rob-signer-3Robert A.J. Signer, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Dr. Robert A.J. Signer is a stem cell biologist whose trailblazing work on protein synthesis in hematopoietic stem cells opened the door to unchartered areas of cellular investigation. Dr. Signer is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine at the University of California San Diego.

Previously, Dr. Signer worked alongside Dr. Sean Morrison as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He earned a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Science (Biomedical) from the University of Toronto. Dr. Signer has published multiple high-profile papers in top tier scientific journals, including Nature, CelleLifeCell Stem Cell, and Genes and Development. He has presented leading-edge scientific discoveries around the world, including at the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Meeting, and numerous Keystone Symposiums, among others. Coupled with his excellent track record of fellowship and grant funding, Dr. Signer is poised to become one of the foremost thought leaders in stem cell science. A sports enthusiast and adventure traveler, Dr. Signer, a native Canadian, currently lives with his family in San Diego, California.

MJMary Jean Sunshine, M.S.
Lab Manager

In her primary role as Lab Manager, Mary Jean (MJ) manages key day-to-day functions of the Signer Lab, while simultaneously investigating genetic mechanisms that regulate the regenerative activity of hematopoietic stem cells. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, MJ was Director of the Transgenic Core at New York University Langone Medical Center, a Researcher in the Transgenic Core at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an HHMI research specialist in Dan Littman’s lab at NYU, and a technician in Hal Weintraub’s lab at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She first became an expert in the art of mouse embryo microinjection in Liz Lacy’s lab at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. MJ received her M.S. in Natural Science from Arizona State University and B.S. in Biology & Psychology from Pepperdine University.

Lorena Hildago 2Lorena Hidalgo San Jose, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Hidalgo investigates how translational control and ribosome associated quality control mechanisms regulate hematopoietic and leukemia stem cells. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, Lorena received her Ph.D. in Regenerative Medicine from Cardiff University (UK), where she developed a new microfluidic technique for engineering  stem cell microcapsules and investigated mechanisms for implementing them to repair spinal cord injuries. She previously received her M.S. in Bioanalytical Sciences from the University of Oviedo (Spain) & University of Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (France) and her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Valladolid (Spain).

Miriama.pngMiriama Kruta, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Kruta investigates mechanisms regulating hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and longevity. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, Miriama completed a fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she studied mechanisms of hematopoietic stem cell aging. Miriama received her Ph.D. in Stem Cell Biology from Masaryk University (Czech Republic), where she discovered molecular changes in DNA repair pathways that contribute to the high rate of genomic instability in pluripotent stem cells. She previously received her M.S. in Biology from Constantine the Philosopher University (Slovakia).

chua_bernadette_bmsBernadette Chua, B.S.
Graduate Student

Bernadette Chua is a Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of California San Diego studying protein quality control mechanisms in hematopoietic stem cells. Prior to joining the Signer Lab, Bernadette was a research technician at the University of California, Los Angeles where she investigated the role of macrophages in HIV infection and engineered immune cells to eliminate HIV reservoirs. Bernadette received her B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Headshot-LennanConnorConnor Lennan
Undergraduate Student

Connor Lennan is a third year Human Biology student at the University of California San Diego. He supports research projects in the Signer Lab by assisting with genotyping, animal care and general lab maintenance. Connor is planning to apply to medical school after graduation in 2020.