Roberto Alvarez

Yo yo yo, my name is Roberto Alvarez Jr. I’ve been working for Dr. Sussman since March of 2005. I chose to move to San Diego so that I may expand my knowledge as a scientist. I am currently working on my Master’s Degree and intend to pursue my Ph.D. in the field shortly thereafter. My current project involves the study of a newly created transgenic that expresses fluorescent tags specific to cardiomyocytes, vascular smooth muscle and vascular endothelial cells.

Prior to my move, I was working at Northwestern’s Medical School, in Chicago, assisting with the production of transgenic mice as a team member of the Transgenic and Targeted Mutagenesis Facility where I created many transgenics for scientific endeavors at Northwestern. I am now using the skills I acquired while working there to help pursue my own scientific goals. In my spare time, I take pleasure in goofing off, playing xbox with friends, and finding new and clever excuses of why experiments didn’t work. My best days at work are when the boss is away. I’m secretly planning to overtake the lab and Dr. Sussman’s throne in the very near future, doh…

Kathleen Broughton

Kathleen Broughton, Ph.D., J.D., is classically trained in engineering and law. Kathleen is currently studying the ploidy content of progenitor cells from numerous species and tissue types. She is using various techniques to assess the ploidy state of somatic cells in vivo as it is influenced by cell-autonomous signals and environmental cues. During her PhD, Kathleen manufactured Biological Microelectromechanical System (BioMEMS) devices to control the cellular microenvironment and analyze the structure-function relationship of cardiomyocytes in 4D. She has experience with primary cardiomyocyte culture, cardiomyocyte-derived stem cells, and various stem cells.

Dr. Broughton earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2014) in Bioengineering with her research conducted in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics. She earned her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University with a Certificate in Law and Technology (2009) and her B.S. in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University (2004). Dr. Broughton is a Department of State Fulbright Scholar Alumni (2005-2006) and has an active bar membership for the State of Illinois.

Alexandria Casillas

Hello everyone! My research started in fibroblasts at Dominican University of California where I received my Bachelor’s of Science. After graduating I moved to remote Michigan to perform melanoma research on zebrafish with an NIH Diversity grant. After hightailing it back to Cali, I joined Dr. Sussman’s Lab in 2014 as a PhD candidate. I have been assigned to a collaborative effort with the Foundation Leducq. Our goal is to determine the ability of stem cell contribution in cardiac regeneration and remodeling. Come check us out if your interested in stem cell biology!

Monica Chavarria

My name is Monica Chavarria. I am currently a senior majoring in Biology. I started volunteering at Dr. Sussman’s lab in September 2010, hoping to gain research experience for medical school. During my years in the lab, I worked with Silvia Truffa from whom I learned tissue culture techniques. Then, Roberto Alvarez became my mentor. With him I primarily learned cloning techniques, but I also learned immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, western blots, and genomics. Currently, I am a technician at lab genotyping and managing the mouse colony. My future goals are to obtain a masters degree and continue working on cardiovascular research.

Farid G. El-Sayed

As-Salamu Alaykum (Peace be upon you) – I received my Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the School of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt. I joined Dr. Sussman’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2014 after defending my Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. My Ph.D. project focused on investigating the role of the P2Y2 nucleotide receptor in salivary gland regeneration, and in my postdoctoral training I hope to expand my knowledge of the use of regenerative medicine in heart tissue. I hope to contribute to the heart regeneration field with significant findings that help improve the quality of life and relieve the pain of millions of patients.

Fareheh Firouzi

I graduated with Masters in Cell and Developmental Biology in 2012. I joined Dr. Sussman’s Laboratory as a volunteer starting in May 2014. I am planning to start my PhD in the fall of 2015. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work in this lab with amazing projects and wonderful people. The knowledge and experience I am gaining in the lab will help me better understand this exciting field of study and choose the best direction toward continuing my education.

Natalie Gude

Natalie’s research focuses on Notch signaling in the adult heart. She has finally completed her Ph.D. and will continue her work in the Sussman lab manipulating Notch activity in cardiomocytes and cardiac progenitor cells.

Kelli Ilves

I started volunteering at Dr. Sussman’s laboratory in June 2014 to gain experience from a world leading cardiac research laboratory as a prospective graduate student. Previously, I received a BSc in Gene Technology from Tallinn University of Technology, where I conducted research in Dr. Teet Velling’s laboratory. Currently, I am working on optimizing quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization protocol combined with immunohistochemistry. It is a great honor to learn from and work among the brilliant and professional people who make up Dr. Sussman’s laboratory.

