Michael Alexanian

Principal Investigator

I was born and raised in Florence, Italy from an Italian/Argentinian mother and a French/Armenian father. I studied and trained in Italy, Australia, Switzerland (PhD) and USA (Postdoc). I lead an academic laboratory at the Gladstone Institutes/UCSF which studies gene regulation in heart disease. I teach theater at Improv at UCSF, a non-profit association that trains scientists to develop their communication skills, spontaneity and leadership through improvisational theater. In my free time, I love to enjoy the wonderful San Francisco with my family and friends.

Kirsten Auclair

Research Associate

With a BS in Communications and a unique career background that includes advertising, teaching, and medicine, I eventually found true passion in research and lab work. I am most interested in genomics and immunology, and I am excited for the opportunity to explore both of these interests in the context of heart failure with the Alexanian Lab. I enjoy spending my time exploring both the culinary offerings and the natural beauty of the Bay Area with my family.

Ada Zhu

Research Associate

My name is Ada Zhu and I graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and a B.A. in Chinese. I am interested in expanding my understanding of gene expression and epigenetic regulation.

In my free time, I like to explore the different neighborhoods of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Although being a San Francisco native, I always feel like there’s so much more to see and do. I also enjoy spending time and trying out new food spots with my family and friends.

Karena Essex

Senior Administrative Specialist

I’m a Bay Area native and first generation American. Half Latvian, half Lebanese (via Lima, Peru). I have trained in martial arts for years (kung fu and tai qi), and I have a son at Sonoma State U. I’ve been with Gladstone for nearly 20 years! Feel very lucky to have been part of this organization’s growth. Recently I took up Lagree, which I’d describe as similar to Pilates, but meaner 😉 

Yuqian An

Postdoctoral Scholar

I received my PhD from Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (2016-2022), where I studied neuroinflammation and senescence in Alzheimer’s disease and found novel drugs. I joined the Alexanian Lab in 2023, where I am studying immunometabolism and neuroinflammatory pathways in cardiovascular diseases. I also want to detect cell-cell connection including muscle, immune and vascular cells in cardiovascular disease.

Vee Xu

CIRM Intern

I worked in international co-production film and media technology before migrating back to a science research journey. To ensure a smooth transition and to improve scientific literacy, I interned at UCSF through the CCSF biotechnology program, working on protein screening and single-cell microfluidics. I completed my undergrad in engineering and economics from Smith College and Graduate Certificates in Film Studies and Big Data Analysis from Beijing Film Academy and UIBE. I am very excited to be a part of the Alexanian Lab as part of my CIRM-funded Stem Cell Internship to explore gene regulation in heart disease.

Vivek Nalluri

Student Research Intern

I’m Vivek (originally from Tracy, CA) and I am a freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I joined the Alexanian Lab as a research intern and am really interested in cardiovascular health. I am not sure if I want to pursue a career in research or medicine or even both! Aside from that, I’m also really curious about biotech and the business aspect of taking science from the lab to the patients. Other than science and school, I enjoy playing volleyball, gardening and thrifting in my free time.

The Collaborators

The absolute most fun part of being a scientist is the enormous possibility to develop collaborative work at various institutions across the word. Our lab is strongly committed to a culture of collaboration and we feel honored to work with such creative scientists both in academia and industry.

Pawel Przytycki

Boston, USA

Ron Vagnozzi

Denver, USA

Tim McKinsey

Denver, USA

Nathan Palpant

Brisbane, Australia

Ana Catarina Silva

Porto, Portugal

Haya Therapeutics

Lausanne, Switzerland

Rudi Micheletti

San Diego, USA

Michael Rosenfeld

San Diego, USA

Katie Pollard

San Francisco, USA

Sap Haldar

San Francisco, USA

Arun Padmanabhan

San Francisco, USA

Rajan Jain

Philadelphia, USA

Josh Travers

Denver, USA

Alexis Combes

San Francisco, USA