People

 

Katja Weinacht, MD PhD

Principal Investigator

Stanford Profile

M.D. Technical University Munich, Germany
Ph.D. Technical University Munich, Germany

Research Interest: Manipulating cellular metabolism for therapeutic purposes 
Tapping into the immunotherapy potential of the thymus

Favorite Scientist: Peter Medawar, for he was as brilliant a scientist as he was a writer. Maybe I should have taken his “Advice to a Young Scientist” more seriously in order to avoid becoming the “Memoir of a Thinking Radish”. Regardless, in the end “Pluto’s Republic” will rise so we can all engage in “The Art of the Soluble” or choose to chase “The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice”. (Some of my favorite reads)

Email: kgw1@stanford.edu

Hui Gai, MD

Academic Research Scientist

Stanford Profile

M.D., Shandong University School of Medicine, China
M.S. in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, China
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Stem Cell Biology, UCSD Health System Nevada Cancer Institute

Research Interest: Thymic engineering using human iPSCs. Mechanisms of thymic developmental defects with focus on 22q11 Deletion Syndrome, TBX1 and CHD7

Favorite Scientist: The beauty of simplicity. When facing challenges in solving complex scientific questions in human development, I am often inspired by the thoughts of English philosopher William of Ockham (1287-1347).  His work is known as “Occam’s Razor”, a problem-solving principle that essentially states “simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones”. This principle is helpful when thinking about explanations for complex developmental processes and reproducing thymic ontogeny using human iPSCs.

Email: huigai@stanford.edu

Wenqing Wang, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Stanford Profile

B.S. in Biology, Peking University, China
Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, USA

Research interest: My research focuses on understanding how changes in cellular metabolism affect the fate of hematopoietic stem cells using the disease Reticular Dysgenesis (RD) as a model. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from patients with RD cannot differentiate in both myeloid and lymphoid lineages, causing a lack of innate and adaptive immune functions. We have developed a novel CRISPR model for RD and discovered unexpected biological stressors. hope our findings will further the understanding of stem cell metabolism and make stem cell transplant safer and more effective.

Favorite scientist: My favorite scientist is Dr. John Sulston (1942-2018), who spent nearly a decade characterizing the developmental trajectory every somatic cell in the tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. This work, seemingly dreary and tedious to many, lead to many groundbreaking advances using the model species. This work won him Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002. Dr. Sulston had always believed that science was collaborative, creative, and, in the end, required humility.

Email: wqwang@stanford.edu

Kelsea M. Hubka, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Stanford Profile

PhD, Bioengineering, Rice University
MBE, Bioengineering, Rice University
BSc, Mechanical Engineering, Loyola Marymount University

Research Interest: Biomaterials-based approaches to engineering transplantable, functional thymus tissue to treat immunodeficiency in patients with 22q11 Deletion Syndrome. My PhD research focused on generating 3D gradients of heparin binding growth factors in hydrogels to model normal and diseased tissue processes such as tissue and organ development and cancer migration and metastasis. 

Favorite Scientist: One of my favorite scientists is Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini. Her passion for research and perseverance through the most difficult events in life one could imagine led to the Nobel prize-winning discovery of nerve growth factor. She is an inspirational human and scientist.

Email: hubka@stanford.edu

Yogendra ‘Yogi’ Verma, MS

Life Science Research Professional

Stanford Profile

B. Tech. in Biotechnology, Shoolini University, India;
MS in Biotechnology, California State University Channel Islands

Research Interests: Developing a stable platform for in vivo and in vitro functional testing of in-house differentiated thymic epithelial progenitor-like cells, to gain a broad range of technical and managerial skills.

Favorite Scientist: APJ Abdul Kalam- Renowned aerospace scientist who inspired many among the Indian youth to pursue science. Directed India’s first successful satellite deployment and was one of the foundational pillars at Indian Space Research Organization. Instrumental in developing several ballistic and tactical missiles, also developed coronary stents and health care computers for rural areas in India. He was the acting president of India from 2002-2007.

Email: vermayogendra1@gmail.com

Martin Arreola, BS

Life Science Research Professional

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Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology, CSU Fullerton

Research Interest: One of my research interests is in learning how changes in mitochondrial metabolism affect ageing in mammals.

Favorite Scientist: Clair Patterson was a geochemist most famous for successfully dating our planet at 4.5 billion years old. During his research, he also discovered that lead levels in the environment had increased way beyond what is healthy for humans and that we were the cause of the pollution. His lifelong struggle to bring a scientific truth to the public, against the opposition of major oil corporations, is the reason he is one of my favorite scientists.

Email: martin00@stanford.edu

Ellie DooKyung Kim, B.S.

CIRM Scholar, undergraduate-student

B.Sc. in Cell and Molecular Biology, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF)

Research Interest: Immunotherapies and thymic engineering

Favorite scientist: Marie Curie, for her courage to get a higher education (which was forbidden as a woman in Poland), she got 2 degrees whilst supporting herself. She received two Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry; and donated all excess funding to charities. 

Michelle Narayan

Administrative Assistant

Stanford Profile

Research Interest: Child Development/ Childhood Trauma

Favorite Scientist: Katherine Johnson (NASA) is my favorite scientist because she, mathematically, developed the algorithm for objects and human's (U.S crewed spaceflights) to go out of space. Being a woman in that industry is difficult, especially as an African American. She is very inspiring for those who have the same aspirations in making a difference in this world. 

Email: m3295994@stanford.edu

Nira Weinacht, C.S.

Lab Manager

Massachusetts Institute of Agriculture

Research Interest: Dissecting the surface architecture of organic matter using a high-throughput approach.

Favorite Scientist: My PI (most of the time)