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Lab members

  • Erik Sontheimer

    Erik Sontheimer, PhD

    Erik J. Sontheimer, PhD, is Professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute and the Program for Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA.  He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University, where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Joan Steitz, and then was a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Piccirilli. From June 1999 through July 2014, he was on the faculty of the Department of Molecular Biosciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. His research focus is on RNA-based gene regulation, and his laboratory has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of both pre-mRNA splicing mechanisms and RNA interference pathways. In 2007 his laboratory also began working on genetic interference mechanisms in pathogenic bacteria. Among other advances, his group provided the first demonstration that small RNAs known as CRISPR RNAs can target DNA molecules for interference, and in 2008 was the first to recognize and articulate the transformative potential of CRISPR RNA-guided genome engineering applications. He has since continued his work on the biology, mechanism, and application of CRISPR-Cas systems. He is an Associate Editor of RNA and a member of the American Academy of Microbiology, and he has served on the Board of Directors of the RNA Society, as well as numerous grant review panels, scientific advisory boards, and editorial boards. While at Northwestern, he received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, a New Investigator Award in the Basic Pharmacological Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a Basil O’Conner Award from the March of Dimes, a Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society, a Distinguished Teaching Award from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, and the 2008 Nestle Award from the American Society for Microbiology. He is a co-founder and Scientific Advisory Board member at Intellia Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA.

  • Nadia Amrani

    Nadia Amrani, PhD

    Research Assistant Professor
    Joined the Sontheimer Lab in 2015
    Nadia.Amrani at umassmed.edu


    Nadia Amrani received her PhD from the University of Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France. She holds an MS from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique, Toulouse, France, and a BS from the University of Sciences Cadi Ayad, Marrakech, Morocco.


    The goal of the research in our laboratory is the development of a 
    Neisseria meningitidis Cas9 system as a Type II-C genome-editing platform that will edit with high precision a single site within the human genome.

  • Ogo Ojelabi

    Ogo Ojelabi

    Postdoctoral Associate.                                                                                              Joined the Sontheimer Lab in 2019                                                                    Ogoluwa.Ojelabi at massmed.edu

    I received my PhD in Biomedical Sciences from UMass Medical School in 2018. My current research focuses on understanding the mechanistic basis of Nme2Cas9 specificity as well as optimizing its cleavage efficiency.

  • Han Zhang

    Han Zhang

    Graduate Stuedent                                                                                                  Joined the Sontheimer Lab in 2019.                                                                            Han.Zhang at umassmed.edu

  • Jooyoung Lee

    Jooyoung Lee

    Graduate Student 
    Joined the Sontheimer Lab in 2016
    Jooyoung.Lee at umassmed.edu


    I graduated from Minnesota State University with B.S. in Biomedical Sciences.


    I am working on anti-CRISPRs, which are natural protein inhibitors of Cas9 from Neisseria meningitidis. My project is to develop tools based on anti-CRISPRs to complement Cas9 technologies in genome engineering. 

  • Nathan Bamidele

    Nathan Bamidele

    Graduate Student                                                                                                  Joined the Sontheimer Lab in 2019                                                                    Nathan.Bamidele at umassmed.edu

    I recieved a B.S. in molecular, cell & developmental biology from UC Santa Cruz in 2018. Currently, my research is focused on developing chemically modified CRISPR/Cas9 guides for in vivo and ex vivo therapeutic genome editing purposes.

  • Raed Ibraheim

    Raed Ibraheim

    Graduate Student
    Joined the Sontheimer Lab in 2016 
    Raed.Ibraheim at umassmed.edu


    Before starting my graduate studies at UMass Medical School, I worked at Belfer Gene Therapy Core Facility at Weill Cornell Medical School, where I gained in-depth experience in cGMP production and quality control of recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors. I hold a B.A. degree in biology from Bard College.


    My current research focuses on developing the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for in vivo and ex vivo therapeutic genome editing purposes.

  • Tomás Rodríguez

    Tomás Rodríguez

    MD/PhD Student
    Joined the Sontheimer Lab in 2017
    Tomas.Rodriguez at umassmed.edu


    I received a B.S. in Genetics and Genomics from UC Davis in 2015.


    My current research is centered around using C-BERST to better understand DNA associated regulators of dynamic nuclear events.

  • Bin Liu

    Bin Liu

    Postdoctoral Fellow - co-mentor Dr. Wen Xue

    Bin Liu received his Ph.D. from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, in 2019.  His research focuses on optimizing and improving the CRISPR-associated systems for genome editing and gene therapy.

  • Zexiang Chen

    Zexiang Chen

    My current research centers around improving CRISPR-Cas-mediated genome editing using chemically modified gRNA and modified donors.

  • Nick Gaston

    Nick Gaston

    Research Lab Tech
  • Amie Goodspeed

    Amie Goodspeed

    Administrative Coordinator II

    Amie.Goodspeed at umassmed.edu