Current Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Doug Kwon

Doug Kwon

Principal Investigator - dkwon@mgh.harvard.edu

Doug is a physician scientist at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and Director of Clinical Operations at the Ragon Institute. He has a clinical practice in the division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. He received his M.D. Ph.D. degrees from New York University and then underwent Internal Medicine training at the University of California, San Francisco and New York Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He then completed his training in the combined Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Infectious Disease fellowship program.
Seth Bloom

Seth Bloom

Postdoctoral Fellow - smbloom@mgh.harvard.edu

Seth joined the Kwon Lab in July 2016. He is an Infectious Diseases fellow in the combined Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital program. He earned a BA in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2004, performing his undergraduate thesis work on influenza virus. Seth stayed at Washington University for his MD/PhD training and Internal Medicine residency, focusing his research on the role of commensal intestinal bacteria in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease. In the Kwon lab, his current work involves understanding interactions between bacterial microbiota and mucosal lymphocytes in the female genital tract, with a focus on how these interactions may influence risk of primary HIV infection. Outside of the lab, Seth enjoys running, hiking, spending time with family, and international travel.
Upasana Das Adhikari

Upasana Das Adhikari

Postdoctoral Fellow - udasadhikari@mgh.harvard.edu

Upasana joined the Kwon Lab as a postdoctoral fellow in December 2018. Before moving to Boston, she was a Signgene Fellow doing her Ph.D. in a collaborative project between the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Max Delbruck Centre of Molecular Medicine in Berlin. During her Ph.D., she studied the gut epithelial stem cell regeneration addressing the crosstalk between reserve and active stem cells. This led her to become fascinated by the three amigos of the gut: the epithelium, Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue, and the microbiome. In the Kwon Lab, Upasana will study the cause of the misbalance of these interactions during HIV progression to halt the viral replication in the gut reservoir. In her free time, she loves to dance salsa and bachata!

Fatima Hussain

Fatima Hussain

Postdoctoral Fellow - fhussain3@mgh.harvard.edu

Fatima joined the Kwon Lab as a Research Fellow in May 2020 to study the female genital tract microbiome from an evolutionary ecology perspective. For her PhD, she studied bacteriophage-driven evolution of marine microbes with Martin Polz at MIT. Her previous work focused on near-term resistance evolution to lytic phages in bacteria of the genus Vibrio, and the role of lysogenic phages in shaping Vibrio genomic diversity. She applies the same framework in her postdoctoral work to determine how ecological interactions, both phage-bacteria and bacteria-bacteria, drive the intra-species evolutionary dynamics of Lactobacillus populations in the vagina. Ultimately, she aims to use her research to design ecologically-informed microbial therapeutics for women’s health. Prior to becoming a microbiologist, Fatima studied Environmental Engineering and Women’s and Gender Studies at MIT and Stanford. In her free time, she enjoys hosting dinner parties, culturing sourdough, yoga, and gardening. 

Joshua Gammon

Joshua Gammon

Postdoctoral Fellow - jgammon1@mgh.harvard.edu

Josh joined the Kwon Lab as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2020. He completed his Ph.D. in bioengineering at the University of Maryland, where he was a PhRMA Foundation graduate fellow in Christopher Jewell’s lab. His doctoral research involved leveraging biomaterials to locally target immunotherapies to lymph nodes to promote immunological tolerance. In the Kwon Lab, Josh’s work focuses on studying the interactions between microbes in the female genital tract and local inflammation. He aims to use his research to inform the design of interventions to prevent HIV infection. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, fishkeeping, sampling tasty beers, and hiking.
Benjamin Read

Benjamin Read

Postdoctoral Fellow - bread1@mgh.harvard.edu

Ben joined the Kwon lab as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2021. He completed his Ph.D. in medical engineering at MIT, where his research focused on engineering nanoparticle antigens to enable innate immune recognition and directed accumulation within draining lymph nodes to improve immune responses. In the Kwon Lab, Ben works to elucidate the immunological changes that occur in the female genital tract following HIV infection and how these changes evolve over time. He aims to utilize his research to inform the development of the next generation of interventions to prevent and treat HIV infection. In his free time, Ben enjoys running, reading, and playing board games with friends.

