Ahmed Sandakli is an Associate Scientist in Process Engineering, focused on implementing automation solutions for workflows across multiple functions.
Prior to joining insitro, Ahmed worked on optimizing, automating, and processing samples across several genomic assays at Verily Life Sciences. Before then, he was a part of the Genomics Platform at The Broad Institute, working on high-throughput SNP microarrays and NGS processing.
In his spare time, Ahmed enjoys hiking, weightlifting, yoga, and cooking.
Ajamete “Aj” Kaykas, Chief Technology Officer
Chief Technology Officer
Ajamete “Aj” Kaykas, Chief Technology Officer
As Chief Technology Officer, 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 which consists of functional genomics, disease modeling, phenotyping, automation, and process engineering.
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 the 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 the 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.
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 authorhttps://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 authorshttps://science.sciencemag.org/content/308/5723/826
Albert utilizes different automation technologies to ensure quality data generation from many of insitro’s scientific processes. This includes integrating specific assays onto automation, onboarding tools for efficient execution, and maintaining an environment for seamless research operations.
After graduating with his B.S. in Biochemistry and Philosophy from Wisconsin-Madison he started at Abbott Laboratories as an Associate Scientist focusing on instrument and assay validation for their diagnostics platform. After working in a big company environment, he joined Transcriptic, where he helped w/ assay integration and automation.
In his free time, Albert enjoys watching the NBA and trying out different banana bread recipes.
Alex is an immunologist with broad and long-standing experience in basic research, pre-clinical model development and translational research to understand the immune response and its associated inflammation in various pathological contexts (i.e. infectious diseases, cancer).
At insitro, Alex is a Sr. Scientist in the translational assay group helping guide the team with a focus on identifying and validating intermediate phenotypes of disease processes. She is working in close collaboration with the genetic, disease modeling, process engineering and machine learning modules of insitro to accelerate and scale-up the interpretation of the output.
Prior to joining insitro, Alex transitioned from academia to Biopharma in 2017 as a Senior Scientific Researcher at Genentech in the Cancer Immunology department. She implemented translational tools with the aim of accelerating biomarker discovery in the context of immune checkpoint interventions. Additionally, Alex was a biological lead for the development of small/biological molecules in the space of anti-tumor immunity.
Alex was born in Paris, France and received her Ph.D. in Immunology and Physiopathology from the University Pierre et Marie Curie at the Institut Pasteur where she developed a standardized and high-throughput workflow for transcriptomic analysis of a syringe-based whole blood stimulation system to support the population-based integrative approach of the “Milieu Interieur” consortium.
In her free time, Alex enjoys listening to music, dancing, trying out new cuisines and exploring the outside world with her kids.
Alicia is a research associate focusing on developing and optimizing workflows to use on insitro’s automated systems.
Alicia was previously responsible for screening thousands of modified strains per week in a highly automated environment. She also spent time on a process quality management team where she worked with automation engineers, lab users, and software developers to build and test a paperless equipment management platform. Prior to her experience in process quality management, she worked with a small team creating one of the world’s largest induced pluripotent stem cell banks. The project was funded by a CIRM grant that resulted from the passing of proposition 71. Her focus was automating workflows on an integrated system and designing experiments focused on optimizing high throughput systems.
In her free time Alicia enjoys hiking, camping, reading, & museums.
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.
As a Lead Lab Operations Associate, Amien is a part of the Automation & Engineering team with focus on implementing and supporting automation solutions across multiple functions at insitro. Amien also helps maintain and implement operational excellence within insitro’s laboratories.
Prior to joining insitro, Amien spent the last few years as a Lab Manager, where he focused on streamlining processes, EH&S, supply chain management and implementing operational excellence.
Amien holds a Cell & Molecular Biology degree from San Francisco State University.
In his spare time, Amien enjoys going on road trips, weightlifting, and traveling.
Anne is an automation engineer with experience developing methods and the tools needed to scale them. As a member of the Process Engineering team at Insitro, Anne works to enable the production of high quality biological data for downstream machine learning analysis and data science. She is frequently engaged in system development, process development, and developing the tools and methods that ensure the automated systems are producing the highest quality data.
