Lab Members

Marzieh "Marcy" Akhlaghpour
PhD Student

Marzieh Akhlaghpour graduated with honors from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in biological sciences. Prior to joining the graduate program for Translational Medicine and Biomedical Science at Cedars-Sinai, she studied the molecular mechanisms of how coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, rearrange host cell membranes to aid the viral life cycle. Akhlaghpour volunteered in a research laboratory in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai where she worked to identify the role of different members of the TGF-β family in trophoblast function and placentation as they relate to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Her thesis project aims to identify genetic association in patients with perianal Crohn's disease, a severe form of Crohn's disease with a poor quality of life that often requires surgeries.

Anna Blackwood
Research Associate I

Anna Blackwood is a proud graduate of UCLA with a bachelor's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology. She has a personal interest in chronic gastrointestinal diseases because of her extensive family history of gastrointestinal ailments. Throughout college, she was fascinated by the effect of bacterial colonies in the gut on the human body, specifically on mental health. Blackwood is excited to join the Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute team, specifically the Michelsen Laboratory and looks forward to contributing in the search for effective treatments against inflammatory bowel diseases.

Sofi Castanon
Research Associate I

Sofi Castanon graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in biology. Prior to joining the Michelsen Laboratory, she was a student researcher in the Department of Physiology at UCLA, where she gained experience performing several molecular biology techniques that aimed to better understand the structure and function of the LacY transporter protein. Castanon has a strong interest in learning more about how the immune system plays a role in the development of inflammatory bowel diseases. She is excited to be part of the Michelsen Lab.

Hussein Hamade, PhD
Postdoctoral Scientist

Hussein Hamade, PhD, earned his doctorate from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Strasbourg, France, in 2014. Prior to his current position, he investigated the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in a spontaneous, inflammation-driven tumor mouse model of the intestine. He is currently focusing on mechanisms by which TL1A, a member of the tumor-necrosis factor superfamily, induces inflammatory immune responses in inflammatory bowel diseases using cellular and molecular immunological approaches.

Dalton Stamps, BS
Research Associate I

Dalton Stamps, BS, attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona majoring in Biotechnology. During his junior and senior summers, he participated in the research internship program at Cedars-Sinai investigating the effects that cytokines have on T cell differentiation in the laboratory of Kathrin Michelsen, PhD. During this time, he also investigated the role of the transcription factor Batf3 in the development of obesity in mice. After earning his degree, he went on to work in the group of Alberto Yanez, PhD in the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute investigating the effect that microbial ligands have on the development of myeloid progenitor cells in IRF8-deficient mice. Following the departure of Dr. Yanez to start his lab in Spain, Stamps studied the development and function of myeloid cells using iPSCs with Helen Goodridge, PhD.

Lisa Thomas
Research Associate IV

Lisa Thomas earned a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Illinois–Chicago. She has more than 25 years of experience in academic research laboratories. Her research experiences have involved cellular and molecular immunological approaches for studying the pathophysiology associated with inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, and in diabetes research. Thomas is a former professional basketball player and a nationally ranked amateur tennis player.

Contact the Michelsen Lab

8700 Beverly Blvd.
Davis Research Building, Room 4058
Los Angeles, CA 90048