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Our People

Jillian Richmond, PhD: Dr. Richmond earned her undergraduate degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University, and her doctoral degree in Pathology & Immunology from Boston University School of Medicine. She performed a postdoctoral fellowship in chemokine biology at Massachusetts General Hospital before moving to the Harris Lab at UMass to study chemokines in vitiligo, an autoimmune disease characterized by CD8+ T cell-mediated destruction of melanocytes. She has also studied formation of autoreactive resident memory T cells that make vitiligo refractory to treatment. Her laboratory now focuses on T cell migration and function in other autoimmune skin diseases including Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus and Morphea.

Ummugulsum Yildiz Altay, MD: Gulsum graduated from Ege University Faculty of Medicine, Turkey in 2012. She worked as a family medicine resident and occupational physician prior to joining to Dr. Richmond’s Lab. She is interested in autoimmune skin diseases especially lupus, alopecia and lichen planus. In her free time she likes traveling and spending time on the pottery wheel.

Elisa Bello, BA: A rising MS2 at the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine, Elisa is strongly interested in the immunological underpinnings of clinical disease. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry at Amherst College before spending two years studying immunotherapies for pancreatic cancer and melanoma. In the lab, Elisa will work to elucidate the immunologic signature of refractory subsets of Multiple Sclerosis, with the ultimate goal of informing effective treatment. In her free time, Elisa enjoys running and traveling.

Sachi Desse, AA, BS: Sachi earned her Associates in Biology from Miami Dade College and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Miami. She is currently an MD candidate at Morehouse School of Medicine and is performing a research rotation in our lab studying health disparities in Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma with a focus on Mycosis Fungoides. Sachi enjoys dancing, singing, playing basketball and interior design.


Nazgol Haddadi, MD-MPH: Nazgol earned her medical and public health degrees from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 2017. She has been worked on the neuropharmacology of itch sensation and alternative immune modulation and immunosuppression in treating diseases occur due to impaired immune system activation. Nazgol is studying cutaneous lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune skin disorders and their response to the UV light. (co-mentored with Dr. Mehdi Rashighi)

Khashayar Afshari, MD-MPH: Khashayar Afshari MD-MPH is a physician and researcher graduated from Tehran University of Medical sciences. He is interested in inflammation, autoimmunity and neuroscience. He has been studying neuroinflammation in pruritus, spinal cord injury, seizure and social isolation syndrome and has worked on models for increasing skin flap survival. He is currently studying immune system phenotypes and transcriptomics in autoimmune disorders. (co-mentored with Dr. Mehdi Rashighi)

Aisha Jamison, BS, CertMedPhysiol: Aisha is from Fort Myers Florida. She received her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she majored in Microbiology in Cell Science and minored in African American studies. She is a third-year medical student at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (WSUBSOM). Aisha is currently interested in cutaneous lupus erythematosus. She is unsure about what field she will pursue in medicine, but her ultimate goal is to use her role as a physician to improve access to healthcare to the medically underserved. Aisha enjoys baking and biking.

Renee Joyce, BS: Renee is an MS1 at UMass Chan Medical School pursuing a career in dermatology and is participating in the 2022 Summer Research & Curriculum Exploration (RCE) Program investigating Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE). Renee was exposed to dermatology at a young age when she was diagnosed with psoriasis; her journey with psoriasis sparked her interest in autoimmune skin disease and her desire to help those with chronic skin disease feel confident and in control of their condition. 

Shriya Kannan: Shriya is currently a sophomore at Acton Boxborough Regional High School. She is interested in cutaneous biology and looks forward to a career in medicine. She is working with Dr. Richmond on immunophenotyping data from mouse models. By analyzing data from mouse models using various techniques, she hopes to learn more about how the characteristics of a cell influence the behavior and aspects of a disease. 

