As Vice President of High-throughput Biology Aj is responsible for producing high-quality data sets to use in for machine learning-based target and drug discovery. He leads insitro’s wet lab activities (bio-data factory) which consists of functional genomic, disease modeling, automation/process engineering and proteomic teams.
Ajamete has spent over 28 years in both industry and academia, working in the areas of proteomics, genomics, and stem cell biology. Before joining insitro, Aj led the early target discovery team at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in the Neuroscience unit. His team efforts have led to the discovery of multiple new disease targets and the development of better predictive preclinical models. He conducted his postdoc with Dr. Randy Moon at University of Washington/Howard Hughes Medical Institute on Wnt-signaling. While in Randy’s lab, he conducted one of the first ever genome-wide RNAi screens and studied the role of Wnt-signaling in human disease and stem cell biology. He did his graduate work at University of Wisconsin-Madison in Dr. Bill Sugden’s lab where he studied virology, immunology, and oncology.
In his free time, Aj enjoys traveling, kayaking, sailing, biking, making whiskey and most of all his family.
Selected Publications:DRUG-seq: A Miniaturized High-Throughput Transcriptome Profiling Platform for Drug Discovery. Ye C, Ho DJ, Neri M, Yang C, Kulkarni T, Randhawa R, Henault M, Mostacci N, Farmer P, Renner S, Ihry R, Mansur L, Gubser Keller C, McAllister G, Hild M, Jenkins J, and Kaykas A. In Press, Sept; 2018 Nat. Comm. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06500-x p53 inhibits CRISPR-Cas9 engineering in human pluripotent stem cells. Ihry RJ, Worringer KA, Salick MR, Frias E, Ho D, Theriault K, Kommineni S, Chen J, Sondey M, Ye C, Randhawa R, Kulkarni T, Yang Z, McAllister G, Russ C, Reece-Hoyes J, Forrester W, Hoffman GR, Dolmetsch R, Kaykas A. Nat Med. 2018 Jul;24(7):939-946. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-018-0050-6 A Single-Cell Roadmap of Lineage Bifurcation in Human ESC Models of Embryonic Brain Development. Yao Z, Mich JK, Ku S, Menon V, Krostag AR, Martinez RA, Furchtgott L, Mulholland H, Bort S, Fuqua MA, Gregor BW, Hodge RD, Jayabalu A, May RC, Melton S, Nelson AM, Ngo NK, Shapovalova NV, Shehata SI, Smith MW, Tait LJ, Thompson CL, Thomsen ER, Ye C, Glass IA, Kaykas A, Yao S, Phillips JW, Grimley JS, Levi BP, Wang Y, Ramanathan S. Cell Stem Cell. 2017 Jan 5;20(1) https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(16)30340-X?code=cell-site Genetic Ablation of AXL Does Not Protect Human Neural Progenitor Cells and Cerebral Organoids from Zika Virus Infection. Wells MF, Salick MR, Wiskow O, Ho DJ, Worringer KA, Ihry RJ, Kommineni S, Bilican B, Klim JR, Hill EJ, Kane LT, Ye C, Kaykas A*, Eggan K.* Cell Stem Cell. 2016 Dec 1;19(6):703-708. *Co-corresponding author https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(16)30407-6 Functional genomic analysis of the Wnt-wingless signaling pathway. DasGupta R*, Kaykas A*, Moon RT, Perrimon N. Science. 2005 May 6;308(5723):826-33. *Co-first authors https://science.sciencemag.org/content/308/5723/826
Alicia is Senior Research Associate in High-Throughput Biology and she is working on differentiating iPSCs into appropriate cell types for disease modeling to produce data sets for insitro’s machine learning platform.
Prior to joining insitro, Alicia was working on cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases at Neurona Therapeutics. Before then she was at the Gladstone Institutes working on cellular models of neurodegenerative diseases. Alicia has a bioengineering background and obtained her B.S. and M. Eng. in Bioengineering from UCSD.
In her spare time, Alicia enjoys reading, hiking and traveling.
