O'Roak lab members
Brian J. O'Roak, Ph.D.
I’m originally from California’s Central Valley. After earning a B.S. in Biology at CSU Fresno, I did my Ph.D. studies at Yale University working with Dr. Matthew W. State in the Department of Genetics. I then went on for postdoctoral training in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, under Drs. Evan E. Eichler and Jay Shendure. I joined the MMG faculty in Fall 2013.
Raised primarily in the Pacific Northwest, I received a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Anthropology/Sociology from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, where I studied subunits of the BLOC-1 protein complex in the context of Rett syndrome and schizophrenia. I then received my M.S. in Neuroscience from Michigan State University, studying the structural and functional roles of WAC, the causative gene of DeSanto-Shinawi syndrome. I transferred into the O’Roak lab as a Ph.D. candidate in late 2022, following a summer internship in 2017, where I am now studying the impact of autism-associated mutations using in vitro models and deep mutational scanning.
Marissa Co, Ph.D.
I was born and raised in the great state of Texas, where I earned my B.S. in Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas. Enamored with genetics and the brain, I pursued a Ph.D. at UT Southwestern Medical Center under the mentorship of Dr. Genevieve Konopka, where I studied the myriad roles of forkhead box transcription factors FOXP1 and FOXP2 in the mouse and zebra finch brain. After receiving my doctorate in Summer 2019, I joined the O’Roak Lab to continue my research on how autism-associated transcription factors coordinate mouse cortical development.
“I grew up on a farm surrounded by hardwood forests in eastern Pennsylvania. In 2019 I attended Oregon State University and graduated in 2023 with a BS in botany, a BS in microbiology, and a minor in chemistry. During my time at OSU, I researched the phylogeny of Stereocaulon lichens under Dr. Bruce McCune to better understand their biogeography and symbiotic interactions as a composite organism. In summer 2022 I interned at The Jackson Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Erik Bloss and Dr. Kourtney Graham, where I investigated the infralimbic-amygdala circuit during fear-extinction learning to uncover the mechanisms that underlie recovery from trauma. My primary research interests are in genetics and genomics as well as cell biology. I joined The O’Roak Lab in August 2023 as a research assistant studying gene mutations associated with autism spectrum disorder.”
O'Roak Lab Alumni
Frederika Sullivan, B.S.
Growing up in South Louisiana, I earned my B.S. in medical and allied health sciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with minors in chemistry and visual art. I joined the O’Roak Lab in 2022 to utilize stem cell culture models to study the functional consequences of TBR1 mutations in the developing cerebral cortex. I will be entering the Neuroscience Graduate Program at OHSU in Summer 2023. Drawing from my background in immunological and developmental research, my greatest interests lie at the intersections of the immune system and the developing central nervous system. In my free time, I enjoy backpacking, printmaking, and cooking!
Brooke DeRosa, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist, John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics
Postdoctoral Researcher 2016-2020
I grew up on Florida’s Space Coast, watching shuttle launches from my back yard. I earned my B.S. in Molecular Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology where I examined protein-protein interactions underlying the activation of PLC-ɣ during fertilization in the lab of Dr. David Carroll. I received my Ph.D. in Human Genetics and Genomics from the University of Miami under the mentorship of Dr. Derek Dykxhoorn. My thesis work involved using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells to study common molecular disturbances in autism that impact neuronal development. I moved Portland in 2016 to join the O’Roak Lab as a postdoctoral researcher.
Taylor Mighell, NGP Graduate Student
I am originally from Geneseo, a small town in northwestern Illinois. After studying cellular neuroscience at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska I entered the Neuroscience Graduate Program at OHSU in the fall of 2014 and joined Dr. O'Roak's lab in spring 2015. Here, I am developing massively parallel experimental paradigms to understand the effects of mutations involved in neurological disorders. Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Mulqueen, PMCB Graduate Student
Born and raised on Long Island, NY, I earned my B.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Biology from Stony Brook University. There I worked on a research project studying speciation and hybridization in the affinis clade of drosophilids. I joined OHSU’s Graduate program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in Fall 2014. In the Spring of 2015, I joined Dr. O’Roak’s lab to study the roles of somatic mosaicism and epigenetic factors in the developing brain.
Andrew Nishida, M.S
Raised in Cupertino, California, I received a B.A. in Classics from University of California, Los Angeles and a M.S. in Biology from University of Oregon. Focusing on computational biology, I worked at University of Washington on viral transcriptomics and at Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences in Seattle on the ENCODE project characterizing non-coding elements and single-cell RNA-seq. I joined the O'Roak lab in early 2019 as a bioinformatician working to characterize and understand mosaic mutations in ASD.
Sally Grindstaff, B.S.
I grew up in northern New Mexico and earned a B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma. As an undergraduate student, I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Helen Zgurskaya to study how bacterial efflux pumps contribute to antibiotic resistance. In the fall of 2019 I joined the O’Roak lab as a research assistant, where I study autism-linked genes and sequence SARS-CoV-2 genomes.
