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Current Faculty Research Mentors

  • Vice Provost for Research and William Ziegler III Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science; Vice Provost for Research, Office of the Provost

    Research Interests
    • Brain
    • Cerebral Cortex
    • Child Development
    • Nervous System
    • Synaptic Transmission
    • Neuronal Plasticity
    • Neurosciences
    • Visual Cortex

    Michael C. Crair is the William Ziegler III Professor in the Department of Neuroscience, Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Science and Deputy Dean for Scientific Affairs (Basic Science Departments). Dr. Crair obtained his doctoral degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and did postdoctoral training in physics and neuroscience at Kyoto University and Kyoto Prefectural Medical School in Japan and in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco. He was a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas before coming to Yale as a member of the Department of Neuroscience in 2007. He has directed Yale’s Vision Core Program, the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and was Deputy Chair of the Department of Neuroscience until 2017, when he became Deputy Dean for Scientific Affairs (Basic Science Departments) at the School of Medicine.

    Dr. Crair maintains an active research program that develops and employs advanced imaging techniques to examine the basic mechanisms that mediate brain circuit development. He has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of neural activity in the developing brain, for instance by demonstrating that early spontaneous neuronal activity is an essential part of normal brain development. He is currently exploring the mechanisms by which this activity is generated and how it shapes brain circuit development. He has been awarded numerous honors for his research and teaching, including the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Foundation Fellowship Award in the Neurosciences, the Marc Dresden Excellence in Graduate Education Award, and a NARSAD-Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation Young Investigator Award. He has also been named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, a John Merck Fund Scholar and the March of Dimes Foundation's Basil O'Connor Fellow. 

  • Associate Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine) and of Microbial Pathogenesis; Director, Center for Pulmonary Infection Research and Treatment (CPIRT)

    Research Interests
    • Respiratory Tract Infections
    • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive
    Clinical Interests
    • Bronchiectasis
    • Lung Diseases, Obstructive
    • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria

    Dr. Dela Cruz completed his research training through an MD/PhD program in the area of immunology and virology from University of Toronto and Yale. Clinically, he is trained in internal medicine, and specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine and is currently an Associate Professor at Yale University in the same department. He is also the founding director for the Center for Pulmonary Infection Research and Treatment (CPIRT). His laboratory is interested in studying the role of respiratory infection in the pathogenesis of acute and chronic lung diseases. Specifically, his work focuses on how lung infection contribute to inflammation, injury and tissue repair in the lung. This has allowed the lab to carefully study the molecular and cellular responses of several novel mediators in the lung.

    His laboratory focuses on two main research programs. (1) Studying novel immune regulators in the lung during respiratory infections. (2) Studying the effects of cigarette smoke (CS) exposure in the pathogenesis of airway and lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) using preclinical genetic mouse models and human biosamples. The goal of the lab is also to be able to confirm and translate the findings using biospecimens from the established and establishing cohort of human patients with various lung diseases.

    COPD is a composite entity that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a leading cause of death in the world, and is a disease that is in need of new treatments. One of the goal of our laboratory is to investigate the interaction between CS and respiratory virus infection in the pathogenesis of COPD and identify novel therapeutic targets for this respiratory disease. It has been long thought that the frequent respiratory infections in COPD patients are due to their depressed immune function. Our studies have revealed that CS-exposed hosts have an over-exaggerated immune reaction to viral infections. Frequent acute COPD exacerbations correlate with increased rate of disease progression and more loss of lung function in COPD especially if it is due to viral infections. Our studies have shown that CS exposure has an impressive ability to regulate the innate immunity in the lung after influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. CS enhances the inflammation, alveolar destruction and airway fibrosis caused by influenza virus and RSV. These effects are mediated by type I interferon and RIG-like helicase antiviral innate immune pathway. CS exposure also results in the induction of interleukin-15 in the setting of these respiratory infections. We hypothesize that these novel mechanistic pathways may explain the heightened inflammatory response and worsening lung functions in COPD patients with multiple virally-induced exacerbations, and the chronic lung inflammation seen in stable COPD patients. We have also translated our findings by studying these immune mediators in patients infected with various respiratory viruses and have thus far collected >300 human biosamples.
    YCCI Scholar 2011

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Molecular Imaging Program, NCPTSD, VA; Director, Mood, Anxiety, and Cognitive Sciences Division

    Research Interests
    • Psychiatry
    • Radiology
    • Tobacco
    • Mood Disorders
    • Molecular Imaging
    • Chemicals and Drugs
    Clinical Interests
    • Adult

    Irina Esterlis is a clinical neuropsychologist and neuroreceptor imager with extensive training in the application of SPECT and PET to the study of mental illness and comorbid disorders. Dr. Esterlis has developed two novel paradigms to interrogate both the acetylcholine and glutamatergic systems in vivo in human, and these are being currently applied to the study of mood and addiction disorders. She has received awards from Society of Nuclear Medicine, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Esterlis' current work includes the study of the metabotropic glutamatergic receptor involvement in bipolar depression and suicide, as well as the effects of depression on synaptic aging. Dr. Esterlis is also initiating new work in the study of neurotransmitter alterations in adolescent depression and suicidality.  

