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Montminy Lab - Personnel

Montminy Lab

Principal Investigator

Marc Montminy Marc Montminy, professor in the Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology, joined The Salk Institute in 1999. He received a combined M.D./Ph.D. in physiology from the Tufts University School of Medicine and a B.S. in biochemistry from Harvard College. Prior to joining Salk, Montminy was a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Laboratory of Advanced Genetic Technologies and section head of Molecular Biology at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

Research Associates

Laura Rodon Ahnert Laura Rodón Ahnert studied Biology at the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain and earned her Ph.D degree in Biomedicine at the University of Barcelona, Spain. During her graduate training, in Dr.Seoane’s laboratory, at the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology, she worked on the role of the TGF-B signaling pathway in brain tumors. In july 2013, she joined Dr. Montminy lab to perform postdoctal training. Currently, she is studying the role of CREB and CRTCs in tumorigenesis and cancer metabolism.

Dandan Chen Dandan Chen earned her Ph.D. at Xiamen University in China 2008. After that, she took her first postdoc training at UC Berkeley under the guidance of Dr. Qing Zhong who is working on Autophagy. Dandan joined the Montminy lab in February 2012. Currently, she is trying to dig out new coactivator(s) or repressor(s) in the CREB-CTRCs pathway.

Anila Kanchan Madiraju Anila Kanchan Madiraju earned her Ph.D. in Cellular & Molecular Physiology from Yale University, where she studied the role of redox and mitochondrial energetics in whole body physiology and metabolism. As a part of her thesis work in the lab of Dr. Gerald I. Shulman, she investigated the mechanism of the widely used diabetes drug metformin. Additionally, she discovered signaling mechanisms that integrate ureagenesis and amino acid catabolism with glucose metabolism and energy homeostasis in the liver. In January 2015, she joined the Montminy lab where she currently studies signal transduction pathways involved in adipocyte differentiation, and is continuing her work on amino acid metabolism and ureagenesis. Outside of the lab, Anila is an active member of the Society for Research Fellows at the Salk Institute, and is a community science educator. She was named the 2016 Jonas Salk Fellow.

Jelena Ostojic Jelena Ostojić studied biology at Universities of Trieste in Italy and Paris 7 in France, where she obtained her Bachelor and Master degrees, respectively. She obtained her PhD in September 2013 from the University of Evry Val d'Essonne in France. She worked on the assembly and interactions of OXPHOS complexes in the yeast Saccaharomyces cerevisiae, in the group of Dr. Geneviève Dujardin (Center for Molecular Genetics, Gif sur Yvette, France). Jelena joined the Montminy lab in May 2014 where she is working on the post-translational regulation of CREB activity and its downstream effects, in particular on mitochondrial biogenesis.

Jose Paz Jose C Paz studied biology at the University of Malaga, Spain and earned his Ph.D. degree at the University of Barcelona, Spain. During his graduate training, he worked on mitochondrial metabolism and dynamics and its involvement in insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and liver. His interest in the regulation of glucose production in liver drove him to join the Montminy lab in October 2008. His main interest is the role of CREB and TORC regulatory axis in mitochondrial metabolism in the insulin responsive tissues. In his spare time he likes to listen to music, play guitar and enjoy the beautiful San Diego sunsets.

Pagkapol Yhew Pongsawakul Pagkapol (Yhew) Pongsawakul is a postdoctoral research associate who joined the lab in September of 2013. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biology from the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California, San Diego under supervision of Drs. Steve Kay and Marc Montminy. He earned his B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia. At Montminy lab in collaboration with the Kay lab at USC, Yhew is studying the molecular mechanism of Cryptochromes and their mechanism in repressing cAMP signaling.

Tim Sontag Tim Sonntag studied biology at the Philipps-University Marburg, Germany. After earning his Diploma in Biology, he moved to the TU Dortmund University and started to work on his thesis in the group of Dr. Henning Mootz. In 2010 he received his Dr. rer. nat. after working in the field of chemical biology with a focus on the application of split inteins, protein domains that self-catalyze their excision from a precursor protein, for protein functional control and segmental isotopic labeling based NMR approaches. In June 2011 he joined the lab of Dr. Steve Kay at UCSD and studied molecular interactions of circadian proteins, in particular mammalian cryptochromes. After joining the Montminy lab in December 2012 he shifted his research focus towards mechanistic studies involving CREB and specific interaction partners.

Sam Van de Velde Sam Van de Velde is a postdoctoral research associate who joined the lab in June 2007. He obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the KU Leuven in Belgium. He previously studied glucose and sucrose induced signaling mechanisms in yeast in the laboratory of Dr. Johan Thevelein. Currently, he is investigating TORC2 function in pancreatic beta cells. He aims to understand the mechanism by which TORC2 regulates glucose homeostasis and beta cell function by using animal models, cultured insulinoma cell lines and his first love, yeast.

Ezra Wiater Ezra Wiater studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Washington and went on to earn his Ph. D. from the University of California San Diego in 2003, performing his thesis research in the lab of Wylie Vale. He joined the Montminy lab in 2012 and is currently working of the mechanisms of activin signaling in pancreatic islets and beta-cells with a focus on the effects of activin on glucose metabolism; the regulation of pancreatic endocrine cell populations; and activin regulation of multiple pancreatic endocrine cell functions in the adult.

Young-Sil Yoon Young-Sil Yoon studied mitochondrial function and dynamics in aging and hetatocarcinogenesis during her Ph.D training in Korea. She previously studied the role of kinase and phosphatase in controlling hepatic energy metabolism in laboratory of Dr. Seung-Hoi Koo. She moved to the Montminy lab in Feb 2012 to further develop her career in metabolic research. Currently, she is studying the molecular and physiological function of CRTC3 in brown fat.

Undergraduate Student

Melissa Tran Melissa Tran is an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego where she is majoring in Public Health and General Biology. As a Laboratory assistant, Melissa helps researchers with a variety of tasks, including molecular biology techniques and buffer preparation. She also orders supplies and organizes the lab. In the future, she would like to work in the medical field to help all patients in need, whether it is financially, emotionally, or physically. In her free time, Melissa runs her own business, "Melissa's Succulents", where she grows and arranges a variety of plants that range from succulents, cacti, air plants, and lucky bamboo.

Research Technicians

Susie Hedrick (Lab Manager)