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Zhang lab photo, 2022 @ Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Zhang lab photo, 2023 @ Columbia University Irving Medical Center



Chaolin Zhang Twitter.jpg LinkedIn.png

Associate Professor, Department of Systems Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Motor Neuron Center
Email: cz2294 (at) columbia (dot) edu

Curriculum Vitae

Personal page (old!)

Chaolin is currently an Associate Professor with joint appointments in Department of Systems Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and Motor Neuron Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Before he joined Columbia, he performed PhD studies at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in computational biology and then Postdoc work on computational and molecular biology at Rockefeller University. Before that he obtained bachelor's degree studying Automation at Tsinghua University (Beijing). As an engineer-converted biologist, he has a deep interest in understanding gene regulatory logics. From the beginning of his academic endeavor, he decided to tackle the RNA code, i.e., how specific protein-RNA interactions determine the gene output in health and disease conditions, which remains the focus of the lab. Chaolin is a winner of Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00, 2011) and Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA/R35, 2022) from NIH, and Scientific Innovations Award from the Brain Research Foundation (2023).

Current Lab Members



Shah Alam (06/2023-), Postdoc

Email: sa4354 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., Molecular Medicine, University of Bonn, Germany

Shah joined Zhang's lab in June 2023 as a postdoctoral research scientist. Prior to joining Columbia, he gained experience working as a postdoc at the LIMES Institute, University of Bonn, Germany, for over a year. He also completed his PhD at the same institute. During his PhD, he unraveled the signaling of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in primary neurons, microglia, and astrocytes of a neurodegenerative disease mouse model called neural-cell specific S1P-lyase (SGPL1) deficient mice. He earned his master's degree in molecular biotechnology from the University of Bonn and his bachelor's degree in biotechnology from VIT University, India. Shah's current research plans involve delving into the regulatory mechanisms and lineage-specific alternatively splicing events and their functional impacts on brain development and developmental disorders. Moreover, he is also interested in developing experimental systems that will strategically map and compare RBP binding sites and RBP-dependent splicing regulation in neurons. Beyond his academic pursuits, he is particularly passionate about cricket, running, and hiking.


Vivian Coraci (07/2023-), Visiting High School Student

Vivian is a rising high school senior at Horace Mann School in the Bronx. She has strong interests in chemistry and biology, and she is looking forward to learning about the applications of RNA regulation at the Zhang lab this summer. For fun, she enjoys playing lacrosse and field hockey, doing graphic design, and going for walks around New York City.


Georgia Dermentzaki (09/2021-), Postdoc

Email: gn2267 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Athens; Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece

Georgia joined the Zhang lab as an Associate Research Scientist in September 2021 after working as a Postodoctoral Research Scientist in Serge Przedborski’s and Francesco Lotti’s lab in the Motor Neuron Center at Columbia Medical Center. There she focused her research in studying mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration in ALS and SMA with particular interest in RNA modifications / RNA metabolism. In addition, she worked in the Project ALS Therapeutic Core as the Lead Scientist for the Viral Unit where she developed and optimized novel assays for AAV production targeting the CNS and PNS in ALS mice models for preclinical studies. Her current research is focusing on the functional impact of neuron-type specific alternative splicing in the brain and RNA-based therapeutics for brain-related disorders. She also enjoys cooking Greek food (being Greek), long walks in Central Park, and yoga/pilates.



Jessica Estrada (11/2022-), Technician

Email: je2673 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • BA, Chemistry, Stony Brook University

Jessica received her B.A from Stony Brook University in Chemistry and is a Technician in the Zhang Lab. She assists on various projects in the lab while developing a research focus, and plans on pursing a PhD in the biomedical sciences. In her free time, she likes to go on hikes and cook for friends and family.



Brian Joseph (11/2021-), Postdoc (joint with Hynek Witchterle lab)

Email: bj2468 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Brian joined the Zhang and Wichterle labs as a postdoctoral fellow in November 2021 after a brief research experience in Kevin Eggan’s motor neuron lab at Harvard. He completed his PhD with Eric Lai at the Sloan Kettering Institute in NYC focusing on the biology of cotranscriptional RNA processing mechanisms. He plans to explore RNA metabolism in neurons and hopes to identify novel vulnerabilities that can be the basis for therapeutic intervention. Brian is currently an ALS scholar in therapeutics.

