Using genetic diversity to understand cardiac health
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
NATHAN TUCKER, PHD
Nate is a native Upstate New Yorker with a BS in Biology from Syracuse University and PhD in Cell Biology and Genetics from Washington State University. He completed postdoctoral training on the genetic basis for cardiovascular disease risk at Massachusetts General Hospital and The Broad Institute where he was promoted to Instructor in 2017. After far too many years in Boston, he moved his group to the MMRI in March of 2020.
Nate loves all things related to the outdoors, with a special focus on fishing and gardening. He does tend to waste some time watching the New York Giants and reading up on whatever historical era he is currently fixated on (currently revisiting his love of Classical Greece). He aims to keep lab spirits high through regular recitations of Nietzsche quotations.
MAYURI DESAI, MS, NY CLT
Mayuri comes to the lab from Ahmedabad, India, where she received a BS and MS in Microbiology from Sardar Patel University. In 2002, she joined the MMRI, and has since focused on the genetic basis of inherited arrhythmias and genetic testing within our clinical laboratory. She is our CRISPR-editing champion and our resident stem cell expert, where she differentiates both ES and patient derived stem cells into cardiomyocytes for functional assessment of genetic variation.
Importantly, she keeps the lab apprised of the apparently innumerable Indian festivals and holidays, which we do our best to celebrate.
MICHELLE HULKE, PHD
Associate Computational Biologist
A native of the Tri-Cities area in central Washington (or Warshington as all east of the Cascades are required to pronounce it), Michelle holds a BA in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College and a PhD in Genetics from Cornell University. Her doctoral work focused on DNA replication timing which afforded her the opportunity to develop expertise in both wet lab and computational biology. As part of the GDL, Michelle leads computational efforts on single cell epigenomic and transcriptomic studies, as well as being sidetracked into odd side projects that we pilot from time to time.
Michelle enjoys exploring all that the Mohawk Valley has to offer although she refuses to venture into the Adirondacks for reasons unknown. She loves tabletop and PC gaming, and CrossFit (don't worry, she'll tell you all about it).
Summer Research Fellow
Meghan is a summer research fellow in the lab, as part of a 10-week intensive training program to give hands-on laboratory experience to aspiring clinicians and scientists. Originally hailing from Hinckley, NY, Meghan is a third year Biomedical Sciences major at the Rochester Institute of Technology. This summer, she'll be focusing on variant to function work in the population genetics sphere, helping to prioritize some non-canonical therapeutic targets for arrhythmias (Not ion channels). Long term, Meghan is hopeful to go on to medical school with a particular interest in endocrinology.
When not at university or in the lab or in the gym, Meghan likes to take advantage of her home's proximity to the Adirondack Park, where opportunities for hiking, fishing, and kayaking abound.
Summer Research Fellow
Alex is from New Hartford, NY and is a current Summer Fellow in the lab, working towards his B.S. in Biology at Lehigh University. Looking for an in depth research opportunity in genetics he is participating in the 10 week intensive fellowship program. During his time here in the lab, he will be researching the molecular genetics behind influential protein variants in cardiovascular muscle as well as mastering some CRISPR-mediated genomic editing techniques. His future career plans include research, either in industry or academia, with a mid-term goal of joining PhD program with a focus on molecular genetics.
In his off time, Alex enjoys the outdoors where he can often be found fishing, boating, and golfing. Also an avid hiker, he is also working towards his goal of climbing all 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks.
EMILY MARSHALL, BS
After completing our summer fellow program in 2022, Emily returned as a research associate in the lab! She is originally from Oneida, New York and received her BS in Biochemistry at the University at Albany in 2023! Emily hopes to continue in research science after graduation and is working in our lab to hone her molecular biology skills for large scale mutational screens and genome editing. She recently accepted a position in the Ph.D. program at the University of Rochester where we have no doubt that she will excel.
In addition to solving the genomic riddles of cardiovascular disease, Emily loves being involved with sports, particularly tennis. She also loves skiing, hiking, and her preposterously yellow Jeep with an appropriately preposterous spare tire cover.
RYAN PFEIFFER, BS, NY CLT
Senior Research Associate
Hailing from Boonville, NY, Ryan received his BS in Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2003 and soon thereafter joined the MMRI as a Research Associate. As part of the GDL, Ryan spearheads clinical laboratory operations and pursues research on the molecular basis of inherited cardiac arrhythmias. Have an essentially invisible piece of tissue that needs to be single cell sequenced? Ryan is your guy.
When not at work, you'll find Ryan enjoying the outdoors on his boat or snowmobile. Also our resident space expert, Ryan is tasked with keeping track of astronomical events, notable rocket launches, and advances in Starlink internet access in the North Country (update as of 2023: it works quite well).
GIANNA SISTI, BS
Gianna is back! This time returning to the lab as a research assistant after completing our summer fellow program in 2022. She recently received her BS in Integrative Neuroscience from Binghamton University and will ultimately attend graduate school to fulfil her dream of becoming a genetic counselor specializing in reproductive genetics.
She is originally from Marcy, New York. When not examining sequencing results and pedigrees, she enjoys hiking, birding, cooking and painting.
We are actively recruiting Postdoctoral Fellows and Staff Scientists for our laboratory. Have an interest in challenging molecular data? Large-scale screening of variant function? Unique models of cardiovascular physiology? Want to live in a place where you can comfortably own a house on a postdoc salary? Please follow the link to see open positions.
MICHAEL MCLELLAN, PHD
Mike worked with Nate as a Research Assistant during his time at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he published a first author publication on a genetic variant for restrictive cardiomyopathy. He went on to graduate school at Tufts University based at Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor, Maine, where he obtained his PhD in 2020.
VICTORIA PARSONS, BA
Tori worked as a Research Assistant with Nate at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, where she was absolutely instrumental in large scale variant screening efforts and the implementation of single cell RNA sequencing on cardiac tissues. In 2018, she made the jump back to grad school, where she is pursuing her PhD in Genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the lab of Dr. Karen Mohlke.
Summer Research Fellow
Hannah was a summer intern with the GDL@MMRI in the summer of 2022. She worked on comprehensive characterization of putative congenital cardiomyopathy variants, with a focus on single ventricle disorders. She's currently applying for graduate schools to continue down the biomedical research path. Stay tuned!