Saurabh Kumar, BS: Saurabh is a rising MS2 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School with interests in neurology. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Molecular & Cell Biology and Statistics from the University of Connecticut. Through the Clinical and Translational Research Pathway (CTRP) at UMMS, he is working on analyzing treatment paradigms for Multiple Sclerosis based on a patient’s unique immune phenotype. As a future physician-scientist, Saurabh aspires to integrate his clinical, laboratory, and statistical skills to better treat his patients. In his free time, Saurabh is an avid clarinetist and enjoys hiking.

Danny Kwong: Danny is a rising senior at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) University on the Boston Campus. He will be participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). Danny is interested in autoimmune diseases and hopes to learn more about them through our lab. In his free time, Danny enjoys practicing yoga, shopping and spending time with friends and family.

Christine Li: Christine is an MS1 at UMass aspiring to become a dermatologist, and she is participating in the 2022 Summer Research & Curriculum Exploration (RCE) Program. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Management from MIT in 2018. She spent several years working in management consulting, where she first became interested in dermatology after working with a pharmaceutical company on psoriasis treatments. Her interests include infectious and autoimmune diseases within dermatology, pediatric dermatology, and skin of color dermatology.

Nicole Loranger, BS: Nicole is an aspiring dermatologist currently in her second year of school at UMass Med. She first fell in love with dermatology as a medical assistant, and has since had the opportunity to explore a few different topics within the field including epidermolysis bullosa, alopecia, and melanoma. During her participation in the 2021 RCE Program, Nicole started a project focused on racial disparities in melanoma outcomes and, by implementing a patient survey, hopes to elucidate the barriers to care specifically impacting melanoma patients with skin of color. She will continue this project for her capstone research in our lab. In her free time, Nicole enjoys running, dancing, trying new restaurants, and spending time outdoors with friends and family.

Janet Lubov, BSN, RN, PCCN: Janet earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Maryland School of Nursing and is a medical student at Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine. In addition to her MD candidacy, Janet is also working towards an MS in Pharmacology & Toxicology, focusing on clinical investigation. Her research year focus with our lab will be on cutaneous lupus erythematosus and explorations of circadian rhythm genes implication on lupus pathogenesis. Janet is interested in infectious and autoimmune diseases within dermatology, particularly in underserved and under-resourced populations.

Robert Dinglun Luo: Robert is a rising 3rd-year student at UC Berkeley with a major in Molecular Cell Biology and potentially a minor in Toxicology. He is open to exploring a wide variety of topics within clinical/biological research. In his free time, you can find Robert playing the piano, working out in the gym, and getting destroyed on the basketball court.

Junyue Ma: Junyue is a current sophomore at Miss Porter’s School. She is interested in biology and medical science. She hopes to learn more about tumor biology and data analysis in our lab. She will be working with Jadé on the cutaneous T cell lymphoma project and Haya on the pemphigus project.

Akanksha Nagarkar: Akanksha is a rising MS2 at UMass Chan Medical School. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a dual degree in Biology and Anthropology. Akanksha is interested in the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying autoimmune disease. She is also incredibly passionate about ameliorating health disparities through equitable research practices and community initiatives. In her free time, Akanksha loves to sing and you can often find her performing at various locales in the area!

Fatima Qutab: Fatima is a senior at Clark University majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Health, Science, and Society. She is interested in learning more about neuroscience and autoimmune diseases. Fatima joined the lab in 2020 and is working on the Multiple Sclerosis immunophenotyping project.

Zechuan Rao: Rao is a first-year undergrad at the University of California Los Angeles majoring in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. He is interested in aging and immunology and how the two topics may be closely related. One of his personal hobbies is keeping and observing ant colonies in test tubes.

Andrew Romasco: Drew is a rising MS2 at UMass Chan School of Medicine. He graduated from UMass Amherst with degrees in Informatics and Biology. Drew is interested in the overlap and interplay between auto-immune diseases and cancer and is looking forward to exploring them more with our lab. In his free time, you can find Drew swimming, reading web serials, or spending time with his two dogs.

