Robert A.J. Signer, Ph.D.
Dr. Robert A.J. Signer is a stem cell biologist whose trailblazing work on protein synthesis and homeostasis in hematopoietic stem cells opened the door to unchartered areas of cellular investigation. Dr. Signer is currently the Deputy Director of the Stem Cell Discovery Center and an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine at the University of California San Diego.
Previously, Dr. Signer worked alongside Dr. Sean Morrison as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He earned a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology in Dr. Kenneth Dorshkind’s lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Science (Biomedical) from the University of Toronto. Dr. Signer has published multiple high-profile papers in top tier scientific journals, including Nature, Cell, eLife, Cell Stem Cell, Nature Cell Biology, Blood and Genes and Development. He has presented leading-edge scientific discoveries around the world, including at the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the American Society of Hematology, the International Society for Experimental Hematology, and numerous Keystone Symposiums, among others. Coupled with his excellent track record of grant funding, Dr. Signer is one of the foremost thought leaders in stem cell science. A sports enthusiast and adventure traveler, Dr. Signer, a native Canadian, currently lives with his family in San Diego, California.
Mary Jean Sunshine, M.S.
In her primary role as Lab Manager, Mary Jean (MJ) manages key day-to-day functions of the Signer Lab, while simultaneously investigating genetic mechanisms that regulate the regenerative activity of hematopoietic stem cells. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, MJ was Director of the Transgenic Core at New York University Langone Medical Center, a Researcher in the Transgenic Core at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an HHMI research specialist in Dr. Dan Littman’s lab at NYU, and a technician in Dr. Hal Weintraub’s lab at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She first became an expert in the art of mouse embryo microinjection in Dr. Liz Lacy’s lab at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. MJ earned her M.S. in Natural Science from Arizona State University and B.S. in Biology & Psychology from Pepperdine University.
Kentson Lam, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Kent Lam is a Hematology/Oncology fellow in the Physician-Scientist Training Program currently investigating how protein homeostasis is involved in regulating leukemia stem cells. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, Kent received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California San Diego. He performed his graduate work identifying targets of transcription factors that are critical in regulating hematopoietic stem cell function. He earned his B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Helena Yu, M.D.
Dr. Helena Yu is a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellow at the University of California San Diego/Rady Children’s Hospital. She is investigating hematopoietic stem cell protein homeostasis in pediatric bone marrow failure syndromes and throughout development. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, Helena completed her pediatric residency at the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. She earned her M.D. from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and her B.A. in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago.
Yasar Kasu, Ph.D.
Dr. Yasar Kasu is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California San Diego co-mentored by Dr. Robert Signer and Dr. Eric Bennett. His work focuses on uncovering mechanisms of translational control in hematopoietic stem cells. Prior to joining the Signer & Bennett Labs, Yasar earned his M.S. and Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University where he made important discoveries on protein homeostasis network activity in neurodegenerative disorders. Originally from India, Yasar cam to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming an independent scientist.
Fanny Zhou, M.S.
Fanny Zhou is a Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of California San Diego. Her work focuses on how protein homeostasis mechanisms regulate hematopoietic stem cell aging. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, Fanny was a research associate at Boston Children’s Hospital studying intestinal stem cells using organoid models and at Ohana Biosciences studing male fertility. She earned her M.S. and B.S. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University.
Amanda Daniels, M.S.
Amanda (AJ) Daniels is a Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of California San Diego. She is co-mentored in the labs of Dr. Robert Signer and Dr. Eric Bennett. Her work focuses on the role of translation fidelity in the regulation of hematopoietic stem cell protein homeostasis, self-renewal, and longevity. Prior to joining the Signer and Bennett Labs, AJ studied the role of Hspa1a in lipid homeostasis. AJ earned her M.S. in Biological Sciences from California State University Fullerton and her B.S. in Biology from the University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau.
Dave Kim, B.S.
Yoon Joon (Dave) Kim is a Master’s student in the Bioengineering program at the University of California San Diego. Dave initially joined the lab as an undergraduate and is now pursuing his Master’s thesis work, which focuses on targeting the protein homeostasis network in leukemia. Dave earned his B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of California San Diego.
Daniela Dreifke is a Freshman undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology at the University of California San Diego. She assists Bernadette Chua to investigate how protein degradation mechanisms regulate hematopoietic stem cells. She also helps with other laboratory operations.
Carlo (Miggy) Ong
Miggy Ong is a Junior undergraduate student majoring in Human Biology at the University of California San Diego. He assists Dr. Kent Lam to investigate how protein homeostasis can be therapeutically targeted in leukemia. He also helps with other laboratory operations.