Program Directors

Maja Bucan, PhD

Maja Bucan, PhD

Professor, Genetics
Associate Dean, Postdoctoral Research Training
Director, Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP)

Maja Bucan is a Professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania, formerly the Chair of the graduate group in Genomics and Computational Biology, and currently the Director of Penn Biomedical Postdoctoral Program. Dr. Bucan's research interests are in the area of genomics and bioinformatics of complex neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Bucan received her Ph.D. from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia (research performed at the European Molecular Research Laboratories, Heidelberg, Germany). After her postdoctoral training at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, UK and at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, she joined the departments of Psychiatry and Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1990.

Dr. Bucan helped Dr. Spielman to found the Genomics and Computational Biology graduate group in 2001. She has trained over 50 undergraduate students, 5 graduate students and 18 postdoctoral researchers, with 5 former traineescurrently in professorship positions.

Junhyong Kim, PhD

Junhyong Kim, PhD

Chair and Patricia M. Williams Term Endowed Professor
Department of Biology
Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer and Information Science
Co-Director, Penn Program in Single Cell Biology

Junhyong Kim has been a computational biologist for 35 years with his first publication involving an algorithm for tRNA folding in 1984. He has also worked in experimental genomics and single cell biology for 20 years. He received his PhD in 1992 and held the position of Assistant Professor and Associate Professor with tenure at Yale University from 1994-2002. In 2002, he moved to Penn with appointments in Department of Biology, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, and the GCB program. He has been the Co-Director of the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute from 2006-2014. He is currently the Co-Director with trainer J. Eberwine of Penn Program in Single Cell Biology and also the Co-Director of the NHGRI Center of Excellence in Genomic Sciences, Center for Sub-Cellular Genomics (again with trainer J. Eberwine). He has trained or is training 18 undergraduates, 19 PhD students, and 17 postdoctoral fellows. Of the 30 past trainees, 10 occupy professorships in research-oriented universities, 10 have scientific positions in the biomedical industry, 2 are in science administration and 1 is in postdoctoral fellow status. He has previously served as the Director of Graduate Studies (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and the Founding Director of the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Track at Yale University. He has also taught courses in computational biology, statistical genomics, and mathematical modeling for 30 years.

Current Trainees

Lana Abdi

Mentor: John Murray, PhD

Adetola Alonge

Mentor: Ben Garcia, PhD

Da'Shira Brown

Mentor: Christopher Brown, PhD

Donovan Brown

Mentor: Saar Gill, MD, PhD

Savoya Joyner

Mentor: Maja Bucan, PhD

Wara Laura

Mentor: Jason Moore, PhD

Jose Malaret

Mentors: Michael Silverman, MD, PhD and Joseph Zackular, PhD

Eric Mendoza

Mentor: Junhyong Kim, PhD

Sebastian Plasencia

Mentor: Blanca Himes, PhD

Meghan Wachira

Mentor: Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, PhD


Ron Anafi, MD, PhD

Dr. Anafi is a physician and engineer with broad interests in applying mathematical and engineering techniques to challenges in biological dynamics. His clinical and research efforts have focused on sleep and circadian biology. He has extensive experience in dynamical systems modeling and statistical analysis of high-dimensional data. He has developed unsupervised machine learning approaches to order un-annotated biopsy data and identify clinical relevant biological rhythms in high dimensional data as well as Bayesian learning algorithms to integrate diverse data and identify new core circadian factors.

Christopher Brown, PhD

Dr. Brown is an Assistant Professor of Genetics. His research focuses on genetics of gene Expression. His laboratory is interested in identifying and experimentally characterizing functional human non-coding sequence variation. The aim is to understand the mechanisms through which non-coding variants function, with an emphasis on understanding the mechanisms underlying complex human disease. Dr. Brown recently served a faculty advisor for 2 PREP students who have been admitted to graduate program in computational biology.

