Fabian Garcia-Nolla

Fabian Garcia-Nolla

Research Technician I

Fabian is currently a Research Technician I in the Cruchaga Lab, focusing on DNA/RNA extractions. Fabian received his Bachelor’s in Neuroscience and History from Washington University in St. Louis. He enjoys being with friends and family, listening to Reggaeton, playing video games, and watching anime.

Carlos Cruchaga, PhD

Carlos Cruchaga, PhD

Director, NeuroGenomics and Informatics Center

Dr. Cruchaga is the Barbara Burton & Reuben Morriss III Professor of Psychiatry with joint appointments at Genetics, and Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Cruchaga is a human genomicist with expertise in multiomics, informatics, and neurodegeneration.  He completed his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2005 at the University of Navarra in Spain. During his first postdoc with Dr. Pastor he conducted statistical human genetics studies focused on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). He then moved to Dr. Goate’s Lab to complete his training in quantitative human genomics. Dr. Cruchaga established his laboratory at Washington University in 2011 to study the genetic architecture of neurodegenerative diseases. His interests are focused on using human genomic and other -omic data (proteomics, metabolomics, and lipidomics) to identify and understand the biological processes that lead to AD, PD, frontotemporal dementia, and other neurodegenerative processes. He is the founding director of the NeuroGenomics and Informatics Center at Washington University.

Dr. Cruchaga CV.

Ariel Stavri, BS

Ariel Stavri, BS

Research Technician II

Ariel has a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His work focuses on DNA/RNA extractions in the lab. He brings several years of industry experience before coming to academia. He enjoys video games, hiking, crafting, and spending time with his family.

Kyle Carter, MS

Kyle Carter, MS

Research Technician II

Kyle received his MS in chemistry from Mississippi State University and his BS in chemistry from the University of Tennessee at Martin. His graduate work was centered on the use of optical spectroscopy methods to study proteins. His role in the lab is focused on working with Cruchaga lab and biobank samples. He enjoys spending time with his family, playing chess, and watching movies in his free time.

Cyril Pottier, PhD

Cyril Pottier, PhD

Asst Prof of Neurology (PEFA), Neurology – Administration

Cyril Pottier obtained his Ph.D. focused on the genetics of genetically unexplained young-onset Alzheimer’s disease (YOAD) in the laboratory of Dr. Campion in University of Rouen, France. His major contribution to the AD field was the identification of SORL1 as a potential causal gene for YOAD, publishing the first whole-exome study on YOAD patients. During his postdoctoral stay at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Florida within Dr. Rademakers laboratory, he discovered new risk factors, genetic modifiers and transcript alterations associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

As Assistant Professor at Washington University, he is now focusing his work on identifying new genetic risk factors and modifiers of early onset dementia using integrative and innovative approaches. He has a strong interest in disease modifiers in patients with PSEN1 mutations and is currently combining whole genome sequencing with short and long read single-nuclei RNA sequencing to address the variable disease presentation problematic. He is leveraging a large set of whole genome sequencing data of neuropathologically confirmed as well as highly characterized clinical genetically unexplained YOAD patients to discover new risk genes, and variants that modify disease onset and other associated neuropathologic features.

Yun Ju Sung, PhD

Yun Ju Sung, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Biostatistics

Dr. Sung has worked on several projects dealing with GWAS consortia, imputation of genotypes in various multi-ancestry family studies, analysis of sequence data, and analysis of rare variants using various statistical methods. To decipher the genetic and environmental architecture of cardiovascular disease traits, she worked on establishing the gene-lifestyle interactions working group within CHARGE and created robust infrastructure and analysis pipelines. Through gene-environment (GxE) interactions with six lifestyle factors (including smoking and physical activity) the group identified several loci showing biologic plausibility and clinical relevance for blood pressure and lipid homeostasis (Sung et al., American Journal of Human Genetics, 2018; Bentley et al., Nature Genetics 2019). Dr. Sung joined the NeuroGenomics and Informatics Center in 2020 and has worked on proteomics analysis using SOMAscan data to identify multi-tissue molecular signatures for Alzheimer disease (AD) and individuals with APP, PSEN1, PSEN2, and TREM2 risk variants.

