Institute for Systems Genetics Faculty & Staff | NYU Langone Health

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Institute for Systems Genetics Institute for Systems Genetics Faculty & Staff

Institute for Systems Genetics Faculty & Staff

The Institute for Systems Genetics comprises faculty and staff across multiple departments.


Our administrators lead a team of faculty, students, and investigators that collaborates with other research and clinical programs at NYU Langone Health and around the world.

Jef Boeke, PhD, Founding Director

Dr. Boeke is best known for his fundamental genetic and biochemical work on mechanisms of transposition in higher cells. He coined the term “retrotransposon.” He is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Learn more about Dr. Boeke.

Debbie Bemis, PhD, Executive Director

Dr. Bemis works with our director to set and operationalize the strategic plan for the institute, as well as oversees its administration. She has more than 20 years of experience in basic and translational research, scientific communications, and research administration. Contact Dr. Bemis at

Kate Katsnelson, MBA, Assistant Director of Finance

Mrs. Katsnelson oversees the preaward and postaward activity for the department. She started at NYU Langone in 2010 and worked at central finance for three years as well as Perlmutter Cancer Center for six years prior to joining our institute. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Ural State University in Russia and her MBA from Baruch College. Contact Mrs. Katsnelson at

Nakisha Davis, MPA, Senior Program Coordinator

Ms. Davis coordinates and oversees administrative procedures, including special events, communications, the wellness initiative, and the faculty recruitment program. She also provides administrative support and oversees all operational aspects of the education program for the institute. Ms. Davis holds a master's degree in public administration and joined us in November 2013. Contact Ms. Davis at

Andrew Martin, Manager of Research Laboratory Operations

Mr. Martin oversees the use and maintenance of our institute’s equipment and sophisticated Genome Foundry instrumentation. He works closely with all levels of research personnel to innovate, develop, and optimize experimental procedures and novel, cutting-edge technologies. Contact Mr. Martin at

Julie Oaks, Administrative Manager

Ms. Oaks supports administrative procedures including human resources and compliance. She also oversees the grant application process and serves as a liaison between the institute and Sponsored Program Administration. Contact Ms. Oaks at

Meghan O’Keefe, MS, Executive Assistant

Ms. O’Keefe primarily supports Dr. Boeke in his role as director of the institute and works closely with our administrative leadership on daily operations and special initiatives. She earned her MS in nonprofit management from the New School and an undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College. Contact Ms. O’Keefe at meghan.o'

Kelly Scott, Administrative Manager

Ms. Scott is responsible for managing administrative services including human resources and compliance for the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratories and select faculty within the Institute for Systems Genetics. She also oversees the grant submission process for select faculty within the institute and serves as a liaison between our institute and Sponsored Programs Administration. Additionally, Ms. Scott provides executive assistant support for Dr. Itai Yanai and works closely with administrative leadership on daily operations and special initiatives for the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratories. Contact Ms. Scott at

Teddy Shin, Senior Financial Analyst

Mr. Shin manages our financial ledgers, procurement, and reporting. Prior to joining the institute, he monitored and reported on postaward grant activities for the NYU Langone research finance department. He is a lifelong New Yorker and business professional who earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Baruch College. Contact Mr. Shin at

Core Faculty


Jef Boeke, PhD

Institute Founder and Director
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Research interests: mechanism of retrotransposition in eukaryotes and redesigning and synthesizing entire eukaryotic chromosomes


Aravinda Chakravarti, PhD

Director, Center for Human Genetics and Genomics
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Neuroscience and Physiology
Research interests: molecular basis of human disease, gene regulatory networks, and human population genomics


Teresa Davoli, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Research interests: understanding the causes and consequences of genomic instability (with a focus on aneuploidy) in cancer and cell physiology


Gilad Evrony, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, and the Center for Human Genetics and Genomics
Research interests: genetics of brain development, function, and disease; technology development for neuroscience; precision medicine


David Fenyö, PhD

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Research interests: proteomic data analysis and developing methods and databases for protein identification, characterization, and quantitation using mass spectrometry–based technologies


Molly C. Gale Hammell, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology
Research interests: transposable elements in the human genome and how these viral-like elements contribute to neurodegenerative disease; the genetics and genomics of neurodegeneration