A native Pakistani, Brian is obsessed with cricket and biryani. He is also an avid runner who still believes the PRs are yet to come.



Suvrajit Maji (07/2022-), Postdoc

Email:sm4073 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D.,Carnegie Mellon University

Personal page

Suvrajit is received his Bachelor's and Master's degree in Mathematics and Computing from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He then received his Ph.D. degree in computational biology from Carnegie Mellon University under the mentorship of his thesis advisor Dr. Marcel P. Bruchez. His thesis topic was single-molecule localization microscopy and super-resolution reconstruction of biological structures using generative models. He moved to Columbia University to continue his postdoctoral research work under the mentorship of Dr. Joachim Frank, when he focused on developing advanced mathematical, computer vision, and machine learning techniques for studying the structure and dynamics of molecular machines such as the Ribosomes and determining high-resolution 3D structures from 2D cryo-EM image datasets. His current research focuses on computational methods development, application, and analysis to study RNA-protein binding interactions using CLIP sequencing datasets. He is also involved in developing and applying machine learning & deep learning methods to study RNA-protein complex structures.



Daniel Moakley (06/2018-), Graduate Student

Email: dfm2129 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D. student, Integrative Program, Columbia University

Before coming to Columbia, Dan earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Wesleyan University, where he studied the maturation of ESC-derived interneurons in Laura Grabel’s laboratory. Then, he worked with Brian Wainger at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he focused on the electrophysiology of ESC-derived motor neurons. Dan is interested in molecular underpinnings of the immense cell type diversity in the brain. His work leverages both computational and experimental techniques to examine neuron type-specific alternative RNA splicing regulation. He uses the reanalysis of large, publicly available data sets to identify potential regulators of splicing differences across neuron types. These hypotheses are then tested in embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived neurons.



Paola Rinchetti (05/2022-), Postdoc

Email: pr2485 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., University of Milan

Paola's research career started in 2014 in Prof. Stefania Corti's lab at University of Milan. During her studies in Italy, she maximized her knowledge in the field of cellular biology and in particular in the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and 2D models to study neurodegenerative diseases such as SMA and ALS and the development of potential treatments. During her PhD, she mainly focused on the generation of new 3D models to investigate the pathological mechanism underlying SMA and ALS. During this time, she was also involved in exchange programs with the laboratory of Prof. Prezdborsky and Prof. Lotti at Columbia University where she was able to deepen her knowledge in the field of in vivo models. In the Zhang lab, she is working on RNA-based medicine for neurodevelopmental disorders.



Yocelyn Recinos (06/2018-), PostDoc

Email: yr2330 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D. student, Integrative Program, Columbia University (2023)
  • NSF GRFP awardee (2019)

Yocelyn received her B.S. in biological sciences from the University of California, Irvine and her Ph.D. in the Integrated Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical program at Columbia University. Yocelyn completed her PhD training recently in the Zhang lab. For her thesis research, she was focused on developing high-throughput screening technologies to understand the role of RNA regulation in the context of alternative splicing and disease. Her work was supported by the NSF GRFP (2019). Yocelyn continues as a postdoc in the lab to finish and extend her work she started as a PhD student. She also enjoys running in Central Park and practicing hot yoga.



Ruchika (07/2023-), Postdoc

Email: fr2563 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • PhD, School of Material Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

Ruchika completed her doctoral degree in molecular biology from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) in Japan in 2022. During PhD, she worked on the identification and characterization of U-to-C RNA editing events in plants and used a plant-derived pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins to develop an artificial deamination system for C-to-U RNA editing in mammalian cells, and received an Excellent student award for her work. Thereafter, she joined Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, as an assistant professor and she worked on designer PPR proteins to target long non-coding RNAs, especially related to neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. At the next step, Ruchika is excited for multiple projects related to programmable RNA targeting using different approaches at Columbia.


