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Viviana Gradinaru, PhD, Principal Investigator

Dr. Viviana Gradinaru completed her B.S. at Caltech and her Ph.D. research at Stanford University and is now a Professor of Neuroscience and Biological Engineering at Caltech. Dr. Gradinaru’s research interests focus on developing tools and methods for neuroscience (optogenetic actuators and sensors; tissue clearing and imaging; gene delivery vehicles) and using them to characterize circuits underlying locomotion, reward, and sleep, with the goal to inform deep brain stimulation (DBS) and better understand the underlying mechanisms of action.

Prof. Gradinaru has received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and has been honored as a World Economic Forum Young Scientist and as one of Cell’s 40 under 40. Gradinaru is also a Sloan Fellow, Pew Scholar, Moore Inventor, Vallee Scholar, and Allen Brain Institute NGL Council Member, and received the inaugural Peter Gruss Young Investigator Award by the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. In 2017 she was the Early-Career Scientist Winner in the Innovators in Science Award in Neuroscience (Takeda and the New York Academy of Sciences) and in 2018 she received a Gill Transformative award.

Viviana Gradinaru has also been very active in teaching and service, participating with lab members in regular technology training workshops at Caltech and for summer courses at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as well as running the CLOVER Center (Beckman Institute for CLARITY, Optogenetics and Vector Engineering), which provides training and access to the group's reagents and methods for the broader research community.


Tim Miles, PhD, Scientific Director

Tim received his B.S. from Haverford College and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Caltech, where he was advised by Dennis Dougherty. After an AHA postdoctoral fellowship with K. Christopher Garcia at Stanford University School of Medicine, Tim joined the Department of Molecular Medicine at City of Hope Cancer Center, helping launch Akrevia Therapeutics. Tim leverages his experience in combinatorial biology and protein biochemistry to advance CLOVER's core technologies.


Zhe Qu, PhD, Research Scientist and CLOVER Manager

Zhe received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from China Agricultural University and her postdoctoral training in biochemistry and neuroscience at the University of Missouri. Before joining the CLOVER center, Zhe worked at Southern Methodist University as a senior research associate studying the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration.


Yaping Lei, MS, Research Associate

Yaping Lei got her masters degree of biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Southern California. She worked at the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology of University of Southern California before joining the CLOVER center


Damien Wolfe, MS, Research Technician Assistant

Damien received his B.S. and M.S. in Biotechnology/Biology at Cal Poly Pomona University in 2019. His thesis in Steele lab at Cal Poly studied the relationship between food-entrained circadian rhythms and dopaminergic circuits in mice as well as the viral rescue of feeding and activity phenotypes. In the CLOVER center, he is currently interested in the engineering of AAVs for gene therapy.


Erin Sullivan, BA, Research Technician Assistant

Erin received her B.A. in molecular biology from Pitzer College in 2019. Her thesis characterized expression patterns and associated functions of novel histone modifications in T. thermophila. In the CLOVER center, she is testing and optimizing the ability of AAV variants to transduce selected tissues.


Pat Anguiano, Administrative Assistant


CLOVER Associates

Min Jee Jang, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Min received her BS, MS and PhD in Bio and Brain Engineering at KAIST. Her doctoral thesis focused on developing algorithms for quantitative analysis of large-scale calcium imaging data. Before joining Caltech, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Korea University on developing macro-scale 3D imaging and digital reconstruction methods using tissue clearing technique. In the Gradinaru lab, Min is interested in computational approaches to reconstruct the cellular structure of cleared tissue.

Máté Borsos, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Máté received his BSc and MSc in genetics and developmental biology from ELTE, Budapest, Hungary. During his studies, he worked on chromosome segregation in the mouse oocyte at the Tachibana lab, Vienna, Austria; and on DNA methylation and transposon control in the male germline at the Bourc’his lab, Paris, France. Máté did his PhD in the Torres-Padilla lab in Munich, Germany collaborating with Jop Kind’s laboratory. His work focused on 3D genome organization in the preimplantation mouse embryo. He mapped Lamina Associated Domains (LADs) genome-wide in single cells of embryos and identified epigenetic processes that could play a role in LAD formation upon fertilization. In the Gradinaru lab, Máté aims to engineer novel rAAV variants to target the germline.

Priya Ravindra Kumar, Graduate Student

Priya received her B.Tech from Anna University, Chennai, India in 2010; and MS from University of Illinois at Chicago. Before starting her PhD at Caltech, she worked as a scientific researcher/lab manager in Dr. Gradinaru's lab for two plus years where she gained experience in developing molecular tools for neuroscience. As a graduate student, she is interested in engineering AAV capsids for broad applications.

Xiaozhe Ding, Graduate Student

Xiaozhe received his BS from Tsinghua University, Bejing, China in 2014. Before joining Caltech, he was involved in multiple projects on structural biology and protein engineering. In the Gradinaru Lab, Xiaozhe is working on developing new molecular tools and viral vectors for neuroscience.

David Brown, Graduate Student

David received his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan in 2014. Before collaborating with the Gradinaru Lab, he worked in Richard Andersen's lab doing data analysis for single-neuron electrical recordings in implanted human subjects, and developing a framework for controlling a robotic prosthetic arm. He was a software engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the AI group and worked on planning and decision-making algorithms for autonomous systems, and image analysis of comets. In the Gradinaru Lab, he is applying automation technology to biological applications, such as machine learning for AAV targeted evolution.

Xinhong Chen, Graduate Student

Xinhong received his B.S. in Biotechnology from Tongji University, China in 2017. He studied the genetic impact on Alzheimer's Disease using Drosophila and led a iGEM team manipulating C. elegans with Optogentics whist at college. Prior to joining Caltech as a student in Neurobiology program, he did his undergraduate thesis in Kay Tye's lab at MIT focusing on the circuit underlying alcohol addiction. In the Gradinaru Lab, he is developing tools to study the interaction between Neuron System and Immune System.

Miggy Chuapoco, Graduate Student

Miggy received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from Stanford University. Prior to joining the Gradinaru lab, Miggy developed carbon fiber electrodes designed to be used simultaneously with fMRI and optogenetics. Miggy is in the Biological Engineering program in the NIH/NIGMS Biotechnology Leadership Predoctoral Program in Micro/Nanomedicine at Caltech. As a graduate student in the Gradinaru lab, he is currently interested in engineering viral capsids to make novel vectors for research and therapeutic applications.