TL1 Trainees

The TL1 Training Programs provide trainees with additional research training to prepare for a precision medicine research career.

Current TL1 Trainees

Postdoctoral Fellow Program

  • Casey Ager, PhD

    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Hematology/Oncology

    Project Title: Discovery and Validation of New Regulatory T Cell Targeting Strategies in Cancer

    Dr. Ager earned his PhD in Immunology in 2018 under mentorship of Dr. Michael Curran at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he investigated novel combination immunotherapies involving agonists of the innate immune-targeting STING pathway in prostate and pancreatic cancer models. He moved to Columbia in 2019 for postdoctoral training with a diverse team of clinical scientists Dr. Benjamin Izar, Dr. Charles Drake, and Dr. Matthew Dallos. Casey uses cutting-edge cytometry techniques (CyTOF, spectral flow cytometry) on human tumor specimens and novel murine tumor models, together with in vivo genetic systems, to identify and validate targetable vulnerabilities of tumor-infiltrating regulatory T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

  • Christina Eckhardt, MD

    • Postdoctoral Clinical Fellow, Medicine

    Project: Establishing a DNA methylation-based smoking index that classifies cumulative tobacco smoke exposure and predicts lung function decline.

    As a postdoctoral clinical fellow Dr. Eckhardt has developed strong working relationships with several research mentors in an effort to build an array of investigative skills. With their guidance, she has developed quantitative skills, learned to extract novel findings from a raw dataset, and learned to effectively relay those findings to a broader audience through abstracts, manuscripts and presentations on a formal stage. Dr. Eckhardt’s current research aims to construct a novel DNA methylation-based smoking score that indexes acute and long-term tobacco smoke exposure and predicts lung function decline.

  • Cristin M. Holland, PhD, OTR/L

    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Psychiatry - Behavioral Medicine

    Project Title: Relationships of Maternal Hypertension and Fetal and Infant Reactivity 

    Dr. Holland is a postdoctoral research fellow whose overarching research interests focus on early growth trajectories of social-emotional development and identification of precursors to social-emotional vulnerabilities in order facilitate early intervention and overall developmental and family outcomes

    Cristin Holland
  • Stacia Nicholson, PhD

    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Environmental Health Sciences

    Project: Extracellular Vesicles in Environmental Epidemiology Studies of Alzheimer’s Disease as it Relates to air Pollution and Lead Exposure 


    Stacia Nicholson, PhD is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow examining the involvement of air pollution and lead exposure in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and age-related cognitive disorders. Her goal is to identify and evaluate CNS-derived exosomes and their microRNA cargo linked to environmental toxicant exposure and cognitive decline for use as diagnostic and possible therapeutic agents. 


  • Angeliki Pollatou, PhD

    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine

    Project: Research in early Neuroimaging and Neuropsychology

    Angeliki Pollatou, PhD is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry. Her research interests involve development of tools to study fetal and neonate brains.

  • Roheeni Saxena, MPH, PhD

    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Environmental Health Sciences

    Project Title: Brain-derived extracellular vesicles: a novel biomarker of metals exposure

    Dr. Saxena is a child and adolescent environmental cognitive neurotoxicologist, currently cross-training in the use of extracellular vesicles as potential biomarkers of CNS metals load in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. 


Doctoral Student Program

  • Joseph Belloir, MSc, MPhil

    • PhD Candidate, Nursing

    Project Title: Precision Sleep Health in Transgender and Nonbinary Adults

    Dr. Belloir is a PhD Candidate in Nursing. His current research aims to 1) identify sleep phenotypes in transgender and nonbinary adults using actigraphy data and 2) examine the associations of adverse life experiences with these sleep phenotypes. His long-term research interests involve using precision medicine approaches to reduce sleep and mental health disparities in LGBT individuals.

  • Christine DeForge, MPhil, MSN, RN, CCRN

    • PhD Candidate, Nursing

    Project Title: Exploring decisional conflict and symptom phenotypes among bereaved ICU surrogate decision makers

    Christine DeForge is a PhD student at Columbia University School of Nursing and a staff nurse in the medical ICU at NewYork-Presbyterian/CUIMC.  Her dissertation research aims to explore end-of-life decision making and symptom burden experienced by ICU family members.  Her long-term research objectives include developing interventions to improve outcomes after critical illness for patients and families.

  • Dallin Dressman, BS, MA, MPhil

    • PhD Candidate, Pharmacology

    Project Title:  Examining genetic variability in innate and adaptive immune cells in the context of Alzheimer's disease

    Dallin is originally from Utah.  He became interested in Alzheimer's disease as an undergraduate, and has enjoyed the additional education in immunology he's received since coming to Columbia.  Dallin hopes to continue pursuing clinical and translational research after he completes his doctorate.