Arnaldo Diaz, PhD

Dr. Diaz serves as the Assistant Dean for Research Training Programs, and Director of Recruitment & Retention of Diversity Scholars. He will serve on the DAPPG Advisory Board. Dr. Diaz leads BGS minority development efforts in research training. In addition to attending national meetings, Dr. Diaz’s office organizes annual faculty visits to schools with MBRS/MARC/McNair programs or large minority populations. During these visits, BGS faculty give scientific talks and meet with UR undergraduates to discuss all BGS programs, including PREP. Institutions recently visited include: Cheney Univ.; Delaware State Univ.; Howard Univ.; Gallaudet Univ.; Brooklyn College; Hunter College; John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lincoln Univ.; Rutgers Univ., Camden; Temple Univ.; Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta Univ.; UMBC; Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Univ. of Maryland Eastern Shore; Univ. of Central Florida, The College of New Jersey; and the Univ. of Puerto Rico System. We also have formal ties with a wide range of schools, including: UMBC; Delaware State Univ.; Univ. of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Mayaguez, and Humacao Campuses; New Mexico State Univ.; Lincoln Univ.; Brooklyn College; Barry Univ.; The College of New Jersey; CUNY; UC, Irvine; Univ. of Central Florida; and the Univ. of Texas at San Antonio. BGS also regularly mails recruitment materials to MARC and MBRS RISE program directors and other undergraduate advisors, as well as to all McNair Scholars and Program Directors. BGS also mails materials directly to undergraduates who have: participated in the Leadership Alliance’s programs; self-identified as minorities via Educational Testing Service mail-lists, and; registered as minority students in the National Name Exchange.

James Eberwine, PhD

Dr. Eberwine is the Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania. He pioneered single cell PCR, the aRNA amplification protocol, and coined the phrase "expression profile" to describe the relative abundances of RNAs. Dr. Eberwine's research combines cutting edge optical technologies with molecular biology to solve genomic and neuroscience problems. Dr. Eberwine's work has highlighted the kinetics of translation in neuronal dendrites, pioneered the concept of cytoplasmic RNA splicing and illuminated the role of RNA populations in establishing and maintaining cellular phenotype. Dr. Eberwine is an inventor on over 170 patent applications and was elected to the National Academy of Inventors in 2014. He also serves on the NIH Multi-Council Working Group (MCWG), which is charged with advising the NIH Institutes on the implementation and progress of the US Brain Initiative. Dr. Eberwine originated and directed the Cold Spring Harbor Summer Course formerly entitled "Cloning of Neural Genes" and now called "Advanced Techniques in Neuroscience". In 2012, he developed and Co-Directed the first Cold Spring Harbor Course on "Single Cell Techniques".

Kojo Elenitoba-Johnson, MD

Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson is the Peter C. Nowell Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Director for both the Center for Personalized Diagnostics and Division of Precision and Computational Diagnostics. Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson’s research focuses on understanding the biologic basis of the development and evolution of malignant lymphoid neoplasms. His group has leveraged unbiased large-scale interrogation platforms such as massively parallel sequencing and biological mass spectrometry (MS) (proteomics and metabolomics) to define genomic, proteomic and metabolomic signatures of lymphomas. His laboratory has contributed original discoveries to the field that improve the understanding of the cellular derangements underlying the pathogenesis of lymphoid and hematopoietic malignancies, identified genomic and proteomic biomarkers for better recognition of disease subgroups and identified susceptible cancer-specific drug targets for precision or “personalized” treatments.

Benjamin Garcia, PhD

Dr. Garcia was recruited in 2012 from Princeton Univ. as the Presidential Assoc. Prof. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (BMB), and Faculty Director of the Quantitative Proteomics Resource Core at the Perelman School of Medicine. He is a member of 4 BGS graduate groups. Currently, he is the BMB Grad. Admissions Chair and Vice Chair of the BMB graduate group. His group is developing novel mass spectrometry-based approaches and computation for interrogating protein modifications, especially those involved in epigenetic mechanisms. His work has resulted in over 180 publications. He serves on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Human Proteome Organization (HUPO), and serves on the ASMS Nominating committee, ASMS Diversity and Outreach committee and the ASMS Asilomar Conference committee. He was also elected to the HUPO governing Council (Western Region Representative) in 2016. He has collaborated or consulted for Genentech, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, GSK, Amgen, Constellation, Abbvie, BMS, and Novartis. The Garcia Lab has a Technology Alliance Partnership with Thermo Scientific, and they have also named him as a Thought Leader in the proteomics field.

Marybeth Gasman, PhD

Dr. Gasman is the Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education at Penn. Her areas of expertise include the history of American higher education, Minority Serving Institutions (with an emphasis on Historically Black Colleges and Universities), racism and diversity, fundraising and philanthropy, and higher education leadership. Dr. Gasman is the founding director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), which works to amplify the contributions, strengthen, and support MSIs and those scholars interested in them. She holds secondary appointments in history, Africana Studies, and the School of Social Policy and Practice.

Blanca Himes, PhD

Dr. Himes's research focuses on gaining insights into human disease pathogenesis and treatment using biomedical informatics approaches. She has used probabilistic graphical models to find genetic association networks and designed a computational algorithm to search through large datasets for optimal predictors of a phenotype. She has identified and characterized subjects for asthma genomics studies using patient-derived data from electronic medical records. Most recently, she has used RNA-Seq to study human airway smooth muscle cell response to asthma medications, vitamin D, and to identify differences in response between fatal asthma patients vs. individuals without asthma.

