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LAB MEMBERS

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Image of Faranak Fattahi
Faranak Fattahi (PI)
faranak.fattahi@ucsf.edu
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Spencer Nyarady (Research Assistant and Lab Manager)
spencer.nyarady@ucsf.edu

Born and raised in Sacramento, I completed my undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a neurobiology emphasis at UC Berkeley in 2017. After working at a drug quality control lab in the Santa Fe area for a couple years, I moved back to the Bay Area and joined the Fattahi Lab at the start of 2022. I have broad research interests including cellular development and signaling pathways, gene regulatory networks, and the gut-brain axis, and am currently looking at pursuing a PhD or industry career. I am also a musician, playing violin, guitar, and trumpet for many years, most recently in local SF indie rock bands Commissure and Samson. I spend much of my free time going to live music and concerts, cooking, and walking my dog Nice in parks around the city

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Homa Majd (Post-doctoral Fellow)
homa.majd@ucsf.edu

Before joining the Fattahi lab, I did my PhD studying mitochondrial membrane transporters and how they link the metabolic pathways of mitochondria and cytoplasm (you can find out more about it here :) ). I am fascinated by cell metabolism and signaling and I hope to understand them better. I love hiking in national parks, gardening, running and cycling as much as I enjoy reading a book in a chilled cafe.

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Mikayla Richter (Post-doctoral Fellow)
mikayla.richter@ucsf.edu

I am a Ph.D graduate student at the University of California, San Francisco pursuing a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics. Prior to graduate school, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry focusing on all facets of late stage biologic drug development - formulation, process, manufacturing, device, and patient usability. Now a graduate student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program, my interests have expanded to disease modeling and drug discovery. In my free time, I manage my cat’s Instagram: @kingcurtisthecat. Besides pharmaceutical science, I can talk about Curtis and our adventures together for hours.

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Ali Kalantari (Graduate Student)
HosseinAli.Kalantari@ucsf.edu

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Ryan Samuel (Post-doctoral Fellow)
ryan.samuel@ucsf.edu

Originally from Virginia, I completed my Bachelor of Science at James Madison University in Biotechnology. Currently, I am a graduate student in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Ph.D. program with broad interests in developmental/congenital disorders, stem cell based therapies, and stem cells as a tool to study development. In the Fattahi Lab, I use directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to study the development and function of specific neural crest lineages in health and disease. Outside of the lab, I like to go to the gym, binge Netflix shows with my wife and cat, and explore the beautiful state of California.

Angeline Chemel
Angeline Chemel (Graduate Student)
angeline.chemel@ucsf.edu

I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to San Francisco, CA when I was two years old and haven’t left since. I am currently a PhD student in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program at UCSF. Previously, I went to City College of San Francisco and then transferred to San Francisco State University and earned a B.S. and M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2018 and 2020, respectively. I became really intrigued in understanding how cells regulate complex processes and developed a strong interest in cell fate determination. More specifically, I am using stem cells to model the development of cells that regulate peristalsis and model diseases to uncover mechanisms that may lead to pathogenesis of the peripheral nervous system. Outside of the lab, I really enjoy exercising as a runner and climber as well as staying true to my introvert self and enjoying hobbies like watching TV and consuming boba.

Megan Scantlen
Megan Scantlen (Graduate Student)
megan.scantlen@ucsf.edu

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago but moved to Boston to study Cell and Molecular Biology at Northeastern University. Throughout my time at Northeastern I had the opportunity to work in three different research environments studying three very different topic, visual perception, neurodegenerative diseases, and immunotherapy. Through my diverse experiences I developed an interest for both neuroscience and immunology. As a graduate student in the Biomedical Sciences PhD program, I hope to study interactions between the immune system and the enteric nervous system. When I’m not in the lab I enjoy hiking, painting, taking care of my many plants and trying new foods.

Nick Elder
Nick Elder (Graduate Student)
nick.elder@ucsf.edu

I received my BS degree from Davidson College in North Carolina before moving to SF to join the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Program at UCSF in 2018. With interests spanning stem cell biology, neuroscience, and cell engineering, my project focuses on development of the human spinal cord. I am specifically interested in how neurons diversify their fate and function based on their location, developmental history, and signaling environment. My hope is that my research can improve the use of lab-derived neurons for the treatment of spinal cord injury and neurological disease. Outside of my graduate work I maintain too many houseplants, garden, hike, and cook.

