Our People

The Marson lab is a highly collaborative team with expertise in genomics, immunology, infectious diseases, and related fields, driven by a shared interest in applying cutting-edge technologies to understand and engineer cells of the human immune system.

Alex Marson

Principal Investigator

Alex Marson is a Professor at UCSF and the Director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology. As a physician-scientist with a background in immune genomics, Alex’s lab is focused on adapting CRISPR genome editing techniques to human immune cells in order to understand the genetic programs controlling immune cell function and to manipulate T cells to generate cell-based therapies for a wide range of diseases.

Alex Marson
Principal Investigator
alexander.marson@ucsf.edu

Director, Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology Professor, UCSF Department of Medicine Scientific Director of Human Health, Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator Parker Institute of Cancer Immunotherapy Member

Our lab aims to understand the genetic and epigenetic circuits that control human T cell function and translate fundamental discoveries into improved cellular immunotherapies for disease. We are developing new CRISPR gene editing technologies that offer faster, cheaper and more precise ways to re-write DNA programs in human immune cells. I am proud of the collaborative and enthusiastic culture in our lab, which has accelerated our progress and makes it fun to do the work!

I was fortunate to train under the joint mentorship of Rick Young and Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute at MIT for my PhD training. Using genomic techniques, I studied how cell types establish highly specialized identities. My research focused on two medically important cell types: regulatory T cells, which are essential in preventing autoimmune disease; and embryonic stem cells, whose potential to differentiate into every type of adult cell offers great promise for regenerative medicine.

After finishing medical school, internship and residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, I came west to UCSF. After completing my final year of full-time clinical work as an infectious disease fellow, I started my lab as a Sandler Faculty Fellow. I am now a faculty member at UCSF, Director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology, and the Scientific Director of Human Health at the Innovative Genomics Institute. I am also a member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and an investigator at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

Post-Doctoral Fellows and Students

Maya Arce
PhD Student
maya.arce@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I was raised in Billings, MT and studied Biology at Santa Clara University while working in Dr. Eric Tillman’s organic chemistry lab on polymer synthesis research. After school I remained in the Bay Area and worked in biopharma, where I became increasingly interested in immunology and genomics. Now, as a student in the Marson lab, I am excited to work at the intersection of these fields to better understand gene regulatory networks that prevent immune dysfunction. Outside of lab I enjoy hiking, traveling, and boxing (fun fact: I competed in boxing during college) as well as participating in outreach programs aimed at promoting diversity in STEM.

Maya Arce

PhD Student

Jim Asaki
PhD Student
James.Asaki@ucsf.edu

I was raised in Visalia, CA and majored in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at UCLA. During my time there I studied the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii and the molecular mechanisms it employs to manipulate its hosts. My undergraduate experience showed me the importance in understanding basic immunology, which has led me to the BMS program at UCSF. Now, under the joint mentorship of Dr. Alex Marson and Dr. Joe DeRisi, I plan to develop new technology to study the role of autoreactive T cells in autoimmune disease. Outside of the lab, you can find me cycling in the Marin Headlands, running in Golden Gate Park, and listening to podcasts.

Jim Asaki

PhD Student

Franziska Blaeschke
Postdoctoral Fellow
Franziska.Blaeschke@ucsf.edu

Fellowships: Care-for-Rare Foundation, German Research Foundation (DFG)

I studied medicine in Munich, Germany, and obtained clinical training at the University Clinic of Tuebingen and the Dr. von Hauner University Children’s Hospital Munich. After completing my MD thesis dealing with TCR-transgenic T cells against bone tumors, I recently focused on the interaction of T cells with malignant cells and on improving adoptive T cell therapies. I joined the Marson lab in early 2019 to learn non-viral genome editing/ functional screens and to broaden my understanding of T-cell biology in the context of solid and liquid tumors. Besides research and the clinical work with the small patients, I love traveling, dancing, a glass of good wine and the Oktoberfest (kind of combining all of the aforementioned).

Franziska Blaeschke

Postdoctoral Fellow

Eli Dugan
PhD Student
eli.Dugan@ucsf.edu

I was born in San Francisco and grew up in the Bay Area, attending UC Berkeley where I majored in Molecular and Cell Biology. After graduating, I worked as a research technician in the lab of Dr. Dave Savage where I studied CO2-concentrating mechanisms as a system for carbon capture. At UCSF, my interests have focused on understanding viruses and how they hijack host machinery. In the Marson Lab, I am using our recently developed genome-wide platforms in primary CD4+ T cells to study host-pathogen interactions with HIV. Outside of lab, you can find me on the slopes, at a local concert venue, or soaking in the sun at DoLo enjoying a local IPA.