Taeyong Kim

I received my Bachelor’s degree at Handong University, and M.S. and Ph.D. at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Korea. After I finished my Ph.D., I won a postdoctoral fellowship grant from the Korean government and joined Dr. Sussman’s lab in September 2015. My Ph.D. project focused on investigating the role of beta-adrenergic receptor signaling on the survival/death decision of cardiomyocytes using a systems biological approach. In my postdoctoral training, I hope to learn about regenerative medicine using stem cell engineering.

Dieter Kubli

As an undergraduate student in the lab of Dr. Roberta Gottlieb, I studied the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein Bnip3 and its contribution to cardiac ischemic injury. After finishing my B.S. from UCSD in 2006, I stayed in San Diego and joined Dr. Åsa Gustafsson’s lab in 2010 for my graduate studies. I completed my Ph.D. in Biomedical Science at the end of 2013. My project investigated mechanisms of mitochondrial damage control involving mitochondrial autophagy through Parkin and PINK1 in cardiomyocytes. I joined Dr. Mark Sussman’s lab in April 2015 because of his promise that if I cure heart disease, all of my wildest dreams will come true. I intend to apply my experience in mitochondrial function and cardiac research techniques to restoring cardiac function in the face of acute and chronic stress.

When I’m not in lab, I’m usually enjoying one of several typical San Diegan hobbies – rock climbing, beer brewing, and surfing would be the top three. I also like to restore vintage bicycles, and I even ride them once in a while. Whenever I can squeeze a day or two off, I’ll usually go backpacking in the nearby mountains. And this is why I hope to stay in San Diego a while longer.

That’s all for now. Ask me again when my project is up and running!

Nan Liu

Hi, I am a Masters student at SDSU. I joined Dr. Sussman’s lab in October 2013. I have a B.Sc. in Biotechnology from Sichuan University, China. My project focuses on working with a viral-free gene delivery called minicircle that is engineered with Pim1. I analyze its effects on cardioprotection after infarction injury. I am very interested in the minicircle project; hopefully, it can be used in future clinical trails. This team is great, and I am so excited to be part of it.

Megan Monsanto

Hi y’all my name is Megan, and I am originally from South Carolina, if you could not tell from my southern accent! I went to Clemson University where I received my undergraduate degree in genetics. Since my interest is in regenerative medicine, I moved to San Diego having heard biotech is a hot field out here. I just recently joined Dr. Sussman’s lab and am very excited to be a part of this great group of scientists. I am pursuing a Master’s degree and cannot wait to learn everything I can about the heart and cardiac stem cells!

Natalia Navarro

Hello everyone, I graduated with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences from SDSU in May 2005. Currently, I am Dr. Sussman’s Program Coordinator. I oversee all laboratory administrative functions, NIH grant related submissions, manage the lab budget including reconciling accounts, financial transactions and serve as one of two points of contact for postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. I am so thankful and excited to be part of this lab and most importantly, to share the passion for science with this fascinating team. Happy research!

Veronica Sacchi

Hi everybody! I’m from a small and nice village in the countryside of Tuscany, Pienza (Italy). After completing my Master’s degree in Medical Biotechnology at Siena University, I moved to Switzerland for my Ph.D. in Vascular Biology at the Basel University Hospital. I joined Dr Sussman’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2014 to work on a project investigating some molecular mechanisms involved in cardiac aging. I hope with this project to contribute to develop new therapies for functional heart regeneration by discovering new molecular targets.

Jessica Wang

I joined the Sussman lab at the end of 2014 as a doctoral student with the idea to extend my knowledge in cardiovascular research. My current research projects focus on cardiac progenitor cell function in a senescence-accelerated mouse model, and characterization of potential stem cell population at the atrial-ventricular valve regions. The goal of these studies is to enhance the current understanding of heart and/or valve repair during aging or upon injury.

I came to SDSU with a background of biochemical engineering and developmental biology. I received my MSc in biochemical engineering at TU Delft in the Netherlands, where I studied yeast genomics. Inspired by my growing interests in molecular and cell biology, I moved on to pursue an MS in Biological Sciences at Cal State L.A., where I worked in the Nissen lab to study the role of wdr68 in zebrafish craniofacial development and in mouse myoblast myogenesis.