Madeline (Maddie) Scanlon (06/2023-), Visiting High School Student

Madeline joined the Zhang Lab in late June of 2023 as a research student. She is investigating the mechanisms of pentatricopeptide repeat proteins and their interactions with RNA. Madeline currently attends King School in Stamford, CT as a Junior where she is a member of the Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE). In her spare time, she enjoys playing the guitar, skiing, playing golf, and baking.



Xiaojian Wang (06/2016-), Lab manager

Email: xw2006 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • MS, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental biology, the Ohio State University
  • BM, Basic Medical Sciences, Beijing Medical University, Beijing, China

Before coming to work at Columbia, Xiaojian earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Beijing Medical University and the Ohio State University, respectively. At CUIMC, she worked as supporting staff and lab manager in several labs. She joined the Zhang lab in 2016, and has been providing support on both molecular biology experiments and mouse work, as well as daily lab operations. In her free time, Xiaojian enjoys cooking, watching baseball games, and spending time with her family.


Qiyang Wu (01/2013-), Master Student

Email:qw2388 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Master of Science Program in Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University
  • BE, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, China (2022)

Qiyang earned his Bachelor's degree in Bioinformatics from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen (2022). During his undergraduate, he participated in research on optimizing force field parameters for β-lactams. Qiyang joined the Zhang lab in January 2023. He is interested in protein-RNA interactions and CRISPR technology. In his free time, he enjoys walking in Central Park.


Matthew Yuan (06/2023-), Visiting High School Student (remote)

Matthew currently attends Lynbrook High School in San Jose, California as a rising Sophomore, and is passionate about Math and Science. Matthew is a two-time AIME qualifier, and has years of experience in Science Olympiad and Science Bowl. His favorite research area is Marine Biology. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys reading and writing, playing basketball as well as playing video games (Geometry Dash and Crossy Road are his favorites).



Tim Yeh (09/2022-), Postdoc

Email: yy2722 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • PhD, Department of Biology, Zukerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University

Tim received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Columbia University (2022). Throughout his scientific career, he has been interested in understanding how the brain works and developing treatment. His graduate research focused on auditory processing in the brain and sensorimotor interaction. As a postdoc in the Zhang lab, Tim hopes to investigate the roles of RNA splicing in normal brain functions and neurological diseases using novel research methods such as gene editing tools and sequencing technologies. When he is not doing science, he likes to play tennis and ping pong. He is also a foodie who enjoys eating pizza!


Name/Position in the Lab

Position When Exiting

Current Position

LinkedIn.png Melissa Campbell (09/2019-11/2022), Postdoc

Email: mmc2259 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • M.D./Ph.D., Department of Genetics, NYU
  • NIH K99 awardee (2021)

Assistant Professor, UCSD

LinkedIn.png Huijuan Feng (8/2016-12/2021), Postdoc

Email: hf2304 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., MOE Key Laboratory of Bioinformatics, Bioinformatics Division, TNLIST & Department of Automation, Tsinghua University
  • Visiting Ph.D. student (1/2015-1/2016)

Personal page

Associate Professor, Fudan University

LinkedIn.png Suying Bao (06/2017-06/2021), Postdoc

Email: sb4045 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Hong Kong

Bioinformatics Manager, Regeneron

LinkedIn.png Dmytro Ustianenko (01/2015-05/2021), Postdoc

Email: du2145 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., Biomolecular Chemistry, Masaryk University, Central European Institute of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic

Blavatnik Fellow in Life Science Entrepreneurship, Yale University

Associate, Flagship Pioneering

LinkedIn.png Brittany Phillips (05/2018-05/2019), Postdoc

Email: bp2563 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Ph.D., Genetics and Molecular Biology, Emory University

Medical Writer, Chrysalis Medical Communications

Medical Writing Senior Manager, Amgen

LinkedIn.png Sebastien Weyn (08/2013-02/2018), Graduate Student

Ph.D. student, Integrative Program, Columbia University
Email: smw2185 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Titus M Coan Award for Excellence in Research (2018)

Bioinformatics Scientist, Stoke Therapeutics.

Principal Scientist, Bioinformatics, Fosun Pharma USA Inc.

