Lab Members

Ellen Miller

Lab Manager/Researcher

Ellen is focused on identifying and developing drugs that reduce the negative impact that senescent cells have on healthspan. Her outside interests include spending time with her husband and adult twins, sewing and crafting, and many active outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, running, gardening, or just going for a scenic drive.

Ellen Miller pic

Fernando Santiago

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Fernando is interested in the physiological role of somatic stem cell niches from the perspective of aging and age-related disease, and in particular how extracellular vesicles (and their cargoes) secreted by stem cells regulate cellular senescence.  He also is identifying miRNAs that contribute to initiating or maintaining the senescent cell state.  Fernando enjoys rediscovering the wonder of the world through his son, Ian's eyes.  Fernando is an aficionado of traditional Tango music, collects late 19th- to early 20th-century British and French meerschaum and briar pipes, consumes news voraciously, and enjoys walking and cooking. 

Representative Publications:

Dorronsoro, A., Corbo, L., McGowan, S. J., Lavasani, M., Liu, A. Brooks, R., Garcia-Contreras, M., Baker, D. J., Stolz, D., Amelio, A., Boregowda, S. V. Santiago, F., Fallahi, M., Ricordi, Phinney, D. C., Huard, J., Niedernhofer, L. J. and Robbins P. D. Extension of lifespan in a progeriod mouse model of accelerated aging by mesenchymal stem cells is mediated by extracellular vesicles. Submitted

Fuhrmann-Stroissnigg H, Santiago FE, Grassi D, Ling Y, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD. SA-β-Galactosidase-Based Screening Assay for the Identification of Senotherapeutic Drugs. J Vis Exp. 2019 Jun 28;(148). doi: 10.3791/58133. PMID: 31305507.

Fernando Santiago pic

Tianpeng Zhang

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Tim focuses on using stem cells extracellular vesicles to suppress cellular senescence and analyzing the role of senescent extracellular vesicles in the aging process.  His outside interests include spending time with his daughter and son, fishing, board games, movies and music. 

Representative Publications:

Dorronsoro, A., Corbo, L., McGowan, S. J., Lavasani, M., Liu, A. Brooks, R., Garcia-Contreras, M., Baker, D. J., Stolz, D., Amelio, A., Boregowda, S. V. Santiago, F., Fallahi, M., Ricordi, Phinney, D. C., Huard, J., Niedernhofer, L. J. and Robbins P. D. Extension of lifespan in a progeriod mouse model of accelerated aging by mesenchymal stem cells is mediated by extracellular vesicles. Submitted

Tianpeng Zhang pic

Kyooa Lee

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Kayla’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of immune cell dysfunction in natural aging and cellular senescence-prone environments. In addition, she is developing approaches to improve the function of the aged immune system. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter. 

Representative Publications:

Yousefzadeh, M. J, Flores, R. R.,  Zhu, Y., Schmiechen, Z. C. , Brooks, R. W., Zhao, J.,  Sano, T.,  Angelini, L. A.,  Lee, K-A., Wade, E. A.,  Bukata, C., McGowan, S. J., Burrack, A. L., Harris, J. B., Ramgolam, I. E., Calubag, M. F., Bank, M. P.,  Trussoni, C. E., Kato, J. I.,  Melos, K.,  McGuckian, C. A., Wang, D., Dong, Q.,  Patil, P., Klug, J., Li, K., O’Kelly, R. D.,  Burd, C. E., LaRusso, N. F.,  Vo, N. V., Wang, Y., Kelley, E. E., Huard, J., Stomnes, I. M., Robbins, P. D.*, and Niedernhofer, L. J.* Immune-specific aging drives senescence and dysfunction of peripheral tissuesNature, under revision. *co-corresponding

Lee, K-A., Robbins, P. D. and Camell, C. D. (2021) Intersection of immunometabolism and immune senescence during aging. Curr. Opin. Pharmacol., Submitted

Kyooa Lee pic

Lei Zhang

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Lei Zhang is working on investigating several longevity factors and pro-aging signaling pathways using cell culture and mouse models, as well as developing potential senotherapeutics to extend healthy lifespan. Outside the lab, he enjoys reading, cooking, fishing, and exploring the beauty of nature with his cat. 