Eli Dugan

PhD Student

Laine Goudy
PhD Student
Laine.Goudy@ucsf.edu

I was born and raised in Seattle, WA and went to Scripps College for undergrad where I majored in Biochemistry. After graduating, I worked as a technician in Dr. Stanley Qi’s lab at Stanford University where I developed new CRISPR tools for genome/epigenome editing. I became increasingly interested in immunology and cell-based therapies, which led me to the BMS program at UCFS. As a joint student in Drs. Luke Gilbert and Alex Marson’s labs, I am interested in the intersection of functional genomics and epigenetic editing to better understand CD8+ T cell differentiation. Outside of lab I love cooking, cycling, skiing and spending time with my roommate’s puppy, a Frenchie named Toast.

Laine Goudy

PhD Student

Rosmely Hernandez
Postdoctoral Fellow
rosmely.hernandez@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I was born in Cuba and completed my PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Tom Malek's lab. My thesis work focused on repurposing interleukin-2 for cancer immunotherapy to enhance T cell responses to tumor neoantigen vaccines. In the Marson lab, I have continued to exploit the IL-2 pathway to generate more potent T cell therapies for cancer treatment using genomic engineering tools. Outside of lab, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, exploring nature, and reading great books.

Rosmely Hernandez

Postdoctoral Fellow

I grew up surrounded by the coastal redwood forests of Northern California and attended college at Humboldt State University, where my love of nature and biology evolved into a passion for genome editing. After I graduated, I joined the lab of Dr. Matthew Porteus at Stanford University where I worked on therapeutic genome editing and stem cell engineering. Now, I am continuing to follow that passion for genome editing as a Bioengineering PhD student under the joint mentorship of Dr. Alex Marson and Dr. Sagar Bapat. In the lab, I am currently engineering immune cells to enhance and expand their therapeutic capabilities. Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time in nature, cooking, gardening, and hanging out with my cat.

Ben Lesch

PhD Student

Murad Mamedov
Postdoctoral Fellow
Murad.Mamedov@ucsf.edu

Fellowships: CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellow, Michelson Prize for Human Immunology and Vaccine Development

From Azerbaijan and Massachusetts, I studied biology and philosophy at Georgetown University. I went on to complete my Ph.D. in immunology with Mark Davis at Stanford University, where I studied the role of γδ T cells during malaria. Broadly, I am interested in γδ T cells and T-cell receptor biology. Using functional genomics, I am researching the role of γδ T cells in cancer and translating these findings to therapeutic uses of γδ T cells. Outside the lab, I like to cook, look at photographs, and make photographs.

Murad Mamedov

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kristen Mengwasser
Clinical Fellow
Kristen.Mengwasser@ucsf.edu

I’m Kristen, and I’m a Rheumatology fellow at UCSF. I grew up in the good ole Midwest (St. Louis), but spent most of my subsequent life in Boston. I completed a residency in internal medicine, and moved out to SF for subspecialty training in Rheumatology. I did my PhD with Steve Elledge, and consequently got pretty addicted to functional screens and technology development. :) I’m excited to be joining the Marson Lab group, where I’ll be exploring applications of screening technology toward understanding human autoimmune diseases. Outside the lab, I love spin class, gardening, board games, and hazy IPAs. Looking forward to meeting you all and working with you!

Kristen Mengwasser

Clinical Fellow

Mineto Ota
Postdoctoral Fellow
mineto@stanford.edu

I grew up in Japan and completed my M.D. and Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo. I’m a physician who specializes in rheumatology and am broadly interested in the genetic determinants of autoimmune diseases. Now I’m a joint postdoc of Marson lab and Pritchard lab at Stanford and I will combine functional genomics and statistical approaches to disentangle the gene regulatory networks underlying the complex diseases. Outside of the lab, I love to play the saxophone and the clarinet and listen to jazz.

Mineto Ota

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ujjwal Rathore
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ujjwal.Rathore@ucsf.edu

I did my doctoral studies on HIV vaccine design in Prof. Raghavan Varadarajan’s lab at Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Lessons learnt while working with the formidable HIV-1 pathogen have helped me appreciate the complexity of the human immune system. My love for viruses and the desire to learn more about the host immunity brought me to Marson Lab where I am exploring the host factors involved in various viral diseases. In addition to science, I love to hear all kinds of audiobooks/podcasts and explore nature (preferably while running).

