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Group & Platform Leaders

JOSH ELIAS, PH.D.

JOSH ELIAS, PH.D.

Platform Leader, Mass Spectrometry

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Elias received his Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School in cell biology with Stephen Gygi. During his thesis research, Elias developed the now ubiquitous “target-decoy” search strategy for controlling proteomic experimental error. This effort established his long-standing interest in improving proteomics workflows, bringing them in sync with the robust methods used in genomics and allied fields. As a faculty member at Stanford University, Elias focused on solving three extraordinary challenges in proteomics: identifying disease-relevant antigens presented on MHC complexes; characterizing the biologically relevant proteins that mediate host-microbiome interaction, and improving methods for searching the vast sequence space these experiments encompass. At CZ Biohub, Elias and his team are expanding these efforts by making a deliberate effort to integrate multi-omic strategies  — minimally proteomics and metabolomics — whenever possible. The technologies they are developing are broadly applicable, including methods to quantify dynamic post-translational regulation mechanisms that have so far been hidden in the “dark matter” of biology – molecules invisible to genomic technologies and standard proteomic assays.

RAFAEL GÓMEZ-SJÖBERG, PH.D.

RAFAEL GÓMEZ-SJÖBERG, PH.D.

Platform Leader, Bioengineering

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Gómez-Sjöberg obtained a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, where he developed a microfabricated sensor of bacterial metabolism for rapid detection of bacterial contamination in liquid samples. After carrying out postdoctoral work at Caltech and Stanford, where he worked on automating cell culture experiments with microfluidics, he led a microfluidics-focused lab at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. From there he moved to Quanticel Pharmaceuticals (a startup later acquired by Celgene Corp.), where he designed and built instruments for isolating single cells from very small cell samples and managed a single-cell analysis and sequencing platform. At CZ Biohub, Gómez-Sjöberg and his team are developing novel scientific instrumentation to support the work of the Quantitative Cell Science Initiative, the Infectious Disease Initiative, and other research projects.  A key goal is to proceed swiftly from concept or prototype to robust instruments that span a wide range of complexity, from low cost devices that simplify manual lab work, and portable instruments for low-resource settings, to robotic systems that enable high throughput experimentation.

GREG HUBER, PH.D.

GREG HUBER, PH.D.

Group Leader, Theory

Huber is a biophysicist with a background in statistical mechanics, dynamical systems, and soft-matter physics. Prior to joining CZ Biohub, he was deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). He has researched and taught at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Arizona, University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, and UC Santa Barbara, and he has worked on a range of problems from river networks to the endoplasmic reticulum. At CZ Biohub, Huber is starting a world-class theory group, which seeks to deepen our knowledge and control of biological processes, structure, and function through physical and mathematical theory. Research areas include physical models of cellular organelles (architecture, formation, and interactions); modeling of cytoskeletal and organelle networks in the cell; models of molecular ensembles; protein-protein interactions and localization; general stochastic models of dynamics and pattern formation in biological matter; statistical mechanics of cell states and populations; and dynamics and selection of cell populations and lineages during development, tumor growth, and evolution.

AMY KISTLER, PH.D., M.P.H.

AMY KISTLER, PH.D., M.P.H.

Group Leader, Infectious Disease

Kistler received her Ph.D. in Christine Guthrie’s lab at the University of California, San Francisco, where she focused on pre-mRNA splicing in yeast. She then pursued an M.P.H. in epidemiology at University of California, Berkeley, to explore her broader interests in infectious disease and global health. As an Investigator in Virology at Novartis, Kistler led a viral pathogen discovery group and an Ebola virus antiviral drug development effort. At CZ Biohub, she is developing reagents and pipelines to enable rapid comparative analyses across viral families and orders to elucidate their basic biology, replication mechanisms, and potential drug targets. In parallel, Kistler will participate in pathogen detection and rapid response efforts.

MANUEL LEONETTI, PH.D.

MANUEL LEONETTI, PH.D.

