Our Group

Principal Investigator



Naiara Akizu, PhD

Naiara Akizu, PhD

Naiara Akizu is a faculty member of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is member of the Neurosciences Graduate Group (NGG) and Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) graduate groups. 

In 2010, she received her PhD by the University of Barcelona for her studies on the role of epigenetic chromatin modifications in the nervous system development, a project that she developed in Dr. Marian Martinez-Balbas's laboratory under the comentorship of Dr. Elisa Marti. Motivated by her interest in neural development and neurological diseases, in December 2010 she joined Dr. Joseph Gleeson’s laboratory at the Univeristy of California, San Diego where she gained expertise in neurogenetics of pediatric diseases and modeling with pluripotent stem cells. She complemented her training by working with mouse models of neurological diseases under the co-mentorship of Dr. Ulrich Müller at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla. 

Research Assistants


Garrett Otrimski

I am interested in learning more about genetic determinants of disease through investigation of animal and cell models. Specifically, I am interested in finding connections between multiple diseases and genes to draw broader conclusions which will enhance our general understanding of genetic determination of neurological development. 

Fun: I enjoy reading, rock climbing, and corny jokes. 




Post Docs


Marco Flores

I am interested in protein synthesis, purine nucleotide metabolism and protein aggregations. My interest in these topics is determine if presence of aggregates called rods and rings are related with neurodegeneration. For this purpose, I am using neural progenitor cells (NPC) and mutant mice. Since protein aggregation is the centerpiece of many neurodegenerative diseases we consider that this approach has the potential for wide-ranging therapeutic impact.

Fun: Besides science, I enjoy dancing, exercising, traveling and cooking!

Contact: floresm1 [at] email.chop.edu



Yijing Zhou

I was trained as a developmental neuroscientist. My passion lies in using animal models to investigate the etiological mechanisms of human neuropsychiatric diseases. My current project focuses on understanding how SNX14 mutation leads to spinocerebellar ataxia. My longterm goal is to identify druggable targets of the diseases and contribute to the development of therapeutics.

Fun: I enjoy reading, watching movies and exploring different cultures.

Contact: zhouy3 [at] email.chop.edu



Come and JOIN US






Donna Yoo

I am interested in learning more about the function of SNX14 in cerebellar degeneration and intellectual disability. I aspire to be a Physician.

Fun: I enjoy dancing, listening to music, and eating food.

Contact: yoodo [at] sas.upenn.edu





Laura Ohl:  CAMB rotation student  06/18-08/30
Yohaniz Ortega Burgos:  SUIP student 06/18-07/18
Olivia Romera Rincon:  UFV undergrad student 01/18-07/18
Laura Ballentine: research assistant 01/17-05/18
Samantha Ratakonda: undergrad student 06/17-05/18
Susmita Roy: undergrad student 06/17-05/18
Keri Cronin: undergrad student 11/17-05/18
Melanie Schaffler: NGG rotation student 19/17-01/18
Satch Baker: highschool student 06/17-08/17
Katelyn Sweeney: CAMB rotation student 04/17-06/17
Akansha Kapoor: master student 02/17-05/17