Mariela Cadena Hernandez
Bilingual Clinical Research Assistant
Mariela Cadena Hernandez joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Bilingual Clinical Research Assistant in June of 2023. At Boston Children's Hospital she consents and informs patients on the variety of research opportunities they and their children are eligible for. She recently graduated from Williams College in the summer of 2023 where she received her B.A in Chemistry with Honors and Public Health. In the future, Mariela will pursue a MD and a master's in public health in the aim of increasing equity and access to resources.
Christopher Yuskaitis, MD, PhD
Dr. Yuskaitis is a neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital with board certification in neurology and special qualification in child neurology. He obtained his bachelor of arts with high distinction in cognitive science with emphasis in neuroscience at the University of Virginia. He then received MD/PhD degrees through the MSTP Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His graduate work identified misregulation of glycogen synthase kinase-3 as a potential target for therapeutic intervention in fragile X syndrome. He completed his pediatrics training in the Boston Combined Residency Program, followed by child neurology residency and neurogenetics fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is member of the NIH-funded ClinGen Brain Malformations Gene Curation Expert Panel. He is the co-director of the Infantile Spasms Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. His current clinical research focused on predictors of outcomes in children with infantile spasms. His laboratory research focuses on how alterations to nutrient sensing genes (e.g. DEPDC5, NPRL2, NPRL3) leads to epilepsy and brain malformations, and targeting this pathway for therapeutic intervention. He sees patients for consultation in the Brain and Developmental Genetics Clinic and the Epilepsy Genetics Program.
Laboratory Research Assistant
Cristina joined the Poduri Lab and Epilepsy Genetics Program in September 2021. She develops zebrafish models of epilepsy using CRISPR/Cas9 and screens therapeutic compounds for future patient applications. Cristina graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in May 2021 with a BSc in Neuroscience, and she intends to pursue a PhD program.
Hyunyonh (Howard) Koh, MD, PhD
Hyunyong (Howard) is from South Korea and joined the Poduri Laboratory and Epilepsy Genetics Program in September 2019. He is a physician-scientist working on genetic etiology of patients with epilepsy at Boston Children’s as well as on contributing to translational medicine closely with members of the laboratory’s zebrafish team. He was granted a PhD in translational neurogenetics and brain somatic mutation causing tumor-associated epilepsy under Dr. Jeong Ho Lee MD PhD at KAIST in 2019. Here at Boston Children's, Hyunyong is engaged in discovering novel gene variants that contribute to epilepsy and sudden death, using data collected from patients, with a focus on application to translational research supported by Manton Center Fellowship. He is most excited when he communicates with the clinical and laboratory teams, discussing the clinico-genetic science of patients with epilepsy, with the hope that he can help provide improved patient care when he pursues a clinical residency training in the near future.
Rebecca Pinsky, MSN, RN, CPNP
Research Program Manager
Rebecca is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner who rejoined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in January 2020 as research program manager. She initially joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in 2013 as a research assistant prior to completing her master's in nursing science at Regis College. Rebecca manages the program’s research portfolio and ongoing projects.
Laboratory Research Assistant
Jane joined the Poduri Lab and Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Research Assistant in June 2022. She is responsible for studying the effects of mutations in epilepsy-related genes using zebrafish models. Jane graduated from Boston University in May 2022 with a B.A. in Biology with a specialization in Cellular Biology, Molecular Biology, and Genetics. In the future, she hopes to pursue a PhD degree.
Katherine (Katie) Kralik
Genetic Counseling Assistant
Katie joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Genetic Counseling Assistant in May of 2022. In this role, she serves as a liaison between providers, patients, insurance companies, and genetic testing laboratories. Additionally, she assists with clinical research within the program. Katie is originally from Pasadena, California. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2022 with a B.A. in English. In the future, Katie hopes to go to graduate school to attain her master's degree in genetic counseling.