Liam Holt, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Research interests: how mechanical compression and molecular crowding affect cell biology and drive diseases like cancer, aging, and neurodegeneration


Timothee Lionnet, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Cell biology
Research interests: understanding how gene expression works, focusing mainly on its first step, transcription—the synthesis of mRNA from a gene encoded in DNA


Matthew Maurano, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology
Research interests: genomics of gene expression and genetics of human disease


Marcus Noyes, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Research interests: characterization and manipulation of protein–ligand interactions


Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD

Associate Professor, Division of Translational Medicine, Department of Medicine
Research interests: multiomic data integration, data visualization, application and development of computational and statistical methods to analyze genomic, transcriptomic, translatomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and microbiome data to inform cancer, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease


Jonas Schluter, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology
Research interests: gut microbiome, massive clinical data sets and the hospitalome, microbial ecology and warfare, evolutionary theory, quorum sensing, machine-learning and Bayesian time series analysis, microbiota, cancer, immunity, and immunology


Itai Yanai, PhD

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Research interests: cancer, computational biology, developmental genetics, genomics, microbiome, systems biology, single-cell transcriptomics, gene expression atlas construction, and genome evolution

Affiliated Faculty

Thales Papagiannakopoulos, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology

Neville Sanjana, PhD
Assistant Professor, NYU Department of Biology

Rahul Satija, DPhil
Assistant Professor, NYU Department of Biology

Beatrix Ueberheide, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Christine Vogel, PhD
Professor, NYU Department of Biology

Postdoctoral Fellows

Sana Badri, PhD—Ruggles Lab
Research interests: biomedical informatics education and transcriptional regulatory mechanisms in blood cancers

Amit Bhardwaj, PhD—Fenyö Lab
Research interests: generation and characterization of an encyclopedia of the secretome of murine and human adipocytes

Joy Bianchi, PhD—Davoli Lab
Research interests: understanding the control of genome stability in health and disease and the impact of copy number alterations on cancer immune evasion

Martina Bonucci, PhD—Holt Lab
Research interests: investigating molecular crowding in neural cells and defining molecular crowding role in neurodegeneration

Lance Denes, PhD—Holt and Lionnet Labs
Research interests: investigating the interplay between cellular mechanics and gene expression

Ryan Fine, PhD—Chakravarti Lab
Research interests: effects of pathogenic non-coding genetic variation in human disease; genetic causes of variation in penetrance

Talitha Forcier, PhD—Gale Hammell Lab
Research interests: investigating differential transposon expression patterns in disease contexts

Gregory Goldberg, PhD—Boeke and Noyes Labs
Research interests: engineering CRISPR-Cas systems to facilitate the remodeling of genomes and gene regulatory circuits

Marta Gronska-Peski, PhD—Evrony Lab
Research interests: somatic mutation processes in the brain

Max Haase, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research interests: evolution of chromatin and centromere structure in budding yeasts

Chao Jiang, PhD—Holt Lab
Research interests: studying macromolecular crowding and cellular behaviors under mechanical regulation

Gururaj Rao Kidiyoor, PhD—Holt Lab
Research interest: investigating physiological and pathological role of nuclear crowding in normal and cancer cells

Luciana Lazar Stefanita, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research interests: structural plasticity of eukaryotic genomes

Feiyue Lu, PhD—Lionnet Lab
Research interests: in vivo live imaging of transcription regulation

Harsh Maan, PhD—Schluter Lab
Research interests: deciphering microbial interactions and biofilm formation in gut microbes

Fanny Matheis, PhD—Schluter Lab
Research interests: investigating epigenetic inheritance as a mediator of host-microbiome co-evolution

Wilson McKerrow, PhD—Fenyö Lab
Research interests: bioinformatic analysis of transposable elements broadly and LINE-1 specifically

Teesta Naskar, PhD—Chakravarti Lab
Research interests: genetic predisposition of neurodevelopmental disorders in multiplex families

Karthick Natarajan, PhD—Gale Hammell Lab
Research interests: understanding the role of retrotransposons in ALS/FTD

Gudjón Ólafsson, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research interests: using humanized yeast to uncover mechanisms of human chromosome segregation

