Lab Members

Our Staff

Photo of 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
Staff Clinician

Our Fellows

Photo of 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!

Photo of Nicole Minerva.
Nicole Minerva, B.S.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow, Translational Hepatology Section Social Secretary

Nicole grew up in Wisconsin and received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While at UW-Madison, she worked in Dr. Thomas Friedrich’s lab on a project developing a novel next-generation sequencing technique for the influenza genome and other viruses. She joined the NIDDK shortly after graduating, where she is currently investigating mitochondrial dysfunction in patients with liver disease, as well as examining the cell-free nucleic acids in patients infected with Hepatitis C.

During her free time, Nicole spends almost every moment reading! She also enjoys exploring D.C and spending time with her lab mates!

Photo of Maleeha Ahmad.
Maleeha Ahmad, B.S.
MRSP Medical Student Research Fellow

Maleeha grew up in Michigan and received her B.S. in Genomics and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Bioethics, Humanities, and Society from Michigan State University. While at MSU, she worked in Dr. Stephanie Watts’s lab investigating the role of the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT) in norepinephrine storage in perivascular adipose tissue adipocytes, which may have future implications for understanding obesity-related hypertension. Maleeha is currently a fourth-year medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and is at the NIH for her thesis year research project investigating novel histologic factors that drive hepatitis D disease progression.

During her free time, Maleeha loves spending time with her family and playing tennis!

Photo credit: Allie Siarto & Co. Photography

Photo of 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!

Photo of Kanyinsola Onitiri.
Kanyinsola Onitiri, B.A.
IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow

Kanyin is from Lagos, Nigeria but has lived in Maryland for almost half of her life. She received her B.A. in Neuroscience and Behavior from Mount Holyoke College, a women’s college located in South Hadley, Massachusetts. During her time at Mount Holyoke, she worked in the lab of Dr. Craig Woodard where she utilized Drosophila melanogaster as a template for studying cancer. She specifically studied the inhibition of the Hpo/Dronc pathway, and the proteins involved, with the aim of understanding the effects of flavonoids on these pathways. She recently joined the NIH NAEP program where she will be studying liver disease progression in patients diagnosed with HCV and primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Beyond the walls of NIH, she enjoys reading a wide genre of books and comics, rock climbing, dancing to Afrobeats and writing short stories with the hopes of becoming a published author.


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

Biologist, FDA

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

Tufts Veterinary School
Veterinary Practice, NY

Photo of 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

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

Science teacher, Montgomery County Public School System

Photo of 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

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

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

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

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

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

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, University of Maryland Medical Center

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

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

Photo of 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

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

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

Photo of Anjali Rai.
Anjali Rai, M.D.
Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellow, Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital, 2019-2022

Staff Clinician, Pediatric Gastroenterologist, National Institutes of Health

Group Photos

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)