People

Hiroyuki Nakai, M.D., Ph.D.

Image of Dr. Nakai

I grew up in northern Kyoto (京都) in Japan called the Murasakino (紫野) district, the home of finest artisans in ancient Kyoto. I received MD and PhD degrees from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, and came to California in 1996 to study adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors and gene therapy. I first joined Avigen Inc., a biotech venture company developing AAV vectors for human gene therapy, as a research fellow, and was subsequently trained as a post-doc in Mark A. Kay’s lab at Stanford University. I started my own laboratory at University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and moved my lab to OHSU to join the MMG faculty in 2011.

Yoshinori Katayama, Ph.D.

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I grew up in Kyoto, watching bamboo grove from my back yard. I earned my B.S. from the University of Kitasato. I received my Ph.D. in Immunology and Cell Biology from the University of Kyoto in 2010. During my time at Kyoto university, I researched the role of Rap (a small G protein) signaling in immune system under Dr. Nagahiro Minato. After that I joined TaKaRa Bio Inc., a biotechnology company in Japan and have worked in gene therapy. In February 2019, I moved to Portland and joined the Nakai lab in OHSU as a visiting scholar.

Swapna Kollu, Ph.D.

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I grew up in India. I have been primarily trained in cell biology. I am now studying how host cell factors regulate AAV capsid assembly and packaging in Dr.Nakai's lab.

Anusha Sairavi, M.S.

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I was born in India and happily raised in Dubai (kinda think of myself as an ambassador for Dubai so be wary while conversing with me :P). I did all my schooling in Dubai majoring in Biology. I received my BE in Biotechnology from SRM University, Chennai. I then decided to get a Masters in Biotechnology from University of Texas at Dallas. After completing my Masters, I was offered a Research Assistant position in Dr. Nakai’s Lab in September 2017 and have been working here ever since (and loving it!).

Since a lot of my peers have received their PhD , I like to openly state that I have received a PhD in movies (just kidding) , but happy to talk hours and hours about movies and series and music (well the list goes on).

Ranjan Das, Ph.D.

Ranjan Das

I was born in West Bengal, India and lived in various places for my schooling, BS and MS studies. Then I moved to South Korea and completed PhD in Medical Sciences from Yonsei University and came to Chicago for postdoctoral fellowship training. My entire research was primarily focused on finding the molecular mechanism of kidney diseases and mechanism-based drug development for the last 12 years. I extensively worked with TGF-beta signaling in renal fibrosis, investigated the mechanism of cytokine storm-induced glomerular injuries and screened therapeutic antibodies to protect against glomerular and systemic diseases in COVID-19. I also demonstrated the beneficial effect of recombinant glycosylated Angiopoietin-like 4 in the treatment of diabetic nephropathy and the role of intergenic, non-coding DNA in the regulation of zinc finger and homeobox 2 (Zhx2) gene using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing. In June 2022, I joined Dr. Nakai’s Lab at OHSU as a staff scientist and here I will develop new strategies for AAV-mediated gene therapy for the treatment of different forms of genetic kidney diseases. Outside the lab, I love to travel and explore new places, and I am a photography enthusiast.

Mia Galbraith-Liss, B.S.

Mia G

I was born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, just a few blocks away from the NIH. I received my BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Reed College in 2018. At Reed, I used in-vitro evolutionary techniques to determine the consensus sequence of BosR, a DNA binding protein crucial for the pathogenicity of B. burgdorferi (causative agent of Lyme Disease) in Dr. Arthur Glasfeld’s lab. After college, I worked as a laboratory technologist, determining kidney transplant prognosis using mRNA expression levels and performing SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing. In May, 2021, I joined the Nakai lab as a Research Assistant where I primarily aid Dr. Furusho in developing novel AAV-vector mediated gene therapies for chronic kidney diseases. When not in lab, you can probably find me chasing my cat around.

Colton Stensrud, B.S.

