|LEADERSHIP AND COMMITTEE CHAIRS|
Brian Sansbury, Ph.D.
Brian is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at BWH studying the dual role of macrophages in promoting the resolution of inflammation and tissue regeneration during vascular injury. He joined the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Spite in 2014 and was recently awarded an individual National Research Service Award from the NIH/NHLBI. Brian earned his PhD from the University of Louisville focusing his dissertation work on the anti-obesogenic effects of nitric oxide. Away from the bench, Brian is passionate about empowering postdocs in all aspects of their professional development. Shortly after starting his postdoc, he joined the PLC helping to launch the Connectors Program. Since then, Brian has assumed an active role in the leadership of the PLC, serving as Vice President and currently as President. Outside of work, Brian enjoys skiing, bowling, catching games at Fenway and taking in any and all live music.
VICE PRESIDENT of ADMINISTRATION
Jessica Hall, Ph.D.
Jessica Hall, Ph.D. has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension at BWH since 2014. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School, where she studied thyroid hormone and insulin metabolic actions on energy and glucose homeostasis. Her current research focuses on molecular mechanisms that link obesity to insulin resistance. Jessica also has a strong interest in teaching and mentoring, and she was a recipient of the BWH Office for Research Careers’ 2017 Peer Mentor Award. She has been a member of the BWH Postdoctoral Leadership Council since 2016, having served as a co-director of the BWH Mentoring Circles Program and is currently the Vice President of Administration and chair of the Communications Committee. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys running in local road races and kayaking on the Charles River.
VICE PRESIDENT of COMMUNICATION
Deepak Bhere, Ph.D.
Deepak Bhere is currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging within the Neurosurgery Department at BWH. His research is focused on developing novel cell based therapies for Glioblastoma. Deepak is a member of the Leadership Planning Committee for the New England events of National Brain Tumor Society. As the Director of Operations for SimplyJith Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts; he actively works on developing programs to improve healthcare and education in rural communities in India. Deepak has been a member of Networking Committee within the Postdoctoral Leadership Council since early 2017 and currently also serves at the Vice President of Communications. As an avid aviation enthusiast, Deepak enjoys spending his leisure time spotting planes and enjoys collecting models of commercial aircraft.
Chair, Grant Writing Circles
Andrei Avanesov, Ph.D.
Andrei Avanesov, Ph.D. is currently completing his postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Prof. Vadim Gladyshev, where they are applying genomic and molecular tools to understand the role of age-associated damage in aging. To that end, Andrei is pursuing development of high-throughput assays that help characterize effects of environment (e.g. diet) and genetic background on cellular homeostasis. In his spare time, Andrei explores other innovative avenues of value creation for postdocs via Grant Writing Circle, a mentoring peer-to-peer program that facilitates preparation and review of NIH-style grant proposals. His hobbies include music and photography, but most importantly spending time with family and friends from work and not so distant past.
Co-Director, Mentoring Circles Program
Budhaditya Banerjee, Ph.D.
Dr. Budhaditya Banerjee received his Bachelor’s degree in Human Physiology and MS in Biomedical Genetics. He went on to get a PhD in Dr. P. Todd Stukenberg’s lab at the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Dept. of University of Virginia, Charlottesville where he studied chromosome autonomous cell cycle regulatory pathways. He studied cellular signaling events in context of manifestation of cancer and unraveled a network of centromeric proteins involved in error free chromosome segregation. Currently, he has joined Dr. Richard Sherwood’s group as a postdoctoral research fellow to study the effect of combinatorial transcription factor (TF) activation in mouse embryonic stem cells to generate TF dependent gene-networks. His goal is to identify novel TFs relevant to differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells to motor neurons and pancreatic beta cells. This work will potentially reveal new targets involved in pathogenesis of Diabetes and various neuro-degenerative diseases.
Co-Director, Mentoring Circles Program
Margaret Parker, Ph.D.