Anne worked early in her career in GMP assay development for potency testing of antibody therapies, then scaled the assay development and testing through the use of automation. She transitioned into laboratory automation engineering full time when she became the lead system specialist in the nucleic acid sample management group in gRED at Genentech. There she managed many different integrated automated systems to transform, purify, store and deliver plasmids, proteins and other nucleic acid collections to the research organization. After that she transitioned to Synthego to lead their automation group to scale CRISPR oligo manufacturing and within 1 year built the integrated cell handling platforms to support nation scale cell line engineering services.
Anne holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Davis.
Outside of work Anne enjoys long walks on the beach, sipping pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. She also enjoys cooking, baking, playing games and Dungeons and Dragons.
Bobby is a research associate that supports the development and integration of image-based assays to further insitro’s drug discovery.
Bobby got his B.S. in Biological Engineering at the University of Georgia (UGA) and did some hands on research focusing on stem cell therapies. He became a double Dawg when he got his M.S. in Engineering at UGA with a focus on Cell Manufacturing Research using high content imaging in the Mortensen lab.
In his free time Bobby likes to spend time with his partner and two crazy kitties, hike, dance, gardening and practice jiu jitsu.
Carlota is a research associate developing in vitro disease models for neurological disorders to generate large-scale data for machine learning-enabled drug discovery.
Carlota previously worked on scaling high-throughput 3D models for neurodegenerative disorders using automation. She led drug discovery screens on the platform and performed target identification experiments with hit drug candidates. She also has experience setting up lab operations from the ground up and managing grants. Carlota received her B.S. with Honors in Biotechnology at Brown University, with research in cardiac tissue engineering and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University with mechanical engineering research in medical device design and fabrication.
In her spare time, Carlota likes to spend time helping entrepreneurs, gardening and dancing to any type of music.
As a Scientific Specialist, Chengyun contributes to iPSCs differentiation and disease modeling projects.
Chengyun received his B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Medical Biotechnology at the National Taiwan University, Taiwan and participated in a number of research in the stem cell biology field. He pursued his M.S. in Stem Cell Biology at the University of Minnesota.
After graduation, Chengyun joined Ben Barres’s lab at Stanford University as a Life Science Research Professional.
Prior to joining insitro, Chengyun worked at Neucyte where he performed compound screening and dosing experiments and participated in iPS-based neurological platform upgrade program and drug discovery efforts.
In his spare time, Chengyun enjoys reading and listening to audiobooks.
Associate Director of Functional Genomics
As the Associate Director of Functional Genomics, Chu leads insitro’s genetic screening and phenotyping efforts.
Chu has over a decade of molecular phenotyping and profiling experiences in academia and industry. Before Insitro, Chu was the genomics tech lead for the Immune Profiler platform developed at Verily Life Sciences (an Alphabet company in healthcare). Verily and Gilead are employing this platform to understand inflammatory autoimmune diseases. During his postdoc, Chu set up a single cell RNAseq platform at Genome Institute of Singapore to map the human immune atlas. During his graduate training with Dr. Howard Chang at Stanford University, Chu invented an RNA-interactome analysis method, “ChIRP,” to study the mechanism of X-chromosome inactivation by the famous long noncoding RNA “Xist”, among many other projects, via genomics, imaging and protein mass spec assays.
In his spare time, Chu tests sneakers for Puma, and reads books to his two young kids.
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.
As the Director of DNA-Encoded Libraries, Divya leads insitro’s DEL synthesis and screening programs in collaboration with her teammates.
Divya has seven years of experience in the construction and screening of evolvable DELs. Before joining insitro, Divya was a co-founder and COO of Haystack Sciences where she led R&D lab operations. She also constructed the equipment and devices required for synthesizing chemical libraries based on instructions encoded in DNA, and leading the synthesis of these programmed libraries. Her innovations have increased the speed and efficiency of construction of programmed, evolvable DELs.
Prior to Haystack, she worked at Impossible Foods building and screening DELs to discover ligands of interest in food science. In graduate school, Divya studied medicinal chemistry and discovered novel diazaborines with antibiotic properties with a particular focus in tuberculosis.
In her spare time Divya enjoys playing with her kids and dipping them in the Russian River.
As a member of the Process Engineering team at insitro, Elaine is working to develop and scale high quality systems and processes to enable the production of high quality biological data for machine learning.
