Pedro P Rocha - PI

My graduate studies at the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics focused on gene regulation and the role of transcriptional co-regulators during mouse development (Rocha et al.  2010). I devoted my postdoctoral training at NYU to explore the multiple ways in which nuclear organization and chromosomal interactions are important for regulation of cellular processes in development and disease.

In the Skok lab I studied the process of Class Switch Recombination in B cells and showed that DNA interactions are important to orchestrate this recombinatorial event and avoid translocations that can lead to lymphomas (Rocha et al.  2012  and 2016 ). I also developed techniques that were lacking in the field such as a CRISPR/dCas9-based system for live visualization of multiple loci in different colors (Fu et al. 2016 ) and contributed to the development of a computational pipeline for analyses of DNA interactions (Raviram et al. 2016  and github ). I recently became fascinated with the world of transposon biology and have also developed tools to understand better how these invading agents can help control expression of our own genes (Raviram et al. 2018 ). Find full CV (PDF 80 KB) here.

I am very grateful for my sources of funding so far:

  • K99/R00 from NIGMS
  • Scholar Award from ASH
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship from NCC
  • Marie Curie ESR

Joyce J Thompson - Postdoctoral Fellow

Joyce ThompsonMy long-term research interest lies in understanding how epigenetic mechanisms acting at different levels coordinate and regulate chromatin organization across development and differentiation, and their contribution to cell-fate decisions. During my graduate studies I focused on characterizing a zinc-finger protein and identify its role in modulating epigenetic mechanisms.  As a postdoc in the Rocha lab, I will be studying how the chromatin is organized in the early embryo, and what factors are crucial in establishing sub-chromosomal domains and facilitating chromosomal interactions. Joyce started in October 2018.

See a list of Joyce's publications here!

Shreeta Chakraborty - Postdoctoral Fellow

Shreeta ChakrabortyMy longterm research goal is to unriddle how gene regulation executes a diverse repertoire of high fidelity response during cell fate decisions at the critical stages of development and differentiation. During my graduate studies my research focus was to elucidate the function of a protein called Nostrin in the different aspects of utero-placental development including trophoblast stem cell differentiation and feto-maternal angiogenesis. In the Unit on Genome Structure and Regulation at NIH, I will be exploring and investigating how a milieu of transcription factors, enhancers and promoters coordinate cell fate based upon chromatin architecture during early mammalian development. Shreeta is with us since December 2018. Sarah is with us since July 2018.

Check Shreeta's publications.

Zhenyu Zuo - Postdoctoral Fellow

Zhenyu ZuoMy long-term research interest is to understand the regulatory mechanisms controlling cell fate transitions in embryonic stem cells and during early embryo development. My Ph. D project mainly focused on functions of protein arginine methyltransferase I (Prmt1) in ES cells and mouse early embryo development. In the Rocha lab, I will continue to explore regulation of gene expression during early cell fate decisions. Especially, I want to investigate the global changes of genome structure during cell fate decision processes and find out how these changes coordinate with lineage choices and what may be the key factors governing these systematic changes. Zhenyu starts November 2019.

Dhanya Asokumar

Dhanya Asokumar headshot.I graduated in June 2020 from The Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. I have been at the NIH since June 2019, where I first started as a summer student in the Unit on Cellular and Molecular Neurodevelopment at the NICHD. Here, I studied the perturbations of MGE-derived interneurons in Ezh2 mutant mice. I also sought to determine the birth dates of MGE-derived interneurons. Before joining NIH, I also conducted research at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center and looked at how vagal afferent excitability affects the peripheral nervous system. At NICHD, I hope to gain a better understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms that underlie MGE-interneuron dysfunction and neurological diseases. Following my post-bac fellowship, I hope to attend medical school, where I want to keep pursuing cutting-edge research opportunities.

Nina Kopitchinski – Lab Manager

Nina Kopitchinski.I am a Research Specialist mainly focusing on generating transgenic mice from genetically altered mouse embryonic stem cells. I gained most of my knowledge at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, where I worked as a lab manager and transgene specialist. At NICHD I want to support my team and its individual scientific projects as much as possible to help them achieving their goals. For myself, I hope to gain a better understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms and genome structure related to embryonic development and to expand my knowledge of genetics in general. Nina started March 2020.


Daniel Lee - NIH Postbac IRTA

Daniel LeeDaniel graduated in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Following his postbac training Daniel went on to Medical School at University of California San Diego. Daniel was a part of our lab from July 2019 to July 2021.


Samuel Hernandez – NIH Postbac IRTA

Samuel HernandezSam graduated in June 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry from Knox College. Following his time with us, Sam joined the MD/PhD program of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Sam was at NIH from September 2019 to July 2021.


Ariel Eraso - NIH Postbac IRTA

Ariel ErasoAriel graduated in May 2018 with a Biology Bachelor of Arts from Franklin & Marshall College. After his time at NIH he moved to University of Colorado Boulder forhis PhD. Ariel was in our lab from October 2018 to July 2020.


Sarah Frail - NIH Postbac IRTA

Sarah FrailSarah graduated in May 2018 with a Bachelor in Cell Biology and Genetics from University of Maryland, College Park. Following her postbac experience she moved to California, to Stanford University for graduate school. Sarah was in our lab from July 2018 to July 2019.

See Sarah's work!


James Wang - NIH Summer Internship Program

James WangJames is a Chemical Engineering student at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studies the biosynthesis of unusual natural products in fungal systems. After spending a very productive summer with us in 2019 James went back to UCLA to finish his bachelor degree.

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