Raquel Ordonez Ciriza, PhD—Maurano Lab
Research interests: deciphering genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that generate cellular identities and pathological phenotypes

Andrew Pountain, PhD—Yanai Lab
Research interests: applying single-cell transcriptomics methods to understand bacterial gene expression dynamics and infection

Maayan Pour, PhD—Yanai Lab
Research interests: maintenance of cancer cell state heterogeneity by microenvironment interactions

André M. Ribeiro dos Santos, PhD—Maurano Lab
Research interests: understanding the genomics of gene expression and human diseases through the development of bioinformatics tools and statistical analysis

Peter Ruehmann, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research interests: chemical and biological approaches to access and derivatize antibiotics

Shivanjali Saxena, PhD—Holt Lab
Research interests: investigating signaling pathways associated with the impact of pathological physical factors within glioblastoma microenvironment

Tong Shu, PhD—Holt Lab
Research interests: understanding the biophysical mechanisms of molecular crowding within cell influencing cellular processes

Gustavo Starvaggi Franca, PhD—Yanai Lab
Research interests: understanding mechanisms of drug-induced adaptation in cancer cells using single-cell RNA-Seq approaches

Henry Fabian Thomas—Lionnet and Mazzoni Labs
Research interests: applying live-cell single-molecule imaging to understand gene activation by HOX pioneer transcription factors

Julie Trolle, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research interests: endowing mammalian cells with novel metabolic capacities

Jordan M. Welker, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research interests: focusing on synthetic genetics approaches to species restoration/de-extinction and building non-human models for human disease

Peter Whitney, PhD—Lionnet Lab
Research interests: decoding the regulatory genome using high-resolution fluorescent microscopy

Ying Xie, PhD—Holt Lab
Research interests: how cellular biophysical property and proteins are remodeled in quiescent cells

Or Yaacov, MD—Chakravarti Lab
Research interests: population genetics and genomics, large-scale biobanks, and electronic medical records research

Scientific Staff

Heather Appleby—Boeke Lab
Senior Research Technician

Kelly Barriball—Boeke Lab
Senior Research Technician

Ran Brosh, PhD
Assistant Program Director, Center for Synthetic Regulatory Genomics, The Dark Matter Project (SyRGe)

Ze Chen—Ruggles Lab
Research Associate

Finnegan Clark—Lionnet Lab
Research Associate

April Ettington, PhD—Shenhav Lab
Data Science Analyst/Engineer

Sergei German, MS
Senior Architect, Solution Development

Samuel Greene—Yanai Lab
Assistant Research Tech

Mark Grivainis—Fenyö Lab
Data Science Analyst/Engineer

Arthur Hamilton—Noyes Lab
Research Associate

Cindy Hernandez—Holt Lab
Assistant Research Technician

Sarah Keegan—Fenyö Lab
Scientific Programmer

Tanya Kosheleva—Davoli Lab
Research Associate

Wenke Liu, PhD—Fenyö Lab
Research Scientist

Sally Mei—Davoli Lab
Research Associate

Angela Mermerian—Davoli Lab
Assistant Research Scientist

Paolo Mita, PhD—Davoli Lab
Research Assistant Professor

Jude Nawlo, MD—Fenyö Lab
GYN Fellow

Chloe Palumbo—Maurano Lab
Research Associate

Nestor Saiz, PhD—Lionnet Lab
Research Scientist

Regina Shaw—Gale Hammell Lab
Lab Supervisor

Alexis Sullivan, PhD—Schluter Lab
Lab Supervisor

Oliver Tam, PhD—Gale Hammell Lab
Research Scientist

Antonio Vela Gartner—Boeke Lab
Research Associate

Adam Walker—Ruggles Lab
Research Analyst

Nongyun Wang—Holt Lab
Research Associate

Yufeng Wang, PhD—Davoli Lab
Research Scientist

Aleksandra Wudzinska, MPhil—Boeke Lab
Lab Supervisor

Weimin Zhang, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research Assistant Professor

Guisheng Zhao, MD, PhD—Yanai Lab
Lab Manager

Yu Zhao, PhD—Boeke Lab
Research Scientist

Yinan (Florrie) Zhu—Boeke Lab
Research Associate

Angelina Ziarno—Lionnet Lab
Research Associate