Elaine started her career as a Systems Engineer at Roche developing in vitro diagnostic instruments. At Roche, she was responsible for the design, integration, and lifecycle management of different complex systems. She later moved into the world of biotech startups at Synthego as an Automation Engineer, where she was involved in everything from system qualifications, new process development, to continuous improvement. Some of her projects included developing robust automated processes to enable new CRISPR oligo products and building an automated platform to allow for rapid iteration in scaling engineered cells. Elaine holds a B.S. and M.Eng in Biomedical Engineering from Cornell University with a minor in Music.
In her free time, Elaine enjoys traveling to new places, playing the violin, and building cardboard forts for her two cats.
VP, High-Throughput Chemistry
As Vice President of High Throughput Chemistry, Eray leads insitro’s efforts in collection of data correlating molecular structures with biological activities.
Eray is a scientist and inventor with a passion for DNA Encoded Libraries and other invitro evolution technologies. He joined insitro from Haystack Sciences where he was a co-founder, and CEO. His innovations in the DEL field include greatly expanding the synthetic diversity achievable with evolvable DELs, and devising the nDexer selection platform. Prior to Haystack, Eray built and screened DELs at Impossible Foods, and in the lab of Pehr Harbury at Stanford. He did a post-doc at Vanderbilt University in the pharmacology department, working with Anthony Forster, Craig Lindsley, and Borden Lacy. His graduate work in the lab of Chaitan Khosla focused on precursor-directed biosynthesis of novel polyketides, and also on the discovery of novel dihydroisoxazoles targeting TG2 for treatment of Celiac disease.
Eray’s hobbies include science fiction of all kinds, and spending summer Saturdays at the river.
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.
Single-cell in situ RNA profiling by sequential hybridizationhttps://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 hippocampushttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627316307024
Dynamics and Spatial Genomics of the Nascent Transcriptome by Intron seqFISHhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867418306470
VP, Disease Model Systems & Arrayed Screening
Eugeni Vaisberg, Ph.D., is Vice President, Disease Model Systems and Arrayed Screening at insitro.
Eugeni is a drug discovery scientist and inventor with 30 years of experience working in academia and industry. Before joining Insitro, Eugeni was a Staff Scientist at Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) where he led groups responsible for the development of cutting- edge cell biological technologies, drug delivery platforms, and the development of an extracellular vesicles-based diagnostic platform. In addition, Eugeni and his team collaborated with ML experts from Google to develop cutting-edge data driven platforms for stem stem cell differentiation and for high throughput image based screening.
Prior to joining Google[x] he worked as Principal Scientist, Therapeutic Innovation Unit at Amgen where he played a leading role in defining the approach and implementing key applications of stem cell biology for drug discovery.
Prior to Amgen Eugeni served as Director of Lead Discovery at iPierian where he was responsible for building one of the world’s first “disease in a dish” drug discovery platforms based on cellular reprogramming technology, advanced high throughput screens, and data analysis.
Before joining iPierian Eugeni worked at Cytokinetics where he was one of the founding scientists and held multiple positions of increasing responsibility. He established biochemistry and informatics departments and led development of a state of the art system for quantitative cell biological assays – Cytometrix™. This work transformed all stages of drug discovery at Cytokinetics and made the company one of the leaders in high content assays and screening.
Dr. Vaisberg is an inventor with over 25 patent applications and multiple scientific publications. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Institute of Protein Research, USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow, USSR.
In his free time he enjoys traveling, SCUBA diving, exploring microbrews, and photography.
Flora is an Associate Scientist in the Functional Genomic team and she is working on building the CRISPR-based genomic discovery platform, focusing on developing novel CRISPR screening technologies and assays.
Prior to joining insitro, Flora was working on high-throughput genomic engineering in various microbes using automation at a biotech startup. Before then she was working on epigenetic studies on Arabidopsis thaliana with focus on DNA repair and environmental stress response at Salk Institute. She also gained her experience in studying the mechanisms controlling the early steps in organogenesis in the vertebrate embryo at Gail Martin Lab, UCSF. Flora has a background in molecular biology and obtained her B.Sc. in Human Biology from UC San Diego.
In her spare time, Flora enjoys swimming, traveling internationally, and trying new cuisines.
Director of Process Engineering
As the Director of Process Engineering, John is responsible for leading the development and deployment of lab automation for high-throughput, effective production of high-quality data sets to use in machine learning. John’s team also will focus on building out the tools and capabilities for implementing operational excellence across all of insitro’s laboratories.