  • Associate Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

    Research Interests
    • Biochemistry
    • Gene Expression Regulation
    • Molecular Biology
    • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
    • Protein Biosynthesis
    • Genomics
    • Transcriptome

    Wendy Gilbert is an Associate Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Her work focuses on regulatory elements in messenger RNA that control the cellular expression of the information stored in the genetic code. She earned her PhD at UCSF with Christine Guthrie, studying mRNA export and being fascinated by the exquisite mechanisms that couple export-competence to completion of RNA processing. As a postdoc in Jennifer Doudna’s lab at UC Berkeley, she uncovered a non-canonical mechanism of translation initiation. She started her lab at MIT in 2008 and joined the faculty at Yale in 2017. Her lab’s current work ranges widely across RNA biology with the unifying theme of elucidating the molecular mechanisms of RNA regulatory elements controlling mRNA biogenesis, translation and decay. Most recently, this has been in the area of RNA base modification. She was recognized with the RNA Society’s Early Career Award in 2017 for her “paradigm-altering contributions to the field of post-transcriptional gene regulation.” 

  • Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

    Research Interests
    • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
    • Neurons
    • RNA
    • Motor Neuron Disease
    • RNA-Binding Proteins
    • Computational Biology
    • Neurodegenerative Diseases
    • Genomics
    • RNA Transport
    • Frontotemporal Dementia
    • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing

    A native of Guangzhou, China, Junjie Guo received his B.A. in Biology from Peking University (Beijing). He completed his Ph.D. thesis in the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, working with Hongjun Song on neuronal DNA methylation in the adult brain. During his postdoctoral training in David Bartel's laboratory at the Whitehead Institute/MIT,  Guo developed a series of high-throughput computational and experimental methods to investigate circular RNAs and intracellular RNA folding. He joined the Department of Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine in Fall 2017. 

    The Guo lab is broadly interested in questions at the intersection of RNA biology and neuroscience, with an emphasis on developing and applying new tools to investigate RNA-based gene regulatory mechanisms in the nervous system. Research in the lab aims to understand how these mechanisms may be specialized in the nervous system as well as their roles in neurological diseases.

  • Assistant Professor

    Research Interests
    • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
    • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung
    • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer
    • Immunotherapy
    • Oncogenes
    • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic
    • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
    • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory
    • Tumor Microenvironment

    My laboratory uses intricate tumor models and advanced approaches to investigate immune cell interactions with developing tumors. My goal is to determine mechanistically why these interactions do not lead to more potent anti-tumor responses and to identify entry points for modulating these interactions through genetic manipulation and therapeutic intervention. My previous studies have focused on using established complex mouse models to investigate how subtypes of T cells in the tumor microenvironment impact tumor development. My laboratory will combine advanced genetic modeling of mice and immunologic techniques to address fundamental questions in tumor immunology.

  • Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry

    Clinical Interests
    • Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms
    • Child Development
    • Human Development
    • Psychiatry and Psychology

    Dr. Kaffman is a physician scientist who is working as a psychiatrist at the Newington VA treating large number of veterans mainly with PTSD. He also has a basic neuroscience lab at Yale studying the effects of early life stress on neurodevelopment and complex behavior in the mouse. His lab is focusing on the role that microglia, which are specialized brain immune cells, play in altering connectivity and behavior in mice exposed to different doses of postnatal stress. The goal of this translational work is to clarify how early adversity alters neurodevelopment of circuits that regulate psychiatrically relevant behaviors and to use this information for the development of novel diagnostic and treatment modalities. Dr. Kaffman did his M.D, Ph.D. training at UCSF. He did his Ph.D. with Dr. Erin O’Shea’s studying how yeast cells (i.e. Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are able to rapidly phosphorylate and eject the transcriptional regulator Pho4 from the nucleus under environmental conditions in which it was no longer necessary. He  then completed a residency in psychiatry and received a career award providing him with additional training in neurodevelopment, genomic/proteomic work, and neuroimmunology. Dr. Kaffman has been the PI on several NIH funded grants that combine molecular/cellular, genomic, pharmacological, and behavioral traditional neuroscience approaches with human imaging techniques such resting state fMRI and high resolution dMRI.