Dr. Sung’s CV

Niko Nykänen, PhD

Niko Nykänen, PhD

Instructor, Psychiatry

Niko is a molecular and cellular neurobiologist with a strong interest and background in neurodegenerative disorders. He obtained his PhD in physiology and neuroscience from University of Helsinki, Finland. For his PhD he investigated cellular and molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer disease (AD) by studying the protein-protein interactions of known disease-associated proteins involved in the pathophysiology of AD primarily focusing on microtubule-associated protein tau. He did his first postdoctoral training at the German Center for Neurodegenerative diseases, Munich, Germany, where he studied the molecular mechanisms of transcellular spreading of tau and alpha-synuclein in relation to known disease-specific risk genes in tauopathies and synucleinopathies. Niko joined Dr. Benitez’s lab at NGI, Washington University, for his second postdoctoral training in 2020 where he focused on functional genomics of AD and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Currently, working in the Cruchaga lab, he is utilizing various disease models to functionally characterize novel genes and pathways in AD and PD discovered by genetic studies

Anh Do, PhD

Anh Do, PhD

Research Statistician II

Dr. Do works as a Research Statistician in the Cruchaga Lab from early 2022.  She was trained as a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Alabama in Birmingham to work on different genomic data including GWAS consortia, exome chip, exome sequence in multi ancestries and family-based studies using various statistical methods.  She actively worked in pharmacogenomics and epigenetics projects in the CHARGE consortium as well as identified risk locus associated cardiovascular-related outcomes. During her postdoctoral training at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, she expanded the genomics skillsets by emphasizing on integrating mutli-omic data. She led and collaborated in the development of pipelines for the analysis of large-scale epigenome-, transcriptome-wide, microbiome, and metabolome datasets.  She contributed to projects on identifying novel genes associated with reaction severity among peanut allergic children by integrating transcriptome-wide and epigenome datasets, as well as assessing key drivers of asthma using probabilistic causal networks.

Jen Gentsch, MSN, RN

Jen Gentsch, MSN, RN

Research Nurse Coordinator II

Jen is a Registered Nurse that obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Maryville University in 2014 and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree from Goldfarb School of Nursing. She has been with the Cruchaga Lab for 5 years and before that, she was an Operating Room nurse. She has been a genetics coordinator for several studies involving neurodegeneration and other general diseases including the Knight ADRC, LOAD/NIA-AD FBS, Parkinsonism, Dystonia, and the most recent Human Connectome Project – The Aging Adult Brain Connectome (AABC). In her free time, she likes to play games with friends and family, aerobic dance, listen to music, be outdoors, and learn and try new things.

Pat Kohlfeld, MS

Pat Kohlfeld, MS

Research Lab Supervisor

Pat is responsible for laboratory employees, workflow optimization, and management of the sample pipeline. Additionally, Pat will establish and maintain a quality management system for the multiple types of laboratory samples processed in the Cruchaga Lab. She received her M.S. in Biochemistry & Biotechnology from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Pat is excited to be working in a neurodegenerative research laboratory after several years in the agricultural industry.

John Budde, AB

John Budde, AB

Lab Manager

He is responsible for maintaining equipment in the lab, training new lab members, and managing local computing and storage infrastructure. Additionally, John implements the automated analysis pipelines for the various types of data that the lab handles, principally Illumina sequencing WGS data. John received his AB in Biology from Washington University and began working for Dr. Cruchaga in 2015. He previously worked in the laboratory of Dr. Alison Goate (now at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai), studying the genetics of Alcohol and Nicotine Dependence.

