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Members of the VIDE Group

About us

Our research group consists of scientists at all academic levels who work together towards developing the next-generation of rAAVs and other therapeutic platforms. Our researchers are diverse and hail from a range of training backgrounds.  Many of our research objectives are in collaboration with the Gao Lab and other prominent scientists in the Horae Gene Therapy Center and UMass Chan Medical School.

Phil Tai, PhD

Assistant Professor
phillip.tai2 at umassmed.edu

Phil graduated from UC Berkeley (BA, Molecular and Cellular Biology), and University of Washington (PhD, Biochemistry). His research focuses on the development of next-gen sequencing methodologies to profile AAV vector genome quality, and discovery and characterization of natural AAV capsid isolates for vectorization and gene therapy.

Fang Zhang, PhD

Sr. Research Assistant
Fang.Zhang at umassmed.edu

Fang earned her Ph.D. in Pathogen Biology from China's National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention. She studied HCV-host cell interactions and innate immunity in HCV infection during her postdoctoral training at the NIH. She developed a protocol for preparing single-cell RNA-seq libraries from complex samples at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently working on the characterization of AAV capsids for tissue-specific gene therapy.

Tapan Sharma, PhD

Research Associate IV
Tapan.Sharma at umassmed.edu

Tapan hails from India where he received his Ph.D. from the School of Life Sciences at JNU, New Delhi. His past research was focused on understanding the role of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzymes in cancer cell growth and skeletal muscle development. His current project involves designing AAV vectors that can be delivered to target tissues while evading immune system responses. He loves hiking and playing badminton.

Taylor Chen, PhD

Postdoc Associate
Taylor.Chen4 at umassmed.edu

Taylor earned his BS in Engineering from Swarthmore College and his PhD in Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences from Baylor College of Medicine. He is passionate about studying AAV biology and AAV immunogenicity. Previously, he advanced CAR T-cell research at the University of Pennsylvania and cancer biology/immunology research at Baylor College of Medicine. Outside of the lab, Taylor enjoys playing tennis, hiking in Western Massachusetts, and trying new restaurants!

Mengtian Cui, PhD

Postdoc Associate
Mengtian.Cui1 at umassmed.edu

Mengtian received her bachelor’s degree in Basic Medicine and her Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology from Capital Medical University, China. Her research revolved around AAV virology; specifically, its structure and how it traffics in the cell. Her current focuses are on the engineering and characterization of novel AAV capsids through rational design, and development of tissue-specific gene therapy vectors for retinal diseases. She is also passionate about uncovering the mechanisms of AAV cellular trafficking and nuclear entry. Outside of research, she is a lover of movies and cute fluffy animals.

SRavi.jpgSandhiya Ravi, PhD

Postdoc Associate
Sandhiya.Ravi1 at umassmed.edu

Sandhiya obtained her Bachelors and Masters in Information Technology, and her PhD in Information and Communication Engineering from Anna University, India. Her research areas include Machine Learning, Ontology, and Tele-Medicine Systems. Sandhiya is skilled in programming languages (C, Python & R), systems design, and modeling. She is passionate about problem solving and working in a multidisciplinary and challenging environment.

Tam Tran, PhD

Postdoc Associate
NgocTam.Tran at umassmed.edu




TLeland.jpgTom Leland, MSc

Graduate Student
Thomas.Leland at umassmed.edu

Thomas graduated from Hampshire College (BA, Environmental and Analytical Chemistry) and UMass Lowell (MS, Analytical Chemistry), and worked in Analytical Development and QC groups at two Boston area biotech companies before coming to UMass Chan Medical School. His research focuses on metabolic regulation of rAAV-transgene expression for rare diseases, and he is broadly interested in therapeutics that affect aging and longevity. Outside of the lab, Thomas likes to spend time with his family and his dog, and working on home improvement projects.

Sophia Liu, BS

Graduate Student
Sophia.Liu6 at umassmed.edu

Sophia received her bachelor's in neuroscience from Centre College. Her interests revolve around understanding how to best use rAAVs for neurological disorders. Her current research focuses on, 1) investigating metabolic changes and cross-correction of GM3 synthase deficiency (GM3SD) after rAAV treatment in the brain, and 2) understanding neural transduction by different AAV2 variants. Outside of lab work, Sophia’s greatest joys are eating and sleeping.

Suk Namkung, ScM

Graduate Student
Suk.Namkung at umassmed.edu

Suk is a PhD candidate from South Korea/Uganda. Before coming to UMass Chan Medical School, he received his degrees from Baylor University (BS, Biology) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (ScM, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology). He previously worked at the International Vaccine Institute to study dengue virus outbreaks in Africa and conducted research on AAV-vectored immunoprophylaxis against malarial parasites. His current research focuses on utilizing next-generation sequencing to understand the relationship between rAAV episome conformations and transgene expression. Outside of research, Suk competes in local tennis competitions and watches Tottenham with his son.

Sam Lerner, BS

Research Technician
Samuel.Lerner at umassmed.edu