Current Human Genetics Scholars

2019-2021 Human Genetics Scholars

Paola Giusti-Rodriguez, PhD
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.
Latrice Landry, PhD
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.

Candace Middlebrooks, PhD
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.

Derrick Morton, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Department of Biomedical Science Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine

Visiting Associate
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.
Christopher Robles
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.

Athena Starlard-Davenport, PhD
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.
Jason Torres, PhD
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, MPH, M.A.
Doctoral Researcher
Vanderbilt University

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.




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