Claire Jeong is a Scientist with various experiences and expertise in human cell-based complex in vitro models (i.e. 3D bioprinting, organs-on-chip, organoids) for drug discovery. At insitro, Claire is a Senior Scientist in the Disease Modeling Group and works on developing and implementing human relevant models and assays to generate more disease relevant data that enables machine-learning based drug discovery.
Prior to joining insitro, Claire was trained as a biomedical engineer and earned her B.S. from Johns Hopkins University and her M.S./Ph.D. from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, majoring in Biomedical Engineering with cartilage/bone tissue engineering and biomaterials focus. After her postdoctoral work at Duke University exploring stem cells and cell delivery for disc regeneration, she joined GSK for a collaborative project between GSK and Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, and continued working as an investigator for the Complex In Vitro Models group part of the Platform Technology & Sciences division of GSK Pharma R&D.
She also did a secondment with the Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine (ATOM) Consortium and served as co-lead on a safety integrated project team and as a complex in vitro models expert, to build integrated predictive safety, efficacy, and PK computational models for cancer drug discovery.
In her spare time, Claire enjoys playing the cello, yoga, hiking, reading, live music and performances and exploring new places and unique cuisines.
As Scientific Specialist at Insitro, Craig will be working with the Disease Modeling group to help develop robust, scalable and highly reproducible in vitro models of human disease. Craig will also focus on integrating these models into high throughput, automated platforms to eliminate variability and provide large, trustworthy data sets to the Machine Learning team.
After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara, Craig has supported various research and development efforts in Neuroscience, Stem Cell and Cancer Biology. Throughout his career, Craig has acquired an extensive research experience from institutions such as the Neuroscience Institute, UC San Diego, California Stem Cell Inc., and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Craig hopes to use his experience and ideas to help advance the exciting programs at Insitro to the next level of drug discovery.
Craig enjoys an occasional escape to the wilderness for fishing, camping, exploring and basically just having fun with family. Favorite author: Bertrand Russell.
Deirdre is a research associate supporting several different aspects of lab work including cloning, iPSC culture, automation, and pretty much anything else needed around the lab!
Deirdre graduated in May 2018 from Cornell University with a BSc. in Biology, concentrating in Genetics, Genomics, and Development. Deirdre is a veteran of lab work having worked in 6 different labs starting at age 15 – most recently as a member of Dr. Kristy Richard’s lab at Cornell University College of Veterinary medicine, and intern at Pfizer in the functional genomics group. She grew up in Nyack, New York and spent many summers in Castle Island, Ireland with her extended family.In her free time Deirdre enjoys live music, podcasts, painting, and fashion design.
Eilon Sharon is a senior data scientist and computational biologist with extensive experience in applying machine learning to decipher various biological questions. Eilon’s work at insitro integrates observations from large population-level studies, such as GWASs, with results from various high throughput in-vitro assays to identify potential drug targets.
After completing a dual major B.Sc. in biology and computer science at TAU, Eilon joined Rosetta genomics, where he worked on discovering miRNA genes in human and predicting their targets. He then earned a PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science under the supervision of Prof. Eran Segal. During his PhD, he developed synthetic biology Massively Parallel Reporter Assay (MPRA) and statistical and thermodynamic models, which he applied to decipher the encoding of transcriptional regulation in yeast. Following graduation, Eilon transitioned to a postdoc at Profs Jonathan Pritchard and Hunter Fraser labs in Stanford Medical school department of genetics. At stanford, Eilon worked on a diverse set of projects including: detection and fine mapping of genetic associations with T cell receptor V-genes expression; software for transplant health monitoring using cell-free DNA sequencing (which was commercialized by Stanford); and detection of functional genetic variants using a novel high throughput CRISPR editing. Eilon is the author of over 20 refereed publications appearing in venues such as Cell, Nature Biotechnology and Nature Genetics.
In his free time, Eilon enjoys hiking and camping outdoor with his family.
Eric utilizes microscopy to extract quantitative information from cells. His research is focused on developing in situ genomics technologies through a combination of bioengineering, optics, and image analysis. As a member of the functional genomics team, Eric is dedicated to delivering novel assays and datasets to further insitro’s drug discovery pipeline.
