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Schork Lab Members


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Vikas Bansal, Ph.D.

Vikas Bansal, Ph.D., develops computational methods for detecting human genetic variation by using high-throughput sequencing technologies, reconstructing diploid human genomes and statistical methods for enabling sequencing-based disease association studies. He is first author and co-author of over 10 published peer-reviewed papers including the Nature Reviews Genetics article, “Statistical Analysis of Associations Involving Rare Variations and Common Phenotypes,” published in Nov. 2010. Co-authors include STSI colleagues Ondrej Libiger, Ph.D., Ali Torkamani, Ph.D., and Nicholas Schork, Ph.D. Vikas received the Ph.D. in computer science in 2008 at UC San Diego, which recognized him with the Outstanding Dissertation Award in computer science and engineering.



Thomas J. Nicholas, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas Nicholas has an ongoing interest in genomics, especially with respect to characterizing and interpreting genetic variation between individuals within and between populations. He began work as a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Translational Science Institute in May 2011 and is working towards applying and developing genomic methods to identify and evaluate genetic aberrations in various human backgrounds, including tumor profiling. In addition, he is assisting in the assembly and interpretation of unique human genomes. Previously, Dr. Nicholas has been involved in the identification of structural variants, specifically copy number variants, using microarray technologies. His Ph.D. thesis was received from the University of Washington for work on the characterization of structural variants in the canine genome, identifying patterns of copy number variation across multiple breeds of modern dog. Dr. Nicholas received his B.A. in Biology from the University of Utah in 2004.


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Nathan Wineinger, Ph.D.

Nathan E. Wineinger, Ph.D., is a research scientist at Scripps Genomic Medicine within Scripps Health. He joined STSI in the fall of 2011.

His expertise is in statistical approaches to human genetics and genomics research – particularly in the application and development of quantitative methods for identifying the etiology of common, complex disease. Nathan’s interests include multi-locus and whole-genome statistical methods to predict complex disease, imputation, and copy number variation. Recently, he has applied these approaches to obesity and insulin resistance, lipids and echocardiographic traits, longevity, neuroimaging, and pharmacogenetics.




Guangfa Zhang, Ph.D.

First author and co-author of over 10 published peer-reviewed papers, Guangfa Zang, Ph.D., joined TSRI in 2007, following a seven-year stint as a programmer/analyst at UC San Diego. Guangfa was a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute after obtaining the Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1993 at the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Guangfa’s research interest is bioinformatics, and in particular, complex human genome sequencing informatics

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Carland, Tristan, Ph.D.

 Tristan M. Carland, PhD, is a research associate at the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) and part of the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine (MEM) at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California.

Dr. Carland received his Bachelor of Science degrees in Marine Biology and Computer Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2005 and his doctor of philosophy in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California San Diego in 2011. His thesis research centered on the expression and evolution of a novel family of genes found to be active during development and the response to infection in zebrafish.

Still a young investigator, Dr. Carland is pursuing studies related to genome assembly, variant calling, and ultimately the finding of causative mutations leading to pyschiatric and pathophysiological diseases. He is currently involved in such projects investigating alcoholism, kidney transplant rejection, and canine cancer genomics. He comes to us originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.




Trina Norden-Krichmar, Ph.D.

 Trina joined Nicholas Schork’s bioinformatics research group at STSI in October 2011. Trina received a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of Maryland, College Park, and then worked for several years at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, growing protein crystals for x-ray crystallography. She then returned to college and received a M.S. in Computer Science from George Washington University. She has over 15 years of professional experience working as a computer programmer at IBM, the National Institutes of Health, and the Salk Institute.

Always interested in the application of computer science to biological questions, Trina earned a Ph.D. in Marine Biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.  Her field of specialization was Bioinformatics, and her dissertation title was “Characterization of Small RNA Genes in the Marine Organisms Ciona intestinalis and Thalassiosira pseudonana”.  Following graduation, she worked for two years as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in La Jolla, CA, performing bioinformatics analyses of next generation sequencing data, applied to projects involving ChIP-Seq, RNA-Seq, small RNAs, metagenomics, and metatranscriptomics. First author or coauthor on over 15 peer-reviewed research papers and posters, Trina has received several honors, including the NSF Graduate Fellowship.


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Libiger, Ondrej, Ph.D.

Ondrej Libiger, Ph.D. conducts research in computational biology and statistical genomics. He is interested in using multivariate statistics and data mining techniques to explore human population structure and genetic diversity with the goal of elucidating the effects of DNA variation on disease. In 2011, Ondrej received a Ph.D. degree in the biomedical sciences from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. During 2003 to 2011, he worked as a research programmer in Nicholas J. Schork, Ph.D.’s lab, first at UC San Diego and from 2007 at STSI and The Scripps Research Institute.



Victoria L. Magnuson, Ph.D.

Victoria L. Magnuson, Ph.D., joined Dr. Nicholas Schork’s research group at STSI in May 2012.  Dr. Magnuson received her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology and Behavioral Biology from the University of Minnesota, where she then worked for several years as a Fortran computer programmer.  In 1986, she entered graduate school where she had full scholarship and also received an award from the American Association of University Women.  Dr. Magnuson received her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas in 1992.  She was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Training Award and pursued two post-doctoral fellowships in Molecular Genetics, one at the National Cancer Institute and the other at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), in Bethesda, MD.  From 1998-2001, Dr. Magnuson worked at Corning, Inc. as a Senior Development Scientist, where she worked to create two generations of ISO-9000 clean room pilot line facilities for manufacturing Corning cDNA-based expression microarray products.  From 2002-2006, Dr. Magnuson returned to academia as an Assistant Professor, in the Department of Pediatrics, Endocrinology Section, at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she was responsible for creating the infrastructure and leading a molecular genetic study of Type 1 Diabetes at the Max McGee Center, administered by the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  From 2008-2012, Dr. Magnuson worked at the San Diego start-up company Pathway Genomics, Inc. where she applied her expertise in the genetic study of Type 2 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes, Autoimmune and Metabolic Disorders.  She was instrumental in training staff, raising quality standards, developing new assays, translational products and creating drug response genetic tests.

