2020-2022 Human Genetics Scholars
Grambling State University
Dr. Jacqueline Harris is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and has multidisciplinary training in biostatistics and biochemistry. Her academic background includes post-doctoral training in statistical genetics at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the Department of Biostatistics Section on Statistical Genetics. She received her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Mississippi. Dr. Harris has received formal and practical training in statistics and statistical genetics. She has published in the following areas: statistical modeling of health disparities, and genetic network discovery in the Hap Map data set. Dr. Harris’ research aims to contribute to the understanding of underlying genetic and environmental factors that contribute to metabolic disease and health disparities.
Graduate Research Fellow
Pennsylvania State University, Bioinformatics and Genomics
Jordan Hughey is a Bioinformatics and Genomics PhD Candidate under Dr. Dajiang Liu at Penn State. His thesis work focuses on developing computational approaches that integrate multi-omic data to elucidate mechanisms behind complex traits. Furthermore, Jordan performed experimental research developing and testing DNA sequencing technologies during his undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As a graduate fellow, he has been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority PhD Scholarship. Being a member of many STEM diversity groups, Jordan is a passionate advocate for increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM higher education.
Intramural Research Training Award Postdoctoral Fellow
National Human Genome Research Institute
Dr. Deyana Lewis is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Human Genome Research Institute. She obtained a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health where her dissertation focused on health disparities in dental genetics. Dr. Lewis performs research in the field of genetic epidemiology/statistical genetics. She is currently leading analyses of whole exome and genome sequencing of African American men with hereditary prostate cancer from the African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer (AAHPC) study with the aim to identify causal genes and high-risk variants. She is also an advocate for mentoring underrepresented minority students in STEM.
Emory University, Department of Human Genetics
Trenell Mosley is a Doctoral Candidate at Emory University. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Science in Human Biology from The University of Texas at Austin. She currently works under Dr. Michael Zwick and Dr. Jennifer Mulle, and her thesis work is aimed at understanding the contributions of genetic and genomic variation to rare genetic disorders. Specifically, she focuses on the influence of genomic architecture in the formation of recurrent copy number variants. She also works extensively within the university to aid and advocate for diversity support and inclusion on campus and, more broadly, in STEM higher education and the workforce.
Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Columbia University, Institute for Genomic Medicine
Dr. Tess Pottinger is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University where she performs research in the field of statistical genetics. Her current project includes optimizing rare variant analysis techniques through machine learning across various disease phenotypes using whole exome and whole genome data. She obtained a Ph.D. in Biomedical Informatics with a focus in Human Genetics from Northwestern University where she performed research in uncovering rare and common variation underlying heart failure using longitudinal phenotyping in a medical biobank.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences
Oscar Rodriguez is a PhD student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Sharp and Dr. Ali Bashir. His research focuses on resolving complex regions of the human genome and structural variants with a particular focus on tandem repeats and the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus. He received his B.Sc. in Biomedical Science with a focus on Bioinformatics from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
The University of Chicago
Dr. Loren Saulsberry is an Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Health Services Research in the Department of Public Health Sciences at The University of Chicago. Her research program aims to evaluate and guide the implementation of pharmacogenomics (PGx) into clinical practice in a manner that advances health equity within genomic medicine. She has studied the diffusion and uptake of emerging medical technologies to treat chronic diseases with a particular focus on how health innovations impact health disparities. Dr. Saulsberry received her Ph.D. in Health Policy from Harvard University and is an alumna of the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s Training in Oncology Population Sciences Program. Before entering academia, her prior experiences include cancer genetics research and working with the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Graduate Research Associate
The University of Arizona, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Mario Trejo is completing a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Arizona. His dissertation involves analyzing clinical trial genomic data to examine the association between genetic variation and colorectal adenoma recurrence. During his MPH program, Mario was a CEESP fellow in Zambia where he studied HIV’s relation to cervical cancer progression. Mario, originally from South Central Los Angeles, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Merced prior to his service with the Peace Corps in El Salvador. Mario has experience working with populations locally and abroad including Zambia, El Salvador, and along the U.S. Mexico border.