Margaret Parker, PhD has been a postdoctoral fellow at Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH since 2015. She earned her Ph.D. in Genetic Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her current research focuses genetic susceptibility to lung diseases. She has been a member of the BWH Postdoctoral Leadership Council since 2016 and serves as a co-director of the BWH Mentoring Circles Program.
Caroline Baufeld, Ph.D.
Caroline Baufeld, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow at the Brigham and Women‘s Hospital since 2016. Dr. Caroline Baufeld, originally from Berlin (Germany), received a M.Sc. in Molecular Life Science from the University of Lubeck in the north of Germany. For her PhD she joined the department for Neuropathology at the Charite in Berlin, where she studied microglia, the brain’s macrophages, and their response to high-fat diet that interested her. This exposure to microglia was why she then joined the lab of Dr. Butovsky at the Center for Neurologic Diseases to continue her work on these cells, now focusing on their role in neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s disease. She joined the PLC half a year after joining BWH and since then has been part of the networking committee, which she now co-directs.
Hilal Cerit, Ph.D.
Dr. Hilal Cerit is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of Women’s Health and Department of Psychiatry at BWH, and a Research Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her main research interests include the study of genetic, neuroendocrine and neural correlates of vulnerability to depression, with a special interest in the reward and stress systems. The ultimate goal of her research is to contribute to finding effective interventions in order to prevent depression relapse by adapting dietary and life style interventions to vulnerability markers of stress-related disorders. Hilal has been an active member of the BWH Postdoctoral Leadership Council since 2016, and is the co-chair of the Networking Committee.
Chair, Connectors Program
Yashini Govender, Ph.D.
Yashini Govender, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow mentored by Raina N. Fichorova, M.D., Ph.D. in the Laboratory of Genital Tract Biology in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Dr. Govender is originally from South Africa. She graduated from the University of Cape Town, South Africa with her Ph.D. degree in Molecular & Cell Biology in 2015. Yashini initially joined the Fichorova Lab for 3 months in 2012 while doing her graduate studies. Her Ph.D. research focused on hormonal contraceptives and female genital tract inflammation. She investigated the differential effects, molecular mechanism of action and steroid receptor involvement of two progestin-only injectable contraceptives medroxyprogesterone acetate and norethisterone enanthate in inflammatory gene expression. She returned to the Fichorova Lab in November 2016 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and her research is focused on investigating factors that influence female genital tract inflammation and HIV-1 risk.
Lien Beckers, Ph.D.
Lien Beckers, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Neurology at BWH since January 2017. She earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at KU Leuven (Belgium) where she was a teaching assistant at the University of Leuven and where she investigated microglia, the specific immune cells of the central nervous system, in a neurometabolic disorder called Multifunctional protein 2-deficiency. Lien received a Belgian American Educational Foundation (B.A.E.F.) fellowship to conduct postdoctoral research at HMS. Her current research focuses on revealing molecular mechanisms that modify microglia in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Lien has been a member of the BWH Postdoctoral Leadership Council since 2017, in particular of the Networking Committee. In her spare time, Lien plays waterpolo, is part of a BSSC hockey team and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, climbing, running and swimming.
Member, Connectors Program
Claudia Corbo, Ph.D.
Claudia Corbo, Ph.D. has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Nanomedicine at BWH since 2016. After earning her Ph.D. in Molecular Oncology at the European School of Molecular Medicine, focusing on the discovery of colorectal cancer stem cell biomarkers, she completed her first postdoctoral training in nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Hospital. Her current research at BWH focuses on nanoparticle/cell interaction to explore possible novel nano-therapeutic cancer applications. Claudia is the author of 25 peer-reviewed papers in international journals and three book chapters. She took part in more than 40 international congresses and her research has been awarded multiple times by American and European societies (e.g. EMBO, FEBS, HUPO). She joined the BWH PLC in 2017 serving as a member of Mentoring Circles Program and Connector Program. In her free time, she enjoys shopping and cooking. Claudia also loves watching soccer matches, and Napoli is her favorite soccer team!
Member, Networking & Communications
Chintan Dave, Ph.D.