Fiona Xu, MS

Fiona Xu, MS

Bioinformaticist

Fiona received her Master’s degree in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis and is now working as a Bioinformaticist in Dr. Cruchaga’s Lab. She enjoys playing badminton, hiking, and playing Civilization.

Christi Gleason, MBA, MS

Christi Gleason, MBA, MS

Program Manager

Christi is the Program Manager.  She obtained her Bachelor of Science in International Business in 1997 from American University.  In 2005, she completed her Master’s of Science in Exercise Science at PennWest California, and then went on to complete her Master of Business Administration at Fontbonne University in 2013.  She has a varied background in administrative management, small business ownership, and social media marketing.  Christi is also a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer since 1994, and specializes in working with the active aging and geriatric population.

Muhammad Ali, PhD

Muhammad Ali, PhD

Instructor in Psychiatry

Dr. Muhammad Ali is a bioinformatician by training. He has joined the Cruchaga lab at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) as a postdoctoral research associate. His area of expertise is computational system biology, i.e. integrative analysis of multi-omics data from disease-related case-control studies, and network-based predictive disease modeling. In Cruchaga Lab, he is expanding his knowledge in the area of human genetics and performing genome-wide association studies (GWAS) analysis to identify novel and common genetic variants associated with neurodegenerative disorders. He aims at utilizing the multi-omics data from human brain tissues for identifying novel genes implicated in AD, to provide biological context for the risk genes and to identify novel molecular biomarkers and new therapeutic targets.

Chengran  Yang, PhD

Chengran Yang, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Chengran received his PhD in Human and Statistical Genetics at Washington University with Carlos Cruchaga.  Before joining back the lab as a postdoc, he worked as a Scientist in Statistical Genetics/Computational Biology at Biogen.

Thomas Marsh, MS

Thomas Marsh, MS

Graduate Student, Human and Statistical Genetics

Thomas is a PhD student in the Human and Statistical Genetics program at Washington University in St. Louis. He came to St. Louis from Montreal, Canada.  He completed a BA in Honours Psychology at Concordia University and a BSc in Honours Biology at McGill University.  He completed an undergraduate thesis during both his undergraduate experiences; he assessed the involvement of estrogen in heroin addiction in female rats in the laboratory of Dr. Uri Shalev at Concordia University, and he assessed the involvement of specific Zasp proteins in the flight of Drosophila melanogaster in the laboratory of Dr. Frieder Shoeck at McGill University.  He then completed an MSc in Human Genetics at McGill University in the laboratory of Dr. James Engert and Dr. George Thanassoulis.  During his MSc, he used haplotype analysis to better understand the genetic underpinnings of calcific aortic stenosis and other cardiovascular diseases.  His main interest is in using wet and dry lab techniques in tandem to uncover the genetic basis of neurological and psychological issues.

Dan Western, BS

Dan Western, BS

Graduate Student, Human and Statistical Genetics

Dan earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics and Genomics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During his undergraduate education, he studied a mouse model of retinal degeneration, focusing on a deficiency of proteoglycans in the retina. Dan is utilizing multi-omic computational approaches to analyze sex-specific differences in Alzheimer disease diagnosis.

Bridget Phillips, BS

Bridget Phillips, BS

Graduate Student, Computational and Systems Biology

Bridget earned her Bachelor’s degree in Genetics and Genomics with a minor in Mathematics from the University of Utah. During her undergrad, she studied the genetics of eye color variation in the domestic pigeon using computational approaches such as QTL mapping and RNA-Seq.

Joseph Bradley, BS

Joseph Bradley, BS

Graduate Student, Human and Statistical Genetics

Joseph has a BS in Biology from Harris-Stowe State University in Mid-town St. Louis, MO. His Hobbies include gaming, music, and mixed martial arts. 