Jingyuan Huang

Jingyuan Huang

Postdoctoral Fellow - jhuang66@mgh.harvard.edu

Yanga Mdleleni

Yanga Mdleleni

Postdoctoral Fellow - ymdleleni@mgh.harvard.edu

Tumelo Moshoette

Tumelo Moshoette

Postdoctoral Fellow - tmoshoette@mgh.harvard.edu

Tumelo is a postdoctoral fellow jointly appointed by the Kwon Lab (Ragon Institute, USA) and the UKZN HIV Pathogenesis Research Programme (Durban, South Africa). He did his PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand working on engineering and characterizing bispecific antibodies targeting HIV-1 subtype C. His work in the Kwon Lab/UKZN HPP is on understanding antibody–vaginal microbiome interactions and how these interactions ultimately influence susceptibility to HIV acquisition. In his free time, Tumelo enjoys watching soccer and the odd T20 proteas match, exploring, and a lekker braai.

Jiawu Xu

Jiawu Xu

Lab Manager - jxu25@mgh.harvard.edu

Jiawu had the honor of joining the Kwon Lab in May 2018. He is a research scientist working on microbes in the gut and female genital tract, and their interactions with HIV/AIDS. As the lab manager, he enjoys helping the lab run smoothly and efficiently and providing support and encouragement to the hard-working Kwonnies each day. Prior to joining the Kwon Lab, Jiawu conducted research on population genetics, molecular ecology and evolution at Brigham Young University and Rutgers University, and on human microbiome and metagenomics at The University of Oklahoma. Jiawu received his PhD in biology from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, with a major in genetics and molecular evolution. He likes to do research in genetics, genomics and microbiome in relation to human health and diseases.
Aurora Mokris

Aurora Mokris

Technologist - amokris@mgh.harvard.edu

Aurora joined the Kwon Lab in August 2023. Aurora completed her Masters of Science at Western Michigan University specializing in Bioremediation, following her Bachelors of Science with majors in Biomedical Sciences and Spanish, and a minor in Chemistry. In her graduate research, Aurora studied the contribution of microaerobic bacterial communities to the natural degradation of petroleum at an oil spill site in Bemidji, Minnesota. Aurora then moved to Colorado and worked as a Quality Assurance Specialist for NOOSA Yoghurt where she tested product samples for microbial contamination and wrote SOPs and GMPs to standardize workflow and maintain a safe working environment for all employees. In the Kwon lab Aurora focuses her efforts in providing cohesiveness between wet and dry labs through organizing, optimizing, and standardizing lab procedures. In her free time she enjoys running long distances, backpacking, traveling, and sketching and reading at local coffee shops.

Joseph Elsherbini

Joseph Elsherbini

Data Scientist/Bioinformatician - jelsherbini@mgh.harvard.edu

Joseph joined the Kwon Lab in 2021 as the Bioinformatician and Data Scientist for the lab. He did his PhD in the MIT Microbiology program working in Martin Polz’s lab on the temporal dynamics of closely related microbes from the coastal ocean. In the Kwon Lab he is working on making existing datasets in the lab easier for everyone to use and creating pipelines to do common tasks in the lab in a reproducible way. When he’s not supporting research projects in the lab, he is usually making coffee, watering his plants, or scouring the internet for new guitar pedals.

Chandani Desai

Chandani Desai

Project Manager - cdesai@mgh.harvard.edu

Chandani Desai joined the Kwon Lab in Aug 2022 after spending close to 7 years as a microbiome researcher/Scientist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, working in the laboratories of Skip Virgin, Scott Handley and Jeffrey Gordon. In her new role as a Project Manager in the Kwon lab, she oversees the newly started FRESH BabyU! study investigating the role of the vaginal microbiome in preterm birth in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, among other projects. During her day, she enjoys working on different facets of the study, ranging from logistics with the BabyU! clinic, regulatory, creating and managing a database to store participant data, and brainstorming ways to make the study run more efficiently and smoothly! Outside of the lab, you will find Chandani exploring new-city Boston life, looking for road-noise-free scenic hikes in the area, or having fun in the kitchen with her husband and almost 3-year-old son.

