Bitan Lab Members
Ravinder Malik received her Ph.D. in Biotechnology from NIPER, India in 2013. During her doctoral project, she studied in vitro protein aggregation and protein drug stabilization. She characterized agitation-induced aggregation of insulin and selected novel RNA aptamers specific for monomeric insulin. The selected aptamers inhibited aggregation by preventing protein-protein interactions. She also showed that aptamers stabilized insulin without reducing its bioactivity in cell culture and in STZ-diabetic rats. In the Bitan Lab, she is focusing on finding a potential therapeutic strategy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) by testing small molecules for inhibiting protein aggregation.
Suman Dutta received his Ph.D. from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal, India. During his postdoctoral study in Hallym University, South Korea he worked on neurotherapeutics, constructed full-length Pep1-Uchl-1 proteins of human origin and evaluated their transduction, efficiency, and roles in neurodegenerative conditions. Later on, in Mahidol University, Thailand he isolated and characterized exosomes from three human cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) cells and studied their role in CCA pathogenesis. Currently, in the Bitan lab at UCLA he is interested in studying exosomes for their role in spreading of amyloidogenic proteins and as potential biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases.
Hedieh Shahpasand-Kroner received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB), Germany in 2014. During her Ph.D., she studied the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease focusing on post-translational modification of α-synuclein in a yeast model system. As a postdoctoral fellow at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, Bonn, in Prof. Di Monte’s lab. Dr. Shahpasand-Kroner studied α-synuclein aggregation and propagation in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. To broaden her horizons in the neurodegenerative-disease field, she then switched to studying Alzheimer disease and worked on developing biomarkers based on plasma amyloid β-protein in DZNE, Göttingen under the supervision of Prof. Wiltfang. In the Bitan laboratory, she is interested in studying post-translational modifications of tau and characterizing how PTMs affect the pathological activity of tau.
Ibrar Siddique received his Ph.D. in Life Sciences from the National Institute of Immunology, India, in 2018. In his graduate work, he studied the role of small molecules in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the 5X FAD mouse model. To broaden his horizons, he also investigated the role of an endoplasmic reticulum resident protein (JWA/GTRAP3-18) in the regulation of autophagy in neuronal cells. Currently, in the Bitan laboratory, he is interested in elucidating the role of molecular tweezers in the prevention of the tauopathy in an animal model system.
Roy McReynolds III graduated from Morehouse College in May 2018 where he received his B.S. in Biology with a minor in Neuroscience. Roy is interested in the role non-neuronal cell types, such as astrocytes and microglia, play in the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Roy is also interested in developing potential therapeutics that address these cell type specific changes in the future.
Helia Hosseini, B.S., graduate student
Helia is pursuing a master’s degree at UCLA. Working with neuromuscular specialists in Iran and the US, she developed a strong interest in etiology, pathogenesis and managing neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases, especially rare pathologies. Her interests lead her to join Bitan lab in Spring 2020. She is currently working on a project using CNS exosomes as a source of biomarkers for spinocerebellar ataxia.
Otmane Lahgui received his Master of Business Administration with honors as Salutatorian, from IAE Business School in France. Before that, he received a Masters in Biology and Healthcare from the University of Lille, France, where he studied mechanisms of neurodegerative diseases. While working on his MBA, Otmane held several positions in the private sector, working directly with Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies. He became a Business Development and Strategy Associate at Eurasanté Agency. After receiving his MBA, Otmane joined a consulting firm in Brussels as a Business Manager and Head of the Life Sciences division. He managed a team of Consultants working on various projects for pharmaceutical companies. At the end of 2019, Otmane joined the Bitan Laboratory at UCLA where he was an intern a few years back. Currently he is involved in the Biomarkers Project in the hope of getting one step closer to developing an accurate test to detect neurodegerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease.
Karl worked as an undergraduate student in the lab since the beginning of 2016 until graduating in the spring of 2018. He is now pursuing research in preparation for applying to graduate school. Karl is interested in the mechanisms and pathways that lead to the development of neurodegenerative diseases, and how this knowledge can be used to develop treatment options. He is studying the effect of structural variations in α-synuclein on the aggregation of the protein and on its interaction with molecular tweezers.
Katherine Maina, B.A.
Katherine Maina received her BA in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California in 2019. She is interested in studying the cause of Alzheimers Disease as well as developing a treatment. She manages the lab's sample database and experiment results.
Jennifer Portillo, B.S.
Jennifer Portillo graduated with a B.S in Biochemistry from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She joined the Bitan lab after graduation and is working on production and purification of different tau variants.
Adira Kruayatidee is an undergraduate student at UCLA pursuing a degree in Biochemistry. With profound interests in the brain, and particularly the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, she joined the Bitan lab in the Spring of 2018. She currently studies the use of exosomes derived from the brain of patients with neurodegenerative diseases as a potential source for biomarkers, in hopes to improve the clinical diagnosis of these diseases.
Sally Tu is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Neuroscience and a minor in Global Health. Her profound interests in neurodegenerative diseases and her hopes for one day finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease drove her to join the Bitan Lab in the Spring of 2018. She studies the effects of molecular tweezers on tau propagation and oligomerization in Alzheimer’s disease in hopes of finding effective treatments for the disease. In the summer of 2018, Sally received the Rose Hills Foundation Scholarship for STEM and research studies.
Sueksitt is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Biochemistry. He is interested in neurodegenerative diseases and hopes one day to find a cure for proteinopathies. These hopes inspires him to join the lab in winter 2019. Currently, he is working on a project testing improved delivery methods of molecular tweezers in an MSA mouse model, in which he studies the effect of the delivery method on the oligomerization of α-synuclein in the mouse brain.
Angela Nguyen is an undergraduate student at UCLA pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology with a minor in Film, Television and Digital Media. Her interest in expanding her knowledge of different biology disciplines led her to join the Bitan Lab in the Spring of 2019. She is currently working on a project studying Methionine oxidation and the Methionine Sulfoxide Reductase system in neurodegenerative diseases.
I am an undergraduate student at UCLA pursuing a degree in Physiological Sciences. Having seen how Parkinson’s disease can affect an individual, I joined the Bitan lab because it provides me with the opportunity to work with others in gaining a better understanding of neurodegenerative diseases. My hope is to find better treatments and a possible cure for Parkinson’s Disease.