2019-2021 Human Genetics Scholars
Research Assistant Professor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Paola Giusti-Rodríguez is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Paola grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico. Paola has a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where her dissertation focused on the molecular basis of neurodegeneration. Her postdoctoral work was done at UNC, studying antipsychotic pharmacogenomics. Paola is applying functional genomics to gain mechanistic insight onto psychiatric disorders as part of a K01 award. She is committed to the diversification of psychiatric genomics studies through collaborations.
Genomic Medicine Fellow
Harvard Medical School/ Harvard School of Public Health/BWH/DFCI
Latrice Landry is a Fellow specializing in precision medicine and health disparities at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health. As the Inaugural Food and Drug Administration’s Genomic Medicine and Minority Health Fellow, she was recognized as a thought leader in minority health and precision medicine by the National Minority Quality Forum and as a top 10 under 40 rising stars by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. She is helping lead equity and disparities research in the field of precision medicine.
Intramural Research Training Award Postdoctoral Fellow
National Human Genome Research Institute
Dr. Candace Middlebrooks is a Research Fellow at the National Human Genome Research Institute. She obtained a Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology at Emory University where she performed research in the field of genetic epidemiology. Dr. Middlebrooks performs research in the field of translational genetic epidemiology/statistical genetics. Her current research includes a whole genome sequencing study of leg ulcers in individuals with Sickle Cell Disease from the Insights study as well as a study to determine whether individuals from families with hereditary cancer syndromes are at risk of other cancers.
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Department of Biomedical Science Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine
Department of Biology and Bioengineering
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Derrick Morton’s main research objective is to understand key developmental pathways and how alterations in gene expression contribute to neurological disease. His current studies specifically exploit a Drosophila melanogaster model to examine RNA exosome-linked disease. The RNA exosome is an evolutionary-conserved riboexonuclease complex critically important for both precise processing and complete degradation of a variety of cellular RNAs. By testing the hypothesis that defects in assembly and interactions of the RNA exosome contribute to neurologic disease, we will further our knowledge of RNA exosome-linked disease and also provide invaluable insights into distinct tissue-specific consequences due to altered subunits within RNA exosome.
Graduate Research Fellow
Christopher Robles is a PhD Candidate at UCLA working on developing computational and statistical methods to draw conclusions from large genomic datasets under Dr. Sriram Sankararaman. His thesis work focuses on ancient DNA, specifically how Neanderthal introgression affects modern human biology. He is also an advocate for increasing diversity in STEM higher education. Chris grew up in Los Angeles and after attending community college, earned his bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering at UC Santa Cruz.
Assistant Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Informatics
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Dr. Athena Starlard-Davenport is a molecular biologist dedicating her research efforts toward investigating molecular mechanisms involved in breast cancer disparities and sickle cell disease. Dr. Starlard-Davenport has over 10 years of research training in breast cancer biology and genetics. She received her MS degree in Biology with a research focus in agricultural microbiology from the University of Louisiana. After being the first African American to receive her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) she completed postdoctoral training in the Division of Biochemical Toxicology at the FDA National Center for Toxicological Research, and in the Department of Medical Genetics and Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the UAMS.
Senior Genetic Epidemiologist
Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford
Jason Torres is a senior genetic epidemiologist in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, where he leads genetic analyses of the Mexico City Prospective Study. He has a longstanding interest in identifying genetic risk factors for metabolic disease among populations of non-European ancestry. Through analyses of large-scale genomic data, Jason elucidates underlying biological processes that mediate susceptibility to disease onset and progression. Jason received his PhD at the University of Chicago and previously worked at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics where he resolved causal genes and tissues at loci associated with type 2 diabetes.
Krystal Tsosie (Diné/Navajo), MPH, MA, is currently completing an interdisciplinary PhD in Genomics and Health Disparities at Vanderbilt University. She also serves as research faculty at a tribal college and co-leads genomic studies related to women’s health in a tribal community in North Dakota. Krystal advocates strongly for genomic and data sovereignty and is a co-founder of the first Indigenous-led biobank for tribes in South Dakota. She has expertise in population genetics, CELSI (Cultural, Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues), and Indigenous data sovereignty to the Strong Heart Study, Stanford University, and the University of Oklahoma.