U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Nuclear Organization and Gene Expression Section

Elissa Lei, Ph.D., Chief

Section Staff


Ezequiel Nazer, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Ezequiel pioneered the study of RNA-binding protein and mRNA localization dynamics in Trypanosomes for his thesis work at the Universidad de San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Sanchez. Ezequiel is studying the role of AGO2 in transcriptional control.


Juan Manuel Caravaca, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Juanma performed his thesis work on the chromatin structure of metaphase chromosomes at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona in the laboratory of Dr. Joan Ramon Daban. He went on to perform postdoctoral work on mitotic bookmarking of transcription factors in Kenneth Zaret’s laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. Juanma is studying the regulation of genome-wide looping interactions produced by chromatin insulators.


Dahong Chen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Dahong’s thesis work characterized the function of Shep in bursicon neurons during Drosophila metamorphosis in the laboratory of Dr. Randall Hewes at the University of Oklahoma. He is currently studying the role of Shep in gypsy insulator regulation in the nervous system.


Indira Bag, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Indira’s thesis work focused on the role of the Drosophila RNA-binding protein Rm62 in heterochromatin formation and gene silencing in the laboratory of Dr. Manika Pal-Bhadra at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology. She went on to do postdoctoral work studying transcriptional silencing by Piwi in Dr. Utpal Bhadra’s laboratory at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology.  Indira is currently studying mechanisms of chromatin insulator function.


Margarita Brovkina, B.S., Postbaccalaureate IRTA
Margarita graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. At UMBC, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Michelle Starz-Gaiano examining the mechanisms of coordinated cell migration in Drosophila. Margarita is currently studying the role of RNA-binding protein Shep in gypsy insulator function.


Madoka Chinen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (alum)
Madoka identified a novel role for splicing factors in heterochromatin formation in fission yeast during her thesis work in Tokio Tani’s laboratory at Kumamoto University. She took a structure/function approach to analyze AGO2 activity and turnover.  She is currently Senior Technology Advisor at API Co., Ltd.


Prisma Lopez, B.S., Postbaccalaureate IRTA (alum)
Prisma graduated with a Molecular and Cell Biology B.S. degree from the University of Connecticut. She worked on the function of noncoding mRNAs in gypsy insulator activity. She is currently a postbac IRTA in Dr. Astrid Haase’s laboratory.


Karole D’Orazio, M.S., Postbaccalaureate IRTA (alum)
Karole obtained M.S. and B.S. degrees in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology at Stony Brook University. She worked to delineate the specificity of noncoding mRNA function in gypsy insulator activity and developed high throughput image analysis of transcript localization in cell culture.  She is currently a Ph.D. student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Rachel Green.


Su Jun Lim, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (alum)
At the University of Rochester Medical Center in the laboratory of Dr. Willis Li, Su Jun’s thesis work focused on mechanisms of heterochromatin formation including characterization of a novel RNAi factor in Drosophila. Su Jun studied the function of the exosome in chromatin insulator activity. She is currently a Tech Transfer Professional at Tech Launch Arizona.


Leah Matzat, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (alum)
Leah performed her thesis work on mRNA nuclear export in the laboratory of Dr. Lyne Levesque at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She used her expertise in RNA-protein biochemistry to examine the function of a newly identified insulator-associated RNA-binding protein. Leah is currently a Senior Scientist at Invitae.


Matthew King, B.S., Postbaccalaureate IRTA (alum)
Matt was a Biological Sciences and Neuroscience double major at the University of Delaware. He studied the functions of RNA-binding proteins in chromatin insulator activity. Matt is currently a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Sabine Petry at Princeton University.


Patrick Boyle, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (alum)
Pat’s thesis work to purify and study DNA replication complexes was carried out at University of Notre Dame under the supervision of Dr. Subhash Basu. He moved to University of Virginia to map and characterize replication origins on a genome wide level as part of the ENCODE project in the laboratory of Dr. Anindya Dutta. He examined enzymatic activities associated with chromatin insulator complexes. He is currently a Senior Scientist at QIAGEN.


Nellie Moshkovich, Ph.D., Ph.D. student (alum)
Nellie was enrolled in the Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland and was a member of the Graduate Partnerships Program at NIH. She studied the role of RNA silencing in heterochromatin formation and chromatin insulator function. Nellie went on to teach at Hands on Science, a local non-profit organization that encourages science and mathematics education for children. She is currently a Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellow at NCI in the laboratory of Dr. Lalage Wakefield.


Brandi Thompson, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (alum)
Brandi’s first experience with Drosophila genetics was as an undergraduate in Dr. Sarah Elgin’s lab at Washington University. She went on to characterize the biochemical activity of a chromatin remodeller for her thesis work at the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Bochar. Brandi studied chromatin insulator-dependent looping interactions. She is currently Clinical Molecular Genetics Associate Lab Director at Natera.


Parul Nisha, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (alum)
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Parul studied molecular mechanisms of heterochromatic gene silencing in Dr. Amy Csink's laboratory. She studied the differential effects of RNA silencing on various chromatin insulators. Parul is currently a Research Associate at Philips.


Matthew Emmett, M.S., Technical IRTA (alum)
Matt obtained both a B.A. in Biology and M.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins University. He studied the effects of insulators on the chromatin landscape using a variety of molecular techniques. He is currently enrolled in an M.D./Ph.D. program at University of Pennsylvania and is performing his thesis work under the supervision of Dr. Mitchell Lazar.


Patrick Murphy, Ph.D., Postbaccalaureate IRTA (alum)
Patrick graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Biology. He worked on the development of a visual cell based assay for higher order nuclear organization that will be used to perform a high throughput dsRNA knockdown screen. Patrick went on to obtain a Ph.D. at Cornell University under the supervision of Dr. Paul Soloway and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Bradley Cairns at the University of Utah.