Chintan Dave, Pharm.D, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics since 2017. pharmacy degree from St. Louis college of Pharmacy in 2012, and a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences, with a focus on pharmacoepidemiology, in 2017 from University of Florida. His current areas of research interest include post-marketing safety and effectiveness studies, quantitative health policy research, and prediction modeling. In his spare time, Chintan enjoys hiking, eating out, reading, running, and playing tennis.
Priyadarshini Kachroo, Ph.D.
Priyadarshini Kachroo, Ph.D. has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Systems Genetics and Genomics Unit, Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH since June 2017. She earned her Ph.D. in the Genetics and Bioinformatics department at Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel, Germany where she studied epigenetic alterations in inflammatory bowel diseases that may affect the germ-line and in certain contexts can be inherited to offspring. Her current research focuses on genome-wide association studies in addition to methylation for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As a volunteer of the BWH Reiki program, she additionally works as a Reiki practitioner at BWH. She has been a member of the Advocacy committee of the BWH Postdoctoral association since October 2017. In her spare time, Priya enjoys traveling, cooking and meditation.
Veronique Latreille, Ph.D.
Véronique Latreille, Ph.D. has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at BWH since 2016. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology at University of Montreal in Canada, where she studied how disturbed sleep may be a risk factor for the development of dementia in Parkinson’s disease. Her thesis was nominated for the Canadian Distinguished Dissertation Award 2017. Veronique’s work has been focused on translating basic science research questions into clinical applications to improve patient care. Her current research focuses on the relationships between sleep and cognitive functions in epilepsy. Veronique has been a member of the BWH Postdoctoral Leadership Council since 2017. Her hobbies include sports and traveling.
Amin Nassar, Ph.D.
Amin Nassar, M.D., has been a postdoctoral research fellow in the Pulmonary Department at BWH since August 2017. He earned his medical degree at the American University of Beirut (June 2017). His current research focuses on genitourinary cancer genomics. Amin has a strong interest in learning and acquiring new skills. He is a life-long member of the prestigious alpha omega alpha honor society. He joined the BWH postdoctoral Leadership Council in August 2017 and is currently a mentee in the BWH Mentoring Circles Program and a member of the networking committee. In his free time, Amin enjoys running and watching soccer games.
Member, Connectors Program & Communications
Ashley Ogawa-Wong, Ph.D.
Ashley Ogawa-Wong, Ph.D. completed her graduate work in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Hawaii in July 2017, where she investigated selenium metabolism in glucose homeostasis. Since September 2017, Ashley has been a postdoctoral fellow at BWH in the Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension Division. Currently, she studies thyroid hormone regulation in the muscle stem cell niche, which has potential implications in muscle stem cell transplantation. Ashley recently joined the PLC, and recognizes that there is a lack of readily available information regarding the many career choices available to Ph.D. holders. Through the connectors program, she hopes to help current postdocs explore both academic and alternative career options to figure out their next steps. Since learning that Massachusetts is the birthplace of the chocolate chip cookie, she has been on a mission to find the best in town. To counter that, she stays active by running, bouldering, and yoga.
Viorel Simion, Ph.D.
Viorel Simion, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Previously he was a postdoctoral researcher in France, at Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, developing molecular tools to monitoring the microRNAs expression and nanomedicine therapeutics. He earned his Ph.D. in Cell Biology at the Institute of Cellular Biology and Pathology, Romania, and the Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen (UMCG), The Netherlands, studying Nanomedicine applications in Cardiovascular Diseases. His current research focuses on discovery of long non coding RNAs (lncRNAs) with implication in Coronary Artery Diseases and Inflammation. He is interested in entrepreneurship and business development, and is currently involved in the PLC Networking Committee. He enjoys playing soccer and mountain hiking.
Katja Sygnecka, Ph.D.