David Issadore, PhD

Dr. Issadore is Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the integration of microelectronics, microfluidics, nanomaterials and molecular targeting, and their application to medicine. This multidisciplinary approach enables Issadore’s lab to explore new technologies to bring medical diagnostics from expensive, centralized facilities, directly to clinical and resource-limited settings. Relevant applications of these new technologies include early detection of pancreatic cancer, Tuberculosis diagnosis in patients co-infected with HIV, and 6 prognosis of traumatic brain injury. His academic background in electrical engineering and applied physics from Harvard and his research experience in a hospital research laboratory (MGH) have prepared him to work and collaborate effectively on these inherently cross-disciplinary problems.

Steven Joffe, MD, MPH

Dr. Joffe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. Dr. Joffe is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and bone marrow transplant physician, bioethicist and health services researcher. His academic work focuses on ethical and policy challenges in biomedical research, and on the ethical questions raised by genomic technologies in medicine and science. He has studied the attitudes of patients and research participants to the return of incidental genomic findings, and in the context of the NHGRI's Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research Consortium, has developed means for integrating sequencing into the care of adults with metastatic cancer, returning results to patients and their oncologists, and describing the psychosocial and behavioral impact of those results on patients.

Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, PhD

Dr. Jordan-Sciutto is currently Chair of BGS as well as Chair, Dept of Pathology in the Penn School of Dental Medicine. She has been an independent investigator for ~15 yrs, during which time she has investigated molecular signaling pathways, including the endogenous antioxidant response, the unfolded protein response, cell death pathways and cell cycle progression in HIV associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) using molecular, cellular, behavioral and histopathologic assessment across in vitro and in vivo models. Dr. Jordan-Sciutto is strongly committed to mentoring students at all levels, having trained ~50 undergraduates, 21 senior thesis students, 6 high school students, 2 PREP students, 27 BGS rotation students, 4 MS thesis students, 12 PhD students and 12 post-docs. Within BGS, she actively participates in the NGG, PGG, and the Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB). She has served each of these groups as a member of their graduate admissions committee and has chaired NGG graduate admissions. Her roles in helping administer the various graduate groups provide her with a clear view of what is needed to be a successful applicant for and candidate in graduate school. She is strongly committed to providing mentoring that prepares students for the career of their choice, including executing a research program, leading a lab, mentoring and training students to present their work in oral and written form, and grant writing. Dr. Jordan-Sciutto has also participated in training and recruiting students by giving talks at local Universities and attending ABRCMS, SACNAS, ENDURE Symposia, and the regional PREP symposium. Finally, she participates in the annual RCR training for graduate students and post-docs.

Daeyeon Lee, PhD

Dr. Lee is Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an expert in the area of soft matter science and engineering. In particular, he has special expertise in large-scale encapsulation using parallelized microfluidic devices as well as understanding the phase inversion, wetting and stability of emulsion droplets on/near surfaces. Since 2006, he has been awarded more than 30 research awards/grants/contracts from federal, state and private institutions and has published over 100 journal articles (cited more than 6,000 times) with an h-index of 39. He has received the 2014 Unilever Young Investigator Award in Colloid and Surfactant Science, 2012 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award, and the 2011 NSF CAREER Award among other honors.

Jason Moore, PhD

Dr. Moore is the Edward Rose Professor of Informatics and Director of the Penn Institute for Biomedical Informatics. He also serves as Senior Associate Dean for Informatics and Director of the Division of Informatics in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. He has a PhD in Human Genetics and an MS in Applied Statistics from the University of Michigan. He leads an active NIH-funded research program focused on the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms for the analysis of complex biomedical data with a focus on genomic medicine. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI), and was selected as a Kavli fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the journal BioData Mining. Dr. Moore has trained more than 50 undergraduate, 15 graduate, and 10 postdoctoral students and previously served as the founding director of an interdisciplinary graduate training program in Quantitative Biomedical Sciences. He also served as PI of an NCI R25 postdoctoral training program that was successfully renewed. He has considerable experience mentoring early stage investigators including many that have been funded by NIH K awards.

John Murray, PhD

Dr. Murray is an Associate Professor of Genetics. His research aims to understand how the genome orchestrates animal development at single cell resolution. This process is regulated in large part by transcription factors and signaling pathways whose function is conserved from humans to invertebrates. Misregulation of developmental gene expression is a feature of cancer and other diseases, and mutations regulatory elements are common in human genetic diseases.

