People

Rob Mitra

Rob Mitra

Professor

PI

Rob Mitra is the Alvin Goldfarb Professor of Computational Biology in the Department of Genetics and the Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis.  He received his BS, MS and PhD from MIT.  His current research interests are focused on understanding how transcription factors achieve their in vivo specificities, developing new genomic technologies, and applying these to understand disease processes.

Contact

Email: rmitra[at]wustl.edu


Tamara Abou-Antoun

Tamara Abou-Antoun

Staff Scientist

Lab Members

Tamara joined WashU in March 2021 as a senior scientist in the Rubin Lab where she works in collaboration with the Mitra lab to identify key transcription factors responsible for driving the sex-differences in pediatric brain tumor development and therapeutic response. In the Mitra lab, Tamara is utilizing the transposon calling-cards technology to map out genomic localization of key transcription factors that may be responsible for inducing the expression of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in a sex-bias manner. During her free time, Tamara enjoys the outdoors with her family and friends, hiking, biking, swimming, camping and canoeing.

Contact

Email: atamara[at]wustl.edu

Wesley Agee

Wesley Agee

Post-bac Student

Lab Members

Wesley received a Bachelors of Science from Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, MO. There he utilized Drosophila to study the effects of over-consumption of MSG. Studying circadian rhythms, neuroplasticity, and epigenetic variation over multiple generations of fruit flies. Currently, he is participating in a yearlong OGR post-bac program within the Mitra Lab while preparing to apply and enroll in a PhD program for the Fall of 2021. Wesley seeks to promote diversity in STEM, as a previous Ronald E. McNair and MOLSAMP scholar. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports, reading and running.

Contact

Email: wagee[at]wustl.edu

Xuhua Chen

Xuhua Chen

Research Scientist

Lab Members

Xuhua Chen got a B.S. in medicine from Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1990. She completed her master’s degree in bioscience at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Xuhua has worked in the Mitra lab since 2007. Her research foci include working on transposon “calling cards,” recording transcription factor biding events in yeast and mammalian cells, and inducing and reprograming gene activation in different stages of neural differentiation.

Contact

Email: xchen29[at]wustl.edu

Fengping Dong

Fengping Dong

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Lab Members

Fengping received his PhD from the Pennsylvania State University where he studied risk genes related to schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. He joined the Milbrandt and Mitra labs with interests of applying a series of functional genomics tools to understand neurodevelopmental diseases. Combining CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene regulation with next-generation sequencing, he aims to discover underlying molecular mechanisms of neurological diseases. His work will focus on understanding how risk genes contribute to intellectual and developmental disabilities using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Vincent Gillespie

Vincent Gillespie

Post-bac Student

Lab Members

Vincent Gillespie received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. There he utilized the model organism, Drosophila, to study how magnetism affects their circadian rhythm during an alternating light/dark cycle period. He also received a Master’s in Biological Sciences from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. There he researched telomere biology and how different transcription factors bind to the end of chromosomes. He continued his research at Washington University in the Batista’s lab, studying telomere disorders and DNA damage and repair mechanisms. He is currently enrolled in the OGR post-baccalaureate program to further develop his wet lab skills while preparing to apply to graduate school. In his free time, he enjoys exercising, reading, playing chess, and watching movies.

Contact

Email: gillespie.v[at]wustl.edu

Josh Langmade

Josh Langmade

Staff Scientist

Lab Members

Josh Langmade received a B.S. in genetics and an M.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology both from The University of Kansas.  He has worked at Washington University for over 17 years, with the majority of that time spent in the Ory/Schaffer lab within the Cardiology department.  Through his previous research experiences, he developed an interest in projects involving next-gen sequencing and bioinformatics, which helped lead him to his current position.  Josh joined the Mitra and Milbrandt labs as a staff scientist in May of 2019.  His current research, through the MGI pilot project, involves helping to develop a method to encode cellular phenotypes with fluorescence.  When not working in the lab, Josh enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, enjoying a variety of outdoor activities and cooking BBQ.

Contact

Email: jlangmade[at]wustl.edu

Lorida Llaci

Lorida Llaci

Graduate Student

Lab Members

Lori Llaci, originally from Albania, moved to the United States to get her Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Arizona State University. She worked in the Neurogenomics Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Dr. Vinodh Narayanan’s laboratory studying mitochondrial dysfunction in patients with epileptic encephalopathy where she discovered the beauty of clinical research. She decided to start graduate school at Washington University because of her interest to incorporate a bioinformatic approach to her work while applying it to clinical research and joined the Mitra lab because of their expertise in technology development. Her work will focus on understanding the epigenetics of sex differences in glioblastoma at a single cell level. In her free time, she likes to read, explore new cuisines, travel and play the piano.

Contact

Email: l.llaci[at]wustl.edu

Justin Melendez

Justin Melendez

Graduate Student

Lab Members

Justin Melendez is a graduate student in the Mitra Lab. He received a B.S. in both microbiology and bioengineering from Cornell University and worked on light inducible expression technology and “smart” computer-controlled bioreactors at Princeton University before coming to Washington University. He is currently working on applying Cas9/CRISPR technology to stem cell differentiation screens looking for genes involved in neuronal differentiation of cells in the spinal cord.