Representative Publications:

Zhao J, Zhang L, Mu X, Doebelin C, Nguyen W, Wallace C, Reay DP, McGowan SJ, Corbo L, Clemens PR, Wilson GM, Watkins SC, Solt LA, Cameron MD, Huard J, Niedernhofer LJ, Kamenecka TM, Robbins PD. Development of novel NEMO-binding domain mimetics for inhibiting IKK/NF-κB activation. PLoS Biol. 2018 Jun 11;16(6):e2004663. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2004663. PMID: 29889904; PMCID: PMC6013238.

Zhao J, Zhang L, Lu A, Han Y, Colangelo D, Bukata C, Scibetta A, Yousefzadeh MJ, Li X, Gurkar AU, McGowan SJ, Angelini L, O'Kelly R, Li H, Corbo L, Sano T, Nick H, Pola E, Pilla SPS, Ladiges WC, Vo N, Huard J, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD. ATM is a key driver of NF-κB-dependent DNA-damage-induced senescence, stem cell dysfunction and aging. Aging (Albany NY). 2020 Mar 22;12(6):4688-4710. doi: 10.18632/aging.102863. Epub 2020 Mar 22. PMID: 32201398; PMCID: PMC7138542.

Lei Zhang pic

Rafael Flores

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Ralph’s primary interest is with the immune system. He is interested in understanding the mechanism of self-tolerance and how failures of such lead to autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and psoriasis. He is also interested in gene therapy approaches for causing and preventing autoimmune diseases. Through his collaboration with Laura Neidernhofer and her lab, Ralph’s research interest includes studying the effects of aging on the immune system and immune senescence on our ability to maintain self-tolerance and immunity to pathogens.

Representative Publications:

Flores RR, Carbo L, Kim E, Van Meter M, De Padilla CML, Zhao J, Colangelo D, Yousefzadeh MJ, Angelini LA, Zhang L, Pola E, Vo N, Evans CH, Gambotto A, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD. Adenoviral gene transfer of a single-chain IL-23 induces psoriatic arthritis-like symptoms in NOD mice. FASEB J. 2019 Aug;33(8):9505-9515. doi: 10.1096/fj.201900420R. Epub 2019 Jun 6. PMID: 31170010; PMCID: PMC6662986.

Expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells with aging in the bone marrow of mice through a NF-κB-dependent mechanism.  Flores RR, Clauson CL, Cho J, Lee BC, McGowan SJ, Baker DJ, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD.  Aging Cell. 2017 Jun;16(3):480-487. doi: 10.1111/acel.12571. Epub 2017 Feb 23.PMID: 28229533

Rafael Flores pic

Alec Wong

Technician

Alec is working to determine the extent and type of senescent cells in the brains of mouse models of accelerated aging and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases.  

Representative Publications:

Wong, A., Kieu, T. and Robbins, P. D.  The Ercc1-/∆ mouse model of accelerated senescence and aging for identification and testing of novel senotherapeutic interventions. Aging, In press

Alec Wong

Wandi Xu

Undergraduate

Wandi is working on development of SIRT6 deactylation, mono-ribosylation and DNA repair assays for screening for compounds able to improve SIRT6 activities. 

Wandi Xu pic

Allancer Nunes

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Allancer’s research focuses on understanding the mechanism of action by which specific miRNAs modulate cellular senescence. He is also investigating the effects of several senotherapeutics in the aging process of stem cells. Allancer enjoys reading, spending time with his friends, traveling and exploring different places and cultures.

Allancer Nunes

Louise Pitcher

Graduate Student

Louise is focused on the identification and development of senotherapeutics and small-molecules that mimic the biological effects of longevity-associated variants to extend healthy life span. In addition, she is working on investigating the potential of cellular rejuvenation as a therapeutic strategy against age-associated degenerative diseases. In her free time she enjoys traveling, paddle boarding and playing with her dog.

Louise Pitcher

Kira Florczak

Undergraduate

Kira is examining the hypothesis that damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) contribute to the spread of senescence, SASP and general inflammation, leading to increased mortality in the aged.  Kira is examining this hypothesis in cell culture by treating primary human fibroblasts with different TLR agonists as well as infecting cells with recombinant adenoviral vectors expressing SARS-CoV-1 or SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. 

Kira Florczak pic