Meet the Team
HIMC is comprised of a diverse team of immunologists, computational scientists and technical specialists. We work together to offer comprehensive immune monitoring solutions for a wide range of studies, including providing guidance in project development and clinical study/trial design, logistical support in study sample management, a host of cutting edge immunological assays and bioinformatics support to assist with the analysis and integration of complex immunological datasets.
Miriam Merad, MD, PhD
Dr. Merad, MD, PhD, is an expert in DC biology and has been studying the role of DCs in tissue for more than ten years. As Director of the Precision Immunology Institute at Mount Sinai and Professor of Oncological Sciences, Dr. Merad made key contributions to our understanding of the regulation of DC development and function and has identified the origin and functional diversity of the phagocyte pool in the intestine, with implications in cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Merad is also the Director of the Human Immune Monitoring Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) which goal is to identify novel immune biomarkers of disease and response to therapy in patients with cancer, allergic disease, or viral infection. She is the recipient of numerous NIH awards for consortium-based efforts related to immune monitoring of vaccines, including in cancer, and for developing sample-sparing immune monitoring techniques. As part of the MS-CIMAC leadership team, Dr. Merad will be responsible for the design of the experiments planned for each trial, data review, and the overall coordination of the project design.
Sacha Gnjatic, PhD
Dr. Sacha Gnjatic, PhD is an Associate Professor and the Associate Director of the Human Immune Monitoring Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Gnjatic’s lab focuses on human immune responses to cancer in an antigen-specific manner, in the periphery and at the tumor site, to define new targets for the development of cancer immunotherapies, how they work and why they may fail. Dr. Gnjatic’s work on tumor antigens has established the immunological basis for testing cancer vaccines in over 40 clinical trials, opening a new field of cancer immunology based on clinical discovery, with the goal to achieve protective integrated immune responses in the fight against cancer. Dr. Gnjatic’s laboratory has pioneered novel high-dimensional techniques and served as reference for harmonized immunomonitoring of humoral, cellular, and tissue-based immune correlates, which has led to the adoption of new standards by other labs.
Seunghee Kim-Schulze, PhD
Seunghee Kim-Schulze, PhD is the Facility Director of the Human Immune Monitoring Center (HIMC) at Mount Sinai. She is an expert in immune monitoring of various clinical studies and cancer vaccine trials. HIMC laboratories where a majority of MS-CIMAC operations will take place are located in the same building as Drs. Gnjatic, Bhardwaj, Merad, Rahman, Greenbaum, Amir, Faith, Clemente, and Ueno. Dr. Kim-Schulze is responsible for maintaining state-of-the-art immune monitoring equipment for clinical sample management, processing and performing biological assays according to the established SOPs. She has been involved with over 30 clinical trials, including protocol writing, sample management, quality control, regulatory matters, assay optimization and development, validation, and billing. For this project, Dr. Kim-Schulze will provide supervision and training of laboratory personnel, sample management, review of SOPs, QC and production of immunology data, and assistance in analysis of the data.
Adeeb Rahman, PhD
Adeeb Rahman, PhD is an Assistant Professor with a broad background in human immunology. His prior research has focused on the role of innate inflammation in shaping adaptive immunity in a range of disease settings, which is complimented by his keen interest in technology, engineering and assay development. As the HIMC’s Director of Technology Development he oversees the HIMC diverse range of cutting-edge technology platforms, with a focus on developing, implementing and optimizing platform-specific assays to decipher the complexity of the immune system across a broad range of research areas. His key expertise is in high dimensional single cell characterization, particularly in the setting of clinical studies, and he is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in mass cytometry. He directly oversees the HIMC’s comprehensive cytometry and single cell sequencing programs, and leads the HIMC’s research efforts to develop novel technology, reagents, protocols and computational tools to maximize the value and utility of high end instrumentation platforms for our research community.