Yueyao Wang, MS

Yueyao Wang, MS

Bioinformaticist

Yueyao received her Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from University of California, Los Angeles in 2022. She recently completed her Master of Science in Biostatistics and Data Science at Washington University in St. Louis and is working now working as a Bioinformaticist in Cruchaga Lab. Prior to this position, she work as a Research Assistant in Cruchaga Lab. She enjoys listening to pop music, watching movies, and doing sports in her free time.

Ciyang Wang, BS

Ciyang Wang, BS

Graduate Student, Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Ciyang received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During college, she worked on identifying the role of anticipatory UPR-triggered calcium in transcription regulation in ERα+ breast cancer utilizing approaches including ChIP. As a graduate student, she takes advantage of a comprehensive metabolomics dataset derived from brain tissues and uses metabolites as quantitative traits to decipher their roles in Alzheimer’s disease

Joanne Norton, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC

Joanne Norton, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC

ADRC Genetic Studies Coordinator

Joanne’s duties include recruiting participants for the ADRC Genetics Core family studies, performing in-person and over-the-phone assessments of memory and thinking, and organizing and maintaining all of the samples received from participants. In her off time, she enjoys baking, cross stitching, knitting, crochet, sewing, and photography. She attends local anime conventions with her daughter on a regular basis.

Joseph Lowery, BS

Joseph Lowery, BS

Research Assistant

Joseph has a B.S. in Biology from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His work focuses on DNA/RNA extractions in the lab. He enjoys playing video games, reading comics, watching TV, and spending time with his family.

Olga Valdez, BS

Olga Valdez, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator

Olga has a BS in psychology from Universidad Valle de Bravo, Mexico, a Certification in Phlebotomy, and is currently working toward a degree in nursing. She loves hiking with my family and friends. She also enjoys a good cup of tea or coffee and a good book.

Myeshia Bean

Myeshia Bean

Clinical Study Research Assistant

Myeshia is a certified phlebotomist with 5 years of experience. She has been recognized multiple times for being the top plasma collector, which is an indicator of her hard work and dedication. She is new to the research environment and is currently pursuing her certification to become a Clinical Research Coordinator from Washington University. In her free time she enjoys anime and unwinding with neo soul yoga.

Marilyn Blaylock

Marilyn Blaylock

Phlebotomist

Marilyn is a phlebotomist.  She comes to us in semiretirement after over 30 years on the West Coast as certified phlebotomist and lab technician.  She returned to her hometown of St. Louis in 2015 and we were lucky enough to hire her in 2018.  She draws and processes blood samples from participants in the Movement Disorders Clinic.

Matt Johnson, MA, MS

Matt Johnson, MA, MS

Bioinformaticist

Matt is a bioinformaticist working in the Cruchaga Lab. He has a BS in Biology, a Master’s of Arts in Teaching, an MS in Computer Science, and has experience as a high school STEM teacher and curriculum specialist. He leverages this training and experience to assist researchers in the lab and optimize bioinformatics software and pipelines to meet the demands of large-scale omics analyses. He works primarily with whole genome and whole exome sequencing data, processing and making the data available for analysis.

Rachael Schutzman, BS

Rachael Schutzman, BS

Programmer I

Rachael is a Programmer I working in the Cruchaga lab. She received her Software Development and Security BS from University of Maryland Global Campus. Before joining the lab, she worked as a Data Analyst with an investment research firm.

Maulik Patel, PhD

Maulik Patel, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Maulik is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Cruchaga lab and manages GWAS, RNA-Seq and neuro imaging data. Maulik received his doctoral degree in Bioinformatics from Gujarat University and his Master degree in Bioinformatics from Sardar Patel University. Before joining the lab, he worked as a Project Scientist in Xcelris Genomics for 5 years and as Application Scientist in Bioinnovation for 2.5 years. He collaborated with various universities in the development of pipelines for the analysis of large-scale de-novo assembly, transcriptome, metagenomics and targeted exome data. He also worked on various functional and network analysis of high-throughput multi-omics and metabolomics data. Recently, he designed a 94-gene panel for Alzheimer’s disease patients with a diabetic condition to understand early detection and progression of the diseases.

