The Dean's Postdoctoral Fellowship - Fellows
The Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellowship sponsored by:
The Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership and
The Office for Postdoctoral Fellows
2018 Dean's Postdoctoral Fellow
Claudio L. Morales-Perez, PhD
Claudio L. Morales-Perez is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School under the guidance of Assistant Professor Maofu Liao. Dr. Morales-Perez studies the post-translational modifications of signaling proteins with lipid moieties. His research focuses on understanding the atomic-scale mechanisms of the membrane-bound O-acyltransferases. Specifically, the peptide/hormone acyltransferases which regulate multiple biological processes such as food intake, metabolism, cell proliferation and cell differentiation. He uses a variety of biochemical, biophysical and structural methods such as cryo-Electron Microscopy (cryo-EM) to study their folding, dynamics, substrates selectivity and function. The hope of his study is to provide a high-resolution structure model that can be used as a template to design novel treatments for obesity, cancer and diabetes. Dr. Morales-Perez received his bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in 2012 and his doctoral degree in Molecular Biophysics from UT Southwestern Medical Center in 2018.
2017 Dean's Postdoctoral Fellow
Lorillee Tallorin, PhD
Lorillee Tallorin, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School under the mentorship of Professor Priscilla L. Yang. Her research focuses on characterizing and understanding the macromolecular machinery responsible for sterol biosynthesis in virus-host interactions during Hepatitis C infection. Inspired by her biochemistry and chemical biology work during her doctoral studies at the University of California San Diego, Dr. Tallorin will investigate the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of host cell-derived sterols that support viral replication of Hepatitis C. Dr. Tallorin received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of California Los Angeles in 2007, Master of Science in Chemistry from California State University Los Angeles in 2010, and Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry with a specialization in multi-scale biology from the University of California San Diego in 2016.
2016 Dean's Postdoctoral Fellows
Iliana C. Soto, PhD
Iliana C. Soto, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Soto is mentored by Dr. Stirling Churchman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Genetics. Dr. Soto's current research explores the study of mitochondrial biogenesis in health, disease and aging. To be able to gain insight into the translational landscape of human mitochondrial genes, she plans to apply ribosome profiling to follow in a quantitative and timely manner how mitochondrial protein synthesis is carried out in vivo. Using a pharmacological approach, she plans to explore the effects at the translational level of the inhibition of the OXPHOS enzymes with known drugs. Dr. Soto received her bachelor of science in biology from University of Miami in 2004 and his Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 2012.
Jonathan Abraham, MD, PhD
Jonathan Abraham is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Abraham is mentored by Dr. Stephen Harrison, Giovanni Armenise Harvard Professor of Basic Biomedical Science. Dr. Abraham’s current research explores how antibodies bind and neutralize another New World hemorrhagic fever arenavirus, Junín virus. His long-term goal of the project is to identify monoclonal antibodies that could replace survivor plasma in the treatment of Junín virus infection. He hopes to utilize this fellowship to strengthen his skillset in structural biology, learn frontier methods in human immunology, and will obtain experience acquiring institutional review board (IRB) approval for working with human samples. Dr. Abraham received his Bachelor of Art in Biochemical Sciences in 2005 and his doctorate degree in Biophysics in 2010 from Harvard University and his Medical Doctoral degree from Harvard Medical School in 2012.
2015 Dean's Postdoctoral Fellows
Timothy Downing, PhD
Tim Downing, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Downing is mentored by Dr. Alexander Meissner, PhD, Associate Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. In addition, Dr. Downing holds a joint appointment in the Epigenomics Program at the Broad Institute, Inc. in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Downing's current research explores the influence of the chemical and biophysical microenvironment on cell state transitions via epigenomic modulation in adult and stem cell populations. He hopes to use this information to help maximize the potential of stem cell technologies and greatly improve the design of next-generation biomaterials for regenerative medicine. A parallel focus of Dr. Downing's work aims to create platforms that allow for the combined delivery of therapeutic drugs, multipotent cells, and nano to microscale topographical guidance cues for meaningful tissue formation in spinal cord regeneration after both injury and neural tube defects (e.g., spina bifida). Dr. Downing received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2008 and his Doctor of Philosophy in Bioengineering from the University of California-Berkeley in 2013.
Samira Musah, PhD
Samira Musah, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Musah is mentored by Donald E. Ingber, MD, PhD, Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and co-mentored by George M. Church, PhD, Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard-MIT. Dr. Musah’s research at Harvard Medical School focuses on leveraging her experience in stem cell biology and chemistry to develop organs-on-chips microphysiological systems that can recapitulate key functions of human organs in vitro, starting with the kidney. Dr. Musah aims to unite the organs-on-chips technology from the Ingber lab with the genome-engineering tools developed in the Church lab to model and understand human kidney development, function and disease progression. Dr. Musah’s research could provide powerful new tools for unraveling the molecular mechanisms that govern congenital kidney diseases and facilitate therapeutic development by developing in vitro models that are more predictive of human disease phenotypes and drug responses. Dr. Musah received her Bachelor of Science-Honors in Chemistry from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2006 and her Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry with training at the Chemistry-Biology Interface from the University of Wisconsin―Madison in 2012.