Katy Weinberg

Katy Weinberg

Program Director - kweinberg2@mgh.harvard.edu

Katy joined the Kwon Lab in 2023 as the Assistant Director of International Programs.  Katy has an MBA in non-profit management from Boston University and an MPH in Global Health from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.   Outside of her work at the Ragon, Katy is also the founder and executive director of a Zambian-based HIV prevention program, UkaniManje (www.ukanimanje.org).  UkaniManje uses award-winning songs that have reached more than a million Zambian youth with pertinent HIV messaging.  Katy has worked specifically on HIV programming in Zambia, South Africa, Boston, and the Bronx.  She also has significant broader Global Health experience including her work in helping to build the Global Health Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.  In addition to her public health work, Katy is also a New England Golden Gloves champion.

Sarah Eisa

Sarah Eisa

Program Manager - SEISA@mgh.harvard.edu

Sarah joined the Kwon Lab in June 2023 as a Program Manager for the lab’s South Africa projects. Working at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office of the Eastern Mediterranean for 8 years, Sarah found her passion for global health and improving the health of those in low-resource settings, and decided to pursue her MPH. She completed her MPH in 2021 at Boston University School of Public Health with a focus on global health program design, monitoring, and evaluation. Outside work, Sarah enjoys running, movies, animals, water activities, and long walks/hikes.

Renee Schumm

Renee Schumm

Staff Assistant II - Rschumm@mgh.harvard.edu

Renee Schumm joined the Kwon Lab in January of 2023 as a Staff Assistant. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Florida Southern University and worked as an Administrator for the Stanford Psychology Department prior to moving to Massachusetts. She is looking forward to learning more about how the Kwon lab’s extensive research and clinical work applies to women on a global scale. Outside of work, she enjoys biking through the city, hiking with her German Shephard, and baking pastries.

Simran Handa

Simran Handa

Graduate Student - skhanda@mgh.harvard.edu

Simran joined the Kwon lab in September 2023 as a Harvard/MIT MD-PhD candidate in Immunology. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. In the Kwon lab, she is studying how the vaginal microbiome modulates T cell function in the female genital tract and impacts susceptibility to HIV infection. Outside of lab, Simran loves hot yoga, long walks/hikes, art museums, and cooking for others.

Meilin Zhu

Meilin Zhu

Graduate Student - mzhu@broadinstitute.org

Meilin Zhu is a PhD candidate and NSF GRFP fellow at MIT in Biological Engineering, co-advised with Dr. Paul Blainey. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at Arizona State University, where she developed point-of-care diagnostic tools for HPV-associated cervical cancer screening in low resource settings. In graduate school, Meilin decided to explore the world of microbes, with projects including, 1) developing high throughput screening methods for discovering new antibiotic potentiators against gram negative ESKAPE pathogens, and 2) understanding how bacterial metabolism in the female genital tract can be leveraged to rationally design and shift microbiota compositions. In her free time, Meilin can be found at the park chasing after her crazy corgi or trying out new restaurants on Newbury St.

Johnathan Shih

Johnathan Shih

Bioinformatics Technician - JSHIH6@mgh.harvard.edu

Johnathan joined the Kwon Lab as a Bioinformatics Research Technician in June of 2023. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Statistics from Texas A&M University, where he worked in the Small Animal Hospital GI lab as a bioinformatics student worker. In the Kwon Lab, he aims to develop reproducible pipelines, computational tools, and accessible databases to support research projects in the lab under the mentorship of Dr. Joseph Elsherbini. In his free time, he enjoys playing table tennis, fishing, hiking, and taking care of his aquariums.

Natalie Culler

Natalie Culler

Research Technician - NCULLER@mgh.harvard.edu

Natalie joined the Kwon lab as a Research Technician in June of 2023. She received her B.S. from the University of Vermont where she majored in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. While at UVM, she focused on TAing in teaching labs, assisting with rotavirus vaccine research and supporting the school’s genomic core. In the Kwon lab, she will study the vaginal microbiome and support Dr. Fatima Hussain in studying vaginal microbiome transplants. When not in the lab, she can be found practicing and teaching yoga, hiking, and tending to her many plants.

