Associate Professor of Biochemistry and of Medicine
I completed my Ph.D. at the warm and sunny University of Southern California in Los Angeles and moved to the much greener and cooler Northern California to pursue my Postdoc in Raj’s lab at Stanford University. I was a medicinal chemist and a pharmacologist in my previous life. In the Rohatgi lab, I got the exciting opportunity to address one of the biggest challenges facing oncology and drug development, which is the emergence of drug resistance. What I do here is “Discovery Biology” where I use the latest genetic screening strategies to uncover new drug targets, biomarkers for drug resistance, and new insights into signaling mechanisms. When I am not in the lab, I like to go for hikes on the Santa Cruz mountain range or for a drive along the pacific coast.
I was born in Guatemala and grew up in Orange County, California. Since then, I have continued to move north on the North American continent, first to the University of California at Santa Barbara, where I received a BA in Biology, and now to Stanford where I am a PhD candidate in the Rohatgi lab. My project focuses on the molecular mechanisms of Hedgehog signaling, with a emphasis on the EvC complex and Smoothened. While not in the lab, I enjoy fishing, camping, cooking and wine/beer tasting, especially in combination!
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, I emigrated to California mainly to surf, but during my time on dry land I also got my undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Under the tutelage of Daniel Koshland, I took my first steps in the path of research studying enzymology. I then pursued my Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology in the laboratory of Marc Kirschner at Harvard Medical School, where I studied the regulation of actin assembly through biochemical reconstitution. As a post-doc in the Rohatgi lab I study WNT signaling, a fundamental pathway that orchestrates embryonic development, controls tissue renewal and regeneration, and can drive cancer when it becomes defective. Using functional genomics and biochemistry, I uncovered new regulatory mechanisms at all levels of the pathway and discovered a new mode of signaling by R-spondins, secreted growth factors that strongly potentiate WNT signals during development and in adult stem cells. Outside of the lab, I like to spend time exploring museums and the California outdoors with my wife Alexandra and our children, Gabriel and Anabella.
I grew up in beautiful Abiquiu, New Mexico where I was exposed to the rich cultural influences of the Spanish Colonial and Native American traditions. After graduating from New Mexico Tech with a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Chemistry, I transferred my synthetic chemistry expertise to focus on developmental cell signaling problems in Raj's Lab. Focusing on the Hedgehog pathway, I study how extracellular signals are transmitted by a G-protein coupled receptor called Smoothened across the plasma membrane and into the cell. My work shows that Smoothened activity is sensitive to cholesterol not only as a required component for supporting normal receptor activity, but as a signaling molecule capable of activating the receptor and triggering Hedgehog pathway activation.
I grew up in the Bay Area and attended Stanford as an undergrad. It was a tough decision, but I decided to take my talents to the Rohatgi lab, where I’ve worked on both the WNT and Hedgehog signaling pathways. Using computer science to explore biological questions interests me, so I’ve developed bioinformatic tools to analyze sequencing data from genetic screens and automate cilia imaging and quantification. If I’m not in lab, you can find me exploring the outdoors, sipping on a refreshing brew, and playing/watching sports!
I grew up in Germany and received my undergrad degree in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. For my graduate work in the lab of Dirk Görlich, I moved to the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. In the Rohatgi lab, I am studying how cells use liquid-liquid phase transitions to dynamically coordinate biochemical processes in space and time. Outside the lab, I enjoy exploring the Bay Area on my road bike.
I am a Stanford premed majoring in biomechanical engineering (Class of 2019). I have been working with Broder Schmidt in the Rohatgi Lab for the past two years, investigating how single amino acid mutations alter the dynamics of TDP-43 droplets. In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, doing art, drinking tea, and going on long walks/hikes with friends.