People

Fikadu Tafesse, Ph.D.

Fikadu Tafesse, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Email Professor Tafesse

Dr. Tafesse received his PhD from Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He did his postdoctoral studies at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (MIT) in the lab of Hidde Ploegh where he was an NWO Rubicon fellow, and worked on host-pathogen interaction of viruses, fungi and bacterial toxins. Before joining OHSU, Dr. Tafesse was an Instructor in Medicine, Assistant in Immunology at the Ragon Institute of MGH, Harvard and MIT where he established his research program in Mtb and HIV. 
 

Tafesse Lab

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Aidan Anastas 
Research Assistant 2

Aidan is a Portland native who moved to Colorado to get a degree in Molecular Biology form University of Northern Colorado. Returning to Portland to work in the Tafesse lab as a Research Assistant 2, Aidan’s main responsibility is to help his lab mates reach glassware on the top shelf. He also works to purify viral proteins for alpaca immunization, creating nanobodies against emerging viral disease for use as potential therapeutics. On the weekends you can find Aidan exploring the vast PNW wilderness or getting dunked on in one of his numerous basketball games. Contact him at anastasa@ohsu.edu
 

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Teketay Anley 
Postdoctoral Scholar

Teketay is a postdoctoral scholar in the Tafesse lab who joined through OHSU Fellowship for Diversity in Research (OFDIR) program. He received a PhD degree in genetics from Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China. Immediately after his PhD graduation, he joined the Chinese Academy of Science as a postdoctoral researcher through the International Young Talent Program and worked for two years on how marine algae derived polysaccharides regulate immune response and are potential substitutes for antibiotics. He is currently working on how Mtb regulates phagosomal lipid profile. Contact him at anley@ohsu.edu
 

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Tim Bates  
Ph.D. Student

Tim is a graduate student who joined the lab in 2018 and studies antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccination and infection, as well as alpaca nanobodies against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Before coming to graduate school at OHSU, he received his bachelors from UCSD, spent a few years working at Santa Cruz Biotech, and then a short stint at UCSF in Dr. Danica Fujimori’s lab testing histone demethylase inhibitors. He enjoys cooking for his wife, taking his cat for walks in the forest, and writing bios about himself in the third person. If you’re quick, you can probably reach him at his OHSU email before he graduates at batesti@ohsu.edu 
 

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Judah Evangelista
Postdoctoral Scholar

Judah is a postdoctoral scholar in the labs of Carsten Schultz and Fikadu Tafesse who joined in 2023. After studying synthetic organic chemistry as an undergrad, he moved to the realm of biochemistry for his PhD at the University of Utah, where he worked on developing viral entry inhibitors, particularly against SARS-CoV-2. His dissertation work centered on the discovery of "mirror-image" D-peptide drugs by mirror-image phage display, the total synthesis of D-proteins by chemical protein synthesis (CPS), and the development of Python tools for data analysis and visualization in phage display and CPS. Now he is moving even further into the areas of cell biology and virology, investigating the host factors that viruses hijack for infection and replication. Outside of the lab, he spends most of his time going on walks with his wife and fluffy dog, reading fantasy novels, playing video games and board games, or dabbling in various other hobbies--most recently beer brewing and rock climbing. Contact Judah at evangeju@ohsu.edu.
 

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Scotland Farley
Ph.D. Student

Scotty is a 7th year graduate student in the PMCB program working between the labs of Carsten Schultz and Fikadu Tafesse. After focusing on extremely theoretical chemistry during his bachelor’s at Reed College, and spending two years teaching high school math in the Peace Corps in Mozambique, he moved back into the realm of bench science and has been slowly morphing into a lipid biochemist/virologist. His PhD work has involved untangling the relationship between various (+)-stranded RNA viruses and their host lipids using lipidomics, proteomics, and small-molecule lipid probes. When he’s not synthesizing lipids or trapped in the BSL-3, he’s probably either running through various Portland parks, knitting overly elaborate sweaters, or reading unhealthy amounts of medieval literature. 
 

