The Institute Of Human Nutrition

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Nutritional and Metabolic Biology PhD Program Alumni

Career Paths and Profiles

NMB Graduates from 2013-2016 include:


    Lisa Burnett, PhD (‘16) is a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University Medical Center. Her thesis: ‘‘The Role of SNORD116 in Prader-Willi Syndrome’’, was sponsored by mentor Rudolph Leibel, MD.




     Giselle Dominguez Gutierrez, PhD (‘16) is a postdoctoral fellow at Regeneron. She completed her thesis: ‘‘Maintenance of beta cell identity and function’’, under the guidance of mentor Lori Sussel,PhD.




   Jaclyn Lerea, PhD (‘16) is a postdoctoral fellow of Nutrition Translation at Nestle Health Science. Her thesis ‘‘Early intervention in a mouse model of childhood’’ was supervised by Lori Zeltser, PhD.





    Yuxi Lin, PhD (‘16) is a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF-Mission Bay. Her thesis: ‘‘Role of lysosomes in nonshivering thermogenesis’’; was done under the guidance of Anthony Ferrante MD, PhD.





Hye Rim Chang, PhD (’15) is a postdoctoral fellow at NYU Langone Medical Center. Her thesis was “The Regulations of Adipose Tissue Development and Lipolysis” in mentor Anthony Ferrante, MD, PhD’s lab.




Dianne Dapito, PhD (’15) Dr. Dapito is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health in Eth, Zurich, working on cachexia, an irrevsible wasting syndrome often seen in cancer patients. Her thesis “Contributions of activated hepatic stellate cells to hepatocarcinogenesis” was completed in mentor Robert Schwabe, MD’s lab.  Diane was the recipient of the 2015 Bernard Erlanger Award for Excellence in Research for her research that culminated in her PhD thesis “Contributions of Activated Hepatic Stellate Cells to Hepatocarcinogenesis.” 




Ambar Grijalva, PhD (’15) Dr. Grijalva is a postdoctoral research scientist at CUMC. Her thesis “Understanding the function and diffentation of adipose tissue macrophage” was completed in mentor Anthony Ferrante, Jr., MD, PhD’s lab.




Ryo Higuchi-Sanabria, PhD (‘15), His thesis “A Mother's Sacrifice: the contribution of asymmetric cell division to lifespan regulation in S. cervisiae” was completed under the mentorship of Liza Pon, PhD.  Dr. Higuchi-Sanabria is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California - Berkeley, working on identification of a novel cytoskeleton-specific stress response and its potential regulators. Dr. Higuchi -Sanabria was awarded a National Research Service Award by the NIH. 





Moneek Madra, PhD (’15) Dr. Madra is a lecturer in the Institute of Human Nutrition, teaching Growth and Development and Introduction to Epidemiology for Nutritionists. Her thesis “Interactions of early life stressors and Bdnf Val66Met in a novel mouse model of Anorexia Nervosa” was completed in mentor Lori Zeltser, PhD’s lab. 

Her current research focuses on Anorexia Nervosa, specializing on neuroendocrine and early postnatal stress outcomes associated with adolescent abnormal feeding behavior. Her work encompasses several integrative areas including neuroscience, physiology and psychiatry. The IHN MS program was the catalyst for her interest in basic science research, through classes and her thesis project. The skills she amassed in the MS program have been invaluable to her research and educational pursuits.


Liheng Wang, PhD (’15) Dr. Wang is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Medicine at CUMC. Her thesis “Understanding the neuro-molecular physiology of human obesity using iPSC-derived hypothalamic neurons” was done in Rudolph Leibel, MD’s lab.




Angie Chi Nok Chong, PhD (’14) Dr. Chong’s thesis “The role of hypothalamic insulin and leptin signaling in regulating energy balance and stress” was done under the mentorship of Lori Zeltser, PhD.  She is a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Shuibing Chen's lab at Weill Cornell Medical College She is currently working on a project that models beta cell dysfunction in diabetes using humanized mouse models.




Donna Conlon, PhD (’14) Dr. Conlon is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She is working in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Rader studying novel pathways regulating lipid and lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis inspired by unbiased studies of human genetics. Donna is currently working on two projects in the lab: 1) the regulation of VLDL secretion by hepatic Sortilin and 2) the role of neuronal Arv1, a sterol transporter, on behavior and lipid metabolism in the brain. She completed her thesis, “Inhibition of VLDL assembly by apolipoprotein B antisense oligonucleotides stimulates autophagy of ER, preventing steatosis” with mentor Henry Ginsberg, MD.



Chad Trent, PhD (’14) Dr. Trent is a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Martin Blaser's laboratory at NYU Langone Medical Center. His work is focused on the interactions between diet, genotype, and the microbiome that lead to dysregulation of metabolic and inflammatory phenotypes.  His thesis “Fat in Hearts: Uptake, storage, and turnover” was done in mentor Ira Goldberg, MD’s lab.




James Papizan, PhD (’13) Dr. Papizan is now a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Eric Olson's lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the Department of Molecular Biology. His thesis “Structure / function analysis of the essential islet regulatory factor Nkx2.2” was completed under the mentorship of Lori Sussel, PhD.  He received the 2012 Bernard Erlanger Award for Excellence in Research at the Wu Lecture and Retreat.





Katherine Wert, PhD (’13) Dr. Wert is a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is currently working in Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch's laboratory on pluripotent stem cells and genome engineering to model human diseases. Her main research focus is incorporating human pluripotent stem cells into developing mouse embryos to study the iniation and progression of complex human diseases in an in vivo, interspecies chimeric system. Her thesis “Long-term gene therapy in a Pre-clinical Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa” was done with mentor Stephen Tsang, MD, PhD. She received the 2012 Bernard Erlanger Award for Excellence in Research at the Wu Lecture and Retreat. In 2016 Dr. Wert was awarded the Junior Faculty Award at the Annual FASEB meeting. 

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