Jigyasha Timsina, MS

Jigyasha Timsina, MS

Senior Bioinformatics Research Analyst

Jigyasha has a Bachelor’s degree in Dentistry and received her Master’s in Health Informatics and Bioinformatics from Grand Valley State University. Her work in the Cruchaga Lab focuses on the analysis of multi-omics data to identify novel QTLs associated with Alzheimer disease.

Devin Dikec, MS

Devin Dikec, MS

Bioinformaticist

Devin works as a Bioinformaticist in the Cruchaga lab. He received both his MS in Genome Bioinformatics and BS in Bioinformatics from the University of Pittsburgh. His former experiences include work in computational cancer research and organic chemistry labs. He enjoys video games, movies, and sports in his free time.

Ellen (Menghan) Liu, MS

Ellen (Menghan) Liu, MS

Senior Bioinformaticist

Ellen works as a Senior Bioinformaticist in Cruchaga lab.  She received her master’s degree in business  analytics; healthcare analytics track from Washington University in St. Louis and has a BS in Economics.  Since joining the lab, she has been working on analyzing variants for Apolipoprotein E (APOE) to find a relation between demographic character and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  She is also supporting other researchers to manage large datasets associated with AD and Parkinson Disease.

Arda Cetin, MS

Arda Cetin, MS

Bioinformatics Research Analyst

Arda has a Master degree in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering from Sabanci University. Even though his major is in Genetics, he is highly interested in Bioinformatics and has been thriving to improve in this field, for more than 3 years. Arda has experience in both academia and the private sector. In academia, he was a member of Adebali Lab, during his Master’s, working on unveiling the effect of histone markers on the Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER) mechanism. He worked on different sequencing techniques such as DNA-seq, Damage-seq, XR-seq, ChIP-seq, and the DNase-seq. Later, in the private sector, he worked for RTA Laboratories where he was responsible for designing WES/somatic germline pipelines for cancer diagnosis, writing commercial use only algorithms for SNP and INDEL detection, and contributing to the development of some in-house bioinformatics software’s.  Currently, Arda is working in the Cruchaga Lab to preprocess and analyze WES and WGS data.

Aria Chen, MS

Aria Chen, MS

Bioinformaticist

Aria is a Bioinformaticist in the Cruchaga Lab. She completed her undergraduate studies in Data Science and her graduate studies in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, both at the University of California, Berkeley. Aria is dedicated to providing data management and analysis solutions to support the storage, research, and dissemination of these large-scale data sets.

Jessie Sanford, MS

Jessie Sanford, MS

Bioinformatics Research Analyst

Jessie received her MS in Biostatistics and Data Science from Washington University in St. Louis, and has a BS in Biochemistry. Since joining the Cruchaga Lab as a bioinformatics research analyst, she has been working on processing and analyzing RNA sequencing data in order to identify changes in gene expression in Alzheimer disease.

Alvin Thomas, PhD candidate

Alvin Thomas, PhD candidate

Visiting Researcher

Alvin investigates the -omics of cognitive reserve/resilience to understand how some older adults avoid clinical dementia despite neurodegenerative burden.  As the recipient of a National Institute on Aging F99/K00 award, Alvin currently holds a Visiting Researcher position at the NeuroGenomics and Informatics Center and will transition to a Postdoctoral Research Associate fellow in 2023 under Dr. Cruchaga’s mentorship.  His doctoral work will be completed at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in Epidemiology with foci in genetic and cardiovascular epidemiology (mentors Drs. Gerardo Heiss and Kari North).  He previously received a MSPH in International Health from the Johns Hopkins University and BS in Chemical Engineering at Washington and Lee University (W&L).  He also served in the AmeriCorps program as a Bonner Scholar and completed interdisciplinary training in Poverty and Human Capability studies while at W&L.