Faces of Physics: human organs on a chip? CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO
2014 Dean's Postdoctoral Fellows
Jenifer Kaplan, PhD
Jenifer Kaplan, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Yang Lab under the mentorship of Priscilla Yang, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Yang’s lab is an interdisciplinary group of virologists and chemical biologists interested in identifying and understanding small-molecule inhibitors of viruses that negatively affect the viral lifecycle, and therefore could potentially be used as inhibitors of viral infection. Dr. Kaplan’s work will contribute to the biochemical and biophysical characterization of these compounds with viral proteins from different Dengue serotypes. Using molecular models, she will gain a better understanding of how these interactions occur, which could lead to structure-based design for more potent inhibitors. Dr. Kaplan received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology, her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University in 2008, and her Doctor of Philosophy in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014.
Carlos Ponce, MD, PhD
Carlos Ponce, MD, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Livingstone Laboratory, under the mentorship of Margaret S. Livingstone, PhD, Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on the brain’s ability to identify complex visual images, such as faces or places. This ability arises from neurons in the inferotemporal cortex, which emit electrical impulses in response to types of visual objects. Dr. Ponce’s approach is to inactivate different cortical sources of input signals to these inferotemporal cortex neurons, thus revealing how they combine various patterns of visual information. This knowledge would help in the development of technologies that restore function in patients with brain damage. His long-term goal is to help determine how the brain builds and uses patterns of information. Originally from Mexico, his educational journey began in Utah, in a high school English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Dr. Ponce received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah in 2001, his MD, PhD in neuroscience in 2010 from Harvard Medical School, and his residency training in pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Alfred G. Tamayo, PhD
Alfred G. Tamayo, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Charles J. Weitz, MD, PhD, Robert Henry Pfeiffer Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Tamayo’s work will shed light on the molecular mechanisms driving circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are daily cycles of physiology and behavior, such as the sleep-wake cycle. Human and mouse studies indicate a relationship between aberrant circadian clock function and a variety of disease states including metabolic dysfunction, neurological disorders and cancer. In mammals, circadian rhythms are built upon a conserved transcriptional feedback loop, which ensures that certain genes are more active during the day than during the night, and vice versa. In this way, the activities of thousands of genes oscillate on a daily basis. These oscillations occur in virtually every cell in the body, and the genes affected are remarkably diverse, ranging from genes important for metabolism to the immune response. Dr. Tamayo’s work focuses on understanding how the feedback loop works to drive daily oscillations of genes by using state of the art biochemical and genetic approaches. These studies will provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms, and may lead to a better understanding of the relationship between circadian rhythms and disease. Dr. Tamayo received his Bachelor of Science from Boston University and his Doctor of Philosophy in Cell and Molecular Biology from Boston University School of Medicine.
2013 Dean's Postdoctoral Fellows
Tarsha Ward, PhD
Tarsha Ward, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Seidman Lab under the mentorship of Jonathan G. Seidman, PhD, Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation Professor of Genetics, Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Christine E. Seidman, MD, Thomas W. Smith Professor of Medicine and Genetics, Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Her research at Harvard Medical School will help define the functional basis of genetic variations in congenital heart disease by examining whether rare and de novo gene mutations in several genes (i.e., KDM5A, KDM5B, MLL2, NAA15) associated with chromatin remodeling are likely causes of congenital heart disease. These studies should help to elucidate how single nucleotide changes in chromatin remodeling genes are able to produce a wide range of cardiac developmental defects. Defining the downstream targets of the chromatin remodeling genes in the heart will provide insights into mechanisms of cardiac development. Dr. Ward received her Bachelor of Science from Spelman College in 2004 and her Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences from Morehouse School of Medicine in 2011. She remained at Morehouse as the imaging specialist research scientist for the Morehouse School of Medicine Imaging Core facility before relocating to Boston to begin her postdoctoral career.
In the News: "Building Diversity" - HMS News, October 15, 2013
Click here to read the article
Latrice Landry, MS, PhD
Latrice Landry, MS, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory for Personalized Medicine at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School. Under the mentorship of Dr. Peter J. Tonellato, her research in molecular epidemiology and genomics uses bioinformatics, systems science and integrative genomics to aid in the understanding of cancer genetics. Dr. Landry’s work in cancer genomics, identification of rare and common cancer variants, cancer networks and ascertainment of risk prediction in various populations is the foundation for understanding the complex interactions between the human genome and environment as well as subsequent contributions of both the genome and environment to health disparities. Dr. Landry’s research is expected to provide the basis for translational work in cancer prevention and treatment in the field of personalized genomic medicine. Dr. Landry received her Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University in 2002 and graduated from the Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy at Tufts University with her Master of Science in food policy and applied nutrition 2004. In 2013 she received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in nutritional epidemiology.