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Mila Trank-Greene 
Research Assistant 2

Mila is a Research Assistant 2 in the Tafesse Lab. She is from Colorado, and recently graduated from Reed College with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In the Tafesse Lab, she is working to further the understanding of how lipids interact with SARS-CoV-2 proteins through fluorescence microscope, doing compound screening studies for neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, and investigating the functionality and neutralizing capacities of Tafesse Lab discovered nanobodies to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Outside of work she loves to sing, hike in the beautiful PNW, and hang out with her pet rats Fern and Sage. To contact Mila, please email her at trankgre@ohsu.edu
 

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Alec Griffith
Graduate Student

Alec is a 2nd year graduate student in the Tafesse lab. He grew up in a town outside of Phoenix and studied microbiology at UCLA. After enduring the weather in Los Angeles, he moved across the country to Boston where he studied immune responses in trauma and sepsis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Back on the west coast, he currently researches the ways Mycobacterium tuberculosis interacts with sphingolipid synthesis in host cells and how these interactions impact disease progression. Outside of lab he enjoys drinking coffee at Portland’s many coffee shops and diners, dragging his friends to see musicals, and hiking when the weather allows. Feel free to reach out to him with questions about his research or where to get the best pumpkin spice latte.
 

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Sintayehu Gurmessa 
Postdoctoral Scholar

Sintayehu K. Gurmessa holds a PhD in Medical Sciences from Chungnam National University, South Korea, and an MS Degree in Human Anatomy from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. His primary area of expertise includes toxicology, nanoparticles, nanozyme-based tuberculosis diagnosis (Biosensor), and host pathogen interaction. He has also worked to develop a multi-antigen-based chimeric protein vaccine against tuberculosis, designing tumor growth inhibition strategies like the utilization of chimeric proteins with adjuvants, conjugation or mixing of chimeric protein with BCG-cell wall-derived glycolipids, and mixing of tumor-associated antigen with chimeric protein. In 2022, he joined the Tafesse Lab at the Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, as a postdoctoral scholar.  
 

Gaelen Guzman

Gaelen Guzman
Ph.D. Student

Gaelen is a 6th year graduate student who is attempting to study the many ways that host sphingolipids influence Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Gaelen grew up in a very small town in Idaho called Spirit Lake, and studied molecular biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining the Tafesse Lab, Gaelen worked as a research assistant in a proteomics laboratory at the Broad Institute, running interactomics experiments which helped inform much of his graduate work on sphingolipid-protein interactions. You can frequently watch him work from outside the BSL3 much like you could watch a turtle swim in an aquarium. When not in lab, Gaelen is mostly out on his bike or wishing he was out on his bike. Feel free to send him any questions you have about bikes at guzmanga@ohsu.edu.  
 

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Jules Reyes-Weinstein
Ph.D. Student

Jules is a 6th year graduate student in the who joined the Tafesse lab in 2018 through OHSU’s oft-renamed umbrella program1. Jules is from Seattle, Washington in some capacity, but at this point he’s been in Portland, Oregon for over a decade and has real trouble deciding where home is. He got his bachelors at the (in)famous Reed College, then worked at OHSU as an RA for two years before grad school. He is a career long virologist who currently isolates nanobodies against RNA viruses such as Zika virus and SARS-CoV-2 to use both as therapeutics and molecular tools to comprehend viral replication cycles. In his free time, Jules prioritizes hanging out with his dynamic and fastidious wife, Annemarie; exuberant husky, Lumpia; and relaxed axolotl, Lox. He also likes to feel upset about the impending climate disaster and discuss alternative options to world-wide ecological collapse. He is passionate about cooking, and fictional narratives, such as TV shows, movies, novels, and video games. Yes, even anime. Contact him at 347-536-6750 if you want to be bombarded by text messages, or weinjule@ohsu.edu if not. 
 

TafesseLab2024
Tafesse Lab 2024

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Michael Crawford, Graduate Student
OHSU, VGTI

Shandee Dixon, Ph.D.

Shandee Dixon, Ph.D.
Assistant Scientist, CEDAR, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

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Michelle Garcia
 

Douglas Kempthorne

Douglas Kempthorne
Equity Intern, Center for Diversity & Inclusion

Sascha Kuhn

Sascha Kuhn
Master's Student

Hans Leier

Hans Leier
Research Assistant 

Ilaria Merutka

Ilaria Merutka
Research Assistant 

Patrick Niekamp

Patrick Niekamp 
Ph.D. Student, Osnabrück University

Fabian Pott

Fabian Pott
Ph.D Student, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

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Savannah McBride
Research Assistant