The Holford Lab specializes in a wide range of interdisciplinary scientific research, combining the fields of chemistry, biology, and drug discovery to address questions pertaining to molecular and cellular evolution, development, and function. Our team is dedicated to finding innovative solutions to complex problems that connect nature and humanity. We invite you explore our website and learn more about our research and how we can work collectively to achieve our scientific goals.
Mandë Holford is a 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.
Bobby Habig is an Assistant Professor at Mercy College and a research collaborator at the
American Museum of Natural History and the Research Foundation of the City University of
New York (Hunter College). His integrative research program encompasses evolutionary
biology, urban ecology, biological anthropology, and science education. As a research associate at
Hunter College, Dr. Habig is collaborating with Mandë Holford on an Innovative Technology
Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) grant from the National Science Foundation.
José conducted his PhD from the University Complutense of Madrid at the National Museum of Natural Sciences of Spain and defended his thesis on March 2023. His work focused on the conotoxin genes' genomic structure and expression in several cone snail species. He previously received a MS in Zoology from the University Complutense of Madrid in 2016 with a Master thesis focused on freshwater fish systematics. He graduated with a BS in Biology from the University of Salamanca in 2015. He is currently working on the evolution of immune-related micropeptides and on the venom innovation across different lineages of cephalopods using a combined approach of genomic, gene expression and morphology techniques.
Saurabh is a dedicated Postdoctoral Researcher who earned his doctoral degree from Savitribai Phule Pune University, India (2014-2019). His research journey began with a focus on assessing the anticancer potential of toxins derived from Indian spectacled cobra venom. Driven by a fascination for venomics, he continued to pursue his passion at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), where he served as a Postdoctoral fellow (2019-2022). During this tenure, his efforts were dedicated to mitigating snakebite-induced morbidity and mortality in both India and Sub-Saharan Africa. His pioneering work involved the development of advanced snakebite therapies that were not only effective and safe but also accessible and affordable. Dr. Attarde's research interests seamlessly merge with his broader curiosity in venom therapeutics, signifying his relentless pursuit of knowledge and innovation in the realms of toxinology and medical science.
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. James joined the lab in late 2021 and is working to develop venom gland organoid models for Conoidea.
Franny Geller is a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology and animal behavior at the CUNY Graduate Center, as well as a professional ensemble singer, who has discovered the perfect marriage of her interests in the biology of bird song. While plugging away at her dissertation on avian cultural evolution, Franny is also working with Drs. Habig and Holford as a research assistant on their ITEST grant.
Favour received a BS in Chemistry/Biochemistry from Rivers State University in 2016. She worked for a year at the Center for Infectious Diseases Lagos in 2017 on medical research data collection, medical record storage, and outreaches. During and after her undergraduate study, she was a high school math and chemistry tutor, preparing high school students and undergraduates for national exams. Her undergraduate research focused on measuring changes in biochemical parameters of albino rats to determine the effect of corticosteroids on their vital organs. She went on to work as a business analyst at a financial institution using data to solve business problems and managing projects that eliminate waste and redundancy in the organization. Favour joined the Holford Lab in Summer 2021 and is interested in studying how venom can advance cancer treatment. As a rotation student, Favour will be working with the bioinformatics team.
Praveena is a PhD student in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology Program. She received a BSc in Biomedical Science from Imperial College London in 2019 with a specialisation in infection and immunity. She then graduated with an MPhil from the University of Cambridge in 2020 studying placental macrophages across species. She spent the last year working in an RNA therapeutics lab at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology at A*Star in Singapore, cloning plasmid constructs to validate splice-shifting oligonucleotide therapies.
Jessy received a BS in Biology from St. Thomas Aquinas College in 2015. He entered the Bioinformatics Master Degree Program at New York University in Spring 2020, and joined the Holford Lab in Summer 2021. After graduation, he hopes to pursue his career in Bioinformatics via a PhD degree.
Afeeda is an undergraduate junior majoring in Human Biology at Hunter College. She became a member of Holford lab in Summer 2023. Her future goal is to pursue a doctorate degree in the field of medicine after completing her undergraduate studies.
Mariam is an undergraduate junior majoring in Bioinformatics and minoring in Mathematics at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. She joined the Holford Lab in Summer 2021. After graduation, Mariam hopes to pursue a career in medicine via an MD or MD/PhD.
Nusrat is an undergraduate junior majoring in Biology and BA/MA in Psychology at City College of New York. She joined the Holford Lab in Summer 2021. After graduating, she hopes to pursue an MD-PhD degree and aims to do further research on psychoneuroimmunology related to glioblastoma.
David is an undergraduate sophomore majoring in biochemistry and minoring in mathematics as a Yalow Honors Scholar at Hunter College. He joined the Holford Lab in the Summer of 2022. After graduating, David hopes to pursue a medical career by earning an MD degree.
Fatima Khalid joined the Holford Lab in the summer of 2022. She is an undergraduate sophomore at Hunter College. She is part of the Yalow Honors Scholar Program and is majoring in Biology. After graduating, she hopes to pursue an MD degree.
Brandon is an undergraduate junior majoring in Chemistry, Computer Science, and Statistics at Hunter College. He joined the Holford Lab in the Summer of 2022. After graduating, Brandon hopes to pursue a 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)
Tanya Napolitano, PhD (Application Scientist, Phenomenex)
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)
Maxwell McDermott (EMT)
Intersar Janjua, MS (Staff scientist, biotech)
Henry Yelkin (Financial Representative, MassMutual Metro New York)
Marouf Hossain (Medical School, SUNY Downstate)
Manjeet Kaur (Masters Program, CUNY Graduate Center)
Peter Filipenko (Bioinformatics Consultant)
Girish Ramrattan (Bioinformatics Facility Manager, Weill Cornell Medicine)
Michelle Yun (Masters Program, Boston University)
Magid Mohamed (MD/PhD Program, UT South Western)
John Moon (Medical School, University of Chicago)
Michael Lyudmer (Medical School)
Nicolette Somogyi (Masters Program, 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, Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
Eleonora Achrak (Medical School, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine)
Sharmin Sultana (Research Technician, Albert Einstein College of Medicine )
William Deng (Staff scientist, biotech)
Syeda Jannath (Medical School, Rockerfeller University)
Ikenna Onyekwere (Medical School, Weill Cornell Medicine)
Mackenzie Mitchell (Masters Program, Wesleyan University)
Saama Salim (Nursing School)
Kelly Huang (Nursing School)
Justin Ho (Graduate School, Cornell University)
Natasha Pandey (...)
Sharmin Sultana (Research Technician, Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
Syeda Jannath (Medical School)