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PROFESSORS LANI WU AND STEVEN ALTSCHULER

Over the past decade, Drs. Altschuler and Wu jointly developed a research program that combines experimental biology, data sciences and modeling to attack fundamental problems in cell biology and drug discovery.


Drs. Altschuler and Wu took a nonlinear path to biology. Their research careers started in mathematics at the interface of analysis and geometry. Their work found diverse applications, including the Poincare Conjecture, robotics and computer graphics. They transitioned to engineering at Microsoft, where they co-led an invention team that developed machine learning approaches for improving human-computer interactions, including in the areas of computer vision, social networking and noisy speech recognition.


They entered systems biology and pharmacology by way of the biotech startup Rosetta Inpharmatics and have been pioneering members of the Harvard University Bauer Fellow program and the Green Center for Systems Biology at UTSW. Drs. Altschuler and Wu were visiting faculty at MSRI in Berkeley and Google Brain.


In their laboratories at UCSF, Drs. Altschuler and Wu tackle systems-level questions in biology, disease and pharmacology. They have a passion for teaching and sharing their excitement for research with new scientists. In their spare time, Drs. Altschuler and Wu enjoy eating cookies and exercising.

OUR TEAM

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JAKE BIEBER

Graduate Student

Jake received his B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
As a bioengineering graduate student, he is interested in applying tissue engineering principles to study the small intestine epithelium, specifically in cases of disease.
Outside of research, Jake enjoys hiking, cooking and exploring SF.

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KARL KUMBIER

Postdoctoral Researcher

Karl received received his Ph.D. in statistics from UC Berkeley, where he was advised by Bin Yu. During his doctoral research, Karl developed techniques for extracting interpretable representations of machine learning algorithms to study embryogenesis in Drosophila.
Now, Karl is interested in using computational techniques to investigate the mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration.

In his free time, Karl enjoys making bread/pizza, skiing, and reading sci-fi novels.

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KIRSTEN CHEN

Graduate Student

Kirsten earned her BS from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. There she completed a double major in chemistry and biology. At UNC, she worked in the lab of Dr. Steve Hursting on metabolic reprogramming during cancer progression to metastasis in breast cancer. As a BMS student, Kirsten is co-mentored by Dr. Isha Jain, and is studying the effect of oxygen on cellular and whole-body metabolism and the implications of low or high oxygen in diseases. She hopes to incorporate experimental and computational approaches to study the complexities of biological system and diseases. Outside of work, she enjoys dancing, traveling and exploring good food and coffee.

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MAIKE ROTH

Research Specialist

Maike received her Master degree in Systems Biology from ETH Zurich. Wishing for a change of scenery and trying to find her passion in science, she applied for a Research position at UCSF.
She is in charge of the organizational part in the wet lab and makes everything run smoothly. In addition to that, she is working on drug evolution in cancer and wants to figure out where and when drug-resistance in cancer emerges.
In her free time she enjoys exploring San Francisco and the surrounding areas by bike or on foot.

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LOUISE HEINRICH

Postdoctoral Researcher

Louise Heinrich received her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Sheffield, UK, and her PhD in Cell and Systems Biology from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.
At UCSF she is developing experimental and computational approaches to improve phenotypic profiling for drug discovery, and applying her skills in high-throughput screening to search for potential new cancer therapeutics.
Louise is trying to visit all 50 states, and enjoys CrossFit, exploring dog-friendly beaches around Marin and skiing in Lake Tahoe.

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LI (LILY) LI

Postdoctoral Researcher

Lily received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular biology from the Peking University-National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing joint program. There she applied medicinal chemistry and chemical biology methods to explore human disease related mechanisms and develop new therapeutic approaches.
Currently, she is applying system biology methods to study acute hypoxia.
During her spare time, Lily enjoys visiting museums and walking along the seashore.

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SABRINA HAMMLERLINDL

Research Specialist

Sabrina received her Master of Science in Molecular Microbiology from the Graz University of Technology, were she developed genetically modified lactic acid bacteria at the intersection of academia and biotech industry. She then joined the University of Queensland to study predictive biomarkers and treatment options for skin cancer.
At UCSF, Sabrina is working as a project manager and research specialist to investigate molecular responses of acute and chronic hypoxia.
In her free time, she enjoys playing pool billiard, relaxing in nature and visiting zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and cat cuddle cafes.

