Cherry Lab

Lab Team

Cheri Liu

Cheri LiuCheri recently graduated with her PhD in pharmacology from Brown University, where she completed her thesis work on novel therapeutic targets for triple negative breast cancer. For her postdoc research, she is excited to study noncoding DNA mutations using retinal organoids, as well as gene therapy delivery methods for retinal disorders.

Hobbies: Outside of lab, Cheri enjoys playing tennis and going for hikes, and she hopes to adopt a dog soon.

Stella Xu

Stella XuStella is currently taking a gap year in between her sophomore and junior years at New York University in Abu Dhabi, where she is pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology. She previously did undergraduate research concerning neural development within the visual system of Drosophila. Stella’s project in the Cherry Lab is focused on how enhancer variants contribute to retinal degeneration.

Hobbies: outside of lab, Stella loves to read and spend time outdoors.

Fun fact: Stella is a certified roller skating instructor.

Leah VandenBosch

Leah VandenBoschLeah 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.

Eric Thomas

Eric ThomasEric recently completed his PhD in neuroscience at the University of Washington, where he studied hair cell regeneration in zebrafish. As a postdoc, he seeks to utilize his expertise in CRISPR gene editing to examine how noncoding genetic elements, such as enhancers, contribute to retinal disorders in mammals.

Hobbies: Outside of the lab, Eric enjoys biking, cooking and board gaming.

Fun fact: Eric also has a BA in classics and has a rudimentary understanding of Latin.

Lab Alumni

Kelsey Luu

Research Student

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.