Cherry Lab

Lab Team

  • Abbi  Engel

    Abbi Engel

    Abbi Engel joined the Cherry Lab as lab manager/research scientist in March 2022. Her role is be assisting with iPSC stem cell models of disease and assisting in day-to-day lab operations and administration. She completed her PhD via the NIH GPP (graduate partnership program) with Georgetown University and the National Institutes of Health in 2010, followed by a postdoc in cancer immunology and natural products with a collaborative project between Bastyr University (Kenmore, Washington) and the University of Washington.

  • Santiago  Fregoso

    Santiago Fregoso

    Santiago Fregoso is a postdoctoral fellow who joined the Cherry Lab in September 2021. His work is focused on uncovering the role of microRNA in the genetic programs that regulate specification and differentiation of neural progenitors in the developing brain. Santiago received his PhD from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2019.

  • Ashi  Jain

    Ashi Jain

  • Leah  VandenBosch

    Leah VandenBosch

    Leah completed her PhD in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Washington in the lab of Dr. Tom Reh in 2019. Her doctoral studies focused on epigenetic regulation of the development and potential regeneration of the mammalian retina. For her postdoctoral research, she is lending her skills to the exploration of non-coding genetic variation and characterization of disease associated variants in the human retina through Machine Learning and Massively Parallel Reporter Assays (MPRA). Hobbies: Outside of the lab, Leah enjoys many creative outlets such as baking, crocheting, music, and painting. Fun fact: Leah shares her last name with a genus of fern, Vandenboschia.


Theresa Chen

Bio coming soon.

Manith Atapattu

Manith joined the Cherry Lab in the summer of 2023. His research currently focuses on understanding the impact of non-coding elements impact brain development. He is a second-year student at the University of Washington, pursuing a BS in biochemistry.

Brendan McShane

Brendan McShaneBrendan joined the Cherry Lab as a graduate student in 2020. His research project goal is to uncover the important enhancer elements human for NRL, a critical transcription factor for rod photoreceptors in the retina. He completed his undergraduate degree at University of Pittsburgh and was a research technician at Pitt studying chromatin structure and modifications specifically how those modifications can change gene expression. Fun fact: Brendan loves games and microbiology, but hates writing bios.

LuLu Callies

LuLu CalliesLuLu Callies joined the Cherry Lab as an MCB graduate student in 2021. Her work is focused on understanding how noncoding genetic elements regulate the fate of progenitor cells during retinal development. She received her undergraduate degree in 2014 with a BS in biology from the University of Wisconsin.

Lab Alumni

Kelsey Luu

Kelsey LuuKelsey Luu is now a student at Harvard Medical School pursing a master's in biomedical informatics. As a UW bioengineering undergraduate Kelsey performed research in our lab from 2017–2020. Her capstone thesis started a new direction for the lab: integrating machine learning and epigenomics to predict the impact of potentially disease-causing genetic variants on the retina. While in the lab, Kelsey was a two-time recipient of the Mary Gates Research Scholarship. She was also awarded the Bioengineering Undergraduate Scholarship and the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.

Liesl Strand

Liesel StrandLiesl Strand is now a PhD candidate at Stanford University in the Department of Developmental Biology. Liesl was a research assistant in our lab from 2017–2019. Her research in the lab centered on the cooperative action of enhancers in the evolution and development of photoreceptor cells. She was invited to present this work at the annual Northwest Developmental Biology Symposium in 2019.

Nicole Mattson

Nicole MattsonNicole Mattson is currently a medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Nicole pursued work in the lab centered on developing CRISPR-based viral gene therapy for Usher syndrome type II. For this work Nicole was awarded a Fight for Sight research fellowship and was invited to present her work at the Western Medical Research Conference in 2018.

Alex Neitz

Alex NeitzAlex Neitz is now a PhD candidate at the University of Washington in the Department of Biology. Alex rotated in the lab as an MCB graduate student during the summer of 2019. Her project in the lab was to compare the epigenomic landscape of the human retina and stem cell–derived organoids.

James Gillespie

James GillespieJames Gillespie is currently a medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. James made important contributions to our lab’s ongoing work on macular telangiectasia type 2 and genetic enhancer elements.