Prior to joining insitro, John spent the last 20 years designing, building and managing automation solutions across biotech and pharmaceutical industries. He has significant expertise with early-stage startups, helping to develop, implement and support automation technologies as they scale. John has an M.Eng. in Systems Engineering from Penn State University.
He is an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys backpacking, road biking, landscape photography, and travel.
Jordan is an automation engineer with experience in developing and optimizing custom automated solutions to advance high-throughput biological workflows.
At insitro, Jordan works to enable the production of high quality biological data for downstream machine learning analysis and data science. She is involved in the translation of manual workflows to automated systems, as well as the continuous improvement and optimization of existing processes.
Prior to insitro, Jordan was an automation engineer with Notable where she developed hardware and software systems to improve their high-throughput automated screening capabilities to accelerate the discovery of personalized cancer treatments. Jordan holds a PhD in Materials Science & Engineering from UC Davis, and a BS in Bioengineering from Syracuse University.
When not in the office, Jordan likes to play with other people’s dogs, climb rocks, and create tiny embroidered creatures.
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.
Kirill is an organic chemist with a special interest in design and synthesis of DNA encoded libraries and development of novel chemical transformations of DNA conjugates.
He received his PhD in Mendeleev university in Moscow (Russia) with a focus on stereoselectivity of reactions of indole derivatives. Afterwards, he spent more than 10 years at different projects in medicinal and synthetic chemistry before joining Haystack, the DEL startup, where he was working on chemical aspects of DNA encoded libraries.
In his spare time, Kirill enjoys riding his motorcycle, skiing and other outdoor activities.
Lauren is part of the Automation & Process Engineering team. She helps develop and implement lab processes, oversees the purchasing and inventory management of lab supplies, and manages shipping and receiving.
After obtaining her B.S. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from UC Davis, Lauren decided to explore the operations side of science and worked at Calico Life Sciences, an Alphabet company, as a member of the lab operations team.
In her spare time, Lauren enjoys doing puzzles, playing volleyball, baking, and spending time with her border collie who doesn’t know what sleep is.
As a Scientist, Lauren’s career extends across cross-functional teams that encompass research biology, engineering, and data science. Her expertise ranges across biological and software technology toolchains including designing experiments, creating novel engineering tools, building induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) models at scale and developing large disease-relevant biological datasets using high-throughput automation platforms. Her work focuses on key aspects of iPSC technology including generation, engineering, differentiation, and phenotyping.
Prior to joining insitro, Lauren was a Cellular Biology Research Consultant at Google, in which she developed a high-throughput target-binder assay. Additionally, she was the biological lead focused on developing diagnostic tools assisted by machine learning.
Lauren received her B.S. from the University of Michigan followed by her M.S. from the University of Sydney in the field of human genetics. Lauren received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the lab of Dr. Timothy Blenkinsop in which she focused on stem cell biology and human disease models.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking with her dog, Penny and trying out any and every new ramen restaurant.
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.
Werner Syndrome Helicase is Required for the Survival of Cancer Cells with Microsatellite Instabilityhttps://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(19)30040-9
USP7 small-molecule inhibitors interfere with ubiquitin bindinghttps://www.nature.com/articles/nature24006
Maisha is a Scientist engineering cell lines for high-throughput biology workflows and screening, and developing cell line engineering production processes.
Her PhD work focused on identifying novel pathways in the cancer cell cycle and characterization of chemotherapeutics for drug discovery. She worked full-time as a Scientist, Assay Development at Cayman chemicals as well during her PhD. Following a postdoc at UCSF, Helen Diller Cancer Centre, she joined Synthego as Scientist, Engineered Cells. At Synthego she was in charge of cell line engineering, SOP development, production for immortalized and iPSCs. Motto at Synthego “Any cell line, any edit”.
During her free time, Maisha likes reading, hiking, playing basketball or just hanging out with friends.
Matthew Albert, SVP of Biology & Translational Genetics
SVP, Biology & Translational Genetics
Matthew Albert, SVP of Biology & Translational Genetics
Matthew Albert is Senior Vice President, Biology & Translational Genetics at insitro.
Prior to joining insitro, Matthew worked as Principal Scientist in the Department of Cancer Immunology at Genentech (2015 – 2019); and served as Professor (2003 – 2015), Founder and Director of the Center for Human Immunology (2007 – 2015) and Director of the Immunology Department at Institut Pasteur, Paris France (2010 – 2015).
