Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Heller Lab
Laboratory of Neuroepigenetics

Team


CURRENT

Elizabeth A Heller, PhD

Elizabeth A Heller, PhD
Principal Investigator
 eheller@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Dr. Heller's CV

Liz received her PhD in molecular biology from The Rockefeller University under the mentorship of Dr. Nathaniel Heintz. She then studied the epigenetics of drug addiction and depression at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Nestler. In 2016 she returned to her undergraduate alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania, as an Assistant Professor. Although Liz is a native New Yorker, she is thrilled to settle down in Philadelphia with her husband, Adriel, and son, Elias.


Ajinkya S Sase

Ajinkya S Sase
Postdoctoral Fellow
 ajinkyasase@gmail.com

Ajinkya received his Masters of Science degree, in microbiology from India in 2007. He then shifted his academic focus towards neuroscience and began his Ph.D. work in neuroproteomics at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Ajinkya has expertise in rodent behavioral paradigms and protein biochemistry. His thesis was focused on identifying the effect of novel Dopamine Transporter (DAT) inhibitors on cognitive performance and investigating related GPCR’s. Ajinkya was awarded his Ph.D. in 2015 and joined the Heller Lab in early-2016. His current research focuses on the epigenetic remodeling in the memory and addiction behavior. He enjoys hiking and swimming in his free time.


Qiwen Hu

Qiwen Hu
Postdoctoral Fellow
 huqiwen0313@gmail.com

Qiwen finished her PhD training in Bioinformatics at North Carolina State University where she worked on identifying translated regions in Arabidopsis genome using machine learning and statistical approaches. Before came to U.S., she received her M.S. in Biochemical and Molecular biology at Shanghai University. Her research interests are data mining, machine learning and computational biology. In her free time, Qiwen enjoys reading and hiking.


Songjun Xu

Songjun Xu
Postdoctoral Fellow
 songjunxu@gmail.com

Song received her Ph.D in Epigenetics from Drexel University under the mentorship of Dr. Felice Elefant. During her Ph.D, her work was focused on understanding nervous system development and function in the context of cognitive neuroscience. She is excited to continuing to pursue research on epigenetic-based mechanisms that contribute to the pathophysiology of neurophychiatric disease as a postdoctoral researcher. During her spare time, she enjoys strolling around the city, traveling and trying out new restaurants.


Marco Carpenter

Marco Carpenter
Graduate Student, Pharmacology
 marco.d.carpenter@gmail.com

Marco was raised in Littleton, CO and attended Clark University where he majored in Psychology/Biology. He has a particular interest in using engineered genetic tools to delineate the molecular underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disease. Outside of the lab he enjoys frolicking around the city, cooking and actively practices yoga.


Ann Fosnocht

Ann Fosnocht
Graduate Student

Anne grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia where her interest in science began as a young girl, playing with bugs and collecting rocks. She earned her undergraduate degree from Temple University where she double majored in Neuroscience and Spanish studies. Following graduation she worked as a Research Assistant in the Behavioral Neurophysiology Lab at Temple, which sparked her interest in addiction research and the neural mechanisms at the intersection of stress and drug taking. When she’s not in lab, you can find her doing all things Philly – running the Rocky steps, strolling the Italian Market, and eating ‘wooder’ ice.


Sonia Lombroso

Sonia Lombroso
Research Specialist
 lombroso@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Sonia was born and raised in Connecticut where she attended high school and later obtained her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University. She graduated with a double major in Biology and French studies. As an undergraduate she studied abroad in Paris, France where she learned a great deal about French culture, people, and cuisine (she even occasionally went to classes!) She hopes to advance in the field of neuroscience and is particularly interested in addiction research.


Kyle Czarnecki

Kyle Czarnecki
Research Specialist
 kyle.czarnecki@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Kyle Czarnecki was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. His youth was spent helping his father care for variety of animals on the small zoo in which they lived in. The close work with animals gave Kyle a keen interest in animals and how they behave. After a nine year stint working as a paramedic in St. Louis Kyle moved to North Carolina to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He graduated with a B.A. in biology in 2017. His research interests include mouse behavior, genetics and addictive phenotypes. When not in the lab he enjoys exploring the outdoors, cooking, reading and spending time with his wife and two wonderful children.


Brandon Santhumayor

Brandon Santhumayor
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 bsant@sas.upenn.edu

Brandon is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania studying biochemistry and bioethics, and has been with the Heller Lab since 2016. He is interested in both scientific and clinical research in molecular genetics and cell biology, as well as, research ethics. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, teaching swimming lessons, and kayaking.


Michelle White

Michelle White
Mouse Colony Technician
 miwhi@sas.upenn.edu

Michelle is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania studying Biology and Chemical Engineering as a student in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research. She has always loved the life sciences and has performed past research on oil spills at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. She grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and loves the water and marine biology. She especially enjoys swimming, surfing, biking, and playing the viola, and her favorite ice cream flavor is coconut. She finds epigenetics and the mechanisms of addictive behavior fascinating and has been with the Heller Lab since Fall 2018.


Carissa J Lim

Carissa J Lim
Graphic Designer
 carissaj.lim@gmail.com

Carissa studied Architecture and Integrated Product Design, a multidisciplinary graduate program in Engineering, Design, and Business, at the University of Pennsylvania. Carissa was born in Torrance, California and is pursuing a career in healthcare design and innovation. In her spare time, she loves studying historic buildings, spending time outdoors, and trying foods around the world.


ALUMNI

Emmie Gocke
Undergraduate Husbandry Tech
September 2017 — May 2018

Tayla S Kramer
Undergraduate Student
June 2017 — August 2017
Current: Biomedical graduate fellow, MIT

Jason Y Li
Undergraduate Student
June 2017 — October 2017

John Maurer
Graduate Rotation Student
January 2018 — March 2018

Natalia A Quijano Carde
Graduate Rotation Student
March 2016 — May 2016
Current: University of Pennsylvania Graduate Student, Mentor: Mariella de Biasi

Jessica E Schwarz
Graduate Rotation Student
September 2017 — December 2017