            Excited by the great potential of translational and personalized medicine, Dr. Magnuson is now focusing her skills at STSI in the direction of statistical genetic analysis, design of polygenic complex disease risk models and using wireless medicine and whole genome sequencing to inform algorithms for preventing disease and improving patient care.  Her research interests and current projects include: n-of-1 clinical trials, wireless time-series data collection and analysis, systems biology, polygenic modeling and Women’s Health.  Dr. Magnuson is the first author or coauthor on over 30 peer-reviewed publications. 




Qian Peng, Ph.D.

Qian Peng joined Nicholas Schork's Bioinformatics and Biostatistics group at TSRI/STSI in 2012. Her research interest and strength broadly defined is to develop algorithms for computational problems that arise from the unique features of biological data. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Beijing University and an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from UT-Memphis. She worked as a scientific software developer for a number of years, prior to earning a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of California, San Diego. Her research projects ranged from comparative genomics to computational epigenetics. Her present research focus is in the area of translational bioinformatics, studying genetic variations associated with diseases and building computational models using genomic data for personalized treatment.



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Yanpin Wang, Ph.D.

Dr. Yanpin Wang is a Research Scientist of the Scripps Genomic Medicine at the Scripps Health. She received her Ph.D. Degree in Biostatistics from the University of Florida in 2012 under the supervision of Dr. Michael Daniels. Her researches include correlation modeling, dimension reduction, nonparametric estimation, longitudinal data analysis, Bayesian Inference, and clinical trials. Currently, she is working on developing statistic methods for single subject clinical trials and Genome wide association studies.






Kunal Bhutani (Graduate Student)

Kunal is a Bioinformatics and Systems Biology graduate student at the University of California, San Diego. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently interested in personalized medicine, and sifting through panomics data sets using machine learning techniques.

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Danjuma Quarless (Graduate Student)

With a background in Mathematics and Bioinformatics from Whitworth University in Washington State, Danjuma Quarless is a second year Ph.D. Graduate student from the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of California San Diego. With Nicholas Schork serving as his principle investigator, Danjuma has joined the STSI/SGM to further develop both bench lab and computation skill for the purpose of understanding Genomic sequencing capabilities and application for the elucidation of human diseases. Danjuma is currently working on a concordance analysis of sequence data for the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) region known to contain human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes between two difference sequence platforms as a precursor to his thesis work.


Kristopher Standish (Graduate Student)

Kristopher is pursuing a PhD in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at the University of California, San Diego. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 where he played baseball and earned a degree in neuroscience while minoring in mathematics. Kris is interested in the expanding the role of human genetics in medicine and is studying the pharmacogenomics of rheumatoid arthritis. He is currently utilizing whole-genome sequence data to identify genetic variants that predict patients most likely to  respond to a disease-modifying therapeutic

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Kuan-Fu Ding (Graduate Student)

Kuan joined the Schork Lab in 2013 as a PhD Graduate Student in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at the University of California, San Diego. Kuan is working to develop and apply statistical methods to human genetics and genomics research.  His current research focuses on developing algorithms to predict and validate chemotherapeutic drug response.  Prior to joining the Schork group, Kuan worked as a Bioinformatics Specialist at HemoShear, LLC, where he leveraged bioinformatics to validate their human vasculature devices.  He also worked at Key Genomics, LLC as a Biostatistics Manager, where he developed gene expression models to predict chemotherapeutic responses in bladder, ovarian, and breast cancer patients.  Kuan received his M.Sc. in Biostatistics from the University of Virginia and his B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin.

Caroline McGrouther (Graduate  Student)

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Xianyong Yin (Graduate Student)




Annie Kate

Annie Kate, a native of Del Mar, joined STSI in May 2011. After receiving her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles she returned to San Diego and began her career in research administration at The Scripps Research Institute supporting Peter G. Schultz, Ph.D.  She then moved across the street to the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) as Executive Assistant to the Institute Director, Dr. Schultz.  After taking some time off to be with her young and growing family, Annie returned to academia at The Scripps Research Institute and the Scripps Translational Science Institute where she provides all primary and consortium administrative grant preparation and management for Nicholas J. Schork, Ph.D. and Samuel Levy, Ph.D.  She is also responsible for the CTSA grant data management and pilot program assistance.

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Yvette Villegas

Yvette began her career outside of Scripps. She came up the ranks holding many different positions with diverse responsibilities, both in the clinical and administrative sides of the Dental field. Eventually, she worked her way into a management position. She helped this practice grow from one doctor and herself as a Registered Dental Assistant to a well known, high quality practice with 25 employees.

In this position she is proud to say she was instrumental in creating reference manuals, forms, establish operating policies along with employee rules and regulations. She also was in charge of transforming this practice to a paperless practice. Managing to make the transition while learning then training the staff in new and innovative dental software.

Moving to Florida for seven years was an adventure in more ways than one. She was given an opportunity to open a success Drywall company that serviced the needs of two large apartment complexes in Orlando. Again, diversity and her extensive administrative experience carried her through this venture. Her family and the love of her favorite corner of the world brought her back home to San Diego.

She is now honored to be a part of such world renowned institutions as The Scripps Research Institute and Scripps Translational Sciences Institute supporting Nicholas J. Schork, Ph.D. Director of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics at STSI; Director of Research, SGM; and Professor, Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at TSRI.