Group Leader, Quantitative Cell Science

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Leonetti received his Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University. As a student in Rod MacKinnon’s lab, he used X-ray crystallography and electrophysiology to study the relationship between atomic structure and functional regulation of ion channel proteins. As a postdoctoral fellow with Jonathan Weissman at the University of California, San Francisco, he developed high-throughput CRISPR methods to precisely and efficiently edit the human genome. At CZ Biohub, Leonetti and his team are mapping the internal architecture of a single human cell. Their flagship project – OpenCell – is a proteome-scale library of fluorescently engineered cell lines to define the localization and interactions of human proteins. Their current dataset includes over 1,300 proteins and can be explored through an interactive interface at opencell.czbiohub.org.

SHALIN MEHTA, PH.D.

SHALIN MEHTA, PH.D.

Platform Leader, Computational Microscopy

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Mehta developed signal processing algorithms for radars, before earning a Ph.D. in optics at the National University of Singapore from Colin Sheppard’s lab. His Ph.D. research led to elegant mathematical models and new label-free imaging technologies. He then worked at the intersection of technology development and quantitative biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole as a Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Fellow. His postdoctoral research led to novel computational imaging methods to measure the molecular order of the cytoskeleton beyond the resolution limit. At CZ Biohub, Mehta and his team integrate optics, inverse algorithms, and machine learning to build computational microscopy platforms that measure the biological architecture and activity with increasing accuracy, precision, and throughput. These technologies are developed and deployed to discover biological mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities in close collaboration with CZ Biohub’s projects, platforms, and partners.

NORMA NEFF, PH.D.

NORMA NEFF, PH.D.

Director, Genomics

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Neff obtained her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on the mechanism of termination of transcription by bacterial RNA polymerase. As a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT with David Botstein, she acquired expertise in yeast molecular genetics and subsequently demonstrated that homologous recombination could knock out genes and introduce new sequences. She then joined the faculty of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where her lab isolated the first yeast protein to have two distinct enzymatic activities associated with the extein and intein created by a protein self-splicing event. At Stanford University, she established a sequencing program for the Stem Cell Institute and played a central role in the development of novel whole-genome sequencing techniques, single-cell RNA-seq and genome sequencing, and the application of sequencing to liquid biopsy-based diagnostics. As director of the Genomics Platform at CZ Biohub, Neff manages sequencing operations, single-cell RNA-seq, genome sequencing, spatial transcriptomic, and participates in the development of novel diagnostics.

JOHN PAK, PH.D.

JOHN PAK, PH.D.

Senior Scientist, Infectious Disease

Pak received his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, where he focused on elucidating the three-dimensional structures of glycoproteins, including that of the SARS Spike antigen in complex with a neutralizing antibody fragment. As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Robert Stroud at the University of California, San Francisco, Pak’s work centered on the biochemical and structural characterization of bacterial and mammalian membrane proteins. At BioMarin Pharmaceutical, he led efforts to utilize experimental and computational structural biology to catalyze preclinical research across diverse drug modalities, including biologics, small molecules, and AAV gene therapy. At CZ Biohub, Pak has built a protein sciences group with robust biochemistry and structural biology expertise that works closely with the Biohub community to discover and characterize novel host cell, pathogen, and immune molecules.

ANGELA OLIVEIRA PISCO, PH.D.

ANGELA OLIVEIRA PISCO, PH.D.

Associate Director of Data Science, Quantitative Cell Science

Angela studied Biomedical Engineering, obtaining a Ph.D. in Systems Biology allowing her to operate at the intersection of biology and medicine as viewed through the lens of data science. During her Ph.D., Angela investigated how drug resistance emerges during chemotherapy and discovered that cancer cells can adapt to the presence of a drug by acquiring a reversible resistant behavior in response to the treatment. Before joining the CZ Biohub, Angela was a postdoctoral fellow at King’s College London, where she explored the mechanisms of cellular differentiation in the skin. Angela leads the Quantitative Cell Science arm of CZ Biohub’s Data Science team, building tools and datasets that advance understanding of health and disease.