Katja Sygnecka, Ph.D. has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pathology at BWH since August 2016. She earned her Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology at Leipzig University, Faculty of Biosciences/Translational Center for Regenerative Medicine Leipzig, were she studied the neurite growth promoting properties of pharmacological substances and stem cells in organotypic brain slice co-cultures of the dopaminergic projections. Katja has a strong interest in molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration and regeneration, signaling pathways and in translational science. She is interested in alternative careers and participated in the Mentoring Circle Program (as a mentee) and a Harvard Catalyst Course on Clinical Studies for PhDs. She has been a member of the BWH Postdoctoral Leadership Council since August 2016, serving as an active member of the networking committee. In her spare time, Katja enjoys dancing and painting after having been inspired by the beautiful artwork shown in Boston’s (and other cities’) art museums.
Member, Networking & Connectors Program
Francisco Velazquez Planas, Ph.D.
Francisco (Frankie) Velázquez has been a postdoctoral fellow in the division of pathology and the center for excellence in cardiovascular biology at BWH since June 2017. He received his Ph.D. in Immunology from Tufts Medical Center, where he studied Th17 cell recruitment in inflammation and autoimmunity. His current research focuses on the application of recruitment models and antibody development to understand the impact of cis and trans interactions in CD47-SIRPα signaling in inflammation and cardiovascular disease. He is a T32 training grant fellow, and has strong interest in mentoring, community outreach, and inclusion of minorities in STEM applied fields. During his spare time, he enjoys runs around the arboretum, cooking, dancing, volunteer work, drawing and martial arts.
Needa Virani, Ph.D.
Needa Virani, Ph.D. has recently joined the Radiation Oncology Department at BWH as a postdoctoral fellow. She earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma developing cancer therapy nanotechnology agents with a specific focus on the use of tumor vasculature targeted carbon nanotubes and molecular drugs. Her current research focuses on the combination of gold nanoparticles as radiation dose enhancing and tumor vasculature disrupting agents. Needa was the founder and president of the National Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) student chapter and part of the founding committee of the new undergraduate Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Oklahoma. Needa also has a strong interest in mentoring as a founder of the BMES mentoring program as well as a participant as big sister in a big/little program. In her time off, Needa enjoys cooking and attending local festivals.
Yiwen Xu, Ph.D.
Yiwen Xu, PhD is a post-doctoral research fellow and medical physics resident at Harvard Medical School, affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Working within the Computational Imaging and Bioinformatics Laboratory, her research focus is on the analysis of lung tumor CT images for response evaluation through computational analyses. She has been a member of the BWH Postdoctoral Leadership Council since Aug 2017 and looks forward to organizing future events with the Networking Committee.
Patrick Ovando-Roche, Ph.D.
Patrick Ovando-Roche is a PhD stem cell biologist with experience conducting neurodegenerative diseases research. He earned his PhD on human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research at Imperial College London in 2014 where he studied how telomere binding proteins can control neural differentiation of hESCs by regulating the neural master repressor REST. Following his PhD training he joined the Gene and Cell Therapy group of Professor Robin Ali at the Institute of Ophthalmology of University College London. Here, he developed human retinal organoid differentiation and gene editing approaches for the disease modelling of retinopathies. Currently, he has joined the laboratory of Dr Vikram Khurana at BWH and HMS as a senior Postdoctoral Fellow. Here, he plans to apply what he has learned in photoreceptor differentiation and gene editing to the disease modelling of a form of Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA) that affects both the retina and the brain, SCA7.
Member, Connectors Program
Shahed Behzadi, Ph.D.
Shahed received his Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in 2016 and he currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship position at the Center for Nanomedicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School (HMS). The main subject of his doctoral project was to develop advanced stimuli-responsive organic and inorganic nanocapsules with enhanced capabilities for selective-release of payloads. Shahed is currently developing an improved screening method for cancer metastasis and anti-tumor therapies by engineering nanostructured, 3D, vascularized tumor constructs. In collaboration with orthopedic trauma service of BWH, he is developing novel stem cell-laden scaffolds containing antibacterial nanoparticles with the ability to target infecting bacteria and induce bone regeneration. Shahed has been a member of “Career Development” within the Postdoctoral Leadership Council (PLC) since early 2018. His hobbies include professional photography, sports, and watching news.