Alexandra Pipkin

Alexandra Pipkin

Research Technician - alexandrapipkin@college.harvard.edu

Alex joined the Kwon Lab as a Research Technician in July 2023. She pursues her interest in immunology by studying the relationship between HIV and the gut under Postdoctoral Fellow Upasana Das Adhikari. Originally from Maryland, Alex completed her undergraduate education at Harvard University focused in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a secondary in History. For her undergraduate honors thesis, she studied the effects of hypoxia on mitochondrial DNA heteroplasmy. Outside of the lab, Alex loves playing rugby, watching sports, cooking, and reading.

 

Jae Sun Kim

Jae Sun Kim

Research Technician - jae.kim3@emory.edu

Jae Sun Kim joined the Kwon lab in July of 2023. She received her B.S. from Emory University, where she majored in Chemistry and Biology. While at Emory University, she investigated the phosphate levels in phospholipids extracted from red blood cells using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). With the data collected from the ICP-MS, she focused on investigating an efficient method of using lipid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease. Outside of the lab, she can be found hiking, swimming, watching movies with friends, and exploring Boston!

Salina Hussain

Salina Hussain

Research Technician - SHUSSAIN0@mgh.harvard.edu

Salina joined the Kwon Lab as a Research Technician in July 2022. She moved to the US in 2017 to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Chemistry at Mount Holyoke College. As a Zambian native, Salina is passionate about global health and hopes to one day return to her homeland as an OB/GYN to help address disparities in healthcare across the gender spectrum. In the Kwon Lab, Salina is investigating the effects of HIV vaccination and vaginal probiotics on the female genital tract microbiome and learning how to use single-cell RNA sequencing to study transcription changes in acute HIV infections within a cohort of South African women. In her free time, she enjoys baking for friends and family, hiking, swimming, and catching the sunrise on morning jogs.

Suzanne Carpe Elías

Suzanne Carpe Elías

Research Technician - SCarpeElias@mgh.harvard.edu

Suzanne had the honor of joining the Kwon Lab as a Research Technician in July 2022 to support the work of postdoctoral fellows Ben Read and Josh Gammon. Born and raised in El Salvador, she firsthand experienced the devastating effects of infectious diseases at a young age. Suzanne received a B.S. in Biology and French from Trinity College, where she researched the role of the caudal gene in Tribolium castaneum development. She also studied the long-term effects of COVID-19 at Saint Francis Hospital and examined an anti-IL-1β and anti-PD1 immunotherapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. These experiences led her to become fascinated by infectious diseases and immunology. When she is not in lab, she can be found reading, running around Boston, or traveling the world!

Aditi Kannan

Aditi Kannan

Research Technician - akannan5@mgh.harvard.edu

Aditi joined the Kwon Lab as a Research Technician in July 2022. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College where she majored in Biochemistry and minored in Music. While at Wellesley, her research focused mainly on microbial ecology and human gut microbiology. In the Kwon Lab, she aims to study the vaginal microbiome and microbe-host interactions within the vagina under the mentorship of Dr. Fatima Hussain and Dr. Upasana Das Adhikari. Outside of the lab, Aditi can be found playing the violin or listening to music, walking around the city, or reading a novel!

Joana Barbosa Teixeira

Joana Barbosa Teixeira

Research Technician II - jbarbosateixeira@mgh.harvard.edu

Joana joined the Kwon Lab as a Research Technician II in August 2022. She received her B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and M.A. in Biotechnology from Boston University. At Boston University, her research focused on synthesizing small conjugates to be linked to a therapeutic drug to improve the therapy of Type I Diabetes. After graduating, Joana shifted her attention to clinical research. She worked as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital on a multi-year clinical trial examining the effect of a patient navigation intervention on lung cancer screening completion among homeless patients. In the Kwon Lab, she works under the mentorship of Dr. Seth Bloom, and her research centers on investigating the relationship between bacterial microbiota and mucosal lymphocytes in the female genital tract, specifically examining the potential impact of such interactions on the susceptibility to primary HIV infection. Outside of the lab, Joana enjoys making handcrafted designed cakes and owns a small cake business.

