ‘garlic capital of the world,’ where he treats himself to a scoop of garlic ice cream each year at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. Justin completed his undergraduate studies at Santa Clara University where he majored in biology and minored in chemistry and biotechnology. Justin was a life science research assistant in the Utz Lab since August 2009. A ‘jack-of-all-trades,’ Justin currently works on multiple projects, which include developing novel array-based methods to measure antibody response to influenza vaccination, characterizing antigen-specific T cell responses in SLE using novel tetramer reagents, and identifying surface marker profiles on human cardiac progenitors to explore cellular pluripotency. During the off chance Justin isn’t probing arrays, he can usually be found either trail running, mountain biking, wakeboarding, or if it’s hockey season, rooting for his San Jose Sharks! Justin is currently a PhD grad student in Bill Robinson's Lab at Stanford.
Makoto Kamachi, M.D, Ph.D.
Mike grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. He attended Walt Whitman High School and received his black belt in Tang Soo Do under Dale Tompkins. After graduating from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science (2001), he participated in the NIH IRTA program for one year. He did not always plan for a future in science, but alas, dreams of becoming a back-up dancer for Britney Spears were shattered when he discovered he was tragically born without rhythm. Following completion of his MSTP studies at Stanford University, he went on to complete medicine training at the Brigham, GI training at UCSF, and worked in the lab of Averil Ma. Mike was recently promoted to Assistant Professor at UCSF.
Sarah was born and raised around the Bay Area her whole life. She was a biology undergraduate biology student at Stanford, a PhD student in Bill Robinson's Lab, and is now a Bioinformatics Scientist at Abbvie. She first gained an interest in immunology back in 6th grade and has wondered about the immune system ever since. Some of her other interests include dance, art and kenpo karate.
Dodge was an undergraduate student in the Utz Lab. He studied antibodies to growth factors, cytokines and other proteins using microarray analysis. He currently is a professional golfer on the Asian Tour.
Angela was born in Cambridge, MA. She graduated from Harvard College in 2004. She Joined the Utz lab as a graduate student in 2005, where she discovered a novel way to activate T lymphocytes and ultimately hopes to apply her findings to promote effective immune responses against lymphoma. In her spare time (wait, what? spare time?), she enjoys music (guitar, piano), photography, hiking, cake decorating and dreaming up information technology resources to enhance the flow of science world-wide.
Truc Le, M.D.
Truc is the first emeritus member of the lab. Truc won numerous fellowships, including an HHMI award. Truc forgot more medicine than PJ had ever learned, but had difficulty reading topographical maps and identifying indigenous California plants. After completing a PICU Fellowship and period as Assistant Professor at Stanford, Truc is now practicing in Nashville, Tennessee.
Lowen is a UC Santa Cruz Biology grad by way of UC Davis ("Slaggie"). After working at Becton-Dickinson for a few years, she decided that she had enough of flow cytometers and headed over to academia. While in the Utz Lab, Lowen was a research assistant who worked most closely with Peggy and Reem on models of autoimmune diseases. During her free time she enjoys iyengar yoga, hiking, opera, scuba diving, chillin' with friends, and finding cool new restaurants to dine at. She left the Utz Lab to pursue training and a career in physical therapy.
Cindy Limb lived most of her life on the east coast and came out to sunny California in 2000 with her husband and three active daughters. She grew up in Philadelphia and then went to Boston for college where she received her bachelors at M.I.T. and a masters at Harvard. She loved Boston so much that she spent 13 years there, doing research at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and then teaching freshmen biology at M.I.T. for several years. Now on the west coast, she joined P.J.'s lab where she hopes to get back into research and to gain experience in the newest technologies in bio research.She is currently working with the ITI Institute.
Chih Long Liu
Chih Long was born and raised in Saratoga, California. He attended Stanford University, where he majored in the biological sciences. He was also an undergraduate member of the Brown Lab, where he worked with three MSTP students on gene expression profiling of activating T lymphocytes. Afterwards, he spent six years in Massachusetts, developing TLAD and mononucleosomal resolution ChIP-chip, profiling histone modifications and receiving a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology at Harvard University. He then spent a 1-year postdoctoral fellowship i n the laboratory of Oliver Rando, now at UMass Medical School. After having enough of the New England winters, he returned to sunny California and joined both the Utz and Gozani laboratories, where he is studying neutrophils and their link to lupus. He also supervised numerous collaborations which involve the lab's protein microarray platforms. He is now a research associate in Ash Alizadeh’s lab. When not in the lab, Chih Long enjoys traveling and has visited Canada, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Taiwan, most of the countries of Europe, and half of the 50 states in the US. Visit his web site for more information.