  • Associate Professor of Cell Biology and of Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology; Co-Leader, Radiobiology and Radiotherapy, Yale Cancer Center

    Research Interests
    • Cell Nucleus
    • Cell Biology
    • DNA Repair
    • Microtubules
    • Nuclear Envelope
    • Telomere

    Megan received her B.A. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University working with Dr. Susan Lowey and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania working with Dr. Mark Lemmon. During her postdoctoral training with Dr. Günter Blobel at Rockefeller University, she discovered new mechanisms for the targeting and function of integral inner nuclear membrane proteins. Since founding her own group in 2009, Megan has continued to investigate the broad array of biological functions that are integrated at the nuclear envelope, from impacts on DNA repair to nuclear and cellular mechanics. Megan was named a Searle Scholar in 2011, is a recipient of the NIH New Innovator Award and is currently an Allen Distinguished Investigator.

  • David A. Sackler Professor of Pharmacology; Associate Cancer Center Director, Basic Science; Co-director, Cancer Biology Institute

    Research Interests
    • ErbB Receptors

    Mark Lemmon, PhD was appointed the Co-Director of the Cancer Biology Institute and the David A. Sackler Professor of Pharmacology in 2015. Dr. Lemmon returns to Yale, where he completed his PhD in 1993, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. At UPenn, he was the George W. Raiziss Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics as well as Chair of the department and an Investigator at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Lemmon’s research focuses on the signaling pathways of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), which, when mutated cause cancers and other diseases.

  • Assistant Professor of Immunobiology

    Research Interests
    • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes
    • Immunoproliferative Disorders
    • Inflammation
    • T-Lymphocytes
    • Signal Transduction
    • Hereditary Autoinflammatory Diseases

    Dr. Carrie L. Lucas received her PhD from Harvard Medical School and her postdoctoral training from the National Institutes of Health, NIAID. Her laboratory discovers single-gene defects underlying severe immune disorders in humans and investigates mechanisms using patient cells and genetically engineered mouse models. A major focus of her work has been on phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling and mechanisms of disease in immunodeficient patients with mutations in PI3K subunits.

  • Associate Professor of Cell Biology

    Research Interests
    • Nuclear Envelope
    • Nuclear Pore
    • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins

    Dr. Lusk has a long standing interest in fundamental cellular mechanisms of compartmentalization with an emphasis on those that govern the biogenesis of the nuclear envelope and nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). He has been studying the nuclear envelope and nuclear transport since his graduate work at the University of Alberta in Canada and has been trained during his postdoctoral fellowship by Günter Blobel at The Rockefeller University. During this time, he (with collaborators/colleagues) has provided substantial insight into how nuclear transport is regulated and how the NPC is assembled. Moreover, he has helped to develop yeast as a model to study integral membrane proteins that reside at the inner nuclear membrane. While it is generally understood that these proteins are essential factors in gene regulation and genome organization, which is reflected by the discovery of the “nuclear envelopathies”, they remain challenging to study. Dr. Lusk is leveraging his expertise in yeast cell biology and genetics with super-resolution and proteomic approaches to illuminate function at the nuclear periphery.

  • Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and of Cell Biology; Director of Graduate Studies, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Director, Yale Center for RNA Science and Medicine

    Research Interests
    • Biochemistry
    • Biophysics
    • Cell Nucleus
    • Cell Biology
    • Molecular Biology
    • RNA Splicing
    • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
    • Schizosaccharomyces
    • Transcription, Genetic
    • Zebrafish
    • Alternative Splicing
    • Genomics
    • Nuclear Cap-Binding Protein Complex
    • 2001 – 2013 Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany
    • 1999-2001 Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA
    • 1998-1999 Staff Scientist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle WA
    • 1996-1997 Postdoc at EMBL in Heidelberg Germany
    • 1991-1996 Postdoc at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle WA
  • Charles B. G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry and Professor in the Child Study Center, of Neuroscience and of Pharmacology; Interim Director Division of Molecular Psychiatry, Psychiatry; Deputy Chair for Basic Science Research, Dept. of Psychiatry; Deputy Director, Kavli Institute for Neuroscience; Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Training Program, Yale Department of Psychiatry

    Research Interests
    • Acetylcholine
    • Alcohol Drinking
    • Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms
    • Mental Disorders
    • Nervous System Diseases
    • Neurobiology
    • Neurosciences
    • Nicotine
    • Pharmacology
    • Stress, Psychological
    • Opiate Alkaloids

    Dr. Picciotto joined the Yale faculty in 1995, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Jean-Pierre Changeux in the Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. She earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Neurobiology at The Rockefeller University in New York City in 1992, where she worked in the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience under Paul Greengard. She received a B.S. degree in biological sciences from Stanford University, Stanford, California, in 1985.