  • Samuel Hayward, BA

    • PhD Candidate, Genetics and Development

    Project: Genetic Interaction Screening within the Human DNA Damage Response Pathway


    Samuel Hayward is a PhD Candidate and does research in Immunology, Genetics and Molecular Biology. Samuel joined Dr. Alberto Ciccia’s laboratory to conduct his doctoral research. His project focuses on dissecting genetic interaction networks within the DDR pathway. Samuel has built NGS pipelines for his lab and modified genetic interaction screening techniques from other labs.

  • Melanie Mayer, BS, BA

    • Doctoral Candidate, Biostatistics

    Project Title: Evaluating External Validity of Observational Studies for Targeted Interventions

    Melanie Mayer is working towards her PhD in the Biostatistics department at the Mailman School of Public Health. Her main research focus is causal inference methods with an application on global health, health disparities and environmental health studies. Currently working on evaluating the external validity of epidemiological investigations on environmental mixtures.

  • Joseph Rubin, BA, MS

    • PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering

    Project Title: Characterization of Glycosylation Patterns of Single IgA Molecules Using PAINT

    Joseph Rubin is a PhD Candidate studying Biomedical Engineering. His long-term research interests involve the development of Single Molecule Glycan Sequencing, and aiding in the development of a comprehensive understanding of IgA1 Nephropathy etiology.  

  • Rebecca Silva, BS

    • PhD Candidate, Biostatistics

    Project: Dose Finding Methods in the Era of Precision Medicine


    Rebecca Silva is a Graduate Student Research Assistant in Biostatistics.

    Some of her current works includes comparing continual reassessment method (CRM) and Time-to-Event CRM to the standard 3+3 design in dose-finding clinical trials for cancer therapies; apply methods through case studies of past phase I trials using a proteasome inhibitor to target advanced malignancies. She studies literature in bridging information from past trials to trials using a different population or different dosing schedule to ultimately improve methodology in utilizing prior information in dose-finding through the CRM.


