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 61 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.

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.

Ariel Eraso - NIH Postbac IRTA

Ariel ErasoI graduated in May 2018 with a Biology Bachelor of Arts from Franklin & Marshall College. My previous work examined seasonal variation in Geukensia demissa protein expression. Working at NICHD in the Unit on Genome Structure and Regulation, I hope to gain a better understanding of the underlying epigenetic mechanisms that regulate protein expression and embryonic development. After my postbac experience, I hope to enroll in a Ph.D. program to study Biochemistry, or Molecular Biology.

Daniel Lee - NIH Postbac IRTA

Daniel LeeI graduated in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. My undergraduate research focused on evaluating the role of the core-promoter transcription factor, Taf9b, in oligodendrogenesis. My research interests lie in unveiling and understanding the complex biochemical mechanisms and developmental pathways that lead to diseases like cancer. At the NICHD, I hope to study more of these pathways in detail while concurrently applying to medical school. Ultimately, my career goal is to be able to conduct translational research to bring my findings at the bench to my patients at the bedside. Daniel started in July 2019.

Samuel Hernandez – NIH Postbac IRTA

Samuel HernandezI graduated in June 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry from Knox College. My previous work involved developing a machine learning algorithm for age prediction based on DNA methylation patterns tailored for forensic and clinical testing. My current research interests lie in understanding how epigenetics is related to aging and how different living conditions, specifically space travel, contribute to epigenetic modifications that alter the development and health of the human body. At the NICHD, I hope to gain a better understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms that are involved in embryonic development. After my postbac experience, I hope to enroll in a MD-PhD program and one day make space travel sustainable and reliable through translational research. Sam is part of our lab since September July 2019.


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.


Previous Mentees

Can be contacted for references.

Ramya Raviram, PhD

Role: PhD supervisor
Current: Postdoc at UCSD

Yi Fu, MSc

Role: Master’s Thesis Supervisor
Current: PhD student at NYU

Vincent Luo, MSc

Role: Master’s Thesis Supervisor
Current: PhD student at Mcgill University

JungHyun Kim, MSc

Role: Master’s Thesis Supervisor
Current: PhD student at University of Maryland

Arafat Aljoufi, MD

Role: Master’s Thesis Supervisor
Current: PhD at Indiana University

Emily Swanzey, MSc

Role: PhD rotation Supervisor
Current: PhD at NYU

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