Principal Investigator

Luis de la Torre-Ubieta, Ph.D.

Dr. de la Torre-Ubieta performed his undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico and obtained his doctoral degree in Neurobiology from Harvard University studying cell-intrinsic mechanisms regulating neuronal morphogenesis. He then went on to pursue postdoctoral studies at UCLA in the Geschwind laboratory where he employed computational and molecular approaches to study human cortical neurogenesis. His work focused on developing and characterizing in vitro models of human brain development and elucidating signaling and gene-regulatory mechanisms operating in the developing human neocortex. His research has been funded through individual awards by the NIH, CIRM, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, and is an Albert J. Ryan Foundation Fellow. Prof. de la Torre-Ubieta is also an avid microscopist and received a Wellcome Trust Image Award for his work imaging cleared mouse brains.  


Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Assistant Professor 

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center; Researcher

Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Research; Member



Susanne Nichterwitz

Susanne Nichterwitz studied Biology at the University of Tübingen in Germany and obtained her PhD in Medical Sciences at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm/Sweden where she investigated mechanisms of differential vulnerability in motor neuron diseases using mouse and stem cell models. As a postdoc in the De la Torre-Ubieta Lab, she is setting up an in vitro platform to study human neocortical development in organotypic slice cultures with single cell resolution. She is particularly interested in investigating the role of gene regulatory mechanisms in normal neurogenesis and in neurodevelopmental disorders. When she is not in the lab pipetting, you will most likely find her exploring California’s beautiful nature with her camera and a tent!

Contact: snichterwitz_/ at _/


Graduate Students

Alexis Weber

Alexis Weber earned her Bachelor of Science in Genomics and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University in 2015. At Van Andel Research Institute she characterized epigenetic changes in Alzheimer’s disease and familial mutations in Parkinson’s disease. As a graduate student in the LTU lab, she studies gene expression and regulation during neocortical development.

Contact: alexisweber_/ at _/


Yuki Hebner

Yuki is a student in the Gene Regulation PhD program. She earned her MA/BA in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Wesleyan University, where she developed a passion for understanding genome structure in the lab of Dr. Scott Holmes. Her project there focused on how chromatin remodeling facilitates gene silencing as well as the DNA damage response. She is excited to continue asking questions about chromatin and to study the epigenetic drivers of human corticogenesis. When Yuki is not in lab, she loves to be in the ocean.

Contact: yhebner_/ at _/


Undergraduate Students

Alvin Tran

Alvin Tran is an undergraduate student majoring in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA. He is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying normal brain development, which may provide further insight into neurodevelopmental disorders. His current project explores the role of gene regulatory elements on cell type composition and neuron migration within the developing human neocortex. In his free time, Alvin enjoys playing piano, watching movies, and volunteering with Vietnamese Community Health.

Contact: alvintran_/ at _/


Beck Shafie

Beck Shafie is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Biomedical Research. He is an awardee of the Life Science Dean's Neuroscience Research Award who is interested in studying the role of microRNA in gene regulation during brain development using in-vitro models. In the De la Torre-Ubieta lab, he is studying these in vitro models and learning how miRNA is involved in normal neurogenesis and neurodevelopmental disorders. When he is not in lab, he likes to exercise in the gym or go on hikes in Runyon Canyon. He also enjoys exploring new food spots in LA.

Contact: beckshafie_/ at _/


Melinda Gevorgian

Melinda Gevorgian is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in General Biology at California State University, Northridge. She is gaining research experience under Dr. de la Torre-Ubieta through the CIRM-UCLA Bridges Program to attain knowledge in stem cell research in relation to gene dysregulation that occurs in neuropsychiatric disease, specifically 8q21.11 microdeletion syndrome. In her spare time, she paints and volunteers with the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.



Isita Tripathi

Isita Tripathi is an undergraduate student at UCLA pursuing a major in Human Biology and Society. She is interested in understanding the mechanisms that contribute to the progression of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychological disorders. Currently, she is working on imaging and quantifying confocal images to validate experimentally-determined markers of neural cells. Outside of lab, she enjoys hiking, playing flute, and volunteering with the Hunger Project.