Eric earned his Ph.D. in biophysics from Caltech where he developed a new generation of microscopes capable of capturing transcriptomic information from human cells and tissue. Following graduation he transitioned to a postdoc in bioengineering at UCSF/Stanford where he developed synthetic biology tools using CRISPR screens.
In his free time Eric enjoys bicycles, hiking, and spending time with his family.
Selected Publications:Single-cell in situ RNA profiling by sequential hybridization https://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/v11/n4/full/nmeth.2892.html In situ transcription profiling of single cells reveals spatial organization of cells in the mouse hippocampus https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627316307024 Dynamics and Spatial Genomics of the Nascent Transcriptome by Intron seqFISH https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867418306470
Joyce Yang is a scientist with extensive experience developing novel technologies at the intersection of CRISPR genome engineering, stem cells, and in situ sequencing. To enable machine-learning based drug discovery, her current work at insitro is focused on building CRISPR perturbation platforms in relevant cellular model systems to produce high-quality data from functional genomic screens and disease modeling.
Joyce earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley majoring in Molecular Cell Biology and minoring in Music. She then pursued her passion for science and earned her Ph.D. from Harvard in Biological & Biomedical Sciences. Her graduate work with Dr. George Church focused on developing a novel in situ RNA sequencing technology as well as CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering strategies to improve efficiency in human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Next, she dived into the exciting world of biotech startups at Synthego, contributing to the growth and commercialization of the new Cell Engineering division as one of the foundational scientists.
Joyce loves to sing and experiment on the piano, traveling, backpacking, taking long walks, and trying all things chewy.
Kelly Haston is a stem cell biologist with broad experience in human stem cell-based models of development and disease. She is a Sr. Scientist in the disease modeling group helping guide the team as they build biological model systems that will interface with the genetic, data science and machine learning modules of insitro’s unique approach to discover novel human therapeutics.
Kelly was born in Ottawa and grew up in central British Columbia and Toronto, Canada. She did her undergraduate and masters work at the UC Berkeley studying the effects of pesticides on frog gonad development. She then began working in the stem cell field during her Ph.D. with Dr. Renee Rejio Pera at UC San Francisco and Stanford University. Kelly performed postdoctoral positions briefly with Dr. Lee Rubin at Harvard and then with Dr. Steven Finkbeiner at UCSF’s Gladstone Institutes where she focused on building stem cell based models of neurodegeneration. She transitioned to industry in 2017, taking a position with a small start up, Scaled Biolabs, as Lead Scientist where she used the company’s novel discovery platform to optimize the production of many different cell types from human stem cells.
Kelly uses her spare time to be outside as much as possible, mainly trail running or fastpacking. She also loves reading, traveling to new places and attending live music and performances.
Lorn Kategaya is a cell biologist with small molecule drug discovery experience. At insitro, Lorn will develop relevant disease assays and utilize genetic/chemical screens to identify key biological players that modulate disease outcomes.
Lorn has a PhD in pharmacology from the University of Washington, a post-doc from UCSF and industry experience at Genentech and IDEAYA Biosciences.
Away from the bench, Lorn follows politics and enjoys live music, theatrical performances, and french fries.
Selected Publications:Werner Syndrome Helicase is Required for the Survival of Cancer Cells with Microsatellite Instability https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(19)30040-9 USP7 small-molecule inhibitors interfere with ubiquitin binding https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24006
As Disease Modeling Scientist, Max is focused on using pluripotent stem cells, CRISPR, and a range of differentiation and transcriptomics approaches to model human diseases in in vitro platforms. Max and his team will model devastating human diseases using the relevant cell types, and will produce high-throughput / high-quality imaging and transcriptomic datasets for insitro’s machine learning platform to mine for phenotypes.
Max is an engineer by training, gaining a B.S. in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics and a Ph.D. from the Materials Science Program of the University of Wisconsin – Madison. By combining dry lab engineering with wet lab disease modeling, Max has frequently used the newest technologies to gain insights into the mechanisms by which various genetic diseases affect human health. Max spent his time in graduate school developing micropatterned differentiation techniques and computational analysis tools to improve stem-cell-based heart modeling methods. Prior to joining insitro, Max spent 4 years as a postdoc in the Novartis Neuroscience department, where he developed single cell characterization platforms to discover disease mechanisms of tuberous sclerosis, uncovered novel mechanisms of disease progression in certain dementias, and conducted genome-wide screens to elucidate potential Zika virus receptors.
Max’s free time is spent with his border collie, Coda, along with playing piano/guitar, and poorly-but-enthusiastically playing various sports.
Selected Publications:Genetic ablation of AXL does not protect human neural progenitor cells and cerebral organoids from Zika virus infection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27912091 Micropattern width dependent sarcomere development in human ESC-derived cardiomyocytes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24582552 p53 inhibits CRISPR-Cas9 engineering in human pluripotent stem cells https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29892062/
Mei is a Research Associate in High-Throughput Biology and her work primarily focuses on differentiate human pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) into desired cell types for in vitro human disease modeling and generate datasets for insitro’s machine learning platform.
Prior to joining insitro, Mei was a CIRM (California Institute for Regenerative Medicine) Scholar at the Gladstone Institute working on iPSC neurodegenerative diseases modeling. Mei obtained her B.Sc. in Biology with an emphasis on cellular/molecular biology and a minor in chemistry from Humboldt State University.
In her spare time, Mei enjoys photography, visit art exhibits, live music and performances, reading, hiking, exploring new places and try different cuisines.
Nav has extensive experience working at the intersection of next generation sequencing, microfluidics, and single cell technologies. His focus at insitro involves designing and analyzing high throughput sequencing experiments in order to support indication specific drug discovery pipelines and the functional genomics team.
Nav acquired his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley followed by a PhD in Biological Engineering at MIT. His graduate research focused on developing novel targeted sequencing technologies to make single cell genomic experimental more feasible and to understand patterns of DNA damage. While completing his PhD, Nav also served as a Communication Fellow at the Broad Institute where he mentored scientists through the process of written, verbal, and visual presentations of science.
In his free time, Nav is an avid proponent of indoor and outdoor sports ranging from lounging on a couch to climbing up and skiing down mountains.
Owen spent four and a half years as a member of Dr. Jonathan Weissman’s Lab at UCSF, where he supported the development RNAi-based and CRISPR-based mammalian genome-scale functional genomics screening platforms, successfully identifying new targets for grants and publications. He cloned and maintained ultracomplex shRNA/sgRNA screening libraries as well as generated stable cell lines with gene repression or activation. Additionally, he conducted numerous functional genomic screens in cancer cell lines challenged by various toxins, drugs, and chemicals.
After his time at UCSF, he spent two and a half years at Driver, where he developed NGS assays and validated tumor-normal and cfDNA manual assays under CAP and CLIA guidelines. He also had fun acquiring a new set of skills in converting these manual assays into fully automated processes.
Academic affiliations and titles: Core Institute Member, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT; Karl Van Tassel
(1925) Career Development Associate Professor of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology; Extramural Faculty Member, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT
Dr. Blainey took degrees in mathematics and chemistry at the University of Washington before joining Professors Gregory L. Verdine and X. Sunney Xie in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University for Ph.D. study in Physical Chemistry. There, Dr. Blainey developed single-molecule biophysics techniques for the study of DNA repair. In 2007, Dr. Blainey shifted his focus to single-cell genomics in Professor Stephen R. Quake’s group at Stanford University. A faculty member in Biological Engineering at MIT and a Core Member of the Broad Institute since 2012, Dr. Blainey’s group integrates microfluidic, molecular, and imaging tools to create robust and scalable solutions to major challenges in the life sciences and biomedicine.
As part of the Functional Genomics team at insitro, Tina generates libraries for screening using the latest molecular biology techniques.
Tina spent the last thirteen years working in all facets of yeast strain engineering, first at Amyris and then at Lygos and Calico. She received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC-Berkeley and was an undergraduate researcher in the Keasling lab.
Tina used to play ice hockey but now focuses her energy into knitting or crocheting toys for her three kids.