Lab Members

Our lab is powered by highly talented post-bacs and post-docs. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to model a disease with us in C. elegans.

Our Staff

Tao Cai
Staff Scientist
Tao Cai, M.D.
Staff Scientist

Dr. Tao Cai received his Medical Doctor’s degree from Hunan Medical University in Changsha, China in 1990. After that, he worked as an attending doctor, and then associated professor in Xiangya Hospital, which was founded by the Yale-China Association in 1906. He also was an investigator at the National Key Laboratory of Medical Genetics of China. Since 1998, Dr. Cai jointed the National Institutes of Health as a Research Fellow and was appointed to Staff Scientist in 2001. In recent years, Dr. Cai worked on next-generation sequencing (NGS), medical genetics and bioinformatics analysis for identification of genetic etiology in undiagnosed rare diseases. Dr. Cai’s research interests include translational medicine and underlying mechanism of human diseases using mammalian cells and animal models, particularly the C. elegans model system.

Our Fellows

Peter Kropp, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Kropp received his B.A. in Molecular Biology in 2012 from Colgate University and his Ph.D. in Molecular Physiology & Biophysics in 2017 from Vanderbilt University. Under the mentorship of Dr. Maureen Gannon in his graduate career, Dr. Kropp investigated the role of cooperative transcription factors for regulation of gene networks that dictate cell fate in the developing mammalian pancreas. For his postdoctoral work, Dr. Kropp is examining the molecular, cellular, and systemic causes of Multiple Mitochondrial Dysfunctions Syndromes, a collection of rare diseases caused by mutations to Iron-Sulfur cluster biogenesis genes. This work seeks to understand the root causes of the diseases and to identify suppressors of the mutant phenotypes to better understand the co-regulatory factors of this pathway.
Xiaofei Bai, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Xiaofei grew up in a Mongolian pasture near Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia, China. He attended Inner Mongolia Agricultural University in Hohhot for his undergraduate studies, enrolling in the Fall of 2005 with a strong passion to be a molecular biologist. He graduated in 2009, majoring in Bioengineering. He then began his graduate work in Dr. Guojing Li’s lab to study the plant stress-resistance signaling pathway in Arabidopsis and soybean. In 2012, he graduated from the Department of Life Science at the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University with a master’s degree. He then worked for the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science as a research assistant, and joined the lab of Dr. Tianfu Han in October 2012, where he worked on the safety detection of transgenic soybean. In 2013, he began his Ph.D. study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the lab of Dr. Joshua N. Bembenek to investigate the mechanisms of cytokinesis in C. elegans and received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 2018. Currently, he is characterizing the role of the fatty acid synthetase, FASN-1, during oogenesis and embryogenesis in C. elegans. He is also initiating a study to model a rare human disease with mechanosensitive defects.  
Isabella Zafra, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Awardee
Isabella received her B.S. in Biology from York College of Pennsylvania in 2017. Her undergraduate research involved exploring the formation of Helicobacter pylori  biofilms in drinking water distribution systems and its transmission route to humans. In her current role as a postbac, she is creating a database of human rare disease genes and worm orthologs in the hopes of incorporating this data into Wormbase to be available for interest to model organism researchers. She is also beginning to use CRISPR/Cas9 editing to study one of these rare diseases in the worm.
Rosie Bauer
Post-bac IRTA
Rosie received her B.A. in Biology from Lawrence University in 2018. As an undergraduate, she studied ciliated sensory neurons in C. elegans and earned Lawrence's Russel Award for Excellence in Biological Research. As a summer student in the Golden lab, she worked on modeling the rare cardiac disease Long-QT Syndrome in worms. She has now returned as a post-bac to continue using C. elegans to model rare genetic diseases.
Philippa Rogers, B.S.
Post-bac IRTA

Philippa received her B.S. in Biology from The Catholic University of America in 2019. As an undergraduate, she studied the rare genetic disease, Saethre-Chotzen Syndrome, in C. elegans. In her current role as a post-bac in the Golden Lab, she is continuing modeling rare genetic diseases in C. elegans; such as MMDS-1, X-ALD, and NGLY-1 Deficiency.