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PROFESSORS LANI WU AND STEVEN ALTSCHULER

In their laboratories at UCSF, Drs. Steven Altschuler and Lani Wu tackle fundamental questions in biology, disease and drug discovery. Their research program combines experimental biology, data sciences and modeling.

 

Drs. Altschuler and Wu took a nonlinear path to biology. Starting in mathematics at the interface of topology and geometric analysis, they transitioned to engineering at Microsoft, where they co-led an invention team that developed machine learning approaches for improving human-computer interactions. They entered systems biology and pharmacology by way of the biotech startup Rosetta Inpharmatics and were pioneering members of the Harvard University Bauer Fellow program and the Green Center for Systems Biology at UTSW, and have been visiting faculty at MSRI in Berkeley and Google Brain. They are co-founders of Nine Square Therapeutics.

 

Steven and Lani have a passion for teaching and sharing their excitement for research with new scientists. In their spare time, they enjoy eating cookies and exercising.

OUR TEAM

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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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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 HAMMERLINDL

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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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 of work, he likes hiking, cooking and running.

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GABRIELA PENA CARMONA

Graduate Student

Gabriela received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from California State University Long Beach, before joining the UC Berkeley – UCSF Bioengineering program as a graduate student.

Her areas of research interest include drug discovery, systems medicine, and leveraging these fields to enhance patient outcomes. Additionally, she aims to utilize experimental approaches to investigate the complexities of disease systems.

Outside of the lab, Gabby enjoys cooking new recipes, hiking, running at the beach, and indulging in a relaxing movie night with popcorn.

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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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RANYA VIRK

Postdoctoral Researcher

Ranya received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. During her PhD, she developed physics-based models to uncover fundamental relationships between the intranuclear environment, chromatin structure, and phenotypic plasticity.

At UCSF, Ranya investigates mechanisms underlying the evolution of drug resistance in cancer.
In her free time, Ranya enjoys cooking, hiking, and pilates.

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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

Assistant 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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CAROLYN KU

Graduate Student

Carolyn received her B.S. in computational biology with a minor in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She then worked as a bioinformatician for Echinobase, an echinoderm genome database, studying the conservation of non-coding regulatory elements. She is now a graduate student in the BMI program.

Currently, Carolyn is interested in uncovering fetal adaptations to hypoxia in utero.

Outside of lab, she enjoys reading, skiing, and spoiling her cat. 

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ZIZHENG LI

Graduate Student

Zizheng received his B.S. and M.S. in Biochemistry and Medical Sciences from the University of Tokyo, Japan. He worked at UCLA and UCSF as a research assistant before joining the PSPG program at UCSF.

Zizheng is interested in studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases.

In his free time, Zizheng enjoys playing and watching soccer, and exploring nice food.

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