Clinical Research Assistant
Brandon joined the Poduri Lab and Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Clinical Research Assistant in June of 2021. He worked on the KCNQ2 Natural History Study, Gene-STEPS, and the Epilepsy Pilot during his time in the Epilepsy Genetics Program. Brandon graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May of 2021 with a BS in Neuroscience. Brandon will be attending the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai starting in the fall of 2023. There, he plans to further explore his interests in Ophthalmology and Neuroscience.
Clinical Research Assistant
Julia joined the Poduri Lab and the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Clinical Research Assistant in June of 2021. She recruited and enrolled patients and families into research studies, including the PCDH19 and CACNA1A registries. She was also the Co-Director of PRADA, an employee resource group at BCH that aims to support research assistants in their professional growth and development. Julia graduated from Tufts University in May of 2021 with two majors: a BS in Mathematics and a BS in Biology. As an undergrad, she was a volunteer in the in-patient Neurology unit at BCH, which sparked her interest in pediatric neurology. Julia will be attending the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University starting in July of 2023 and hopes to pursue a specialty in women’s services, particularly in maternal-fetal medicine.
Laboratory Research Assistant
Nick joined the Poduri Lab and Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Research Assistant in August of 2022. He experimented in zebrafish to study the genetic foundations of epilepsy and also worked on a schizophrenia project to identify novel genes implicated in both epilepsy and schizophrenia. Nick graduated from Drexel University in March of 2022 with a BS in Biological Sciences and will be attending medical school at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. His future goal is to become a surgeon.
Xinzhu Tina Yang
Tina joined the Poduri Lab and Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Research Assistant in June 2020. She is responsible for performing experiments in zebrafish to study the genetic foundations of epilepsy. Tina graduated from Brown University in May 2020 with a B.S. in Neuroscience. In the future, she hopes to earn a medical degree.
Barbara Robens, PhD
Dr. Robens joined the Poduri Laboratory and Epilepsy Genetics Program in July 2018. She has a background in developmental neurobiology of epilepsy and molecular techniques. She received her BSc and MSc at the University Aachen (RWTH Aachen/Uniklinikum Aachen) in Germany and a PhD in Bonn, Germany at the Bonn Medical Center (Universitätsklinikum Bonn). During her PhD at the Institute of Neuropathology with Prof. Becker she studied the molecular mechanisms of epilepsy-associated developmental brain lesions. She established a method for convenient developmental brain disease modeling in the lab which she used to discover a novel target gene involved in neuronal hyperactivity. Here in the Poduri Laboratory, she studies PCDH19 gene functions during early brain development in zebrafish aiming to better understand the pathomechanisms underlying “girls clustering epilepsy.”
Clinical Research Assistant/Assistant to Neurology Genetic Counselors
Rebecca joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Genetic Counseling Assistant for the summer of 2019, and returned as a Clinical Research / Genetic Counseling Assistant in June of 2020. She manages the NeuroGC REDCap referral database and acts as a liaison between families, genetic counselors, testing laboratories, and health insurance providers, as well as assisting with research studies and educational projects. Rebecca graduated from University of Rochester in 2020 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Clinical Psychology. She aspires to get her Master’s in Genetic Counseling in the future.
William Hong, MD
Epilepsy Genetics Fellow
Dr. Hong joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program as an epilepsy genetics fellow in July 2021. He completed his epilepsy fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and child neurology residency at Texas Children’s Hospital. His area of research is in CDKL5 deficiency disorder under the supervision of Dr. Olson. He is fluent in English and Korean.
Frederick Burki, R. EEG T., CLTM
Program Coordinator II
Frederick Burki joined as the Epilepsy Genetics Program in July of 2021 as our program coordinator. He managed the clinical program and was the primary point person, both for referrals and for communicating with families about scheduling and intake information.