Guray Akturk, MD
Dr. Guray Akturk, MD is a Pathologist and works as an Associate Scientist in the Human Immune Monitoring Center (HIMC) at Mount Sinai. He also participates in the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Pathology Task Force and several Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers (CIMAC) Immuno-Oncology Biomarkers Network Working Groups. His prior research is focused on prognostic implications of different morphologic patterns of various malignant tumors. He is an expert in histopathology, biobanking, multiplex/singleplex immunohistochemistry and digital imaging technologies. Dr. Akturk’s current work is pushing the borders for developing high-dimensional image analysis techniques to reveal the tumor immune microenvironment more in detail. He has also responsibility in validating panels of multiplex ion beam imaging instrument which will led scientists to elucidate the tumor immune microenvironment more in detail and will help developing new targeted immunotherapies.
Kimberly Argueta received her bachelor’s degree in forensic science and biology pre-medical as well as her master’s degree in cellular and molecular biology from the University of New Haven. During her undergraduate academic experience, she interned at Yale New Haven Hospital Autopsy Service. Through her graduate studies, she worked as a cell culture teaching assistant for the graduate courses. Her responsibilities included culturing and maintaining multiple mammalian cell lines. She was also a graduate student researcher within the Lyme Disease Research Group. Her primary responsibility was maintaining Borrelia burgdorferi cultures and conducting further in vitro analysis of the antibacterial effects of various essential oils and herbal agents, including methods of testing cell viability of Borrelia biofilms. Additionally, she interned at Yale New Haven Hospital within the Elder Horizon Geriatric Program. Kimberly joined the HIMC in 2019 where she works on sample processing, biobanking, and immunological techniques for various clinical studies. She plans to continue her academic career in clinical medicine in the near future.
Craig Batchelor received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and biological anthropology from Lawrence University in the fall of 2017. While at Lawrence, his research focus was on the effects of hip mobility and its correlation with labral and ulnar collateral ligament tears in overhead-throwing athletes. After graduating from Lawrence University, Craig worked in the pathology department at Columbia University with their chimerism team that focused on immune cell profile matching for bone marrow transplants before joining the HIMC.
Travis Dawson received his master's degree in biology at Concordia University in 2013. He studied the community composition and metabolic activity of microbial communities along an estuarine salinity gradient. He continued working in the field of environmental microbiology as a laboratory technician at Université du Québec à Montréal. At UQAM, he isolated bacterial DNA and RNA from plant and root samples and prepared them for targeted sequencing. He began working as a research technologist in the DNA sequencing facility at the Center for Applied Genomics, part of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in 2015. There, he gained experience in preparing libraries from DNA and RNA, and operating next-generation sequencing platforms. His experience at the sequencing facility includes 10X single cell sequencing, which has become his focus here at Human Immune Monitoring Center.
Manishkumar B. Patel, MS
Associate Researcher II
Manishkumar B. Patel received his masters and bachelor’s degree in Genetics in India. His interest in human biology research is the reason he decided to pursue his studies in the United States. He received another masters in cellular and molecular biology from the University of New Haven. For his master’s degree project, he worked in molecular genetics lab for a year researching “Copy Number Variations and Warfarin Dose in Personalized Medicine.’ After completing his masters, he began working in HPV related head and neck cancer research in 2011 and transitioned to the HIMC in 2012. He has worked alongside scientists in the HIMC since its inception.
Daniel Geanon earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and global health at Washington University in St. Louis. Under the mentorship of Dr. James Fitzpatrick, Daniel focused on improving biological imaging techniques, testing novel staining procedures for Nano-CT imaging and developing innovative correlative pipelines to precisely target biological structures of interest with micron-level accuracy. At HIMC, Daniel works on all facets of CyTOF and MIBI workflow, from sample processing to data analysis. He is interested in the applications of data science in evaluating the vast amounts of data produced by HIMC technologies. He hopes to learn more about computational techniques.