In addition to his work in dementia (end-stage brain disease), Alvin works in end-stage kidney and liver disease with a focus in organ transplantation.  He also investigates the ethical implications of epidemiologic methods and how different frameworks of justice affect intervention-based epidemiologic questions.

Zixuan Yu, MHS

Zixuan Yu, MHS

Bioinformatics Research Analyst

Zixuan received Bachelor of Medicine degree in China and a Master of Health Science degree in Genetic Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. During her master’s, she concentrated on understanding the interplay between human genetics and infectious diseases. Now, as a member of the Cruchaga lab, her primary focus is utilizing and building bioinformatics tool, aiming to elucidate the genetic mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

Brenda Sanchez Montejo, AS

Brenda Sanchez Montejo, AS

Research Technician I

Brenda is currently a Research Technician I in Dr. Cruchaga laboratory conducting molecular assays of clinical samples. She has an Associate Degree in Health Sciences from the Saint Louis Community College and she looks forward to continuing her education in Washington University in the near future. She is native to Mexico and enjoy spending time outdoors with her family and her dog Charlie. She also dances in a Mexican folkloric group that give performances across Saint Louis, displaying traditional Mexican folk dances.

Nicholas Sykora, BS

Nicholas Sykora, BS

Research Project Coordinator

I am currently the research project coordinator for the Cruchaga Lab. So far I am coordinating 2 studies: ISAVRAD which is analyzing the relationship between COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in ethnically diverse populations, and CONGAS which is looking for novel biomarkers of AD in Caribbean populations. I have been with the Cruchaga Lab for 2 years, mostly as a research technician, and feel very fortunate to be apart of cutting edge research in this field. I graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Dayton in 2016. When I am not at work you can find me jogging through the parks of St. Louis or in a stand-up comedy club.

Allison Flynn, AS

Allison Flynn, AS

Research Technician II

In 2022, Allison received her Associates of Science in Biology from St. Charles Community College. In 2024, she received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Saint Louis University. Her work in the lab focuses on DNA and RNA extraction for the Hope Center Core. In her free time, she enjoys being with her family, listening to music, baking, and watching movies.

William Brock, BA

William Brock, BA

Research Technician II

Will received his BA in biology from the University of Mississippi. His work in the lab focuses on DNA and RNA extraction for the Hope Center Core. In his free time he likes listening to music, playing tennis, and playing video games with friends.

Kristy Bergmann, BS

Kristy Bergmann, BS

Research Assistant

Kristy handles the DNA and RNA extractions for the Hope Center DNA/RNA Purification Core.  Kristy received her Bachelor’s in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University University at Edwardsville.  She enjoys being with her family, knitting, and cross stitching in her free time.

Naeimeh (Mojgan) Tayebi, MD, PhD

Naeimeh (Mojgan) Tayebi, MD, PhD

Senior Scientist

Dr. Tayebi is a physician-scientist who has had extensive training and experience on four different continents and countries including Iran, Singapore, Germany, Canada, and now the United States. After graduating from medical school in Iran, she went on to serve professionally in the human genetics field because of her enthusiasm for hereditary disorders. Thereafter she decided to continue her studies in the human genetics field in Singapore, and most of her research centered on GWAS. She applied for a PhD position at Max Planck Institute for molecular genetics in Berlin, and joined the research group of Prof. Stefan Mundlos. As a PhD candidate, she was able to find the pathogenic variants in a novel gene called ZAK in WES data. After that, a mouse model using CRISPR/Cas9 was generated to address the possible correlation between limb phenotype and Zak gene. Her first postdoctoral training at Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto was focused on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy along with hiPSC-cardiomyocyte disease modeling using CRISPR/Cas9. During her second postdoctoral position at Washington University with Dr. Gurnett’s group in St. Louis, she did a lot of research along with publications in Glut1DS. She joined Dr. Cruchaga lab in May 2023, and works with hiPSC derived neurons from patients with AD, controls and is involved in analyzing RNA sequencing data.