Principle Investigator

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Dr. Johnston obtained a PhD in Molecular Systems Pharmacology at Emory University.  As a PhD student, Dr. Johnston analyzed several components of an integrating lentiviral viral vector in order to delineate an optimal transfer vehicle for the delivery of nucleic acids into hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.  This work yielded a lentiviral vector that became approved by the Recombinant Advisory Committee for potential future gene therapy clinical trials.  Upon graduation, Dr. Johnston continued to pursue gene therapy strategies for blood disorders as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.  However, instead of utilizing a lentiviral vector as a transfer vehicle for transgenes, Dr. Johnston explored the use of transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) technology to target transgenes to defined locations in the genome.  For the expression of transgenes not endogenously expressed by the hematopoietic system,  gene addition would need to occur at genomic safe harbors. Yet, she determined that a location can only truly be considered safe if gene disruption does not occur.  Therefore, Dr. Johnston developed an innovative pharmacological strategy that can convert essentially any transcriptionally active genomic location into a safe harbor locus.  


Ymer Bjornson

Master's Student

BS San Francisco State

Ymer is a graduate student pursuing a Master's of Science degree in Physiology. Upon completing his Master's degree he is interested in applying to Ph.D. programs to continue studying gene editing and therapy.

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes" - Sherlock Holmes

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Kenney Tuyen

Masters Student 

B.S. Cell Biology UC Davis

After masters, Kenny would like to work as a researcher in the reproductive genetics industry

"My tale is done, there runs a mouse; whosoever catches it, may make himself a big fur cap out of it."

- Hansel & Gretel in Grimm fairy tales

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Guadalupe Castaneda

Undergraduate Researcher 

“Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the Sun and the Moon. They shine when it’s their time."


Mason Galipeault


Undergraduate Researcher
Biological Sciences-Systems Physiology

"They misunderestimated me" -George W. Bush


2018 President's Scholar

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Hannah Garzota

Undergraduate Researcher 

Biology Major-Systems Physiology

Hannah is a third-year student who pursues a career in healthcare. 

"Life is a process, not a destination. A mystery to be lived not a problem to be solved."

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Codey Huang is an undergraduate student pursuing a Biology degree with a concentration in Systems Physiology. After graduating he hopes to matriculate into medical school.

"Be an adult when  you have to, be a child when you can."

-Codey Huang

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Vaibhavi Garish 

Undergraduate Researcher 

Vaibhavi Garish is an undergraduate student studying Molecular Biology. After graduation, she aspires to go into the field of biotechnology. 

“You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

-Winnie the Pooh

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Meghana Kakulawaram

Undergraduate Researcher 

Biological Sciences-Systems Physicology

Meghana plans to attend medical school after obtaining her undergraduate degree from San Jose State.

"Goodness is the only investment that never fails."


SJSU Undergraduate Researcher Grant Awardee

Emiko is a third-year undergraduate at San Jose State University majoring in Microbiology. Her
favorite part of lab is ensuring that her K562 cells stay happy and healthy! When Emiko isn’t in
lab, she can be found enjoying a baseball game (provided the Dodgers lose) or playing a round
of golf.

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Raquel Hall 

Undergraduate Researcher 

Biological Sciences- Molecular Biology


Raquel plans on getting a master's degree in the future and wants to become a geneticist. 


"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."



Undergraduate Researcher 

Biological Sciences

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children.


Carlos Gonzalez

Undergraduate Researcher

Biological Sciences-Molecular Biology


Carlos plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in Genetics or Stem Cell biology after graduating from San Jose State University.


"Find something that you not only enjoy but that you see as your mission in life. Once you know yourself well enough, all the tribulations ahead of you will drive rather than stop you." 


Haojun Song

Undergraduate Researcher 

Biological Sciences

Haojun Song is an international student from Beijing, China who is interested in research. Upon graduation, he is interested in pursuing a Ph.D.

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world."

-Mahatma Ghandi


Asrita Bhamidipati

Undergraduate Reseacher

Asrita Bhamidipati is an undergraduate pursuing a degree in Biology with a concentration of Microbiology. In the future, Asrita hopes to obtain a Master's degree in Genetics.

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."


Parnit Jhutty

Undergraduate Researcher 

Parnit Jhutty is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. After successfully earning a bachelor's degree, she plans on being in a medical program and subsequently specialized in pediatric medicine. 

"Ditch the timeline that you think your life should be following. Trust that everything is unfolding as it should."


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Undergraduate Researcher

Gwendolyn Ta is a recent SJSU graduate looking to pursue a career in pharmacy. Though she has graduated, she will continue to take part in the lab and help in future projects.

"Always believe in yourself. Do this, and no matter where you are, you will have nothing to fear."

-The Cat Returns


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LSAMP Research student

Kenneth Roman is an undergraduate student studying Molecular Biology. After matriculating into a PhD program he hopes to conduct research on multi-factorial diseases, such as autism, and how to cure these complex disorders.

"Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all."

-Phillip Pullman

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Master's Student

BS Sonoma State University

Melissa Piling is a graduate student who is studying Molecular Biology. Upon completion of her Master's degree she hopes to work in the biotechnology industry in research/development and manufacturing of biotherapeutics.

"I could either watch it happen or be a part of it."

-Elon Musk

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Master's Student

BS San José State University

Chyna Swan aspires to matriculate into an M.D.-PhD program with the ultimate goal of inciting change in patient care through both academia and the hospital. She hopes to manage and oversee biological research in the field of molecular genetics, treat patients regularly, and travel the world to service disadvantaged populations abroad.

"There's as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. We are, each of us, a little universe."

-Neil Degrasse Tyson

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Undergraduate Researcher

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Katie Khaw

Undergraduate Researcher

Biological  Sciences

"The most important thing, in anything you do, is always trying your hardest."

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Julian Hermida

Undergraduate Researcher

Biological Sciences-Microbiology

"A thousand stitches today will save nine tomorrow"

Navneet Kaur, an aspiring dentist,  is an undergraduate student majoring in Biology with a concentration in Systems Physiology.  In her free time, she loves playing the guitar.

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." 

-Marie Curie

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Shufan Li 

Undergraduate Researcher 

Shufan Li is an undergraduate studying Kinesiology and she hopes to matriculate into MSN or DPT programs after graduating.

"It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."


Ginny Mehrok

Undergraduate Researcher

Biological Sciences-System Physiology


"While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give."


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Undergraduate Researcher RISE trainee

Daniella Huinac is an undergraduate student majoring Biology with a concentration in Systems Physiology. Upon graduation, she hopes to start pursuing an PhD.

"An ounce of practice is worth a thousand words."

-Mahatma Gandhi

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