Fred has many years of clinical experience in pediatric epilepsy as an inpatient, outpatient, and intraoperative neurophysiology specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Utah Hospital, and Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. He graduated from Vassar College in 2009 with majors in Neuroscience and German Studies, and minors in Chemistry and Physics. Subsequently, he received his Masters in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University in 2013. Fred accepted a position in the Rosamund Stone Zander Translational Neuroscience Center in 2022, and in the coming years, plans to apply his passion for improving patient care to expanding the diagnosis and treatment options available for genetics-related epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Alan Taylor, MS, CGC
Licensed Genetic Counselor
Alan Taylor joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in April 2016. He holds a joint position between Boston Children’s Hospital and Claritas Genomics. At BCH, he provided genetic counseling to patients and families seen in the Epilepsy Genetics Clinical Consultation Program. In addition to his clinical work at Boston Children’s Hospital, he coordinated the Epilepsy Genomics Initiative. In his position at Claritas Genomics, he was responsible for the interpretation and reporting of genomic test results. Alan received his BS in genetics from University College Cork, Ireland in 2007 and his MS in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2016.
Catherine Shain, MPH
Research Program Manager
Catherine Shain joined the Epilepsy Division in 2009 and the Epilepsy Genetics Program in 2011 at its inception. In her role as Research Program Manager, she managed the program’s research portfolio and ongoing projects. She was also responsible for establishing and maintaining clinical trials.
Catherine received her BS in Public Health Sciences from Clemson University’s Honors College in 2007 and her MPH in Epidemiology from Boston University in 2012.
Tsega Mekonnen Meshesha
Tsega Mekonnen Meshesha joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in July 2015 as our first program coordinator. She managed the clinical program and was the primary point person, both for referrals and for communicating with families about scheduling and providing intake information.
Tsega graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2013 with a BA in Sociology and is a qualitative researcher by training. Prior to joining our team, she worked with The Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College and the University of Gonder on a project in Gonder, Ethiopia that looked at the mental health needs of rural Ethiopian women affected by obstetric fistula. Tsega’s goal is to be a researcher that bridges the gap between access to health services and care while creating culturally sensitive interventions that addresses mental health needs among vulnerable populations.
Lisanna Paulino joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in June of 2017 as our second program coordinator. Lisanna managed the clinical program and was the point of contact for intake information and scheduling with families.
Lisanna graduated from Wheelock College with a BS in Human Growth & Development with a focus in Counseling Psychology with minors in Child Health and Child Life. Lisanna transitioned from Boston Children’s Hospital Radiology Department and has worked with children and families in a variety of settings including afterschool programs, hospitals, and foster care. In July 2021, Lisanna became a patient liaison service officer for the Boston Children's Hospital Trust.
Gessica Truglio, PhD
Gessica Truglio joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in January of 2014 as a research fellow. She worked to develop zebrafish models of PCDH19-related epilepsy. Gessica’s goals were to create a knockout of PCDH19 and also to introduce specific mutations in zebrafish to better understand the genotype-phenotype correlations in our PCDH19 patient population. She also conducted behavioral assays and drug screening in zebrafish.
Gessica received her BS in Biological Science in 2007 and her MS in Biology Applied to Biomedical Research from La Sapienza University of Rome in 2010. She received her PhD in Biotechnology in Clinical Medicine from La Sapienza University of Rome in 2013.
Gabriel Dabscheck, MBBS (Hons), MClinEpi, FRACP
Gabriel Dabscheck is an Australian trained neurologist who completed his Epilepsy training at Boston Children's Hospital. He developed an interested in the etiology of Rasmussen Encephalitis while working with Dr. Poduri. Together with Dr. Olson, Gabriel lead a project investigating potential genetic causes of Rasmussen Encephalitis. In addition to his collaborations through Boston Children's Hospital, Gabriel also completed a pediatric neuro-oncology fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Madelen Diaz is a former summer fellow. Prior to joining the Epilepsy Genetics Program in 2012, Madelen spent three years improving the localization of the epileptic region in patients undergoing surgery at Miami Children's Hospital. Madelen earned her BS in neuroscience with departmental honors from the University of Miami in 2013. She is currently pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis University with hopes of continuing epilepsy research.
