Lab Members

Principal Investigator


Jeremy Willsey | UCSF Profiles
Assistant Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

Jeremy completed his BSc at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, CA followed by a PhD in Genetics from Yale University in New Haven, and postdoctoral work at UCSF in San Francisco. His current research aims to utilize a systems biological approach in order to understand mechanistic convergence among genes strongly implicated in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other complex neuropsychiatric disorders.
– View Dr. Willsey’s Curriculum Vitae –

Postdoctoral Fellows

Nawei Sun –
nawei_croppedDr. Nawei Sun has a B.S. in Biotechnology from Jilin University of China, and has recently completed a Ph.D. in Genetics at Rutgers University. With a decade of research experience, ranging from investigations of cancer cell line stability, to differentiation of iPSCs, Dr. Sun’s doctoral research has focused on uncovering the genetic etiology and neurobiology of Tourette’s Disorder. Utilizing her expertise in stem cell biology, molecular genetics, and neurobiology, she has performed whole exome sequencing to identify Tourette Disorder associate sequence variants, generated iPSC lines and used transcriptome analysis to identify affected biological pathways, and leveraged this data to uncover possible molecular and cellular phenotypes. In her time at the Willsey Lab, Nawei will continue her cutting edge research, leading our efforts to utilize iPSCs to better understand ASD and other neurodevelopment disorders.
– View Dr. Nawei Sun’s Curriculum Vitae –

Irina Epstein –
Irina_croppedIrina completed her Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research / Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, where she studied RNA-based mechanisms underlying
the regulation of local protein synthesis in the context of synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. Currently, she is a Postdoc with Steven Finkbeiner at the Gladstone Institutes and in the Departments of Physiology and Neurology at UCSF. Irina has a keen interest in the molecular and cellular underpinnings of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is collaborating with the Willsey Lab to study the effects of de novo ASD-associated mutations on the structure and function of iPSC-derived neurons using high-throughput robotic microscopy.


PhD Students

Sheng Wang
sheng_croppedSheng Wang has a B.S. in Biological Sciences from China Agricultural University in Beijing, China. He recently concluded postgraduate work at the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing. In his previous research, Sheng worked on projects involving genetic knock-out organisms, construction of a stable cell line with DNA-methylation silenced EGFP and subsequent screening for epigenetic regulators, identification of postzygotic mutations in donor tissues using whole genome sequencing data, and the creation of a next-generation sequencing library using a custom-designed autism related genes panel. In his time at the Willsey Lab, Sheng will continue to lead cutting edge research using  next-generation sequencing data and systems biological analyses.
– View Sheng Wang’s Curriculum Vitae –

Nia Teerikorpi – 
Nia_croppedNia received her B.A. in Biochemical Molecular Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently pursuing her PhD at UCSF as part of the multi-disciplinary TETRAD program. Nia joined the Willsey Lab as a rotation student tin Spring 2017, where she is working to characterize the interaction network of NRXN1, a central protein in ASD pathology, at different stages of neuronal differentiation.


Staff Members

Clif Duhn – Lab Manager

Clif Duhn works as Lab Manager for the Willsey Lab, the State Lab, and the Sanders Lab at UCSF. In his role as lab manager and coordinator, Clif plays a key role in the collaboration between these three labs as they work jointly to better understand the genetic pathways and neurobiology contributing to neurodevelopment disorders such as ASD.
– View Clif Duhn’s Curriculum Vitae –

Jeff Mandell – Bioinformatic Programmer
Jeff designs, builds, and runs software pipelines incorporating a variety of bioinformatic software tools to process and analyze genetic data. He frequently works with large amounts of whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing data, and he also contributes to RNA-Seq and ChIP-Seq experiments. Jeff has a broad interest in behavioral biology, as well as a particular interest in the application of computer science techniques to identify sources of genetic risk for complex, multicausal psychiatric conditions. Jeff has a BA from Stanford University in Human Biology.

Qihao Qi – Bioinformatic Programmer
Qihao is a bioinformatician/genomic data scientist with a strong interest in data mining and computer programming. The goal of his work is to solve complex biomedical research questions with cutting-edge computational statistics and machine learning methods. Prior to join in Willsey lab, Qihao worked for scientists at National Cancer Institute to analyze genomic data and develop bioinformatics applications, including BRB-ArrayTools and BRB-SeqTools.
– View Qihao Qi’s Curriculum Vitae –


Juan Arbelaez  – Senior Research Associate

Juan Arbelaez is a research associate in the State Lab at UCSF. With extensive experience working with stem cells, he lends his guidance and leadership to the Willsey Lab. Currently, Juan is collaborating with us on projects involving iPSCs.


Montana Morris – Research Associate
Montana Morris graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with a B.A. in Literature and Philosophy, where he also pursued the Pre-Med track with hopes of one day becoming a physician. His previous research experience includes several summers at MDIBL in Maine, during which he worked on epithelial chloride transport in the Shark Rectal Gland of the Spiny Dogfish, utilizing varied approaches, under Dr. John Forrest, M.D. Originally from New York City, he moved to San Francisco shortly after his graduation, and now works as a Research Associate in the Willsey Lab. His projects currently include IPSCs and proteomics. 
– View Montana Morris’s Curriculum Vitae –

Tierney Baum – Research Associate

img_2706Tierney Baum completed her B.S. in Neuroscience from UC Santa Cruz in 2014, focusing her undergraduate research on the mechanisms underlying cytoplasmic focal accumulations in Drosophila motor neurons. She has since managed multiple clinical research studies on fMRI and fear conditioning in veterans with PTSD.  Tierney joined the Willsey lab in 2017, where she collaborates on projects including the proteomics of the top-associated ASD genes using iPSCs and CRISPRi technologies.

Rebecca Krasnoff – Research Associate
Rebecca graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016 with a degree in Psychology, having focused specifically on Neuroscience. In her time at Berkeley, she spent time in both clinical and basic research settings, where she looked at complex psychiatric disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, and used techniques such as EEG to investigate basic cognitive processes.  In the Willsey Lab, Rebecca uses computer and data science techniques to analyze genetic data, and works in iPSCs to aid the lab in its search to better understand the underlying neurobiology of disorders such as ASD.