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

Babita Adhikari Dhungel, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar - Microbiologist
M_Neurology

Babita was born and raised in Nepal. She earned her PhD in Biology from Kansas State University. During her PhD, she worked with a gut pathogen, Clostridioides difficile, and developed expertise in bacterial genetics and bacterial pathogenesis. She is interested in understanding the role of gut microbiome in health and disease conditions. She joined the lab as a post-doc on September 2020 and is currently working on the Multiple Sclerosis microbiome project to understand the crosstalk between gut microbiome and immune cells.

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
M_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.

Myra Mendoza

Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator
Neurology

Myra joined the Baranzini Lab in the summer of 2019 as an Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator. She spends most of her time recruiting patients by coordinating with staff neurologists, preparing microbiome sample kits, and helping conduct research visits. Originally from Los Angeles, Myra graduated from USC where she majored in Human Development and Aging. She relocated to San Francisco in 2016 to further her career goals, and hopes to attend medical school in the near future.

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.

Xiaoyuan Zhou, PhD

Postdoc Scholar - Employee
M_Neurology

Xiaoyuan has been working as a post-doc in microbiome bioinformatics since 2017. Her research interests involve understanding the microbiota-host crosstalk toward human diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, by using different bioinformatic, molecular and animal model methodologies. She is currently involved in the international Multiple Sclerosis Microbiome Study (iMSMS) to investigate the role of gut microbiota in MS susceptibility, progression, and response to treatment.