Lab Culture

We define the success of our lab not only by the science we do but also how we choose to do it. We value a spirit of intelectual rigourcollegialitycollaborationmentoring, and good humor. We celebrate each others victories (no matter how small). We provide free access to all our work by uploading our manuscripts to biorxiv (see also our RNApreprints blog) and by depositing our datasets and reagents in appropriate databases.

Lab members

Joana Vidigal

Joana Vidigal

Stadtman tenure-track Investigator

I did my doctoral work at the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin where I gained extensive expertise in mammalian development and mouse genetics. Later on, as a postdoctoral researcher in the Ventura lab at MSKCC, I became well versed in cancer biology and the use of mouse models of human cancer to understand tumor initiation and progression. During this time I leveraged my knowledge of mammalian biology and my expertise in mouse genetics to stringently define the physiological roles of noncoding RNAs in animal development, homeostasis and disease. With the goal of accelerating the functional dissection of genes in mammals I also developed a number of tools to perform large-scale loss-of-function genetic screens. My ultimate goal is to build upon this work to understand how deregulation of RNA pathways affects mammal physiology and impacts human disease in order to have actionable knowledge that can be used to design better strategies for screening, prevention, and treatment of human diseases. Download my CV.

Selected Awards:

  • K22 Career Development Award (NIH)
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Award (MSKCC)
  • Lung Cancer Research Foundation Grant (LCRF)
  • Science and Technology Foundation Fellowship (FCT)
Srividya Chandrasekhar

Srividya Chandrasekhar

Postbac researcher

I graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. In pursuit of this degree, I gained significant knowledge of molecular and cell biology through rigorous coursework, complemented by independent research experiences at Gilead Sciences and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. My cumulative academic and research experiences have led me to develop an interest in the intersection between oncology and immunology. My goal is to pursue a PhD and ultimately a research career in either academia or industry focused on the development of therapeutic treatments for disease. I am excited to conduct biomedical research at the NIH and gain a solid research foundation in an environment where I can collaborate with both faculty and trainees and contribute to advancing the scientific community’s understanding of human health.

Selected Awards:

  • Dean’s High Honor List Spring 2015 – Fall 2017

  • Rensselaer Medal Award October 2014

Mahendra Prajapat

Mahendra Prajapat

Postdoctoral researcher

I am a computational biologist and my research ideas are primarily motivated by the ability of living cells to “tune in” with the environment maximizing benefits and survival chances. Since the dynamics and performance of cellular processes are mainly dictated by the information processing at gene regulatory networks, I believe in the potential to manipulate and design similar synthetic networks offering a wide range of solution to technical challenges in pharmaceutical, energy production, and chemical industries. My doctoral studies at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India were mainly focused on understanding how genetic circuits differ in structure, because of semi-independent evolutionary processes that have optimized their ability to perform specific, complex tasks. Using a multidisciplinary approach that uses theoretical and empirical methods, I modelled and engineered synthetic circuits, with the aim of enhancing their functionalities. Later, as a postdoctoral researcher at the Indian Institute of Science, I used models of T-cell signaling pathways and—in a close collaboration with experimental co-workers—worked towards not only understanding the reasons of treatment failures, but also towards devising improvements to the current treatment. Finally, at Tampere University of Technology, Finland, I focused on the modeling of live single-cell gene expression dynamics from single-RNA time-lapse data. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Vidigal lab I will  apply my extensive expertise in network modeling to understand the role of miRNAs in gene regulation and how their disruption impacts tissue homeostasis and contributes to disease. Check my Google Scholar.

Selected Awards:

  • Finnish Tekniikan Edistämissäätiön Grant (2017 – 2018)

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Indian Institute of Science, India (2016 – 2017)

  • Best Ph.D. Thesis Award (2016)
  • RG Manudhane Excellence in Research (2016)
  • Doctoral Fellowship, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India (2011-2016)
Alexendar Reinaldo Pérez

Alexendar Reinaldo Pérez

Postdoctoral researcher

I am a physician-scientist in the field of Anesthesiology. I did my undergraduate studies in Computational Biology, and my Ph.D in Bioinformatics with Drs. Andrea Ventura and Christina Leslie at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. My B.A., Ph.D, and M.D. are all from Cornell University. I am passionate about the intersection of software engineering and medicine and firmly believe non-coding RNAs are the dark matter of medicine. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Vidigal lab I will use my computational skills to develop tools for high-throughput functional CRISPR screens to the coding and non-coding genome, with the ultimate goal of one day being able to target the whole genome for clinical and therapeutic purposes. Check my Google Scholar.

Selected Awards:

  • Forbes 30 Under 30 Science 2018
  • Best Talk, Tri-Institutional MD-Ph.D Symposium 2015
  • Eagle Scout with Bronze, Gold, and Silver Palms (2005)
Laura Sala

Laura Sala

Postdoctoral researcher

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2012 from the University of Barcelona. I did my PhD in Biomedicine at the IMIM in Barcelona where I studied the molecular mechanisms that regulate the formation of a pro-metastatic tumor stroma in breast tumors. During my graduate studies I gained extensive expertise in cancer cell biology and in cancer mouse models. As a postdoc in the Vidigal lab my goal is to apply this knowledge to the field of noncoding RNAs to understand how they affect gene expression in vivo and ultimatly impact human health.

Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore

Postbac researcher

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in April 2018 with Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and with a minor in Chemistry. There, I became fascinated about how life functions on the cellular and molecular levels, and took a number of courses that focused on Cellular and Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Biochemistry. These courses sparked my interest in pursuing an academic research career. In pursuit of this goal, I joined a summer undergraduate research program at the University of Pittsburgh in the immunology department, where I applyed molecular biology techniques to the study of cancer. Ultimatly, I aim to earn a PhD and become a researcher in academia, as I am more interested in furthering knowledge freely than making a product. I am very excited to be given the opportunity to conduct research at the NIH, as this is the best place I feel to not only contribute to biological knowledge, but to also contribute to the potential to use this knowledge to help people.

Selected Awards:

  • Dr and Mrs Fred Campana Biology Research award Spring 2018

Former mentees at MSKCC

Alex R. Perez

Completing the clinical part of the Tri-Institutional MD/PhD program in NYC.

Worked with Joana during his PhD training. Alex’s PhD work was recognized by 2018’s Forbes 30 under 30 (check it out!).

Shalin Alfred

Undergrad at University of Albany, majorying in Computer sciences.

Worked with Joana for 9 months in 2016 as a visiting student.  External participant in the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) Summer Student Program.

Kristin Hsieh

Medical student at Columbia University.

Worked with Joana as an undergrad during the Summer of 2015. Kristin’s work in the lab was recognized with  the 2015 Rubin and Sarah Shaps Scholars Award by the SURP program of the Gerstner, Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (check it out!).