Shakeria Stewart, MS: Shakeria is a MS2 at Morehouse School of Medicine from Atlanta, Ga. She earned her MS in Medical Sciences at Morehouse School of Medicine. She aspires to be a dermatologist, and has an interest in inflammatory skin diseases. She looks forward to treating skin of color patients, and hopes to one day provide specialty care for medically underserved patients. In her free time, Shakeria enjoys baking and shopping.

Marisa Walsh, BS: Marisa is a second year medical student at Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine striving to become a dermatologist. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2018. Her interests in dermatology are expansive but particularly focus around improving patient education accessibility for marginalized communities. She is completing a capstone research project with Dr. Richmond and Dr. Rashighi concentrating on creating patient education documents for the UMass Dermatology Department that are inclusive. She is also analyzing online resources for inclusivity.

Yu Wang, Ph.D.: A rising MD2 student at the Morehouse School of Medicine, Yu earned her BS in Biological science from China. She moved to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Auburn University, AL where she studied bifunctional enzyme KatG catalysis and mechanism of action. After obtaining her Ph.D., she did two years of post-doctoral training at Virginia Tech and became the first person to discover the methanofuran biosynthesis pathway. In Fall 2015, Yu started a tenure-track faculty position at the University of North Georgia. In 2021, Yu began her medical journey to pursue a career as a dermatologist. She is the mother of a four-year-old who has been suffering from Atopic Dermatitis. In the lab, Yu's project is to perform comparative immunology and transcriptomics of Atopic Dermatitis, with the ultimate goal of informing effective treatment. Yu enjoys playing music and reading books with her daughter.

Neil Wong: Neil is a rising junior at Shrewsbury High School. He is very interested in the application of computer programs to biomedical research. He is currently working with Ista & Jadé on the canine comparative immunology studies.

Michelle Wu: Michelle is an MS1 at the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine participating in the 2022 Summer Research and Curriculum Exploration (RCE) Program. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Applied Economics and Management where she also worked in a research lab with a focus on melanoma and adult stem cell biology. Michelle is interested in learning more about autoimmune diseases affecting the skin, inflammation, and skin cancer.

Alumni:

Sebastian Nieves-Lozano: Sebastian is a medical microbiology undergraduate & rising senior student-athlete at the University of Puerto Rico. He is also part of the 2022 Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at UMass Chan Medical School, where he joined the lab. Sebastian has aspirations of entering medical school in the near future with interests in cardiology and orthopedics. He has previous research experience with thermo-resistant fungi found in caves in Puerto Rico. His projects focus on canine diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (cDLBCL) and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). In his free time, he enjoys working out, playing basketball, doing yoga, trying new restaurants, and cooking.

Alice Amudzi, MD: Alice is an aspiring dermatologist from Ghana, West Africa. She completed her bachelor's in Medical science from the University of Ghana and obtained her medical degree at the University of Ghana Medical School. Alice has interests in cutaneous oncology, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases. She is performing a year of research in our lab studying Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus. Alice is passionate about the diagnosis and therapeutic management of skin diseases in people of African descent. (Matched for intern year at the Berkshires)

Ayodeji Ajayi, MPH: Ayo is a fourth year medical student at Georgetown University who aspires to become a dermatologist. Previously, she worked as a clinical trial monitor and has conducted research in hidradenitis suppurativa. Her research focus in our lab is wound healing and erythema multiforme. Ayo is interested in improving access to dermatology services within under-resourced communities, tropical and pediatric dermatology. In her time of rest and relaxation, she likes to travel, experience new cultures and spend time with loved ones. (Matched for Dermatology at Mayo Clinic, FL)

