Group photo with Pedro Rocha

Pedro Rocha - PI

I studied Microbiology and Genetics in Portugal, at Lisbon University, and graduated in 2005. I then moved to Germany for my PhD where I worked in the lab of Heiner Schrewe at the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, studying the role of transcriptional co-regulatory complexes during mouse development, as part of a Marie Curie-sponsored international consortium. For my postdoctoral training I moved to the United States and joined the lab of Jane Skok at New York University, to explore multiple ways by which nuclear organization maintains genomic integrity. Our lab at NIH, started in May of 2018 and we focus on understanding how the mechanisms that fold the genome contribute to regulation of gene expression and cell-fate decisions. Full list of publications and CV.

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. Check Nina’s publications here.

Joyce J Thompson - K99/R00 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. 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. See papers by Zhenyu.

Manon Baudic – Postdoctoral Fellow

Manon Baudic headshot.My long-term research interest is to characterize and understand the mechanisms of transcriptomic regulation of genes mediated by distal regulatory elements. During my PhD I studied the molecular mechanisms of structural variants identified in non-coding regions of the genome at the origin of heart disease. Functional annotation of these non-coding regions revealed a complex epigenetic and transcriptomic remodeling mediated by 3D chromatin architecture alteration in patients. During my post-doc in the Unit on Genome Structure and Regulation, I will investigate the mechanisms that explain the recruitment of enhancers to promoters and their specific interactions during mammalian development. Check here Manon’s publications.

Carolina M Montano – Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics Fellow

Photo of Carolina MontanoMy long-term goal is to understand the role of DNA methylation and chromatin alterations in disease and to bring those insights back to clinical care. During my MD/PhD training, I studied genome-wide DNA methylation across different tissues of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. After completing Pediatrics residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and Clinical Genetics and Genomics residency training at NHGRI, I enrolled in the Laboratory Genetics and Genomics Fellowship to develop expertise in clinical cytogenetic and molecular genetic analyses. Through a collaboration with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Unit on Genome Structure and Regulation, we are investigating novel pathogenic variants, methylation changes, and other epigenetic processes that could contribute to the pathogenesis of Maffucci syndrome and Ollier Disease. See Carolina’s publications.

Taújay Davis – Howard University COAS Honors Program NIH Mentee

Photo of Taújay Davis I am a Spring 2024 graduating senior at Howard University with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Spanish. I will pursue my PhD in Biological Sciences with an interest in epigenetics and genome organization as it relates to mutations in the loop extrusion machinery leading to developmental disorders. The research I have done so far includes the Dynamics of Genome Regulation in Living Cells focusing on the methyltransferase SET2 and component of the structural maintenance protein complex Cohesin, SMC1. My long-term research goal is to study the relationships between alterations within the epigenome due to environmental effects such as domestic violence and see if any novel clinical applications can arise from the results.


Shelby Ferrier – Postbac NIH IRTA

Shelby Ferrier headshot.Shelby is a postbac researcher interested in using computational and mathematical methods to learn more about biology on a molecular basis. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2022 with a B.S. in Mathematics and minors in Computer Science and Physics. The project she worked on involves three-dimensional genomics, specifically elucidating the effects of CTCF and cohesin on enhancer-promoter interactions. Shelby joined the graduate program of the Scripps Research Institute.

Shay Taylor – Special Volunteer

Shay Taylor headshot.Shay is a rising third-year medical student at Howard University College of Medicine. Originally from Connecticut, she received a Master of Biomedical Sciences degree at Quinnipiac University. While with the lab, she worked on a project involving investigating the mechanisms that may contribute to the regulation of gene expression. After 5 months with the Rocha lab, Shay returned to her medical training at Howard University.

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.

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.

Dhanya Asokumar - NIH Postbac IRTA

Dhanya Asokumar headshot.Dhanya graduated in June 2020 from Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. She worked in our lab as a postbac between 2021 and 2022, where she was co-mentored by the lab of Tim Petros. She then went on to Medical School at Michigan University.

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