Matthew is an immunologist and clinical pathologist, with a long-standing interest in immune regulation and tumor immunity. His research embraces the power of a “human-first” approach to scientific discovery, driven by a commitment to understand how to achieve effective response to cancer immunotherapy, autoimmunity and chronic infection while limiting adverse effects of treatment. As this requires a deep insight into health and disease pathogenesis, he has developed several areas of investigation over the last two decades, which has included a deep commitment to bladder diseases (incl. cancer and UTI); and liver diseases (incl. HCV, HBV, HCC and NASH). He has also been a leader in the Milieu Intérieur Consortium, a 30-team academic / industrial partnership that aims to define the genetic, microbiome and environmental determinants of variable immune responses in healthy persons.
Matthew trained at The Rockefeller University, Cornell University Medical College and did his residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has made major contributions to the understanding of antigen cross-priming and the impact of post-translational modification of chemokines as determinants of effective tumor immunity. In his spare time, he and his family enjoy cooking together, traveling and exploring the world’s ecology under the sea (marvelling at Ostracod mating practices in the Carribean), in jungles (visits to the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre in Borneo), and in ecology parks (riding dolphins in Tunisia). The have traveled together to over 35 countries, with a strong belief that knowing and engaging with diverse communities and cultures help them be better contributors to the world.
Germline genetic polymorphisms influence tumor gene expression and immune cell infiltration. Lim YW, Chen-Harris H, Mayba O, Lianoglou S, Wuster A, Bhangale T, Khan Z, Mariathasan S, Daemen A, Reeder J, Haverty PM, Forrest WF, Brauer M, Mellman I, Albert ML. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Dec 11;115(50):E11701-E11710. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1804506115. Epub 2018 Nov 21
Natural variation in the parameters of innate immune cells is preferentially driven by genetic factors. Patin E, Hasan M, Bergstedt J, Rouilly V, Libri V, Urrutia A, Alanio C, Scepanovic P, Hammer C, Jönsson F, Beitz B, Quach H, Lim YW, Hunkapiller J, Zepeda M, Green C, Piasecka B, Leloup C, Rogge L, Huetz F, Peguillet I, Lantz O, Fontes M, Di Santo JP, Thomas S, Fellay J, Duffy D, Quintana-Murci L, Albert ML; Milieu Intérieur Consortium. Nat Immunol. 2018 Mar;19(3):302-314. doi: 10.1038/s41590-018-0049-7. Epub 2018 Feb 23
Genetic Adaptation and Neandertal Admixture Shaped the Immune System of Human Populations. Quach H, Rotival M, Pothlichet J, Loh YE, Dannemann M, Zidane N, Laval G, Patin E, Harmant C, Lopez M, Deschamps M, Naffakh N, Duffy D, Coen A, Leroux-Roels G, Clément F, Boland A, Deleuze JF, Kelso J, Albert ML, Quintana-Murci L. Cell. 2016 Oct 20;167(3):643-656.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.024
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.
Genetic ablation of AXL does not protect human neural progenitor cells and cerebral organoids from Zika virus infectionhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27912091
Micropattern width dependent sarcomere development in human ESC-derived cardiomyocyteshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24582552
p53 inhibits CRISPR-Cas9 engineering in human pluripotent stem cellshttps://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.
Pooja is an Associate Scientist for the Process Engineering team and she is working on developing and scaling various genomics assays and QC protocols.
Prior to joining insitro, Pooja worked on developing a robust, high-throughput NGS library preparation protocol for engineered strain genotyping at a biotech startup. Before then she was a graduate student researcher at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, where she worked on developing a protocol for generating three-dimensional retinal organoids using mouse embryonic stem cells. Pooja has a background in molecular biology and obtained her B.S. and M.S. from Dominican University of California.
In her free time, Pooja enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her dog.
As the Director of Neuroscience, Rachel leads insitro’s therapeutic strategy in neuroscience-related indications in collaboration with her talented colleagues.
Rachel joined insitro from Biogen, where she helped to build a Neurodevelopmental Disorders drug discovery group and pipeline. Prior to Biogen, Rachel worked at Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation. There, Rachel led drug discovery project teams spanning multiple therapeutic areas and led a team that advanced a candidate into early phase clinical studies.
