Mitosis Group

About Us

Current Lab Members
Previous Lab Members(2001-2021)
Previous Student
Neuro Group
Jone López-Erauskin, Postdoctoral Fellow


My research is centered on the study of neuromuscular junctions and the pathological mechanisms that drive muscle denervation in ALS. My efforts are principally focused on the discovery of molecules that have the potential to induce muscle reinnervation.


Ph.D., University of Barcelona, Spain, 2013

M.S., University of Barcelona, Spain, 2009

B.S., Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, 2006


2019 Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Development Grant

2016 The Milton Safenowitz Post Doctoral Fellowship for ALS Research

Prasad Trivedi, Postdoctoral Fellow


Errors in mitosis can cause localized complex chromosomal rearrangements. Such rearrangements are ubiquitous in cancers and are crucial drivers of genome evolution. I am interested in identifying molecular mechanisms that enable the formation of such complex chromosomal rearrangements.


Ph. D., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA, 2019

M.Sc., University of Pune, India, 2011


Hope Funds for Cancer Research, Postdoctoral fellowship, 2021

Research Staff
Jon Artates, Research Staff


I am part of the Huntington's disease effort.  We are currently working to characterize a gene silencing therapy for the treatment of HD.


B.S., UC San Diego, 2006
Melissa McAlonis-Downes, Research Staff


I am a research project specialist providing consultation, training & surgical expertise for those who have transgenic experiments as well as manage and coordinate all animal studies on-going in the lab.  My primary research focus is Antisense Oligonucleotide Therapy for Familial ALS and Huntington's Disease Models and most recently discovered C9orf72 disease models. I also serve as part of a collaborative disease research team funded by CIRM focused on the therapeutic potential of spinal grafting of neuronal precursors (NPSC’s) and stem cell-derived astrocyte precursor transplants in ALS.


B.S., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1999

M.S., Johns Hopkins University, 2002

Surgical Research Specialist (certified), Academy of Surgical Research, 2005

Jaisen Lim, Research Staff
I am part of the Neuro group, and I work on elucidating mechanisms of C9orf72 ALS, the most common form of inherited ALS. My work focuses on using transgenic animal models to better characterize how “gain of toxicity” from aberrant repeat-containing RNA and polydipeptide translation products from the GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat expansion in theC9orf72 gene synergizes with C9ORF72 loss of function. I hope that my work furthers ALS understanding in both the scientific and medical communities so that therapeutics may be developed for patients with C9orf72 ALS.
B.S., UC San Diego 2021

Vanessa Taupin, Assistant Project Scientist
During my career I have worked in various fields of research: virology, microbiology, gene therapy, molecular and cell biology. And while conducting my own research I became aware of my passion for all imaging technics (light and electron microscopy). That led me to be part of the Electron Microscopy Core (UCSD) where I oversaw all Immuno-EM projects for many years.
I have extensive experience in electron microscopy: resin and cryo samples, ultra-(cryo) microtomy, immuno-EM (tissue or cells, single, double, triple gold labeling), routine TEM for morphology, negative staining (small biological specimens or nanoparticles)…
And I am now excited to provide my EM expertise to both groups in the lab: the Mitosis group (genome rearrangement in cancer) and the Neuro group (mechanism and therapy for human neurodegenerative disease).
Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Clermont-Fd, France, 2006
M.S. Molecular Physiology and Genetics, University of Clermont-Fd, France, 2002
Saban Research Career Development Fellowship, Los Angeles, 2007-2009

Carlos Chillon Marinas, Research Staff


I am lab technician in Don’s lab since 2014, working primarily with the Neuro Group. I am a passionate experimentalist and microscopist. During the past years, I have been involved extensively with ALS research in collaboration with multiple members of the lab.  Currently my main shared project is with Roy Maimon where we focus on generating new neurons in the mammalian adult brain. I am also interest and involved in Huntington’s Disease research in the lab. We are actively characterizing several novel aspects of the disease, with the hope of accelerating treatment(s).
B.S. in Research's Laboratory, Universidad Auntónoma de Madrid, 2005


Franco Au, Postdoctoral Fellow


Extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) drives oncogene amplification and rapid tumor evolution in aggressive cancers. My research interests focus on unravelling the inheritance mechanism of ecDNA in cancer cells. I am also very excited to examine the potential on targeting ecDNA in different cancers as a therapeutic approach.


Ph.D., The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong), 2019

M.Phil., The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong), 2015

B.S., The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong), 2013

Zevik Melamed, Postdoctoral Fellow


The discovery of ALS-causing mutations in several genes encoding proteins with fundamental roles in RNA processing pathways highlights dysfunction in RNA metabolism as an emerging, pivotal mechanism underlying ALS pathogenesis. It remains a mystery, however, how mutations in number of genes are unified by the common devastating phenotype of progressive, adult-onset, motor neuron degeneration, and death within 2-5 years. My goal is to uncover the aberrant RNA metabolism and its potential contribution to toxicity in ALS pathogenesis, using neurons “trans-differentiated” from ALS patient fibroblasts with mutations in RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). Aggregates containing misfolded RBPs are key features of ALS pathology in both familial and sporadic ALS cases, thus my study has the potential to discover and characterize unknown mechanisms through which RNA processing abnormalities provoke ALS pathogenesis.