LinkedIn.png Martin Jacko (08/2013-07/2017), Graduate Student

Ph.D. student (joint with Wichterle lab), Department of Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine, Columbia University
Email: mj2577 (at) columbia (dot) edu

Postdoc, Alice Ting Lab, Stanford University

CEO, Aperture Therapeutics

LinkedIn.png Qinghong Yan (02/2013-02/2015), Postdoc
Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology & Behavior, Stony Brook University

Scientist, Amgen

CSO, Leverna Therapeutics

Yong Zhang (04/2013-11/2014), Postdoc
Ph.D., Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Postdoc, Xuemei Chen lab, UC Riverside

LinkedIn.png Jie Wu (01/2013-08/2013)

Visiting Ph.D. student, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory / Applied Maths and Statistics, Stony Brook University

Bioinformatics Scientist, BioMicro Center, MIT

Associate Director, Bioinformatics at Accent Therapeutics, Inc.

Yuchen Xu (02/2022-05/2023), Master Student

Email: yx2709 (at) cumc (dot) columbia (dot) edu

  • Public Health in Biostatistics, Columbia University

Research Technician, Abbas Rizvi Lab, University of Wisconsin-Medison

Lily Wang (07/2020-09/2020), Undergraduate Research Assistant

Undergraduate student, Mathematics/Statistics, Columbia University
Email: hw2744 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Amgen Summer Research Program Award (2020)

Meghna Gopalan (06/2022-08/2022), Undergrad Summer Research Assistant

Email: mg4166 (at) barnard (dot) edu

  • Barnard College

Lydia Wu (10/2021-06/2022), Undergrad Research Assistant

Email: lw2892 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Columbia College

LinkedIn.png Lekha Yesantharao (09/2017-12/2019), Undergraduate Research Assistant

Undergraduate student, Department of Engineering, Columbia University
Email: lvy2002 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Simons Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Program Award (2018)

Medical School, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

LinkedIn.png Justin Wong (06/2017-05/2019), Undergraduate Research Assistant

Undergraduate student, Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Email: justin (dot) wong (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • Simons Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Program Award (2017)

Graduate Student, UC Berkeley

LinkedIn.png Yingzhi Qian (06/2016-06/2018), Computational Biologist

Email: yq2139 (at) columbia (dot) edu

  • M.A., Statistics, Columbia University
  • B.Sc., Applied Mathematics, Fudan University

Research Scientist, NYU Lagone Health

Model Risk Management, Barclays

Helene Lovett (06/2017-08/2017), Undergraduate Research Assistant

Undergraduate student, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard University
Email: helenelovett (at) college (dot) Harvard (dot) edu

  • SURF/Amgen Fellowship (2017)

LinkedIn.png Ankeeta Shah (08/2015-05/2017), Volunteer

Undergraduate student, Barnard College
Email: abs2218 (at) barnard (dot) edu

  • SURF/Amgen Fellowship (2016)
  • Goldwater Scholarship (2016)

Graduate Student, University of Chicago

Jonah Lee (05/2015-01/2017), Volunteer

Undergraduate student, Columbia College
Email: jl3910 (at) columbia (dot) edu

Andrew Arditi (Volunteer, 09/2016-12/2016)
Columbia College
Email: ava2123 (at) columbia (dot) edu

Jingxian You (Volunteer, 07/2016-09/2016)
Fudan University
Email: ykevingrox (at) gmail (dot) com

LinkedIn.png Jiaye Li (05/2016-08/2016)

MA in Biotechnology, Columbia University


Co-Founder, EleGo Education

LinkedIn.png Kevin Huynh (10/2015-7/2016)

  • BS, Biochemistry/Cell Biology, UCSD
  • MS, Biology, UCSD


MD program, UCSF

Resident Physician, UCSF

Joy Pai ( 09/2013-05/2016)
Undergraduate student, Departments of Biological Sciences and Computer Science, Columbia University

  • Harvard/MIT HST Summer Institute Fellowship (2015)
  • SURF/Amgen Fellowship (2014)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Bioinformatics specialist, Michel Russenzweig lab, Rockefeller University

Graduate Student, Stanford University

Kernyu Park (07/2015-10/2015)
Departments of Biological Sciences and Computer Science, Columbia University

Undergraduate Research Assistant