Colton

I grew up in Gresham, OR and graduated from Oregon State University in 2020 where I received my BS in Microbiology with minors in Chemistry and Business & Entrepreneurship. During my time there I worked as part of the Vega-Thurber Research lab where I studied the Coral Holobiont using 16S sequencing data to understand the interactions between environmental stressors, variations in alpha and beta diversity of the coral microbiome, and the coral animal’s resistance or susceptibility to disease. I recently joined the Nakai Lab in September 2021, and have been aiding in the characterization and development of novel AAV vector capsids with high organ specificity and low immunogenicity.

 

Yoya Vashi, Ph.D.

Yoya

I belong to the Ukhrul district in Manipur in India, home to the Tangkhul Naga tribe. However, I grew up in different states of northeast India. I earned my Ph.D. degree in Biotechnology from Assam Don Bosco University, primarily trained in molecular genetics and animal biology. My Ph.D. work focused on understanding the genetic basis of physiology of adaptation during stressful environments in livestock breeds. I changed my research field to virology during post-doc training at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, where I worked on understanding the biology of the Newcastle disease virus as a vaccine vector and repurposing drugs against its infection in poultry. In April 2022, I moved to Portland and joined the Nakai lab at OHSU, where I will be exploring new avenues in AAV biology.

Taisuke Furusho, M.D., Ph.D.

Taisuke

I grew up in Chiba, Japan and received MD from Tokyo Medical and Dental University. I trained in internal medicine and subsequently as a nephrologist. Six-years of clinical experience motivated me to join Dr. Shinichi Uchida’s lab in 2016 to better understand the mechanism of kidney disease. The research topic during my PhD was fluid and electrolyte homeostasis in chronic kidney disease, especially focusing on the regulatory pathway of renal sodium transport (WNK-SPAK/OSR1-NCC phosphorylation cascade) which was originally discovered through the investigation of genetic hypertensive disease. I joined the Nakai lab in August 2020 as a post-doc and since then I have been enjoying exploring the potential of AAV for the treatment of kidney disease.

Pratheppa Rajagopal, Ph.D.

PR

I was born and raised in Tamilnadu, India. I earned my Bachelors in Biotechnology and Masters in Genetic Engineering. My research interest includes developing different gene delivery strategies for human gene therapy applications. My Ph.D. thesis focused on developing a polymer-based hybrid vector to deliver a chemotherapeutic drug and a suicide gene as a combinational therapy as a treatment against myeloid leukemia. I joined Dr.Nakai’s lab as a post-doctoral scholar in September 2022 and am excited to explore AAV-mediated gene therapy.

Liam Wang (B.S. in progress)

Liam

I am currently an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science. I am involved in a variety of research projects ranging from medical robotics to computational biology. My current work in the Nakai lab involves designing programs to process machine learning datasets of AAV capsid structures to be used for developing novel capsid variants. A native of Portland, I enjoy coming back home to visit my miniature labradoodle, Carl.

Megan Tian (ASE Intern)

Megan Tian (ASE Intern)

I am a rising senior at Lakeridge High School hoping to study computational biology and bioengineering in college. Outside of school, I enjoy playing violin and participating in debate and robotics. I am excited to intern with the Nakai lab this summer and learn about AAV capsid biology through both computational and wet-lab approaches. 

Abani Neferkara (B.S. in progress)

Abani

I am currently an undergraduate at Brown University majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. At Brown, I am beginning research on the transcription factors of the yeast C. Albicans and also write for the university's first African American publication, The Black Star Journal. Originally from Portland, I was first introduced to the Nakai Lab in 2019 where I interned as part of the ASE program. I am excited to return this summer to continue studying the Adeno Associated Virus and learn new lab techniques!

Akash Pai (High School Student Volunteer)

AP

I am a rising sophomore at Sunset High School, hoping to study biomedical engineering with the pre-med track in college. In school, I am involved in activities like HOSA and Science Fair. Out of school, I enjoy playing the piano, mountain climbing, cycling and volunteering for disabled people in our community. I am excited to intern with Dr. Nakai & the Nakai lab this season to research AAV capsid biology through computational means.