Education: Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, 2014

Award: EMBO Long-Term Fellowship 2014; Human Frontiers (HSFP) Long-Term Fellowship 2015

Cong Chen, Postdoctoral Fellow


Abnormal protein aggregation and trans-cellular transmission of pathogenic protein are hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases. However, whether TDP43, the main component of ubiquitinated protein aggregates found in most ALS patients, can spread cell-to-cell and further cause degeneration in motor system is unknown. My research focuses on understanding the mechanism underlying spreading of TDP43 pathology, and its causal function in ALS. I am also interested in mechanism of the liquid-liquid phase separation of RNA-binding proteins, like TDP-43, and the physiological function and/or the pathological roles of the TDP-43-riched membrane-less organelles in mammalian cells.


Ph.D., Zhejiang University, 2015

M.S., Zhejiang University, 2010; B.S., Zhejiang University, 2007

Michael W. Baughn, Postdoctoral Fellow


I am focused on the mechanistic underpinnings of RNA processing defects in the neurodegenerative diseases ALS and FTD, leveraging these findings to accelerate therapy development using a combination of techniques that include: CRISPR genome editing, transgenic and AAV-mediated disease modeling, corrective antisense oligonucleotides, and gene therapy.


Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of California, San Diego, 2021

B.S. Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, 2010


Spencer Oung, Research Staff


I work with Shan Lu on studying cytoplasmic TDP-43. Our goal is to identify the basic mechanism of TDP-43 phase separation and the mechanism of TDP-43 aggregation found in ALS patients.


B.S. Neuroscience and Physiology, UC San Diego, 2020

Shan Lu, Postdoctoral Fellow


I am interested in studying the mechanism of muscle denervation in ALS using Mass Spectrometry. My research interest mainly focused on characterizing the disease-specific changes of whole proteome and local translated proteins at the axons of motor neurons.


Ph. D., National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing, 2015

B.S., Nankai University, 2009

Ksenia Krupina, Postdoctoral Fellow


Nuclear integrity is crucial for proper cell function. I am interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying genome rearrangements observed upon nuclear envelope rupture. I am also focused on identifying the role of factors controlling mitotic progression in chromosome instability and cancer, using a combination of cellular and animal models.


Ph.D., University of Strasbourg (France), 2014

M.S., Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia), 2008

Alexander Goginashvili, Postdoctoral Fellow


My research focuses on unraveling the pathways of cellular uptake of Antisense Oligonucleotides (ASOs), a promising therapy for several neurodegenerative diseases including Huntington’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Dementia.  I am further interested in understanding mechanisms underlying defective nucleocytoplasmic compartmentalization and genome instability in aging and disease.


Ph.D. (Dr. Sc.), ETH Zurich (Switzerland), 2014

M.S., St. Petersburg State University (Russia), 2008

B.S., St. Petersburg State University (Russia), 2006

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Sonia Vazquez-Sanchez, Postdoctoral Fellow


TDP-43 is an RNA-binding protein that undergo liquid-liquid phase separation, resembling oil droplets in vinegar. In many neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, TDP-43 forms solid aggregates, which are the major hallmark of the disease. A potential pathway to TDP-43 aggregation might be driven by an initial event of phase separation followed by transition to solid state. My postdoctoral efforts are designed to identify basic mechanisms underlining TDP-43 phase separation and its contribution to aberrant TDP-43 aggregation.


Ph.D., Neuroscience at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), Marie Curie ITN-Cognitionnet fellow, The Netherlands, 2019

M.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Spain, 2014

Melinda Beccari, Ph.D. Student

Stathmin-2 is a protein shown to be crucial for motor neuron regeneration, and is depleted in ALS patients who present a TDP-43 pathology (which represents ~95% of cases). For my thesis work, I am interested in understanding the biology of this protein. I am investigating what roles this protein plays in neuronal axons, how it is regulated, and how it is involved in tubulin biology using iPS-derived motor neurons as a cellular model.

M.S., Biology/Genetics, Biosciences Institute, University of São Paulo, Brazil, 2015
B.S., Biology, Biosciences Institute, University of São Paulo, Brazil, 2012


Sitao Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow

My proposed work will develop inducible phase separation of TDP-43 in the mouse nervous system, with which I will pose mechanistic questions about TDP-43 de-mixing, aggregation, and cell-to-cell spread. Optogenetically-induced dimerization (mediated by cryptochrome 2 [Cry2] for which blue light induces reversible dimerization) are candidates to mediate oligomerization of the initial TDP-43 dimers. After AAV-mediated, focal, and inducible motor neuron-specific expression in the murine central nervous system (CNS), I will use live, 2-photon imaging of fluorescently tagged TDP-43 (for >1 month through a permanently mounted window) to visualize TDP-43 behavior, an approach I have already established. With this, I will determine i) whether inducible phase separation can be achieved, ii) whether this triggers endogenous TDP-43 mislocation and/or aggregation immediately or during aging, and iii) whether this facilitates age-dependent cell-to-cell, prion-like spread.

Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Peking University, National Institute of Biological Sciences(Xiaodong Wang Lab), 2021
B.S., Natural Science Biotechnology,
University of Science and Technology of China, 2015

Roy Maimon, Postdoctoral Fellow

During my PhD I have demonstrated that ALS-diseased muscles secrete toxic factors which facilitate motor neuron degeneration in early stages of ALS disease. Currently, as postdoc fellow, I test a new concept for treating neurodegeneration: ASO-dependent generation of new neurons by direct conversion from astrocytes in the adult nervous system. Ultimately this approach may open new era for treating neurodegenerative diseases.
Ph.D., Tel Aviv University
M.S., Tel Aviv University
B.S., Bar Ilan University