Sergio Baranzini, PhD

Professor in Residence

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

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

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

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.

Miriam Gorostidi, PhD

Visiting Scholar

Miriam is a Visiting Scholar from Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in Data Analysis from Tecnun, University of Navarre. Currently, Miriam is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroimmunology Department of Biogipuzkoa Health Research Institute, where she applies a computational approach to analyze the microbiome of Multiple Sclerosis patients.

Crystal Luong

Clinical Research Coordinator

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

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


Karthik Soman currently works as a Specialist in Baranzini lab. His work mainly focuses on building knowledge network by data integration, graph data science (such as knowledge embedding), machine learning and applying them on clinical and biological data for disease prediction in an explainable fashion using network insights. To achieve this, he leverages a combination of graph data and big data analytics, employing High Performance Computing clusters to advance precision medicine.

Maria Catalina Villouta Reyes

Associate Specialist - Data Science

Catalina Villouta is an Associate Specialist at the Baranzini Laboratory, specializing in SPOKE’s development and algorithmic uses. Leveraging graph theory and machine learning, Catalina helps to advance SPOKE in the domain of precision medicine. With a Master’s in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley and industry experience at Gilead Sciences, Catalina brings a unique blend of analytical skills and expertise.