"Working at Genentech gives us a unique opportunity to apply our understanding of biology gained from simpler systems and observational studies to challenging clinical problems."
My career path has grown out of my interest in understanding human disease. I received my Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, where my thesis work focused on innate responses to HIV infection in the human thymus and used patient data to inform studies in simpler model systems. After receiving my Ph.D., I undertook postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School with the goal of mastering genetic deletion approaches to understanding disease biology. While at Harvard, I studied the role of PD-1:PD-L1 interactions in T cell tolerance and autoimmunity in mouse models.
I returned to patient-based disease biology research when I joined the Biomarker Discovery group at Genentech and I have found it extremely rewarding (and challenging!) to apply my training to pick apart human disease biology. In our group, we lead biomarker identification and work within clinical studies to evaluate disease biology. My lab has worked on biomarker discovery across several diseases at Genentech; currently, our primary focus is on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our goal is to discover and develop predictive biomarkers of patient subgroups in IBD as well as develop prognostic biomarkers of disease.
Our lab studies the mechanisms underlying IBD pathogenesis to identify biomarkers to define and follow patients most likely to respond to current and emerging therapies. IBD encompasses both ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD), which both share common features, including marked inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, microbial dysbiosis and associated genetic risk loci, but also have distinct features such as the anatomic distribution of inflammation. We are interested in epithelial barrier function, inflammatory T cells, and the microbiota as key drivers of IBD pathobiology.
We work closely with collaborators across the company and in academic labs to generate high quality clinical data and samples for biomarker discovery. Current work in the lab is focused on understanding intestinal epithelial regrowth and differentiation and interaction between the microbiota, epithelial cells and the immune system. Another long-standing interest in the lab is inflammatory T cells in the gut. We use in vitro model system, such as primary human organoids, to identify biomarkers and support clinical studies.