Many of the Cornea Genetics Laboratory’s prior undergraduate, medical and graduate student researchers have gone on to successfully secure positions in competitive graduate research programs and ophthalmology residency training programs. Below is a partial list of some past lab members:
Undergraduate Student Researcher 2013-2016
Derek joined the Cornea Genetics Laboratory while working on his B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA. During his time in the laboratory, his main project focused on the identification of genetic variants responsible for posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy 1. While in the lab, he was accepted into the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program and also received the Lew Wasserman Memorial Prize as part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Currently, Derek is a Ph.D. candidate in the Cancer Biology Program at Stanford University.
Judy L. Chen, MD
Medical Student Researcher 2014-2015
Judy received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Music from USC, and her medical degree from UCLA. As a medical student, she was awarded the Stein Eye Institute Medical Student Research Program grant to investigate the effects of ZEB1 mutations on corneal endothelial cell function, and their implications for the pathogenesis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy 3. Following medical school, she completed her ophthalmology residency at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary and a fellowship in Uveitis and Inflammatory Eye Disease at UCLA. She will be finishing an additional fellowship in Glaucoma at the UC Davis Eye Center in July 2022.
Undergraduate Student Researcher 2015-2016
Jaffer finished his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley with high honors prior to completing medical school at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. During his medical school education, he earned the prestigious Dean’s Leadership in Health and Sciences scholarship for a funded research year working in the Cornea Genetics Laboratory. He has since gone on to complete a residency in ophthalmology at the Stein Eye Institute at UCLA and will be completing his glaucoma fellowship training at the Stein Eye Institute in 2022. His CV includes multiple publications and presentations amongst other accolades as an advocate for the underserved populations. As a clinician, he is known for his hard work, compassion and dedication to patient care
Ben Lin, MD
Medical Student Researcher 2014-2015
Ben received a bachelor's degree in biology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and deferred his medical school admission for one year to work in the Cornea Genetics Laboratory. During that year, he studied the functional impact of ZEB1 mutations on protein expression and phenotype of in vivo human corneal endothelial cells. He also was involved in numerous projects to perform Sanger and next generation sequencing to elucidate the genetic bases of various corneal dystrophies. After his year in the lab, he went on to complete his medical degree at the David Geffen Medical School at the University of California - Los Angeles, which was fully funded by the David Geffen Medical Scholarship. He is currently an ophthalmology resident at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
Undergraduate Student Researcher 2017-2018
Vinay joined the Cornea Genetics Laboratory in 2017 as a UCLA undergraduate research assistant while pursuing a degree in Biochemistry. His projects in the lab were focused on cornea transcriptomics as part of larger projects on characterizing corneal endothelial cells during in vitro expansion and validating cell line models of corneal disease. After graduating in 2018, he spent 3 years as a bioinformatician at the National Eye Institute creating tools for exploring ocular gene expression. He is currently a PhD student in the Biomedical Informatics Department at Columbia University studying protein structure and function using machine learning.
Angela Chen, MD
Medical Student Researcher 2019-2020
Angela grew up in New York City and completed her undergraduate education at Yale University, where she graduated summa cum laude (top of her class) and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She pursued a research year between her 3rd and 4th years of medical school in the Cornea Genetics Laboratory, where she studied the pathomechanisms by which SLC4A11 insufficiency lead to congenital hereditary endothelial dystrophy. During her research year, which was fully funded by a competitive UCLA Dean’s Leadership in Health and Science Scholarship, Angela also worked on clinical and global ophthalmology research, which culminated in over 10 peer-reviewed publications. She recently graduated from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, where she was a junior inductee into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and an inductee into the Gold Humanism Honor Society and is currently an ophthalmology resident at the Stein Eye Institute.
Charlene Choo, MD
Medical Student Researcher 2020-2021
Charlene received her bachelor's degree in Human Biology at UC San Diego. In 2020, she took a year off from medical school to work in the Cornea Genetics Laboratory to investigate the mechanisms of cellular senescence during the ex vivo culture and expansion of corneal endothelial cells. She also investigated the genetic basis of corneal dystrophies such as polychromatic punctate posterior corneal dystrophy and lattice corneal dystrophy. She will be completing her medical degree at the David Geffen Medical School at the University of California - Los Angeles in May 2022, after which she will begin her ophthalmology residency training. She hopes to continue working on meaningful research involving molecular biology and genetics during her career.