Gil moved to Palo Alto at a young age and grew up running around campus. Before returning back to the Farm a year ago, Gil took a long detour overseas and completed his bachleor's in chemistry at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Previous to joining the Utz Lab, he worked next door in the Steinman Lab on granulocytes in multiple sclerosis mouse models. As a life science research assistant, Gil will be collaborated with a variety of groups on auto-antigen arrays. Additionally, he is interested in T-helper cell subsets and BAFF expression in B cells. In his free time, Gil enjoys photography (www.gilmpix.com), some train travel, lots of books and a good stout beer here and there. He left the Utz lab to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Harvard.
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.
Mónica spent 2 years in the Utz lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow, and is still working closely with the Utz lab as a "Frequently Visiting Scientist." She is now a Titular Professor of Rheumatology at University of Guadalajara.
Marie-Josee was a CCIS Summer Intern (the predecessor to the SIMR program) in 2000. Marie-Josee learned the definition of the word "nonpotable" during the summer of 2000. She continued her studies in the Negrin Lab. Marie-Josee passed away unexpectedly in 2017.
Jordan was a graduate student in the lab from 2008 to 2013. Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Jordan majored in biology and cello performance at Oberlin and spent time teaching in Ecuador before joining Stanford's immunology graduate program. His thesis work was to develop array-based methods to identify new biomarkers in systemic lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune diseases, and measuring antibody response to influenza vaccination. Jordan enjoys teaching and mentoring and has served as a TA in several classes, including a class he co-developed, "Brain and the Immune System", which examines the field of neuroimmunology from many angles. He has also served as a TA and mentor for the SIMR program. He completed his PhD studies in the Utz lab and a postdoctoral fellow at rival school, UC Berkeley. He joined the Faculty at Oberlin College in 2017. When he is not processing arrays or shaping the minds of future scientists, Jordan enjoys listening to NPR and watching classic 90's television. One day Ensign Price hopes to earn the rank of Lieutenant, but so far his work in the astrometrics lab, while brilliant, has proven insufficient to impress the Captain. Jordan and his husband Kyle welcomed Tobermory Vail Gabler to the family in 2020.
Tue Kruse Rasmussen
Tuz joined the lab in 2013 as a visiting researcher. Tue's research focuses on IL-21 and Follicular T helper cells and how they control (auto-)antibody production. Although currently back again in Denmark completing his MD/PhD training. In collaboration with Gloria Yiu he is studying the role of type I interferons in SLE and their impact on autoantibody production.
Bill completed his Rheumatology training at Stanford in June 2002 and was a Research Associate until the fall of 2003, when he joined the Stanford University faculty to continue to develop "Reverse Genetics" technology to diagnose and treat autoimmune diseases. Bill does more exciting things with his free time in a weekend than do the rest of the collective lab in a year. Bill is the principle inventor of our autoantigen microarray technology. He is now a professor of medicine at Stanford. As Chief of Immunology and Rheumatology, Bill is now PJ’s boss!
Jake was an MD/PhD student. He is currently completing his residency and ID short track fellowship at MGH. He is interested in studying the relationship between infection and autoimmunity.
Veronika joined the Utz Lab in July 2005 as a Rheumatology fellow. She was born Veszprem, Hungary. She received her MD from the University Medical School of Pecs, Hungary. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Fathman Lab at Stanford and completed an internal medicine residency at Stanford University. She currently is practicing theumatologist at SCVMC. She is interested in techniques for discovery of new disease markers for human autoimmune diseases, primarily systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Her hobbies include hiking, camping, sea kayaking, skiing, swimming and raising her children.
Harvir joined the Utz Lab in September of 2005, where his focus is the use of new technology to understand the signalling pathways in human diseases. He completed his masters in biology at Stanford after leaving the Utz Lab. He enjoys traditional Indian dance called Bhangra and was a member of the Stanford Bhangra team, 'Chardi Jawani.'
Chen-Tsen graduated from Stanford with a degree in Biology in 2001. She is pursuing a career in medicine and education. She is particularly happy that she no longer must do minipreps to earn a living.