Graduates of the TL1 Training Programs

  • Ana Costa, PhD: Mechanisms Underlying Lipidomic Changes in Major Depressive Disorder in Plasma, Saliva and Human iPSC-Derived Neurons
  • Jennifer Ferris, PhD, MPH: Improving Risk Prediction and Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer
  • Atlas Khan MSc, MPhil, PhD: Polygenic Risk Prediction for Kidney Disease
  • Joshua E. Motelow, MD, PhD: Understanding the Contribution of Genic Sub-Region Intolerance to Epilepsy Severity
  • Emily Rinebold, MD: Viral infection as a possible cause behind the emerging epidemic of rectal cancer in young adults 
  • Lia Boyle, Graduate Student: A mutation-specific approach to understanding KIF1A Associated Neurological Disorder
  • Danielle Baum, PhD Candidate: Polymorphic Region in Type I Diabetes Using Human Stem Cells
  • Rachel Field, PhD Candidate: Implantable Device for the Capture of Early-Stage Cancer Cells Present in Blood Vessels
  • Sarah Gibeley, PhD Candidate: Investigating TM6SF2 Regulation Of Hepatic And Plasma Lipids In iPSC-Derived HLCS
  • Erin I. McDonnell, BS, MS, PhD Candidate: Machine Learning Methods for Constructing Cross-Domain Biomarker and Clinical Symptom Networks
  • Ramsey Bekdash, Graduate Research Fellow: Human iPSC Modeling of Autism for Developing New Therapeutics
  • Yevgeniya Gartshteyn, MD: Platelet bound complement activiation products as biomarkers for cardiovascular risk and response to aspirin in SLE
  • Medini Annavajhala, PhD: Microbial metagenomic pathways contributing to chronic inflammation in patients with HIV
  • Rachel Madley, PhD Candidate: A TCR-transgenic Personalized Immune Mouse Model to Study Autoreactive T-cell Selection
  • Shazia Mitha, PhD Candidate: Phenotyping Cardiotoxicity in Breast Cancer
  • Shannon Fernandez-Ledon, MD Candidate: Evaluating the tumor microenvironment in pediatric hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Catherine A Jennings, MD Candidate: Adolescent Genetic Testing for Adult Onset Cancer Conditions Interview Study
  • Sara E. Landers, MD Candidate: Ecological Momentary Assessment of Adolescents' Stress, Social Context, and Risk Behavior
  • Nur Zeinomar: Integreating pedigrees with polygenic risk to enhance outcome assessment in a cohort of breast cancer survivors
  • Andrew S Beenken, MD, PhD: Structural and biochemical basis for the mechanism of human mutations in megalin and cubilin
  • Jordan Nestor, MD: The Return and Integration of Genomic Results into Clinical Nephrology
  • Presha Rajbhandari, PhD: Improving and Accelerating Cancer Therapeutics Using Mass Spectrometry Imaging
  • Dennis Yuan: Human T cell mechanosensing to biomaterial rigidity for enhanced activation
  • Corey Garyn: A precision medicine approach to graft conditioning for autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Eric Buss, MD: Physiological role of presynaptic HCN1 in parvalbumin+ GABAergic interneurons and modulation in epilepsy
  • Michael Zuccaro: DISC1 as a Regulatory Gene for Pancreatic Beta Cell Proliferation and Function
  • Stephen Marcott: Neuroinflammation and Imminent Suicide Risk in Young Adults         
  • Jordan Gipe: The role of NFkappaB signaling in rotator cuff tendinopathy
  • Lisa Bonsignore-Opp: Beat the Clock: Variable Anesthesia Times with Casting for Early Onset Scoliosis
  • Katherine Zhang: Development Assets in Adolescents with Chronic Illness and Depression
  • Trevor Fidler, MD: Mechanisms of Increased Cardiovascular Disease in Patients with Clonal Hematopoiesis
  • Neha Raghavan, PhD: Identification of Novel Alzheimer’s Disease Associated Genes in a Multi-ethnic Cohort
  • Sara Viragova: Identification, Cloning and In Vitro Propagation of Salivary Gland Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine Applications
  • Dantong Huang: Development of Patient-Specific Hepatocyte Spheroids for Disease Modeling and Drug Screening
  • Sarah Dugger: Hitting the Bullseye: Identifying Targeted Treatments for Hnrnpu-related Epilepsy Using In Vivo and In Vitro Disease Models
  • William Raab: RNF43 Mutations as a Diagnostic Biomarker of CDX2 Negative Colon Carcinomas and a Predictive Biomarker of Colon Cancer Response to anti-EGFR Monoclonal Antibodies
  • Jessica Yang, MD: Efficacy of Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal (BET) Protein Inhibition in Advanced Uveal Melanoma
  • Allison Norful, MSN, MPhil, RN, ANP-BC: The Development and Psychometric Testing of the Precision Co-management Index: A Pilot Project to Investigate the Impact of Shared Decision Making on Chronic Disease Management and Patient Center Outcomes
  • Eric Bryant: A Rapid and Cost-Efficient Strategy to Develop a Precision Therapy for Cancers Overexpressing HLTF
  • Sonya Besagar: Frequency and Yield of Genetic Testing in Neonates with Congenital Heart Disease
  • Darius Bordbar: Development of a Novel Biomarker to Predict Response to Immunotherapy in Glioma
  • Anne Reed-Weston: Distribution of Genomic Screening Results and Use by Healthy Individuals
  • Alison Ross: A High-Throughput, Sequencing-Based Method for Monitoring Protein-Protein Interaction Dynamics
  • Robyn Gartrell: Defining Critical features of the Immune Microenvironment in Neuroblastoma
  • Kimberly Komatsubara, MD: Personalized Medicine in the Adult Experimental Therapeutics Cancer Clinic at Columbia University Medical Center
  • Alexander Hsieh: Investigating the Functional Consequence of Noncoding Variants in the Context of Human Tissue and Disease
  • Nicole Blumenfeld: Next-Generation Sequencing on a Chip