    Dr. Picciotto is currently Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Neuroscience. She served on the Scientific Council of the National Institute on Drug Abuse from 2010-2014, was Treasurer of the Society for Neuroscience from 2014-2015, and President of the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco from 2018-2019. She has been a Handling Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience, the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, the Journal of Neurochemistry and Neuroscience Letters. She is currently Chair of the MNPS NIH Study Section and is a past member of the Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior. In 2000 she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering by President Clinton and in 2007, she was honored with the Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award for Innovative Research in Drug Addiction and Alcoholism by the Society for Neuroscience. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2012 and as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014, where she was Chair of the Neuroscience Section from 2018-2019. In 2019, Dr. Picciotto was awarded the Bernice Grafstein Mentorship award from the Society for Neuroscience, the Marion Spencer Fay Award from Drexel University and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for Innovative Research.

  • Assistant Professor of Immunobiology

    Research Interests
    • Immune System
    • Neoplasms
    • Systems Biology
    • Drug Discovery
    • Immunomodulation

    Aaron Ring received his undergraduate training at Yale University and entered the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program for his MD and PhD degrees. At Stanford, he worked in the laboratories of K. Christopher Garcia and Irving Weissman to use structure-based protein engineering to develop new cytokine and immune checkpoint therapies for cancer. Aaron joined the faculty of the Yale Department of Immunobiology in 2016 as the Robert T. McCluskey Yale Scholar. The focus of his research is to understand and manipulate the activity of immune receptors using precision immunopharmacology and systems immunology.

  • Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis and of Immunobiology and Director of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS); Vice-Chair, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis

    Research Interests
    • Bacteria
    • Immune System
    • Macrophages
    • Protozoan Proteins
    • Legionella pneumophila
    • Coxiella burnetii
    • Vesicular Transport Proteins

    Craig Roy received his B.S. from Michigan State University in 1985 and earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University in 1991 in the laboratory of Dr. Stanley Falkow. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Ralph Isberg in the Department of Molecular Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine in 1996, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook University. Dr. Roy became a founding member of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis at Yale University in 1998 and serves as Vice-Chair. He currently holds the title of Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunobiology. Research in the Roy laboratory focuses on the host-pathogen interface. Using multi-disciplinary approaches his laboratory has discovered many novel mechanisms that intracellular pathogens use to modulate host membrane transport pathways, which allow these pathogens to evade cell autonomous defenses and create novel organelles that permit bacterial replication.

  • Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Chair of Immunobiology

    Research Interests
    • Antibody Diversity
    • Antibody Formation
    • Biological Evolution
    • Genes, Immunoglobulin
    • Leukemia, Lymphoid
    • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin
    • Molecular Biology
    • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte
    • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte
    • Developmental Biology
    • Somatic Hypermutation, Immunoglobulin

    Dr. Schatz has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms that assemble and diversify antigen receptor genes that encode antibodies and T cell receptors.  He is best known for the discovery of RAG1 and RAG2, subsequent biochemical insights into RAG function and evolutionary origins, and the discovery of two distinct levels of regulation of somatic hypermutation.

    Schatz has co-authored over 170 articles, many in prestigious journals, and has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Rhodes Scholarship, the Snow Prize (Yale University's top award to a graduating senior), the National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellows Award, the American Association of Immunologists-BD Biosciences Investigator Award, and election to the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine. He has been active as an editor and reviewer, serving as Co-Editor of the journal Immunity, as a member of the editorial board of a number of journals, and as a member and Chair of the NIH study section Cellular and Molecular Immunology-A.  Schatz has also been very interested in graduate education, serving for many years as the Director of Graduate Studies and Graduate Admissions for Immunobiology and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Program.  He remains strongly committed to enhancing predoctoral and postdoctoral training programs in his current role as Chair of the Department of Immunobiology.

    Schatz received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 1980, and a M.A. degree in Philosophy and Politics from Oxford University in 1982. His Ph.D. degree (1990) and postdoctoral training were done with Dr. David Baltimore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Additional Mentors can be found at