Diana Handler received her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Mary Washington in 2018. During her undergraduate career, Diana assisted in research that aimed to assess the efficacy of particle deposition in 3-D prints of the primate respiratory system in lieu of live primates. She also worked in the science department of her alma mater handling both rats and minks for dissection and research purposes. Diana joined the HIMC at the Icahn School of Medicine in 2019 and works primarily on single-cell proteomic analyses through mass cytometry. She hopes to expand her background in flow and mass cytometry and plans to pursue a higher education in immuno-oncology.
Neha Karekar received her bachelor's in pharmacy from the University of Mumbai. During her undergraduate years, she successfully carried out an in vitro quality control test for two anti-microbial ayurvedic drugs, viz; Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng root) and Rubia cordifolia (Indian madder) obtained from different commercial suppliers. She then moved to the United States to pursue further studies in the field of molecular science and nanotechnology at Louisiana Tech University. Her master's studies focused on developing novel metal-biomaterials using self-assembly and combinatorial chemistry. These biomaterials were tested on brain cells (astrocytes, neurons, and glial cells) and brain cancer cells (CRL-2303) for their toxicological and regenerative properties. Neha started working with the HIMC in October 2018 and she is responsible for carrying out cellular and proteomic profiling assays for various clinical studies.
Geoffrey Kelly received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University at Buffalo in 2015. Geoffrey joined the Faust Lab at Columbia University where he researched the underlying pathogenesis of Essential Tremor. He is interested in expanding his research skills and plans to enter a bioinformatics master’s program in the future.
Robert Marvin received a dual Bachelor’s degree in forensic science and chemistry. He is currently completing his Master’s in forensic science at Pace University in New York City. His interest in research at Pace began by determining the detection limits of methamphetamines and amphetamines in different solutions using SPE (Solid Phase Extraction) and HPLC. He began his forensic biology career at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner by using science to serve justice to detect DNA on evidence from crimes all over NYC. Robert joined the HIMC 10x Single Cell Sequencing team in 2019.
Kevin Tuballes, MD
Senior Associate Researcher
Kevin Tuballes, MD received his bachelors and master’s degrees in cellular and molecular biology in Tulane University. He studied cancer immunology at Ludwig Institute for cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. At Mount Sinai, he specializes in T cell cultures and assays monitoring T Cell function within various cancer trials evaluating immuno-oncology drug candidates with specific interest with NY-ESO-1 cancer testis antigen. He is HIMC’s resident Den Mother.
Hue Xie received her bachelor’s degree in biological engineering in China. Her undergraduate research focused on improvement of extraction process in industrial manufacture and environmental protection. She pursued her chemical engineering master’s degree at New York University. She joined the HIMC in 2015 and is responsible for the clinical trial and biomarker measurement.
A native of Ethiopia, Mahlet Yishak moved to Upstate New York to study biology at Manhattanville College. She worked in the allergy institute at Mount Sinai while pursuing a masters in clinical research. Her research in the HIMC is focused on a cancer vaccine trail that gages the efficacy of immuno-oncology drugs specifically focusing on NY-ESO antigen. She now works on studies that focus on several other diseases and uses different assays to broaden her knowledge and experience.
Brian Lee received his degree in economics with a concentration in econometrics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, he investigated murine models of demyelinating disease and the role of microglia in multiple sclerosis at the Neuroscience Center. He is interested in the applications of data science and machine learning in biomedical research.
Laura Walker received her bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in 2011. She began working in Immunology at The Scripps Research Institute where she worked extensively with transgenic mouse models using techniques such as IHC, Laser Capture Microdissection, and Flow Cytometry. She joined Mount Sinai Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute in 2015 where she hones her skills studying signaling pathways in human Type I and Type II Diabetes Mellitus. Walker joined HIMC in 2017 and assisted in the establishment of HIMC’s 10x Genomics’ Single-Cell Sequencing platform.