Ujjwal Rathore

Postdoctoral Fellow

Zach Steinhart
Postdoctoral Fellow
Zachary.Steinhart@ucsf.edu

I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, where I also completed my PhD in the lab of Stephane Angers at the University of Toronto. My PhD project focused on using functional genomics and CRISPR/Cas9 approaches to study cell signaling pathways in pancreatic and colorectal cancers. I am broadly interested in using functional genomics approaches for the unbiased discovery of gene editing or druggable targets for improved cancer immunotherapies. My projects in the Marson Lab are focused on using a variety of CRISPR/Cas9 based approaches to functionally dissect coding and noncoding determinants of T cell function in cancer immunotherapy contexts. When I am not in the lab I enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities, namely biking, skiing, and backpacking, or when the weather is bad, playing board games with friends.

Zach Steinhart

Postdoctoral Fellow

Jennifer Umhoefer
PhD Student, UCSF BMS
Jennifer.Umhoefer@ucsf.edu

I grew up near Milwaukee, WI, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Studio Art. While there, I worked in Dr. William Murphy’s lab optimizing mRNA untranslated regions to improve RNA gene delivery and investigating mechanisms to improve CRISPR/Cas9 knock-in efficiency. I’m interested in transcriptional regulation, genetics, and epigenetics. Outside of the lab, I love hiking, drawing, and playing tennis and volleyball.

Jennifer Umhoefer

PhD Student, UCSF BMS

Carl Ward
Postdoctoral Fellow
Carl.ward@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I grew up in North Carolina and then studied chemistry at Harvard University. Most recently, I finished my PhD at UC Berkeley in Dan Nomura's lab working on expanding the "druggable proteome" with chemical and proteomic technologies. With a desire to continue working on novel translational technologies, I joined the Marson Lab in 2020 and am particularly interested in expanding the toolbox of genome engineering techniques in T cells as well as applying these methods towards overcoming the difficulties antitumor T cells face in the tumor microenvironment. When I am out of lab, I love cycling around the Bay Area, skiing, and trying out new cuisines at all the restaurants in the area.

Carl Ward

Postdoctoral Fellow

Galen Xing
PhD Student
galen.xing@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I was raised in NYC, grew up thinking 24/7 grocery stores were the norm, and majored in CS and Statistics at Columbia University. I've spent time developing computational models across industry and academia for everything from the microbiome, to small molecule drug discovery, to robotics. Most recently, I worked on the analysis and modeling of single cell data under the mentorship of Nir Yosef. In the Marson lab, I'm excited to combine synthetic biology and computational modeling to interrogate questions at the intersection of immunology and genomics. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me biking the hills of East Bay and Marin or taking care of my co-parented rabbit named Potato.

Galen Xing

PhD Student

Tori Yamamoto
Postdoctoral Fellow
Tori.Yamamoto@ucsf.edu

Fellowships: Zena Werb Scholar (T32 trainee)

My interest in science began at Whitman College, where I studied molecular biology and functional genomics with Team Weed in the Vernon Lab. I fell in love with immunology in Stan Riddell’s lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and continued to study T cell differentiation and death during graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania in Nick Restifo’s lab at the NCI. In the Marson lab I’m excited to explore new ways of tuning the transcriptional regulation and function of T cells through the use of targeted genome engineering. Outside of the lab I enjoy cooking and baking, hiking and exploring the city.

Tori Yamamoto

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ronghui (Ron) Zhu
Postdoctoral Fellow
ronghui.zhu@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I'm from China and studied biochemistry at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I came to the US and joined Michael Elowitz's lab at Caltech for Ph.D. training in systems biology. My broad interest is to understand and predict how biological circuits control biological processes. In Marson lab, I'll combine functional genomics and mathematical modeling to understand biological circuits controlling T cell functions and polarization. Outside of the lab, I like bouldering, playing tennis, and playing league of legends on the phone.

Ronghui (Ron) Zhu

Postdoctoral Fellow

Staff

Rama Dajani
Research Technician
rama.dajani@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I have lived in San Francisco for as long as I can remember and recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology. In my fourth year of undergrad, I chose to focus on a combination of cell biology and biomolecular engineering to gain experience in utilizing computational biology tools, and I developed a strong interest in the role of coding and non-coding regulatory elements in cancer genomics. I am excited to see future developments in genome wide screening to identify key regulatory elements in oncology and immunology as well as applying principles of synthetic lethality, RNAi, and CRISPR in enhancing cancer therapies in the lab. In the next few years, I hope to be able to gain the skills necessary to prepare for and apply to a graduate program. In my spare time, I like to binge watch Middle Eastern and Turkish dramas, go for long walks around Golden Gate Park, and force my sister to try my new cooking.

