Spring 2017

Biographies below

Stephen Alkins
Brandeis

Ester Caffarel-Salvador, PhD
MIT

Di Feng, PhD
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital

Scott Greenwald, PhD
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Jordan Lewandowski, PhD
Harvard University

Cristina Lois, PhD
MIT

Berta Marti Fuster, PhD
MIT

Fall 2016

Biographies below

Di Feng, PhD
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital

Scott Greenwald, PhD
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Cristina Lois, PhD
MIT

Berta Marti Fuster, PhD
MIT

Spring 2016

Biographies below

Natasha Arora, PhD
MIT

Reza Azizian, PhD
MIT

Cristina Lois, PhD
MIT

Berta Marti Fuster, PhD
MIT


Stephen D. Alkins

Doctoral candidate at Brandeis University

Stephen D. Alkins is a doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience Program with a concentration in Quantitative Biology at Brandeis University, and a 2016 Neuroscience Scholar Program Fellow through the Society for Neuroscience. He holds a Master of Science in Neuroscience from Brandeis University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Morehouse College. His research focuses on synaptic plasticity and neurodevelopment in Drosophila. Specifically, he investigates cellular and electrophysiological activity at the neuromuscular junction, which will build our knowledge of essential mechanisms required for synapse development, and the pathophysiological changes that result in such neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Epilepsy. Stephen is also a student leader, serving three years as President of the Brandeis Graduate Student Association, and on multiple university committees including (i) Provost’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee, (ii) Strategic Planning Committee, (iii) Task Force on Sustainability, (iv) Title IX Bystander Training Task Force, and more. Outside of his doctoral studies he serves as Director of Public Relations for the Greater Boston Morehouse College Alumni Association, an SAT/ACT academic tutor, and a Boston-Branch NAACP ACT-SO coordinator and mentor.   He also works as a S.T.E.A.M. coordinator, and learning specialist at Mass Bay Community College, where he connects students to biotechnology internships and 4-year academic programs. Socially he has participated and competed as a spoken-word poet, and conducts numerous writing and performance workshops around the New England area. Finally, Stephen will infuse his passion for science and art to leverage a career in political policy to bridge gaps between academic institutions and government, influence resource funding and applications for scientific research and education, and champion diversity within the sciences.
Natasha Arora, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Bio to come

Reza Azizian, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Bio to come

Ester Caffarel-Salvador, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate at MIT

Ester Caffarel-Salvador received her Ph.D. in Pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast in 2014. Her research focused on the development of hydrogel-forming microneedles for transdermal therapeutic drug monitoring as an alternative to blood extraction. After completing her Ph.D., Ester collaborated with world leading pharmaceutical companies (L’ÓREAL, Lohmann Therapy Systems) in developing microneedles for transdermal drug delivery. Ester is currently a postdoctoral associate at the laboratory of Prof. Robert Langer at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. She is coordinating a project funded by Novo Nordisk which focuses on the development of drug delivery devices for the administration of peptides.
Di Feng, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC)

Di Feng developed an interest in studying hypertension and kidney disease during college. She received her BS in Pharmaceutical Science from Peking University and Ph.D. in Physiology from Medical College of Wisconsin under the mentorship of Dr. Allen Cowley. During her graduate school, she used animal models to identify a new gene contributing to salt-sensitive hypertension as a result of kidney dysfunction. She is now furthering her training as a post doctoral fellow in Dr. Martin Pollak’s lab by studying the signaling and regulatory pathways of ACTN4, a cytoskeleton protein that is associated with chronic kidney disease in humans. Her ultimate goal is to identify targets and develop novel therapies for patients with hypertension and kidney disease.
Scott Greenwald
Scott Greenwald, PhD

Research Fellow at Massachusetts Eye and Eye Infirmary

Dr. Scott Greenwald is a research fellow in the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Ocular Genomics Institute at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He is currently developing a gene therapy for treating the NMNAT1 form of Leber Congenital Amaurosis, an inherited disease that causes irreversible blindness in young children, and investigating the cellular mechanisms underlying this condition. Scott graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in the biological basis of behavior before joining Second Sight Medical Products to research the perceptual effects of artificial retinal stimulation in patients with advanced retinitis pigmentosa. He then went on to study cone photoreceptor dysfunction associated with inherited retinal diseases at the University of Washington where he earned a PhD in neurobiology.
Cristina Lois Gomez
Jordan Lewandowski, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University

Jordan Lewandowski is a developmental biologist who is interested in understanding how regions of the genome that are devoid of protein-coding genes can contribute to human development and disease. The goal of his research is to better understand how our non-coding genome contributes to the etiology of human disease and to provide opportunities for better therapies and/or disease prevention. He is currently a NIH postdoctoral fellow in Dr. John Rinn’s lab at Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, where Jordan has already established several new models to study the effects of the noncoding genome. Prior to joining the Rinn lab, Jordan earned his PhD in Dr. Steven Vokes’ lab at the University of Texas at Austin where his dissertation researched focused on determining how the noncoding genome contributes to congenital limb malformations.
Cristina Lois Gomez
Cristina Lois Gomez, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cristina Lois holds an undergraduate degree in Physics and a PhD in Particle Physics from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The focus of her thesis was on detector development and instrumentation for the LHCb experiment at CERN.

After completing her PhD she was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Molecular Imaging and Translational Research Program at the University Of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, USA, within Prof. David Townsend’s group. During that time, she worked on PET/CT imaging, being responsible for the evaluation of a prototype Time-of-Flight (TOF)-PET/CT scanner in collaboration with Siemens. Together, they demonstrated for first time in a large patient population how TOF improves PET image quality and diagnostic accuracy.

In 2008, she earned a postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the University of Santiago de Compostela in collaboration with the Nuclear Medicine Department. There she worked on PET quantification, PET & SPECT instrumentation, as well as teaching courses for undergraduate and Master’s students. In 2009, she was awarded a public grant to build a preclinical SPECT system based on a clinical gamma camera. In 2011 she spent a semester as visiting scientist at the Imaging Science Institute Tübingen, Germany, working on PET/CT and PET/MR imaging, including topics like analysis of the effect of MR contrast agents on PET quantification, protocol optimization or dose reduction, among others.

Berta Marti Fuster
Berta Marti Fuster, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Berta Martí Fuster is a biomedical imaging researcher from Spain. She holds a bachelor’s of science in physics, and a master’s of science in biomedical engineering from the University of Barcelona. Berta earned a PhD in biomedical engineering from the same university in 2013. Her doctoral work was fully funded by a fellowship from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). Her thesis, “Image processing of emission tomography studies in refractory epilepsy,” aimed to develop and assess FocusDET, a new clinical platform for pre-surgical evaluation of emission tomography studies in refractory epilepsy.

From 2008-2009, Berta was a research technician for the Virtual Physiological Human Toolkit Project at the Biomedical Imaging Group at CIBER-BBN, the Biomedical Research Networking center in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine.

Berta hopes that her work as a research scientist will contribute to the strengthening of Madrid’s position as a center of biomedical research. She also looks forward to learning from and working with global leaders in the biomedical sector, and to working to address unmet clinical needs.