This is an excellent opportunity for outstanding scientists who have recently received their Ph.D. degree to pursue a period of independent research before taking a faculty position. Fellows direct their own research program in pursuit of their scientific vision. They have their own laboratory space and technician, as well as opportunities to grow through access to all of the resources of the Laboratory. Fellow appointments are for three years, which can be extended for an additional one or two years. Following completion of this program, Fellows are highly competitive in obtaining faculty positions, either within CSHL or at outside institutions. The central philosophy of the Fellows Program is a pure focus on research, without administrative or teaching burdens. While there is no requirement to write grants, Fellows may do so.
During my Ph.D. at Harvard, I gained an appreciation for the fundamental questions on environment–gene interactions in the context of stem cells, cancer and immunology. My thesis work resulted in impactful discoveries in two research areas: (1) I identified a causal mechanism through which a pro-obesity high-fat diet enhances intestinal stem cell function and increases intestinal tumorigenicity and (2) I assessed the precise molecular mechanisms that epigenetic regulators employ to specify the lineage-specific gene expression programs in immune cells. These experiences in diverse research areas during my Ph.D. has prepared me to tackle challenging research questions as well as to foster successful collaborations. I established my own research group as a CSHL Fellow with the aim to develop a rigorous, collaborative, innovative and integrative research program by building on my complementary expertise in epigenetics, stem cell biology, metabolism and immunology. Upon starting my lab here, I worked on deconstructing diet-induced alterations in microbe–immune cell–stem cell interactions that contribute to tumor initiation in the intestine. Our ongoing studies are interrogating the functional consequences of diets and diet-induced metabolic alterations on stem cell regeneration, immunity and cancer. One of the great assets of being a CSHL Fellow is the opportunity to build a robust research program in a resource-rich collaborative environment with a great support system and a “science-first” mentality. For a scientist, building a scientific identity takes time but the growing burden of extreme competition in academic science on young scientists may exhaust creativity and critical thinking. I feel fortunate to be part of the CSHL Fellows Program. This is a unique place that nurtures bold, creative, energetic and fearless minds with a vision to make fundamental scientific discoveries!
I originally trained in molecular biotechnology with a wet-lab focus on synthetic biology and immunology. During my master’s research, I switched to computational methods where I studied the regulation of gene expression in thymic epithelial cells in the laboratories of Benedikt Brors and Bruno Kyewski at the German Cancer Research Center. To further my computational biology skills, I pursued a Ph..D in Ewan Birney’s research group at the European Bioinformatics Institute where I developed models for analyzing high-dimensional phenotype data and applied these methods to association analysis of human cardiac morphology data.
The position as a CSHL Fellow position uniquely allows me to bring together my long-standing interest in immunology and thymus biology with my skills in high-dimensional data analyses and statistical methods in my own independent research group. We study how the immune system distinguishes between self and non-self to effectively fight infection and prevent autoimmune diseases. In particular, we are interested in understanding how T cells and thymus epithelial cells interact to drive self-tolerance and generate diversity in the immune system. We answer these questions by combining experimental approaches, genomics, and mathematical modeling. Our interdisciplinary approaches fit well into the collaborative research environment at CSHL. Specifically the expertise in genomics research at CSHL and being part of the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology aid greatly in pursuing our research questions.
Nearly all tumors exhibit a condition known as aneuploidy—their cells contain the wrong number of chromosomes. We’re working to understand how aneuploidy impacts cancer progression, in hopes of developing therapies that can specifically eliminate aneuploid cancers while leaving normal cells unharmed.
Proper balancing of self-renewal and differentiation in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells is a central question in hematopoiesis. My laboratory investigates how growth signal and nutrient coordinate to regulate this key process and aims to develop novel therapeutic strategies for hematological diseases and malignancies.