Ellerby Lab Members

Lisa Ellerby
Associate Professor

Mahru An
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Mahru came to the Buck Institute with a broad background in cellular and molecular biology, having studied HIV and influenza viruses at the University of Washington before moving to UC San Diego where he received a Ph.D. for work studying molecular mechanisms governing synapse development in mice. In joining Dr. Ellerby’s lab at the Buck, he seeks to apply his experience in these fields towards a better understanding of therapeutic approaches to Huntington’s Disease. One primary approach applies ongoing advances in stem cell biology to develop patient-specific pluripotent cells as a tool for studying the mechanisms of Huntington’s Disease pathology, as well as a potential avenue for cell replacement therapeutics in neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Disease.

Barbara Bailus
Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Robert O'Brien
Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Robert O'Brien received his BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Vermont, where his undergraduate research training focused on forward and reverse genetic techniques to study the symbiotic relationship between legumes and the soil bacterium Rhizobium. He received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego, where he used mass spectrometry to study post-translational regulation of proteins in embryonic stem cells.

His work in the Ellerby Lab focuses on understanding the role that post-translational modifications of the protein that causes Huntington's Disease (huntingtin) play in the toxicity of the protein. Specifically, examining interactions of caspase cleavage products of huntingtin in mouse models of HD and the role of acetylation in the turnover of huntingtin in cell culture-based models of the disease.

Karen Ring
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Karen Ring received her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. Yadong Huang. Her thesis research identified a novel way to directly reprogram mouse and human fibroblasts into induced neural stem cells. As a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Lisa Ellerby's lab, Karen continues her passion for regenerative medicine and neuroscience by studying molecular mechanisms behind Huntington's disease (HD) using human induced pluripotent stem cell lines derived from HD patients. More specifically, Karen is interested in developing techniques to efficiently generate different types of neurons and other brain cells that are affected in Huntington's disease.

Ningzhe Zhang
Staff Scientist

Ningzhe received a Ph.D. degree from University of Rochester where he studied function and development of glial cells and their progenitors in rodent central nervous systems. After joining Dr. Ellerby’s lab at Buck in 2008, he continued the study in neuroscience with a focus on the neurodegenerative disease: Huntington’s disease (HD). He is using multiple systems, including animal models and cell models, to uncover disease mechanisms and to search for potential therapies for HD. One important part is to utilize human induced pluripotent stem cells to model the disease, make genetic correction and eventually replace cells lost in HD.

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