Before joining Pfizer, Rachel was a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Richard Tsien’s lab at Stanford University in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology. Rachel received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in Biology and Neuroscience from Macalester College.
In her spare time, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family.
Roey Baror is a neuroscientist and glial biologist with expertise in developing primary adult mammalian cell cultures and transcriptomics analysis. As a Scientist in the Disease Modeling group at insitro, Roey focuses on building robust in vitro platforms to reliably model human diseases.
Roey earned his B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology (neuroscience pathway) at the University of Tel Aviv (Israel). He then worked at the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation (Boston, MA) where he used TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) as an experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Roey received his PhD in Clinical Neurosciences from the University of Cambridge (UK). His research focused on methods to enhance regeneration of myelin in the central nervous system, with emphasis on the effects of aging. His work uncovered new mechanisms by which aging processes alter the activity of stem cells and immune cells in the brain, allowing the development of new therapeutic interventions. Following his PhD, he continued to a postdoc at UCSF (San Francisco, CA), where he studied metabolic pathways in adult CNS stem cells in search for new ways to promote the activation of these cells in pathological settings and promote regeneration of myelin.
In his free time, Roey enjoys rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, cooking and discovering new craft beers and breweries.
Metformin Restores CNS Remyelination Capacity by Rejuvenating Aged Stem Cellshttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1934590919303509
Transforming growth factor‐beta renders ageing microglia inhibitory to oligodendrocyte generation by CNS progenitorshttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/glia.23612
As a Scientist specializing in neuroscience, Sam is working with the translational science team to couple clinical and genetic data to functional human stem cell models. At the cross-section of high throughput biology and high-fidelity neurological modeling, his focus is on developing scalable assays of cellular disease states involved in neurological indications for therapy development that enable machine learning assisted target discovery.
Prior to insitro, Sam was a Scientist at the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where he led an NIH-funded team to develop next-generation tissue chip models of sporadic ALS and PD. He utilized induced pluripotent stem cells to incorporate blood vessel cells, neurons and microglia into perfuseable micro-engineered 3D environments to model human brain function, blood brain barrier physiology and uncover novel biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases. These efforts led to a predictive test of early onset sporadic PD in vitro (Nature Medicine) and created new platforms to study opioid addiction and sporadic ALS pathophysiology. Before Cedars, Sam was a CIRM fellow at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute where he developed a platform to screen neurogenic compounds using human dopamine neurons in vitro.
Outside of the lab, Sam enjoys life at the ocean shore, travel to remote destinations, mountain trips, aerospace, and hiking with his son.
iPSC modeling of young-onset Parkinson’s disease reveals a molecular signature of disease and novel therapeutic candidates
AH Laperle, S Sances, N Yucer, VJ Dardov, VJ Garcia, R Ho, AN Fulton, …
Nature Medicine 26 (2), 289-299
Modeling ALS with motor neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells
S Sances, LI Bruijn, S Chandran, K Eggan, R Ho, JR Klim, MR Livesey, …
Nature Neuroscience 19 (4), 542-553
Shengjiang is a biochemist with interests in stem cell biology, transcription regulation, epigenetics, and CRISPR technologies. At insitro, he works on the functional genomics and phenotyping team to help build the CRISPR-based genomic discovery platform, focusing on developing novel CRISPR screening technologies and assays.
As a chemist by training, Shengjiang obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry at Ohio State University. While working in Dr. Ming-Daw Tsai’s lab, his graduate studies focused on de novo chromatin modifying enzyme discovery and enzyme targeting on the genome. During that process, he appreciated the power of chemistry, yeast genetics, and proteomics. Afterwards Shengjiang conducted his postdoc with Dr. Danny Reinberg at Howard Hughes Medical Institute / New York University School of Medicine on chromatin biology, where he combined proteomics, genomics, as well as CRISPR knock-in, knock-out, and genetic screen techniques in cells and mice to tackle exciting stem cell and germ cell biology questions. In 2017, he joined a regenerative medicine startup Surrozen, where he worked on adult stem cells differentiation and function assays related to Wnt signaling, as well as bi-specific antibody engineering.
In his spare time, Shengjiang enjoys hiking with his family, watching football with his son and following NFL and NCAA football news.