ANDREAS PUSCHNIK, PH.D.

ANDREAS PUSCHNIK, PH.D.

Group Leader, Infectious Disease

Puschnik received his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He carried out his thesis research in Jan Carette’s lab at Stanford, where he devised haploid and CRISPR genetic screens to identify host factors that are critical for viral infection. He applied these techniques to dengue, Zika, and hepatitis C viruses, which revealed novel antiviral targets. As a CZ Biohub Fellow, Puschnik plans to continue using CRISPR and other powerful genetic screens to study both persistent and emerging viruses as well as cellular pathways important for their virulence.

LOÏC ROYER, DR. RER. NAT.

LOÏC ROYER, DR. RER. NAT.

Group Leader, Quantitative Cell Science

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Royer first studied engineering, math, and physics in his native France. He then obtained a master’s degree in artificial intelligence, specializing in cognitive robotics, followed by a Ph.D. in bioinformatics from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany. As a member of Gene Myers’ lab, first at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus and then at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, he developed the first “self-driving” multi-view light-sheet microscope. Royer is fascinated by a seemingly simple but quite complex question: How do organisms develop from a single cell into a fully functional body with billions of self-organizing cells that form tissues and have different functions? He believes that solving this question will require expertise across computer science, advanced microscopy, and biology. To that end, Royer’s pluridisciplinary team designs and builds novel state-of-the-art light-sheet microscopes, develops deep learning-based image processing and analysis algorithms, and is using these technologies to build a time-resolved and multimodal atlas of vertebrate development, using zebrafish as a model organism.

CRISTINA M. TATO, PH.D., M.P.H.

CRISTINA M. TATO, PH.D., M.P.H.

Group Leader, Rapid Response

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Tato received a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied transcription factor families and their downstream signaling pathways. As a postdoctoral fellow (NIH and Schering-Plough Biopharma), she continued using in vivo models of infection and autoimmune inflammation to gain insight into how these transcription factors mediate host resistance to infection, regulate the production of inflammatory cytokines, and affect the development of innate and adaptive immunity. At Stanford’s Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection, Tato focused on the tactical application of systems immunology methods for studying human health and disease and for evaluating vaccine efficacy. She joined the Infectious Disease Initiative’s Rapid Response Team at CZ Biohub to plan and implement activities to strengthen global emergency response efforts to epidemics.

JOAN WONG, PH.D.

JOAN WONG, PH.D.

Associate Director of Data Science, Infectious Disease

Joan earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, where she utilized then-emerging sequencing technologies at the Genome Center to dissect the genetics of host-pathogen interactions. She has worked in biotech industries focusing on diverse areas such as gut microbiome characterization for oral live therapeutics development, agricultural biotech for modern crop breeding, and long-read metagenomic sequencing for environmental and human health applications. Joan joined the Biohub in March 2021 and leads a data science team devoted to advancing the analytical methods and tools used in infectious disease research. She is also an organizer for Bay Area Bioinformatics Meetup events.

CAROLINA ARIAS, PH.D.

CAROLINA ARIAS, PH.D.

Carolina earned her Ph.D. degree at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, where she studied virus-host interactions in Herpesviruses and Poxviruses in the lab of Ian Mohr. As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Don Ganem at UCSF and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), she studied the genome-wide transcriptional and translational regulation of the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8). As a faculty member at UCSB, she investigated the mechanisms by which herpesviruses and flaviviruses take control of the cell’s protein synthesis and folding machineries. Using comparative virology and mechanistic analyses, Carolina’s team at CZ BioHub aims to uncover host-encoded viral vulnerabilities that can be exploited for developing next-generation broad-spectrum antivirals.

ADRIAN JACOBO, PH.D.

ADRIAN JACOBO, PH.D.

After receiving a Ph.D. in Physics, Adrian turned into a quantitative biologist and zebrafish aficionado. As a postdoctoral associate at Rockefeller University’s Hudspeth Lab, working in the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience.