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
As Head of Functional Genomica at insitro Cecilia is responsible for producing high-quality screening data sets to advance the drug discovery pipeline. Cecilia’s team is responsible for building state of the art screening tools as well as cell engineering and single-cell read-out assays.
Cecilia has spent over 20 years in both industry and academia, working in the areas of genomics, cell engineering, cancer and DNA damage. Prior to insitro, Cecilia was one of the first scientists hired at Editas, the first CRISPR-based therapeutic company, and helped to define and shape the vision of the Editas platform. She spearheaded numerous academic collaborations devoted to platform optimization and led the development of the T cell gene therapy treatment aiming to treat an immunodeficiency disease. She conducted her postdoc in Steve Elledge’s lab where she performed whole genome high-throughput screens in mammalian cells using siRNA/shRNA to identify novel components of the DNA damage response. Cecilia has been principal author and co-author on several publications in high impact factor journals, such as Science, Nature, Nature Communications and Molecular Cells; moreover, she has been the inventor on several key patents that capture improvements in the CRISPR system.
Outside of work Cecilia is mother of 2 rambunctious lovely boys and does yoga to reba.
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.
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/
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.