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Meri Okorie (Graduate Student)
meri.okorie@ucsf.edu

I’m originally from Japan where I spent my first 13 years, and I moved to Southern California to pursue my education in the US. I moved to San Francisco when I was accepted into PSPG program at UCSF where I joined Fattahi lab. My interests in the lab consists of studying effects of small molecule drugs on gene expression in various hPSC-derived cell types and investigating cancer-nerve cross talks in colorectal cancer (CRC) with the hope of developing novel therapeutics for early intervention of perineural invasion in CRC. In my free time, I enjoy being in nature, cooking and baking, and working out at the gym.

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Lina Afonso (Graduate Student)
Lina.Afonso@ucsf.edu

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in Molecular and Cell Biology, I went on to work at UCSF for a few years, eventually deciding to pursue my PhD in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology. In 2022, I joined the Fattahi lab, where I am currently researching the microbiome metabolite interactions with the enteric nervous system (ENS) and the impact of neuromodulators on colon motility in the ENS. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, biking, and attending concerts.

Alireza Majd
Alireza Majd (Post-doctoral Fellow)
alireza.majd@ucsf.edu

I have always admired scientific research since it creates an atmosphere in which questioning is appreciated, and ideas are welcome. It resembles a treadmill on which you continuously solve problems and come up with new ideas, instead of running (also I hate running). In my years as a medical student at Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) I witnessed how chronic diseases impact our bodies and quality of life. Peripheral neuropathies and gut motility disorders constitute significant public health challenges affecting millions of people and there are no therapies currently available. I am so thrilled to “run” on this scientific treadmill towards solutions for these health problems.

Kalyan Sankar (Research Assistant and Lab Manager)
kalyan.sankar@ucsf.edu

I am a second generation immigrant from Tamil Nadu, India. I was born in the United States but spent much of my childhood in India and moving to different states. I settled in Oregon at around 10 years old, then went to University of California, Berkeley to study Microbial Biology and Data Science. Genetics and human biology is an endlessly fascinating topic to me, and I am eager to explore the web of coordinated chemistry under our skin that keeps us all alive. I joined Fattahi Lab after graduating in 2023, and I am excited to delve into the science of neurons and stem cells. Hopefully I can help cast light onto some of the unknowns of stem cell science and the enteric nervous system.

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Evgeniia Pimenova (Assistant Specialist)
evgeniia.pimenova@ucsf.edu


 

I graduated with an MD and PhD in Russia and worked as a pediatric surgeon for 17 years, and I was a teacher for students and residents, as well as being engaged in scientific research. Colorectal pediatric surgery and rehabilitation was my topic for the last 10 years. I always performed scientific research parallel to my clinical practice, because I had a lot of patients with congenital anomalies of the enteric nervous system, as well as spinal cord anomalies, and I think strong fundamental research definitely could improve treatment and management results.
When I decided to switch to a research position, I joined the Fattahi lab. I am happy to be a part of this professional team since December 2023.

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Tommy Luong (Visiting Graduate Student)
tommy.luong@ucsf.edu

 

A Bay Area native and second-generation immigrant, I am currently a Visiting Graduate Student in the Fattahi Lab pursuing a Master's in Biomedical Sciences at San Francisco State University. Holding a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from San Jose State University, my professional journey has taken me through impactful roles at Stanford University and Synthego Corporation, where I specialized in stem cell research and CRISPR-Cas9 technology. My keen interests span neuroscience, stem cells, tissue engineering, and cell therapy, with my ongoing project at the lab focused on unraveling the role of enteric glia in inflammation within the enteric nervous system. Outside the lab, I enjoy devolving myself in history, exploring technology, practicing calligraphy, and assembling Lego and Gundam Sets.

Alumni

Image of Sina Farahvashi
Sina Farahvashi (Research Assistant and Lab Manager)
2018-2023
Aaron Earley
Aaron Earley (Post-doctoral Fellow)
2022-2023
Andrew Cesiulis
Andrew Cesiulis (Research Assistant)
2020-2023
Juliana Moreira
Juliana Moreira (Visiting Graduate Student)
2022-2023
Image of Jonathan Ramirez
Jonathan Ramirez (Research Associate)
2020-2022
Image of Meso Okoye
Meso Okoye (CIRM Masters Student)
2020-2021
Image of Phi Nguyen
Phi Nguyen (Research Assistant)
2019-2021
Image of Kevin Barber
Kevin Barber (Research Assistant)
2017-2019
Samyukta Bhat (Research Assistant)
2017-2018
Mehrnaz Namiri (Volunteer)
2017
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