Originally from the suburbs of New York City, Jessie received a bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard in 1996. After college, she headed west to work as a program manager at a computer software company in Redmond, WA, for 6 years, before going back to school in the fall of 2002 to pursue a PhD in biomedical informatics. She is now an assistant professor at Duke. Her research focused on computational methods applied to functional proteomics, pathway discovery, disease outcome prediction and treatment efficacy. When not in lab or doing homework, Jessie enjoys biking, all things outdoors, creating stained glass windows and commuting from and to San Francisco. Jessie Tenenbaum serves as the Chief Data Officer (CDO) for DHHS, assisting the Department in developing a strategy to use information to inform and evaluate policy and improve the health and well-being of residents of North Carolina.
Pearline was born in Singapore and went to Johns Hopkins to get a B.A. in Biology. She then came out west and did her thesis work in the Utz lab. Her research combined antibody-based cancer therapy and regulatory T cells. When not in lab, she enjoys doing Wushu (Chinese kung fu), biking, hiking and reading. She is currently an entrepreneur in Singapore.
Donna rew up in Ilion, NY. She attended Rochester Institute of Technology where she ate a lot of garbage plates and earned a B.S. in Biotechnology. After digging herself out of the snow, she headed west to Stanford and joined the Utz lab in the summer of 2002 as a gradute student. Her thesis work included examining the roles of type I interferon and toll like receptor signaling components in lupus. After assuming the very prestigious role of YOURSAC (Your Official Utz Regime Social Activities Coordinator) upon Kareem's graduation, Donna decided to pursue dual degrees in Immunology and Party Planning. When not bleeding mice or ordering pizzas for lab meetings, she enjoys skiing, kickboxing, pilates, getting injured playing basketball (go team 'Work in Progress!'), hiking, and watching too much reality TV. She left the Utz Lab to join Genentech as a postdoctoral scholar. Donna is now a scientist at Amgen and has 2 small children.
Hannah Elizabeth Wand
Hannah is originally from Pennsylvania and got her bachelors in molecular biology at the University of Pittsburgh. She was a member of the lab from 2013-2015 and went on to get her masters in genetics counseling at Johns Hopkins where she regretfully returned to winter weather. While in the lab, Hannah looked at anti-cytokine autoantibodies in murine models of SLE. She also worked on several collaborations to profile autoantibodies in various autoimmune diseases. When she's not working, she spends her time trying out new hiking spots or ice cream shops. She also likes dancing and live shows. She tries to travel as much as possible and most recently went on a trip to Morocco. She returned to Stanford and is now working as a genetic counsellor.
Mike graduated from Cal with a degree in Molecular Biology. He was a gradute student in the Utz Lab. His interests entailed elucidating the role of TH-17 in various autoimmune diseases. In his spare time, Mike enjoyed playing football. Mike competed a postdoctoral fellowship at Genetech before moving to Merck in Singapore after getting married. He is currently celebrating the last Warriors championship, and recapturing the Axe in fall 2019.
Gloria was an MD/PhD student in the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program and is currently completing her residency at Yale before moving to UCLA for her short track rheumatology. She grew up in Saratoga, California and earned her bachelors at Pomona College (CHIRP!) where she studied molecular biology and contemporary Chinese literature. She is currently interested in the roles of type I and type II interferons in systemic lupus erythematosus pathogenesis and antigen specific T cell populations in autoimmunity. Outside of lab, Gloria promotes medical and graduate student wellness and serves on a variety of Stanford Medical School committees dedicated to developing programming for student happiness and advocacy. Additionally, she is an avid practitioner of Bikram Yoga and enjoys jamming (vocals, piano, guitar), creating culinary feasts, antiquing and figure art using a variety of media. As the lab social coordinator, she facilitated merriment through consumption of food and spirits.
Shenru Zhao, MD, MPhil
Shenru received her medical degree from China and her Master of Philosophy degree in molecular biology from the UK. She worked on the Human Genome Project at the Sanger Center and cancer research at the University of Oxford. She recently returned to Stanford and is at the PAVAHCS.
She is performed proteomic analysis of the blood components in autoimmune disease in collaboration with Juan Santiago of Stanford's Microfluidics Laboratory in collaboration with ACLARA Biosciences. She conducted eTag assays for antibody-antigen detection and capillary electrophoresis by operating a MegaBACE System. She also worked with engineers to develop high-sensitivity microfabricated bioanalytical systems for multiplex detection of cytokines and autoantibodies from single cells. She utilized protein microarrays and computer analysis to detect antibody-antigen reactions for autoimmune diseases. In addition, she is studied primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Outside the lab, she loves drawing, music, meditation, tennis, aerobics and biking.