Bhaskar Upadhyaya, PhD
Bhaskar Upadhyaya, PhD is an Associate Scientist with an expertise in human T cell Immunology and Multicolor Flowcytometry. His prior research at the National Institute of Health has focused on the characterization of human IL-5+ and IL-5- Th2 cells which are a newly defined subset of Th2 cells. He has also worked as a Scientist at the Center for Regenerative Therapies, TU, Dresden and at the Department of Dermatology, Columbia University where he developed multicolor immune monitoring panels to assess immune responses in autoimmune diseases. At the HIMC Dr. Bhaskar Upadhyaya continues to develop and optimize strategies to immune monitor a wide range of diseases using both Flowcytometry and Mass cytometry techniques. He also provides training and supervision to laboratory personal and assists in data analysis of Flow data and routine QC of Flow based assays.
Hiyab Stefanos graduated from Lehigh University in 2017 with a Bachelor's of Science in Biology. Throughout her undergraduate years, Hiyab was involved in a diverse selection of research opportunities. Hiyab started in neuroscience research, where she worked on the role of the MPN mag, a sexually differentiating nucleus, on male sex behaviors. She also worked in a molecular biology lab, where she researched the role of Lynx1 gene in enhanced learning and the critical plasticity. Lastly, Hiyab was involved in functional morphology research, where she developed an experiment to examine how N.sipedon performs mechanical behavior. After graduation, Hiyab went on to intern at the Sembel Hospital in Asmara, Eritrea, where she performed laboratory testing and patient care in addition to shadowing surgeons. She then returned to America to pursue her main interest: scientific research. She spent a year working in drug development and then clinical genomics. In 2019, Hiyab joined the HIMC 10x Single Cell Sequencing team.
Nicolas F. Fernandez
Computational Scientist, Human Immune Monitoring Center ISMMS
I am originally from San Antonio Texas where I received my bachelor’s degree in Physics from The University of Texas at San Antonio and worked in the biophysics lab of Dr. Lorenzo Brancaleon. During my graduate training in the lab of Dr. Ao Ma at Albert Einstein College of Medicine I focused on developing computational models of the mechano-chemical behavior of the mitotic spindle. My postdoctoral training in the lab of Dr. Avi Ma’ayan at Icahn School of Medicine involved developing computational pipelines, analysis methods, and visualization tools for high-dimensional biological datasets. I am interested in using modern web-technologies to create tools that enable biologists to easily and reproducibly analyze their high-dimensional datasets, share their results, and leverage existing biological knowledge (e.g using enrichment analysis). At the Human Immune Monitoring Center I am developing analysis pipelines, interactive visualizations, and new techniques for analyzing single-cell and bulk immunological datasets.
I graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University in 2013 where I majored in Genetics and minored in Public Health. Since then, I’ve volunteered abroad in rural Brazil, worked in a biorepository where I performed SNP analyses on DNA samples, and contributed to pediatric oncology research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. When I’m not coding, I enjoy running, reading, and playing the saxophone.
El-ad David Amir
Dr. El-ad David Amir is a seasoned computational biologist with more than a decade of experience in bioinformatics, systems biology, and data science, in both academic and industry settings. He is an expert in the exploration of novel data sets, especially high-dimensional, single-event data, and in making machine learning and statistical analysis accessible to biologists and other colleagues. Dr. Amir is the CEO and co-founder of Astrolabe Analytics, a medical diagnostics company.
Dr. Garcia-Quismondo, PhD, is Senior Research Analyst. His areas of research include Computational Modeling, Bioinformatics, Machine Learning, Population Dynamics and High Performance Computing. He has a PhD in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Sevilla (Spain). He has held fellowships at multiple academic institutions, including the University of Sevilla (Spain), Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), Huazhong University of Science and Technology (China), Tufts University, University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, Smithsonian Institution and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
I graduated from Public University of Navarra (Spain) where I majored in Business administration and also in Certificate Diploma in Economics and Business Sciences. After that, I have worked in an International Company as a department Manager, developing my skills as Project coordinator.