Haley Dion

Haley Dion

Research Technician - hmdion@partners.org

Haley joined the Kwon Lab in July 2023. Haley completed her undergraduate degree at Duke University with a major in International Comparative Studies and minors in Global Health and Chemistry. While at Duke, she worked with the Duke Center for Global Reproductive Health and conducted an educational intervention study in Kisumu, Kenya to increase HPV self-sampling and decrease stigma in local clinics. In addition, Haley investigated the influence of stigma and utilization of quarantine during the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the United States and Haiti in the early 1990s for her honors thesis. In the Kwon lab, Haley will continue to pursue her passion for studying reproductive health and infectious disease in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, working at both the FRESH clinic and in the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at UKZN. In her free time, Haley enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

Aaron Abai

Aaron Abai

Research Technician - aabai@mgb.org

Aaron join the Kwon Lab as an undergraduate in September 2019 and again as a Research Technician in October 2023. He received his B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Harvard College. After college, he headed to Cambridge University, where he earned an MPhil in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. Now back at the Lab, Aaron is continuing his studies on the female genital tract microbiome and metabolome. In his free time, he enjoyed traveling, hiking, and eating out with friends.

Kwon Lab – South Africa
Sinaye Ngcapu

Sinaye Ngcapu

Postdoctoral Fellow - sinaye.ngcapu@caprisa.org

Dr Sinaye Ngcapu, is a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Drs Douglas Kwon, JoAnn Passmore and Quarraisha Abdool Karim at CAPRISA Mucosal Immunology Laboratory, Durban, South Africa. He is also an honorary lecturer at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  Sinaye’s main research focuses are on characterizing the earliest immune responses and the potential mucosal risk factors involved in susceptibility and protection to HIV infection in the genital mucosa. In collaboration with Dr Kwon, Sinaye aims to understand the composition of bacterial species in young women of different ethnic groups in South Africa and characterize the connection between vaginal microbiome, endogenous reproductive hormones, genital inflammation and risk of HIV acquisition. In his spare time, he spends time with family, watch movies and he is the best couch coach ever produced by science.
Nondumiso Xulu

Nondumiso Xulu

Research Technician - nxulu@mgh.harvard.edu

Nondumiso is in the South African branch of the Kwon Lab and HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) which she joined in October 2016. She has always been passionate about science, and after her Matric she enrolled for BSc. Microbiology (University of Zululand, Kwa-Dlangezwa, South Africa). After completion of her undergraduate degree, she went on to enroll for postgraduate studies with a Bachelor of Medical Science Honours and Master Of Medical Science (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, South Africa). Her research projects focused on the characterization Chlamydia trachomatis inclusions as well as the identification and characterization of a novel toxin produced by some serovars of Chlamydia trachomatis. In the Kwon Lab, Nondumiso focuses on processing cytobrush and PBMC samples, flow cytometry and cell sorting. For fun, she enjoys dancing and watching football (soccer).

Suuba Demby

Suuba Demby

Undergraduate Researcher - suubademby@college.harvard.edu

Suuba joined the Kwon Lab in October of 2020. She is currently studying Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard College, with a minor in Energy and Environment. Prior to joining the lab, Suuba spent five years living overseas in Malawi and has worked on public health and policy-based projects in Sierra Leone for the past two years. In the Kwon Lab, Suuba is studying the female genital tract microbiome from an evolutionary ecology perspective under the mentorship of Dr. Fatima Hussain. Outside of the lab, Suuba enjoys photography, biking, and working as an EMT.

Honorary Lab Members:

Boomer

Boomer

Honorary Kwon Lab Member - boomer@kwonlab.org

Boomer joined the Kwon Lab in the fall of 2014. He has advanced degrees in squirrel chasing and table scrap eating. Although technically banned from the bench, he continues to assist with computational projects and advises graduate students on how to successfully deal with the stresses of completing a Ph.D.

Shayna and Jamila Hussain-Blank

Honorary Kwon Lab Members

Shayna joined the Kwon Lab in the fall of 2020. Jamila followed suit in early 2022!