Mandë Holford is an Associate Professor in Chemistry at CUNY-Hunter College and Graduate Center, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medical College. Her appointments reflect her traditional training in synthetic peptide chemistry and her subsequent interest in evolution of venomous marine organisms and characterization of venom peptides. Dr. Holford’s research is at the forefront of Chemical and Biological Diversity – pioneering an evolutionarily integrated approach to the discovery of novel venom peptides for therapeutic development in pain and cancer.
Giulia received her PhD in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology in 2017 from the University La Sapienza of Rome with a thesis on Antarctic mollusc larval ecology and genetic connectivity. She received a grant from her home country of Italy to visit the Holford laboratory for five months. During this period, she is learning to analyze NGS data using bioinformatic tools and she has joined the ongoing project on Terebridae diet identification and correlation with venom diversity.
Juliette received her BS from Colby College, majoring in Biology and Animal Ethics, and received her MS from Hofstra University, majoring in Biology. Juliette is currently a PhD student working on venom variation and population genetics of the neogastropod clade. To complete this work, she uses next generation sequencing and bio-informatics. She has also had the privilege of joining Dr. Holford in the field for two expeditions to Papua New Guinea in the hopes of increasing the pool of available Terebridae toxins. Additionally, she spent the summer in Paris working on Terebridae taxonomy and the classification of potentially new species.
Tanya received a BS in Forensic Toxicology from John Jay College in 2015. She then worked as a research chemist for the Research Foundation of CUNY, synthesizing mitomycin interstrand cross-linked DNA adducts and studying their effects on cancer cells. Tanya entered the CUNY Biochemistry PhD Program in Fall 2016 and joined the Holford lab in Spring 2017. Currently, she is working on developing a high-throughput method for screening purified Terebridae venom peptides. Using an integrated approach, a validated teretoxin functional activity pipeline will be made to identify potential therapeutic candidates. Teretoxins are an uncharted territory for drug development that can ultimately overcome molecular and pharmacokinetic obstacles. To develop this high-throughput method for screening purified Terebridae venom peptides, a variety of approaches will be used. These approaches include two peptide synthesis methods, both recombinant and synthetic, three instrument screening platforms for crude venom characterization, and three types of bioactive assays to test the functionality of venom peptides.
James received a BS in Forensic Toxicology and Molecular Biology from John Jay College in 2015. He continued his study to receive an MS in Pharmacology from Weill Cornell in 2018. He took a gap year to teach as an adjunct at his Alma Mater prior to entering the CUNY Biochemistry Ph.D. Program in Fall 2020. As a rotation student in the Holford lab, James is currently working to synthesize recombinant Terebridae venom peptides and to characterize Terebridae venom peptide binding through homology modeling.
Max received a BA in Chemistry and Philosophy in 2015. Afterwards, Max then went to get his license in paramedicine in 2016, eventually joining a critical care team specializing in neonatal transport in 2017. He entered the Master’s of Biochemistry Program at Hunter College in fall of 2019, and joined the Holford lab in winter of 2020. Max is currently working on transcriptome analysis of mucin glycoproteins of terebrid snails.
William is currently an undergraduate senior majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Mathematics and Physics at Hunter College. He joined the Holford lab in January of 2018. His work at the lab involves the synthesis and purification of terebrid snail peptides by employing Fmoc solid phase peptide synthesis and liquid chromatography. He has also involved in modifying protocols experimentally so that they can be adapted in characterizing the more recently discovered terebrid venom peptides. After graduating, William hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in either Synthetic Organic Chemistry or Organometallic Chemistry.
Sharmin is currently an undergraduate senior majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Sociology at Hunter College. She joined the Holford lab in June of 2018. Her work at the lab involves developing a method to recombinantly express terebrid venom peptides found from next-generation sequencing of various species of Terebridae. This project will establish a recombinant expression protocol for successfully generating large quantities of Terebridae venom peptides for further functional analyses in hopes of identifying novel potential therapeutic candidates. The experimental design for recombinant expression in E. coli cells involves BL21 cell transformation, peptide expression, periplasmic export, oxidative folding, and purification of the target venom peptide peptides. After graduating, Sharmin hopes to pursue an MD/PhD degree.
Eleonora received a BA in Biology at Hunter College in 2020. She joined the Holford lab in June of 2018. Her work in the lab involves computation programming and she is a part of bioinformatic team in the lab. Their project involves automating functional script to characterize venom peptides. She also was a part of the team that partnered up with American Museum of Natural History to work on the genomic project and help characterize a luciferase gene. After graduating, Eleonora hopes to pursue a MD or MD/PhD degree.
Prachi Anand, PhD (Analytical Research Scientist, Genesis Biotechnology Group)
Abba Leffler, PhD (Senior Scientist, Private Firm)
Elizabeth Mary Wright, PhD (Lecturer, Princeton University)
Giulia Fassio, PhD (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sapienza Università di Roma)
Aida Verdes, PhD (Assistant Professor, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Juliette Gorson, PhD (Special Assistant Professor of Biology, Hofstra University)
Patrick Kelly, PhD (Teaching Fellow, Fullstack Academy)
Danny Simpson, MS (Bioinformatics Specialist, New York Genome Center)
Raj Musunuri, MS (Bioinformatics Specialist, New York Genome Center)
Emily Lin, MS (PhD Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center)
R. S. Ramakrishnan, MS (Bioinformatics Specialist, Mount Sinai)
Jessica Schulman, MS (Computational Biologist, Mount Sinai Department of Neuroscience)
Henry Yelkin (Financial Representative, MassMutual Metro New York)
Marouf Hossain (Medical School, SUNY Downstate)
Manjeet Kaur (Masters Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center)
Peter Filipenko (Bioinformatics Consultant)
Girish Ramrattan (Bioinformatics Facility Manager, Weill Cornell Medicine)
Michelle Yun (Masters Candidate in Pharmacology, Boston University)
Magid Mohamed (MD/PhD Candidate, UT South Western)
John Moon (Medical School, University of Chicago)
Michael Lyudmer (Medical School)
Nicolette Somogyi (Masters Candidate, NYU)
Corina Grijuc (Medical School)
Carolina Santamaria (Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Emily Lau (Graduate School, UC Santa Barbara)
Justin Ho (Graduate School, Cornell University)
Jessica Kuppan (Graduate School, Washington University in St. Louis)
Jennifer Ferd (Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania)
Safiyah Samad (Medical School, ...)
Eleonora Achrak (Medical School, ...)
Ikenna Onyekwere (Medical School, Weill Cornell Medicine)
Mackenzie Mitchell (Masters Candidate, Wesleyan University)
Saama Salim (Nursing Candidate)
Kelly Huang (Nursing Candidate)
Natasha Pandey (...)