  •  Mary Boland: Systems-Level Approach to Understand the Effects of Prenatal/Perinatal Seasonal Exposures
  • Anne Bozack: Epigenetic Effects of Arsenic Exposure and Effect Modification by Nutritional Status
  • Jacqueline Gunther: Using Diffuse Optical Tomography to Monitor Tumor Progression During Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
  • Victor Gamarnik: Multimodal Assessment of Left Ventricular Dysfunction Using Ultrasound and MRI-based 3D Strain Estimation
  • Matko Kalac: Development of a Novel, Anti-CD70 Based Platform for the Treatment of Peripheral T-cell Lymphomas
  • Brahma Kumar: Mechanisms of Memory T cell Retention to the Lung in Humans
  • Annie Lee: Methods for Age-specific Penetrance Estimate of LRRK2 Mutations on the risk of Parkinson’s Disease Incorporating Personalized Characteristics
  • Purnema Madahar: Genomic Characterization and Clinical Phenotypes of Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Timothy Olsen: Microfluidic Selection of Aptamers for Therapeutic Applications
  • Sindhuri Prakash: A Novel Gene for IgA Nephropathy Through Next Gen Sequencing
  • Jeremy Worley: Identification of Master Regulators in Breast Cancer tumor Subpopulations using a novel single-cell Analysis Pipeline, and the Prediction of Optimal Therapy
  • Sakellarios Zairis: Genomic Characterization of NASH-related Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Margaret Bogardus: Evaluating Immune Biomarkers in Melanoma using Multiplex Immunohistochemistry
  • Christopher DeAllie: Does Higher Severity Cobb angle in Cerebral Palsy patients increase need for Respiratory Assistive Aids?
  • Rachel Field: Delivery Mechanisms of Replacement Dopaminergic Cells for Parkinson’s Disease Patients
  • Linda Wang: Identifying Novel Breast Cancer Genes
  • Dana Alessi, Cellular, Molecular and Biophysical Studies: Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies
  • Hilary Armstrong, Epidemiology: Analyses from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)
  • Maria Avrutsky, Integrated CMBS: Pharmacological Modulation of tau in Embryonic Stem Cell-derived Neurons
  • Sarah Canetta, Neurobiology and Behavior: Type III Nrg1-erbB Signaling in Nociception
  • Julie Choe, Sociomedical Sciences: Bridging the Technology Divide - Translational Science and Technological Innovation in Medicine
  • Jennifer Crowe, Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine: Non-Catalytic Functions of DNA-PK in DNA repair and tumorgenesis
  • Annina DeLeo, Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Studies: MicroRNA Regulation of the switch from Qiuescent to Activated cell state in Adult Neural Stem Cells
  • Zhi-De Deng, Electrical Engineering: Field Shaping and Coil Design for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
  • Roxanne Dutia, Institute for Human Nutrition: Hypothalamic Melancontin Regulation of Energy Balance and Metabolism
  • Allana Forde, Epidemiology: Impact of Social Stressors on Chronic Disease Risk in Black Ethnic Groups
  • Ambar Grijalva, Nutritional and Metabolic Biology: Role of Autophagy in Regulating Lipid Metabolism in Adipose Tissue Macrophages
  • Erin Harelton, Pharmacology: TASK-1 in Arrhythmogenesis Downstream of PAF Signaling
  • Millie Hepburn-Smith, Nursing: Reduction of Stroke Risk in Minority Women
  • Ryo Higuchi, Nutritional and Metabolic Biology: The Role of the Actin Cytoskeleton on Segegragtion of Aging Determinants and Lifespan in Budding Yeast
  • Allan Just, Environmental Health Sciences: A Molecular Epidemiologic Study of Endocrine Disruptors and Pediatric Asthma
  • Linda Kahn, Epidemiology: Allostatic Load and Semen Quality
  • Nowai Keleekai, Nursing: Study of Mental Health Services of an HIV-positive Incarcerated Population
  • Kristen Klemenhagen, Neurobiology & Behavior: Developmental Role of the 5-HT1A Receptor in Establishing Adult Anxiety Behavior
  • Jorge Luna, Epidemiology: Acute and Chronic Infectious Predictors of Stroke
  • Ann Madsen, Epidemiology: Common Cause Model for Genetic Epidemiology and Risk-Factor Epidemiology: Laying the Foundation for Integration
  • David Malito, Neurobiology: Calcium Channel Mutations in Heart Arrythmias and Autism
  • Russell McBride, Epidemiology: Genetic Similarities in DNA Repair Polymorphisms between BRCA2 and HNPCC syndromic cancer families
  • Arthur Mikhno, Biomedical Engineering: Non-Invasive and Cost Effective Quantification of Positron Emission Tomography Data
  • Megan Niedzwiecki, Environmental Health Sciences: Title: TBD (Molecular Epidemiology)
  • Stan Okrasinski, Biomedical Engineering: In Vivo Clinical Validation of Myocardial Elastography
  • James Papizan, Nutrition and Metabolic Biology: Structure-function Analysis of the Essential Islet Regulatory Factor, Nkx2.2
  • Kristin Politi, Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine: Molecular Mechanisms of Motor Neuron Death in ALS
  • Catherine Richards, Epidemiology: Hospital-level Predictors of Immediate Breast Reconstruction
  • Kelly Ruggles, Nutrition and Metabolic Biology: Cellular Fatty Acid Toxicity Extrapolating Yeast
  • Alex Smolak, School of Social Work: Culturally Congruent HIV Risk Reduction with Male Muslim Migrant Workers in Kazakhstan
  • Meghan Work, Epidemiology: Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Intermediate Markers and Associations with Tumor Characteristics
  • Hideaki Yano, Pharmacology: Understanding Mechanism of Dopamine Mediated HIV-Entry in NeuroAIDS
  • Gary That Vi Yu, Biostatistics: Evaluating and Predicting Clinical Effectiveness of Risk Factors in CHD