Amanda Mar, B.S.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I double majored in Biochemistry/Cell Biology and Public Health from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). During my time at UCSD, I worked at the Autism Center of Excellence Laboratory and the Fred H. Gage Laboratory studying neurodevelopmental disorders. After finishing college, I continued my work at the Gage Lab to investigate the genetic background and cellular origins of early neurodevelopmental aberrations in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders like autism. I am specialized in cell culture work with stem cells and organoid development for disease modeling. In May 2020, I joined Dr. O’Roak’s lab as a research assistant.
Kayla Carter, B.S.
I was born and raised in the Portland-metro area until I moved to Chicago to earn my Bachelors of Science in Chemical and Biological Engineering and a minor in Theatre from Northwestern University. I have been conducting independent research projects since I was 15, and have presented my research on several occasions, including at the American Heart Association's Annual Scientific Sessions conference. After graduating in June 2020, I moved back to Portland and joined the O'Roak lab as a research assistant.
Cierra LeBlanc, B.S.
I grew up across from Portland in Camas, Washington and went on to earn a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Washington. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Yasunori Tanji at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Yokohama, Japan to study S. aureus bacteriophage receptor-binding proteins. Currently I am continuing my education in Epidemiology at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. In Nov. 2020 I started at the ONPRC performing MHC and parentage assays on macaques before transitioning to the O’Roak lab in April 2021 where I lead the genomic processing and sequencing of SARS-CoV-2.
Hadley Morotti, M.S.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Oregon. I've worked on research projects ranging from empathic accuracy to risk assessment and decision-making to family and peer interactions. Eventually, I returned to UO to earn my M.S. with a concentration in Social Psychology. I joined the O'Roak lab in fall 2015 as a study coordinator.
Sara Evans-Dutson, B.Sc.
Originally from LA County, I did my undergrad research in Neurobiology studying serotonin receptor protein interactions. After that I worked in human embryonic stem cell research under Dr. Nicole zurNieden at UC Riverside, and even dabbled a bit in biotechnology working in biofuels research & development before coming to Portland in December 2013 to join Dr. O'Roak's lab as a research assistant.
Lindsay Wourms, B.Sc.
Raised in Europe and Washington state, it was at University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA where I earned my B.S. in Biological Sciences and was a four year letterman for the women’s cross-country and track teams. During my time at UOP I worked under Dr. Ryan Hill studying the evolutionary ecology of Lepidoptera as it relates to biological diversification. Following college I worked for plant geneticist Dr. Peter Cousins at the E&J Gallo Winery where I helped to discover a novel fruit color trait. In the Spring of 2017 I returned to the Pacific Northwest to join the O’Roak lab as a research assistant.
Dominica Cao, Vollum Institute Summer Fellow
As an intern Dominica spent the summer of 2018 helping the O'Roak team examine the brain structure of CRISPR-edited mice with autism-associated patient-specific mutations in Tbr1. Among other things, she verified genotypes as well as implemented immunostaining to visualize neuronal markers and assess how these mutations may be affecting neurodevelopment. Her efforts awarded her the Best Poster award at OHSU's 2018 Research Internship Poster Symposium.
Rebecca Barnard, Ph.D.
I am originally from the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland. I received my B.S. degrees in Biology and Biotechnology from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. Afterwards, I moved to Fort Collins, CO where I spent two years at the Centers for Disease Control as a serologist for Plague and Tularemia diagnostics. I then attended Colorado State University for my Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel Gustafson studying the autophagy pathway in the context of cancer treatment and development. I joined the O’Roak lab in March 2015 as a postdoctoral researcher.
David Degnan, Murdock Scholar Intern
I grew up near the Puget Sound watching salmon swim up the creek in my backyard. Currently I'm a fourth-year undergraduate at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. I joined the O’Roak lab in the summer of 2017 as a Murdock Scholar through the MJ Murdock Trust. Under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Barnard I’m exploring the functional effect of synonymous mosaic mutations in ASD.
Hannah Rudolph, Summer Intern
Hannah joined the O'Roak lab for the duration of Summer 2017, working closely with Dr. Brooke DeRosa to characterize iPSC-derived cerebral organoids for modeling neurodevelopment disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Maya Adams, Murdock Scholar Intern
An undergraduate student of John's Hopkins University, Maya joined the O'Roak lab for the duration of Summer 2016 as a research intern. She worked alongside Dr. Brooke DeRosa building a DIY mini bioreactor for cerebral organoid development and generating models of ASD patients with de novo variants in TBR1 using CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology.
Matthew Pomaville, SFARI Intern
Matt joined the O'Roak lab for Summer 2015 as part of the SFARI Undergraduate Summer Research Program while still an undergraduate at California State University, Fresno. He worked closely with Dr. Rebecca Barnard developing new animal models for studying neurodevelopment disorders and went on to be accepted into OHSU's graduate program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences.
Deidre Krupp, Ph.D.
Deidre originally hails from the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon and received B.S. degrees in Biology and Chemistry from Southern Oregon University. After completing her doctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. Simon Gregory at Duke University, she joined Dr. O'Roak's lab in Fall 2014 as our first postdoctoral researcher and worked on elucidating the role of mosaic mutations in ASD before eventually returning to Southern Oregon.