Martin Wallner Ph.D

My work focuses on the question why problems with nitrogen excretion leads to predominantly neurological problems, despite the brain being shielded from peripheral compounds by the blood-brain barrier. Currently we are working on the effects of guanidinoacteate (GAA), the precursor for creatine, that accumulates in patients with certain enzyme defects. We find that GAA can interfere with inhibitory neurotransmission by mimicking GABA on GABA(A) receptors, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors in mammalian brains. I am also looking forward to contribute to the state-of-the-art gene therapy approaches developed in the Lipshutz lab.

In my free time I enjoy gardening and sports, like cycling, swimming and skiing in the beautiful local mountains around Los Angeles.

Project Scientist

Yue Huang M.D, Ph.D

Yue is currently a clinical instructor in medical genetics and T32 research fellow at UCLA. He is studying the disease mechanism of the remethylation disorders with a focus on the impact of remethylation defects in the early brain development. On his free time, he enjoys hiking, skiing, and explore restaurants in town.

Research Fellow

Matt Nitzahn Ph.D

Matt received his PhD in Cell & Developmental Biology (CDB) within the home area of the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Doctoral Program. His work focuses on designing and implementing novel gene- and cell-based therapies, including AAVs and CRISPR/Cas9, to treat urea cycle disorders, in particular CPS1 deficiency. During his free time, Matt enjoys reading fiction, cycling, and searching for the best pizza parlors in town.


MBI home page:
CDB home page:

Mouse Maestro

Andrea Ochoa

Graduate Student

Lizzie Zhang

I graduated from UCLA 2021 with a bachelor degree in neuroscience and a minor in mathematical biology. My current project focuses on arginase deficiency – how an elevation of guanidino compounds could cause impairments of oligodendrocytes and eventually on myelination. In my free time, I enjoy baking, watching movies, and sleeping. Also a food blogger with 270k followers.

Waffle House Manager

Colleen Le

I received my B.S. in biochemistry here at UCLA in 2022 and am continuing my research throughout this gap year before entering medical school. I am currently working on studying SLC6A8 deficiency in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and designing CRISPR/Cas9 strategies to better understand the disease pathology. In my free time, I like to embroider, punch needle, and analyze films!

Staff Research Associate

Aleks Bogoniewski

Aleks is currently a graduate student in the Molecular and Medical Pharmacology program at UCLA. As an undergraduate researcher, he was selected for the UCLA CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research fellowship under the guidance of Dr. Harley Kornblum. During his time in the fellowship, his research centered around cerebral organoid development and analysis from patients with the heterozygous PTEN mutation.

During his free time, Aleks enjoys hiking, running, and exploring LA.

Graduate Student

Puja Patel

I am a third year Neuroscience and Psychology double major here at UCLA. In lab, I am currently working on a new gene therapy for Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) deficiency and various cloning projects. Outside of lab, I spend my free time watching true crime documentaries, hiking, and playing video games.

Undergraduate Researcher

Taryn Diep

My name is Taryn and I’m a 4th year MCDB major here at UCLA.  I’m currently working on a project with Rachel where we are testing the efficacy of a transposon-based gene therapy for Arg1 deficiency in collaboration with a biotechnology company.  In my free time, I like to swim, bake, and try out new cafes around LA with my friends.

Undergraduate Researcher

Nyla Buie

I am a second year Cognitive Science major from Pennsylvania. My research interests include gene therapy and studying neurology. I enjoy working out, watching movies, and trying new food places around LA!

Undergraduate Researcher

Stuti Bakshi

Hi! My name is Stuti and I am a third year Psychobiology major and Applied Developmental Psychology minor from Portland, OR. In my free time, I enjoy working out, playing volleyball, trying out new recipes, and playing poker with friends.

Undergraduate Researcher

Kiran Singh

I am a 3rd year biology major and musicology minor student. I am from Chico, CA and I enjoy golfing, snowboarding and exploring.

Undergraduate Researcher

Rachel Xu

I am a second year molecular, cellular, and developmental biology major from San Diego. I am currently working on a project involving transposon based gene therapy with Taryn. In my free time, I like to watch TV, crochet, and go to the gym!

Undergraduate Researcher

Wesley Zhou

I am an undergraduate student at UCLA studying Molecular Biology (MCDB) and History. My research interests lie in understanding different urea cycle disorders and finding appropriate and sustainable gene therapies for them. In my spare time, I enjoy working out, playing basketball, and familiarizing myself with world events.

Undergraduate Researcher

Leo Cigarroa

My name is Leonides Cigarroa, and I am a second year MIMG student. My hometown is Laredo, Texas where I hope to return to someday to join the family business of cardiological healthcare. When I’m not aiding in the lab or studying for my classes, I frequent the gym and enjoy playing the guitar. Should you ever see me in the Neurological Science Research Building, feel free to say hello!

Undergraduate Researcher

Shimona Gupta

I am a first-year Human Biology and Society major from Northern California. My research interests lie in genetics and molecular biology, specifically gene editing and gene therapies. In my free time, I enjoy learning new instruments, roller skating, and trying different coffee places.

Undergraduate Researcher

Rebecca Lee

I am a 1st year Psychobiology major at UCLA, and I’m from Torrance, CA. I am interested in neuroscience and genetics. In my free time, I like to play tennis, crochet, and play video games with friends!

Undergraduate Researcher