People

Sergio Baranzini, PhD

Professor in Residence
M_Neurology

Sergio E. Baranzini is Distinguished Professor of Neurology I at the University of California San
Francisco (UCSF). He is also a member of the Graduate Program in Bioinformatics, the Institute for
Human Genetics, the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute, ImmunoX, and the California
Institute for Quantitative Biology (QB3). He holds the Heidrich Friends and Family endowed chair in
Neurology. Dr. Baranzini earned his degrees in clinical biochemistry (1992) and PhD in human molecular

Rabia Akbas, MSc

Specialist - Graph Theory and Machine Learning
M_Neurology

Ebru is an assistant specialist at the Baranzini Laboratory - Department of Neurology. She completed her master’s degree in computer and information science from the City University of New York. She worked as a data scientist intern at Stanford University - Radiology Department and as a data a scientist in various MedTech startups. She is currenty involved in SPOKE development. Her main focuses are machine learning, graph theory, and database integration.

Joseph Amayo, BA

Lab Manager
M_Neurology

Joseph is a Reseach Associate/Lab Manager of the International Multiple Sclorosis Microbiome Study with the Baranzini Lab. As a proud San Francisco native, they decided to use their educational background in neurodevelopmental disability and neurodegenerative diseases to contribute to the meaningful research done at UCSF. Their tasks involve conducting DNA isolation and purification from participants around the globe, as well as assisting in the Sandler Gnotobiotic Animal Facility.

Gabriel Cerono, MD

Postdoc Scholar - Employee
Neurology

Gabriel is an Argentinian Medical Doctor. He earned his medical degree from Universidad Nacional de La Plata. He is a self taught programmer, data scientist, and machine learning practitioner. He is currently involved in SPOKE development. His research interests lies in the integration of data science with clinical practice.

Xiaohui Gao, PhD

Specialist, Ph.D
Neurology

I current work in the Baranzini Laboratory in the Department of Neurology to study how the microbiome correlates with autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system. I am a biochemist and biophysicist with expertise in protein chemistry, molecular biology, bacterial genetics, and bacterial physiology. In my postdoctoral training, I investigated the mechanism of proteolysis in the gut pathogen Salmonella. I also examined the transcriptional regulation of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, which plays an important role in the human microbiota.

Crystal Luong

Clinical Research Coordinator
Neurology

Crystal is a clinical research coordinator for the Baranzini laboratory. She was born and raised in San Francisco and earned her BS in Public Health from San José State University. You can often find her enjoying a bánh mì, dumplings or a Chipotle burrito bowl! Outside of food and work, she also enjoys strength training and traveling! 

Maura McDonagh

UC Student Visitor
M_Neurology

Maura is a Neuroscience PhD student from UC Berkeley studying the mechanisms behind the gut-brain axis in multiple sclerosis with the Baranzini Lab. Born and raised in Chicago, Maura attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a double major in Communication Arts (Radio/TV/Film) in May 2020. They bring from the Midwest a passion for in vitro modeling of mammalian systems and community-led efforts to support better brain health.

Karthik Soman, PhD

Associate Specialist
Neurology

Karthik Soman currently works as an Associate Specialist in Prof. Sergio Baranzini's lab. His work mainly focuses on computational methods like machine learning, data integration and embedding on biomedical knowledge network, big data analytics using High Performance Computing clusters, clinical data enrichment for precision medicine. Apart from this, he is also a part of the team that brings a universal schema for biomedical knowledge networks.