Lab Members

Our Staff

Theo Heller.
M.D. – University of Witwatersrand Medical School
Internal Medicine Residency – Georgetown University Hospital
Viral Hepatitis Fellowship – NIAID, Bethesda, MD
Gastroenterology Fellowship – University of Maryland School of Medicine
Liver Diseases Fellowship – NIDDK, Bethesda, MD
Anjali Rai.
Anjali Rai, M.D.
Staff Clinician

Anjali grew up in Albany, NY. She received her B.S. in Medical Sciences and M.D. from Boston University. She did a pediatrics residency at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, NY where she became interested in pediatric gastroenterology and hepatology. She has worked on a variety of clinical projects from developing an educational curriculum in hepatology for pediatrics residents, to examining the role of obstructive sleep apnea in liver and pancreatic steatosis. She completed a pediatric gastroenterology fellowship at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital and spent her research time working with Dr. Heller on clinical research projects including developing a prospective research protocol examining liver disease in hematopoietic stem cell transplant and studying liver abnormalities in Turner’s syndrome. Upon completion of her fellowship, she joined the Liver Diseases Branch as a staff clinician at the NIH Clinical Center.

Outside of the NIH, she enjoys reading a wide variety of books, traveling, exploring museums, and trying new restaurants and cuisines in DC!

Our Fellows

Moumita Chakraborty.
Moumita Chakraborty, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Moumita is from Kolkata, India. She is currently working at National Institutes of Health, USA as a Postdoctoral Fellow and exploring the mitochondria-peroxisome axis in unique NIH liver disease patient populations. She earned a Ph.D. (2020) from Ben Gurion university of the Negev, Israel under the supervision of Prof. Michal Hershfinkel. The major theme of her Ph.D. work was to understand how the Gq-coupled zinc sensing receptor ZnR/GPR39 enhances breast cancer cell migration and proliferation. She worked as a Project Assistant at National Brain Research Center (2015), India where she investigated the role of E3 ligase ube3a in Drosophila Melanogaster learning and memory. She earned a MSc. in Biochemistry (2013) from University of Calcutta, India and a BSc. in Biochemistry (2013) from Asutosh College in India.

Outside the lab, Moumita enjoys traveling, painting, cooking and listening to music!

Rownock Afruza.
Rownock Afruza, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Rownock received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX in December 2020. During her PhD, she has worked with E4orf1 transgenic mouse model to explore the role of human adeno viral protein E4orf1 in non-alcoholic liver disease and high fat diet induced chronic kidney disease mentored by Dr. Vijay Hegde. She has started her research career by focusing disease-genes association in hypertensive population. She has completed her M.S. and B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Currently, Rownock is investigating microbial genomics and proteomics of gut-liver axis in different liver diseases. She is also interested in exosome signaling and bile acid metabolism in portal hypertension.

During her free time, Rownock loves travelling, gardening, and spending time with family and friends!

Matthew (Matt) Menkart.
Matthew (Matt) Menkart, B.S.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow

Matt is from Potomac, Maryland, and graduated from Emory University in 2023 Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Biology. While studying at Emory, he worked in Dr. Cassandra Quave’s lab, where he conducted research on herb-drug interactions, specifically investigating the ability of medicinal herbs to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes – the main enzyme system for drug metabolism. He previously participated in the NIH Summer Intern Program at the Translational Hepatology Section at NIDDK, where he investigated changes in bile acid profiles in Hepatitis C-infected and recovered patients.

Outside the lab, Matt loves cooking, hiking, and playing with his dog.

Jenna Oringher.
Jenna Oringher, B.S.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow

Jenna grew up in Maryland and received her B.S. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Cell Biology and Genetics from the University of Maryland-College Park, with minors in Sustainability Studies and Public Leadership. During the summers of 2021 and 2022, Jenna was a part of the NIH Summer Intern Program and worked with the Translational Hepatology Section. She worked on projects such as the relationship between the gut microbiome and bile acids and quantifying mitochondrial DNA in the plasma to better understand pathogenesis of HCV and cirrhosis. She joined the NIH IRTA program shortly after graduating and will continue to study liver disease progression and mitochondrial dysfunction.

In her free time, Jenna loves to read and go on runs! She loves being outside as much as possible and spending time with friends and family.


Mi Sun Moon.
Mi Sun Moon, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2012-2016

Biologist, FDA

Sandy Page.
Sandy Page, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2012-2017
Alyson Bradshaw.
Alyson Bradshaw, D.V.M.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2012-2014

Tufts Veterinary School
Veterinary Practice, NY

Jason Eccleston.
Jason Eccleston, M.D.
Medical Research Scholars Program, 2013-2014

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, University of Wisconsin
Gastroenterology Fellow, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Transplant Fellow, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Max Firke.
Max Firke, B.S.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2014-2015

Science teacher, Montgomery County Public School System

Elizabeth Townsend.
Elizabeth Townsend, B.A.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2015-2017

M.D. Ph.D. Student, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Rabab Ali.
Rabab Oun Ali, M.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2015-2019

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, Duke University Hospital
Gastroenterology Fellow, Mt. Sinai Hospital, NY

Grace Zhang.
Grace Zhang, M.D.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2016-2017

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center

Kareen Hill.
Kareen Hill, M.D.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2017-2018

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, University of Maryland Medical Center

Gabriella Quinn.
Gabriella Quinn, B.S.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2017-2019

M.D. Ph.D. Student, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School

James Haddad.
James Haddad, B.S.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2019-2021

M.D. Ph.D. Student, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Meital Gewirtz.
Meital Gewirtz, B.S.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2019-2021

M.D. Ph.D. Student, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Nicole Minerva.
Nicole Minerva, B.S.

IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2021-2023
Translational Hepatology Section Social Secretary, 2021-2023
M.D. Ph.D. Student, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Maleeha Ahmad.
Maleeha Ahmad, B.S.

MRSP Medical Student Research Fellow, 2021-2023
M.D. M.S. Student, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

Kanyinsola Onitiri.
Kanyinsola Onitiri, B.A.

IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, 2021-2023
M.D. Student, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Group Photos

Translational Hepatology Section lab members in Summer 2023Lab Photo (Summer 2023)

Biology in the GreenhouseBiology in the Greenhouse

The Liver Meeting 2022The Liver Meeting 2022

Kanyin and Nicole sitting on the steps of the National Gallery of Art west building.
Understanding the breadth of science at DC museums
Kanyin, Nicole, and Moumita attending a lab meeting.
Lab meeting (2022)
Lab member cutting a cake that reads It's a Girl.
Cake break after a presentation
Group photo of the Translational Hepatology Section staff in Summer 2022.
Translational Hepatology Section (Summer 2022)
Last Reviewed October 2023