Meigan Bryant: Meigan is a MS4 at Georgetown School of Medicine from Los Angeles, CA. Her interest include skin of color specifically pigmentary disorders, health literacy, and diversity in medicine. When she’s not studying, you can find her playing at the park with her son and husband. She hopes to encourage other women to believe that you do not have to choose between having a family and having a career. It is possible to have both! (Matched for Family Medicine in TN)

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Haya Raef, MS: Haya majored in Biology at New York University Abu Dhabi and earned her MS in Biomedical Sciences at Tufts School of Medicine. She is currently a medical student at Tufts, and is performing a year of research in our lab during the 2020-2021 academic year studying cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Haya is also actively involved in community outreach efforts, and has been creating COVID care packages for the homeless at Preble Street in Portland, ME and Boston Health Care for the Homeless in Boston, MA. (Matched for Dermatology at Emory)

Jadesola (Jadé) Temitope Olayinka, BSc: Jadé is a medical student at State University of New York Downstate Health Sciences Center aspiring to become a dermatologist. She earned her Bachelor of Sciences in Natural Sciences from the University of Calgary, with concentrations in biology and chemistry. She is performing a year of research in our lab during the 2020-2021 academic year studying cutaneous T cell lymphoma. Jadé is committed to improving health disparities in marginalized communities, with a particular focus on advocacy for skin of color representation and education. She works to address the skin cancer prognosis disparity by facilitating free community skin screenings and educational sessions. Jadé enjoys playing basketball, hiking, and graphic design. (Matched for Dermatology at NYU)

Jenna Cornwall, RN: Jenna is an MS1 at UMass, and will be participating in the 2021 Summer Research & Curriculum Exploration (RCE) Program. She is interested in dermatology, specifically in treating patients with skin cancer. Her project will focus on comparing keratinocytes in basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous lupus erythematosus.

Mark Tawadrous: Mark is an MS1 at UMass, and he is participating in the 2021 Summer Research & Curriculum Exploration (RCE) program. His project will focus on ways of improving skin-of-color dermatology. Specifically, he will be working to enhance the racial inclusivity of clinical photographs of skin diseases across the residents’ curriculum. In his free time, Mark enjoys traveling to new places, trying out new restaurants and spending time with friends and family.

Colton Garelli, BS: Colton majored in Biochemistry and minored in Computer Science at Ithica College. He performed research on disordered protein constructs that have functional consequences on transcription factor activity in Dr. Jamie Ellis' lab. His independent project in the Richmond lab focuses on gene expression analysis on skin from autoimmune patients and model organisms.

Ista A Egbeto, BS: Ista graduated from Stony Brook University with a major in Cell Biology and a minor in Business Administration. She is currently a 4th-year medical student who aspires to become a dermatologist. She has research experience in oncology and worked on various oncology research projects at Dana Farber and MGH during her second and third of year of medical school. In the Richmond lab, she is studying vitiligo and Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus. She is performing remote data analysis for our gene expression and flow cytometry studies. (Matched for Dermatology at Johns Hopkins)

Morgan Groover: Morgan is a rising MS2 at UMass, and she is participating in the 2020 Summer Research & Curriculum Exploration (RCE) Program. Morgan is interested in dermatology as a specialty. Her project in the lab focuses on links between inflammation and fibrosis as they pertain to morphea/localized scleroderma. She is performing remote data analysis for our gene expression and flow cytometry studies.

Grace Ryan: Grace is a rising MS2 at UMass, and she is participating in the 2020 Summer Research & Curriculum Exploration (RCE) Program. Grace is interested in immunology, as the immune system interacts with all of our body's other tissues to keep us healthy. Her project in the lab focuses on how the immune system goes awry in cutaneous lupus erythematosus. She is performing remote data analysis for our gene expression and flow cytometry studies.

Lance Wong - former research intern, currently an undergraduate at Columbia University

Dhrumil Patel - former medical student researcher, capstone project, currently a Dermatology Resident at Dartmouth

Senegal Carty - former Master's student researcher, currently a PhD student at Boston University School of Medicine