Katherine Nathanson, MD

Dr. Nathanson is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics. She also serves as the Associate Director of Population Science, Co-Leader of the Cancer Control Program and Chief Oncogenomics Physician in the Abramson Cancer Center. She was dually trained in Internal Medicine and Clinical Genetics, and so has been practicing Genomic Medicine for her entire career. She has a well-funded NIH-funded research program in the inherited and somatic genetics/genomics of cancer. She has been elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and American Association of Physicians. Dr. Nathanson has trained over 25 undergraduates, graduate students, medical residents, and post-doctoral fellows. She co-led the Cancer Biology (Cellular and Molecular Biology) introductory course for three years, and has served on multiple preliminary and thesis committees. She directed the Medical Genetics rotation in Adult Genetics, and the Internal Medicine resident rotation in Medical Genetics for over 10 years. She serves on the Residency Committee for Medical Genetics, on the admissions committee for the MD-PhD program and as co-PI for the Medical Genetics Research Training Grant.

Daniel Rader, MD

Dr. Rader is the Chair of the Department of Genetics and the Seymour Gray Professor of Molecular Medicine; Dept of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics in Department of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Human Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), I am developing a highly integrated program of clinical care and research in Genetics and Genomic Medicine on the Penn/CHOP campus under the umbrella of “Penn Genetics.”Dr. Rader’s research focuses on genetic and pharmacologic regulation of lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis, focusing on the human genetics of lipid disorders and atherosclerosis and novel approaches to their treatment. A major emphasis of my current research is directed toward the functional validation of novel genes identified through lipid GWAS and the molecular mechanisms by which these genes impact triglyceride, LDL and HDL metabolism, and coronary heart disease.

Arjun Raj, PhD

Dr. Raj is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and a pioneer in single molecule in situ technology. He joined Penn in 2010 and he is the recipient of Burroughs-Wellcome Career Award and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. His research interests are in single cell biology, systems biology, and molecular basis of cell function. In particular, his lab has developed many computational tools for molecular imaging and mathematical models of cell dynamics.

Marylyn Ritchie, PhD

Dr. Ritchie is currently a Professor of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine. Marylyn is a statistical and computational geneticist with extensive experience in all aspects of genetic epidemiology and translational bioinformatics as it relates to human genomics. She also has expertise in conducting genome- and phenome-wide association studies, using next-generation sequencing techniques, integrating multiple omics datasets, and developing data visualization approaches. Dr. Richie joined University of Pennsylvania in December 2017 after holding a faculty position at Penn State and leading the Geisinger’s Biomedical and Translational Informatics Program.

Pamela Sankar, PhD

Dr. Sankar is an Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine, Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and Faculty in the Masters of Public Health program. Her degrees are in history of ideas, anthropology, and communications, and she has completed post-doctoral training in health services research. She has conducted ELSI research for 20 years, starting with projects in the mid-1990s concerning informed consent to gene transfer research and BRCA testing. She has also studied the use of race in genetics research and the history of forensic DNA typing. Her current research concerns social responsibility in science and focuses on the emergence of ecological models in microbiome research and the history of racial and other population classifications in MEDLINE. She has mentored two pre- and post-doctoral trainees who have gone on to academic or research leadership positions. Dr. Sankar has taught research methods and courses on genomics and society for the past fifteen years and serves as the only non-MD faculty in the School of Medicine’s medical student professionalism course.

Sarah Tishkoff, PhD

Dr. Tishkoff is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in Genetics and Biology at Penn. Dr. Tishkoff’s laboratory uses a highly interdisciplinary approach (integrating field work in Africa, empirical and computational analyses) to study human population genetics, human evolution, the genetic basis of adaptation, and genetic and environmental factors influencing variable anthropometric (including skin pigmentation), cardiovascular, metabolic, and immune-related traits.

Li-San Wang, PhD

Dr. Wang is Associate Professor of Pathology and the Chair of the GCB Graduate Program. He is an expert in complex trait genomics, phylogenetics, and algorithms. He is the PI of data coordination for the NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project and the director of data coordination for NIH Common Fund Single Cell Program-Transcriptome. Besides his scientific expertise, as the Director of the GCB program he will help align the training activities of the PENN CG-TG with the GCB graduate group.

Nancy Zhang, PhD

Dr. Zhang joined Penn in 2011 as Associate Professor of Statistics in the Wharton School of business. Her research focuses on statistical analysis of genomic data especially for complex trait genetics. She is an expert in scan statistics and has written extensively on methods for detecting genomic aberrations.