Rama Dajani

Research Technician

Stacie Dodgson
Chief Scientific Strategist
stacie.dodgson@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I am originally from Michigan and did my PhD training in genetics at MIT with Angelika Amon and postdoctoral training in immunology with Ramnik Xavier at the Broad Institute. I spent a few years as an editor at Cell before joining the team at the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology, where I focus on scientific strategy, collaboration, and outreach. I am casually passionate about marine biology, mixology, and literature, and intensely obsessed with my dog, Gatsby.

Stacie Dodgson

Chief Scientific Strategist

Nicole Leung
Scientific Grant Writer
nicole.leung2@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I grew up in Hong Kong and came to the United States for high school. I received my PhD at UC Santa Barbara with Craig Montell studying sensory neurobiology in Drosophila and postdoctoral training at Stanford with Nirao Shah studying neural circuits of social behaviors in mice. As grant writer at Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology, I support institute labs and trainees with their grant and fellowship applications and foster collaborations. I am Mom to my daughter, Maile, and to my Coton, Louis. I love spending time with my family, hiking, tending to my orchids, and eating.

Nicole Leung

Scientific Grant Writer

Zhongmei Li
Research Technician
Zhongmei.Li@ucsf.edu

I got a Bachelor degree in Science of Nursing and a Master degree in Ob/Gyn from Shanghai Medical University. I worked as an embryologist and clinician in an IVF center in Shanghai for 4 years. In 2004, I moved to San Francisco and joined the German Lab at the UCSF Diabetes Center. After working there for more than 10 years, I am proud of myself as a technician with broad laboratory skills and have the expertise in mouse embryo manipulation. I like to plant veggies and flowers in my free time.

Zhongmei Li

Research Technician

Ron Manlapaz
Lab Manager
ronald.manlapaz@gladstone.ucsf.edu

I graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelors in Biochemistry. Since then, I have worked as a Regulatory Analyst at Applied Biosystems, a Research Technician at the CPMC Kuzell Institute of Infectious Diseases, a Research Associate at UCSF, and then transitioned into the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease as Lab Manager for Dr. Todd McDevitt's lab. I am excited to be part of Dr. Alex Marson's lab and the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology and look forward to helping the lab succeed in overcoming unsolved diseases through transformative biomedical research. Outside of the lab, I like to spend time with my family and take long walks around the city.

Ron Manlapaz

Lab Manager

Jackie Sawin
Executive Assistant, Gladstone Institutes
jackie.sawin@gladstone.ucsf.edu

Before joining the Joint Institute at Alex’s newest Executive Assistant, I was Executive Assistant to the CEO of Bungalow, a co-living start-up. While I don’t have a scientific background, I’m excited to learn more about how CRISPR therapies can be used to treat many different diseases, from cancer to autoimmune diseases and more. I’m responsible for managing Alex’s time and daily schedule, as well as any administrative projects related to the Gladstone side of the Joint Institute. In my free time, you can find me playing Sims 4, watching anime, or reading a fantasy book. I’m a big nerd! Fun fact: I have an in-home gel manicure kit and love experimenting with designs on my own nails.

Jackie Sawin

Executive Assistant, Gladstone Institutes

Jon Woo
Institute Operations Manager
jonathan.woo@ucsf.edu

I obtained an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in Molecular Cell Biology and a master's degree from SF State in Biomedical Lab Science. During my undergrad I volunteered at a UCSF lab that focused on the genetics of neurological disorders, through which I found myself working in a core facility that provided sequencing and genotyping services to the UCSF community. Eventually I became the manager of the facility, but had to find another avenue of financial funding after Sanger sequencing and microsatellite genotyping were considered obsolete analysis platforms. I hoped to join a lab that stayed on the forefront of new techniques and assay adoption, finding myself in the role of lab manager for the Marson lab. Outside of lab, whenever I have some free time, I aim for board game sessions, any game, any length.

Jon Woo

Institute Operations Manager

Interested in joining us?

We are always open to applications from post-doctoral fellows with strong backgrounds in cellular immunology. Applicants with backgrounds in genomics, molecular biology, computational biology and genome engineering who have a research interest in immunology are also welcome to apply. MD or PhD or equivalent doctoral degree required.

Alumni

People we've had the privilege of working with in the Marson Lab.

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