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CAPRIA RINALDI

Graduate Student; NSF Fellow

Capria received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Arizona State University with a focus in Medicinal Chemistry, and she is now a graduate student in the PSPG program.
Capria is an NSF Fellow.
She is interested in using systems biology approaches to study neurodegenerative disease.
In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, exploring new places, and trying different foods around the city.

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CHRIS WATERS

Graduate Student

Chris received his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the UMass Amherst before helping to develop mouse models of AML at Harvard. Chris is an NSF Fellow.

As a TETRAD student, he is using high dimensional analysis to map changes in the proteostasis network of patients with neurodegenerative disease.

Outside of the lab Chris enjoys cycling, rock climbing, and traveling.

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FENG BAO

Postdoctoral Researcher

Feng received his PhD in control science and engineering from Tsinghua University, China. He focused on developing machine learning methods and applying them to understand images, infer genetic causality to phenotypes and dissect cell heterogeneity in tissues.
Now he is interested in developing computational approaches to understand the dynamic changes of cells under hypoxia and compound perturbations.
Outside the work, he likes hiking, cooking and running.

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HEINZ HAMMERLINDL

Postdoctoral Researcher

Heinz received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biomedicine from The University of Queensland, Australia. His research focused on investigating phenotypic plasticity during the development of acquired drug resistance in cancer.
At UCSF he studies the phenotypic consequences of acute and chronic hypoxia.
When he’s not in the lab, Heinz can often be found exercising or cheering for his long time favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers.

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LEE RAO

Graduate Student

Lee received his B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin, before joining UCSF as a graduate student in the BMI program.

He is interested in developing computational techniques to analyze high dimensional phenotypic screens, as well as mathematical modeling of cellular decision making processes. His favorite topics in biology are aging and age-related disease.

Outside of the lab, Lee is a big fan of basketball, chess, and board games.

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PING HUANG

Research Specialist

Ping received her M.S. in Neuroscience from National Yang-Ming University, where she studied labeling efficiency of neuronal tracers in mouse brain circuits. She then joined United Neuroscience to develop vaccines against neurodegenerative diseases.

Ping is interested in the mechanisms underlying neurological diseases. She is currently working at UCSF to do early drug target discovery for ALS.

In her free time, Ping enjoys exercising, reading, and taking short trips.

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SAVITHA GAYATHRI

Research Specialist

Savitha earned her Masters degree in Biochemistry from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where she characterized an antibacterial peptide at the Aebi lab. She has 9 years of experience in protein purification and characterization techniques in both industry and academia. Most recently, she has been developing protein-based vaccines for COVID-19 at the Indian Institute of Science, India.

Her work at UCSF involves understanding persistent cancer cells and how they can be targeted to prevent relapse after therapy.

Savitha spends her free time hiking, travelling and singing. A sports enthusiast, she also enjoys badminton and table tennis.

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SUSAN SHEN

Postdoctoral Researcher

Susan Shen received her BS in Biology and English from Caltech and her MD/PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. As a graduate student, she studied gene regulation in the central nervous system.

She is now a resident physician in the UCSF Psychiatry program. She is interested in a systems-biology understanding of neurons and other brain cell types.

In her free time, she enjoys eating dumplings, making dumplings, and walking in Golden Gate Park.

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XIAOXIAO (VANY) SUN

Postdoctoral Researcher

Xiaoxiao received her PhD in Cancer Pharmacology from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where she did mechanistic studies and development of selective anti-cancer therapies using natural and synthetic compounds.

Currently, she is studying how microenvironmental factors influence drug response and lead to drug resistance.

Outside the lab, Xiaoxiao enjoys running and hiking around the city.

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WEIYUE JI

Graduate Student

Weiyue received her B.Sc. in Biology from Peking University.

She is interested in systems biology, and currently she is trying to use that approach to study the development of the Drosophila visual system.

In her leisure time, she enjoys reading and photography.