Brian Muegge

Brian Muegge

Post Doctoral Fellow

Lab Members

Brian Muegge is an Instructor in the Division of Endocrinology at Washington University in St. Louis. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Princeton University. He earned his MD and PhD degrees from Washington University School of Medicine. Brian’s graduate thesis work was performed in the laboratory of Jeffrey Gordon, where he used experimental and computational methods to study the interplay between host diet and mammalian gut microbiome. He joined the Mitra lab in 2019 where his research interests are to understand how cells in the intestine respond to injury, with a special emphasis on the rare intestinal endocrine cell population. In the Mitra lab, Brian is defining the binding targets for key intestinal transcription factors using novel in vitro methods of development and injury. The goal of this work is to identify new mechanisms of injury repair and translational therapies that would help patients suffering from intestinal and metabolic diseases. Brian is a practicing Physician-Scientist and treats patients with Endocrine diseases at the St. Louis VA Medical Center.

Contact

Email: mueggeb[at]wustl.edu

Pamela Recio

Pamela Recio

Graduate Student

Lab Members

Pamela graduated from CSU Monterey Bay with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology in 2018. After graduating, she participated in a year long post baccalaureate research program called Opportunities in Genomics Research in the Mitra lab. The goal of her yearlong project was to understand how gene expression is a function of TF binding in budding yeast. Pamela enjoyed her post baccalaureate experience so much that she decided to start a PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis in 2019, and then joined the Mitra lab. She is interested in better understanding the determinants of GAL4p in vivo binding in budding yeast. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her dog Lola, collecting plants, and drawing.

Contact

Email: p.recio[at]wustl.edu

India Reiss

India Reiss

Graduate Student

Lab Members

India Reiss received a B.S. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University, where she studied the genomics of fruit fly color vision. As a graduate student in the Mitra lab, she is working to adapt Calling Card technology to the Sleeping Beauty transposase, which will improve the ability of Calling Cards to record transcription factor binding over time.

Contact

Email: ihreiss[at]go.wustl.edu

Christian Shively

Christian Shively

Staff Scientist

Lab Members

Christian Shively began his postdoc training in the lab in 2014, after completing a B.S. in biology at Indiana University and a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Michigan. His work in the Mitra lab is focused on understanding how transcription factors “know” where to bind DNA.  Paralogous transcription factors often recognize the same consensus binding site in vitro, yet bind to distinct genomic targets and regulate disparate cellular processes in vivo, and Christian’s research seeks to delineate the mechanisms that enable this specificity by studying a well-conserved pair of paralogous transcription factors in a model organism.

Contact

Email: cshively[at]wustl.edu

Alara Sutcu

Alara Sutcu

Research Technician

Lab Members

Alara graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. During undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Soloman’s lab where she studied neuroinflammatory pathways of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. She joined the Mitra lab in 2021 where her research interests are to define the injury response of intestinal endocrine cells. In the future, she plans on applying to PhD programs. In her free time, Alara enjoys playing sand volleyball, traveling, and being outside.

Contact

Email: sutcu[at]wustl.edu

Michael Wilkinson

Michael Wilkinson

Graduate Student

Lab Members

Science has always been an extension of Michael Wilkinson’s passion for tackling real-world problems. He was a participant in the MARC scholars program at Hunter College in NYC, where he not only learned how to address scientific problems but to also have fun while doing it.

The Mitra Lab is Michael’s home in St. Louis, where he and other researchers develop molecular tools to help better understand biological problems. He is fortunate to use such tools in understanding the transcriptional networks that govern cell fates, whether in development or in disease. Michael’s personal interests are to elucidate the inter- and intra-cellular mechanisms that govern cell state in a heterogeneous population, whether it be in regeneration or in cancer. Outside of the lab, he enjoys fitness and music. Michael likes applying his understanding of science to bring well-being to others. As a previous participant of many minority support programs over the years, he hopes to share his opportunities with those in underserved communities.


Lab Alumni

  • Jiayue Liu, Scientist, Guardant Health
  • Jesse Cohn,
  • David Song, Medical School
  • Arnav Moudgil, Washington University in St. Louis, MSTP
  • Matt Lalli, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry,
    Division of Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment
  • Denis Avey, Postdoc, Rush Medical School
  • Rafael Feliciano, Graduate Student, Washington University in St. Louis, MGG program
  • Sumithra Sankararaman, Staff Scientist at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Kristy Shady
  • Zongtai Qi, Postdoc, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Maxim Schillebeeckx, Scientist, Appistry
  • Francesco Vallania, Postdoc, Stanford University
  • Scott Higdon, Staff Researcher at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Michael Brooks, Postdoctoral fellow with Max Wicha at University of Michigan
  • Arjun Bahl, Resident, Internal Medicine, University of Washington
  • Lee Tessler, Project Manager at Millipore
  • David Mayhew, Scientist, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Tom Cohen, Senior Analyst, BioGenerator Ventures
  • Gabe Bien-Wilner, Medical Director, MolecularHealth
  • K-T Varley, Postdoctoral fellow with Rick Myers at Hudson Alpha Institute
  • Haoyi Wang, Postdoctoral fellow with Rudy Jaenisch at MIT
  • Yue Yun, Pioneer Hybrid
  • Kay Tweedy, Retired
  • Todd Druley, Faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, Pediatrics and Center for Genome Sciences
  • German Leparc, Postdoctoral fellow with David Kreil, Universitat fur Bodenkultur Wien