Meet the Team
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 (cities... no thanks), 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 (especially of the ice variety) 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.
Robert Gardner, PhD
Research Scientist I
Bob comes to the lab from Syracuse, NY with a BS in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and a PhD in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience from George Mason University. He completed postdoctoral work investigating the neural bases of cognitive aging at Syracuse University, and immune system modulation as a therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s disease at SUNY Upstate Medical University. In these positions, Bob identified select molecular correlates of aging and disease, gaining extensive experience in various wet lab techniques and transcriptomic data analysis.
When not in the lab, Bob is always looking for new spots to go camping, gets excited for the start of each baseball season, and will travel far and wide to see live music.
Michelle Lance, PhD
Associate Computational Biologist III
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).
Levi Legler, BS
Computational Associate I
Originally from Vernon, NY, Levi obtained a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology from SUNY Polytechnic Institute in 2020. He is also currently pursuing an MS in Data Science at Utica University and an MS in Biostatistics from the University of Louisville in his exorbitant amount of spare time (/s). As a budding scientist who desires to span the realms of both the wet and dry laboratories, Levi is focusing on our variant-to-mechanism projects with skills ranging from advanced CRISPR editing, cell modeling of cardiovascular function, and analysis of molecular screening approaches.
Some speculate that Levi came into being during a botched ritual meant to bring the Energizer bunny to this plane of existence. Therefore, when not obsessing over his newest lab project or university classes, you can find him training the next generation of mixed martial artists, developing his personal training business, or playing acoustic-punk music with his band. Much to Nate’s everlasting chagrin, he loves wearing sweatpants to work.
Ryan Pfeiffer, BS, NY CLT
Senior Research Associate I
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).
Former Lab Members
We measure our success not only by that in the lab, but also by what our former teammates go on to accomplish
Michael McLellan, PhD
Research Assistant 2014-2016
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. He's currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Boston University
Victoria Parsons, BA (soon to be PhD)
Research Assistant 2016-2018
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 2022
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!
Summer Research Fellow 2023
Meghan was 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 Biomedical Sciences major at the Rochester Institute of Technology. During her time in the lab, she focused 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.
Summer Research Fellow 2023
Alex is from New Hartford, NY and was a Summer Fellow in the lab while working towards his B.S. in Biology at Lehigh University. Looking for an in depth research opportunity in genetics he participated in the 10 week intensive fellowship program. During his time here in the lab, he researched 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.
Emily Marshall, BS
Summer Research Fellow -> Research Assistant (2021-2023)
After completing our summer fellow program in 2021, Emily returned as a research associate in the lab until 2023 She is originally from Oneida, New York and received her BS in Biochemistry at the University at Albany in 2023! Emily was our fearless experimentalist that tackled projects ranging from familial arrhythmia mechanisms, single cell sequencing, next generation gene editing, and setting the framework for high throughput functional screens. During her time here, she was also instrumental in coordinating the lab pub trivia team named "and in last place," a fitting moniker for their shameful performance.
She recently started a Ph.D. program in genetics at the University of Rochester where we have no doubt that she will excel.
Gianna Sisti, BS
Research Assistant (2022-2023)
Gianna returned 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. Gianna was our familial genetics expert. Over the years, the MMRI has enrolled a large number of families with genetic causes of cardiac disease, most of which are currently undefined. Gianna dove headfirst into examining and prioritizing these records for further research follow up and selected a subset of families that we are currently working on in the laboratory. Gianna also took the next steps to model these genetic mutations in the lab, employing gene editing technology that only came into existence in the past year or two.
We were thrilled to see Gianna secure a position in Clinical Genetics at Mt. Sinai in 2023. She has long term goals to attend graduate school to fulfil her dream of becoming a genetic counselor specializing in reproductive genetics.