Alexander Jaksic joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in July 2015 as a research assistant. He conducts genetic, biochemical and molecular biology experiments in an effort to investigate the genetic underpinnings of epilepsy. Alex graduated from Union College, Schenectady, NY in 2015 with a BS in Biochemistry. After spending a year pursuing this research, Alex now attends Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine at Hofstra University where he will purse his clinical interest in pediatrics.
McKenna Kelly joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a research assistant in June of 2015. She is responsible for recruiting and enrolling families to participate in research studies aiming to investigate and better understand genetic factors of epilepsy. McKenna graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY in 2015 earning a BA in Biology and being elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In the Fall, McKenna will start medical school at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College where she will purse his clinical interest in pediatrics.
Elika joined the Poduri Lab and Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Clinical Research Assistant in September 2021. She is responsible for the recruitment and enrollment of patients and families in our research studies. She graduated from Boston University in May 2021 with a B.S. in Human Physiology. Elika is excited to learn more about the inter-professional nature of the research team and strive to discover novel genetic factors that contribute to the appearance of epilepsy. In the coming years, she plans to pursue a career in medicine, and continue working with pediatric patients as a physician.
Emilie Martin is a former student intern and trainee from France. She received her BS in biology in 2012. Emilie went on to pursue a master’s program in biology at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Lyon, France.
Sriram Ramgopal, MD
Sriram Ramgopal is a former research assistant in the Epilepsy Genetics Program. During his time in the program, he recruited and consent families for research studies and assisted in analysis of brain malformation data derived from the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project. His professional area of interest is in pediatric neurology. Sriram is a medical graduate from Sri Ramachandra Medical University and is currently completing his medical residency in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Dimira Tambunan is a former research assistant in the Epilepsy Genetics Program. From 2013 to 2015, Dimira was responsible for carrying out a variety of genetic, biochemistry, and molecular biology assays in the lab. Dimira graduated from Northeastern University in 2013 with a BS degree in Behavioral Neuroscience and is currently a medical student at Boston University. She hopes to focus on pediatric or neonatal neurology.
Grant joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in June 2018. He was a research assistant who enrolled patients in research studies to better understand the genetic etiologies of epilepsy. Grant graduated from Connecticut College with a B.A in chemistry.
Meredith Park joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a Research Assistant in June of 2017. She was responsible for recruiting and enrolling families to participate in research studies aiming to investigate and better understand genetic factors of epilepsy. Meredith graduated from the UNC Chapel Hill Honors College in 2017, earning a B.S. in Chemistry and being elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After leaving the Epilepsy Genetics Program, Meredith went to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine where she participated in multiple research projects, volunteered at free clinics, and was co-president for the Association of Women Surgeons. She graduated from UNC SOM in 2023 and stayed at UNC for Dermatology residency. Her interests include hair loss, autoimmune diseases, and high risk skin cancer populations. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, running, traveling with her fiancé, and reading on the couch with her two cats.
Emma Sexton joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program in June 2019. She was a research assistant who enrolled patients in research studies to better understand the genetic etiologies of epilepsy. Emma graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.S. in Health & Exercise Science and Anthropology.
Devon joined the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a research assistant in June of 2019. She was responsible for recruiting and enrolling families to participate in research studies aiming to investigate and better understand genetic factors of epilepsy. Devon graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in May 2019 with a B.A. in Biology and Neuroscience.
Ikhianosen joined the Poduri Lab and Epilepsy Genetics Program as a research assistant in May 2019. She was responsible for conducting experiments in zebrafish aimed at investigating the genetic etiologies of epilepsy. Ikhianosen graduated from Regis College in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She left the EGP in 2021 to pursue a career in medicine, enrolling at the Frank H. Netter, MD School Of Medicine at Quinnipiac University.