Research Staff

Rodoniki Athanasiadou

I’m a Molecular Biologist and Applied Data Scientist with a strong commitment to advancing the integration of machine learning in the fields of healthcare and biomedicine. In August 2023, I assumed the role of Senior Research Associate on Dr. John LaCava’s team at The Rockefeller University, where I lead the dry lab. My primary focus is harnessing the power of machine learning as a dynamic tool for hypothesis generation within the established scientific research framework.

I have a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in Molecular Biology and extensive experience on the application of machine learning in biomedicine both in academia and industry. More details about my professional experience can be found in my LinkedIn profile:

Postdoctoral Researchers

Mathias I. Nielsen

I have a background in glycobiology and glycoproteomics and I earned my PhD at the Copenhagen Center for Glycomics at the University of Copenhagen under the supervision of Prof. Hans Wandall. I joined John’s team at Rockefeller University as a postdoctoral associate in January 2023, and in my research I will use different applications of mass spectrometry to study the fundemental biology of LINE-1 proteins and their involvement in various diseases.

Olga Lanaridi

I am a chemist by training and education with a Bachelor and Master degree from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. After a period of working in the industry in Vienna, Austria, I returned to academia and I obtained my PhD at the Technical University of Vienna, under the supervision on Katharina Schröder. I have experience in analytical chemistry and I have worked with several analytical techniques, i.e., ICP-MS, ICP-OES, HPLC-MS, 2D-HPLC. I joined the LaCava group as a post-doctoral researcher in October 2023, where I will be combining my fascination for mass spectrometry with challenging biological questions. I am very grateful for the opportunity John has given me to expand my knowledge beyond the field of chemistry and be part of an interdisciplinary research approach. I look forward to the scientific journey ahead!

PhD Students

Shaoshuai Xie

I started my PhD in Shandong University in 2018, then I joined John’s group as a Sandwhich PhD student 🥪🎓 in 2020. I use mass spectromerty to characterize glycosaminiglycans (heparin/heparan sulfate) and to study the effects mono-O-mannosylations on E-cadherin protein interactions.

Omar Bringas

I got my Master’s degree in Mexico and then I joined John’s groups to do my PhD. I am interested in RNA biology and the interactions between proteins and other macromolecules. I am currently studying the interactions between IGF2 binding proteins and LINE-1 retrotransposons. I am also interested in mass spectrometry and data analysis.

Laboratory Management and Research Support Staff

Leila Saba

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Central Florida, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from The City College of New York (CCNY, CUNY). Currently, I manage the LaCava Laboratory of Macromolecules and Interactomes in Groningen, NL. I moved from NYC to Groningen with John in 2019. John hired me in 2015 to work as his lab technician in NYC, but I simultaneously served as lab manager in the Rout Lab of Cellular and Structural Biology at The Rockefeller University. Before I began my research career, I worked for over a decade in various executive support and financial analyst roles. I am eternally grateful to John for rescuing me from cubicle life, which was slowly draining my will to live. In combination with my administrative functions, I am also a Research Technician, and have extensive experience with many of John’s experimental protocols. I have particular interest in LINE-1 expression in cancers, and I love immunology in general. Doomscrolling COVID-19 research updates is a fun hobby of mine. Last but not least, Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit.

Hua Jiang

I earned an MS degree in Biology from Queens College of The City University of New York (CUNY). I joined the Laboratory of Cellular and Structural Biology at The Rockefeller University in 2006. Since that time, I have been a project coordinator for the National Center for Dynamic Interactome Research. I started working with John in 2008, when he was a recently-joined post-doctoral associate in the same lab, and we have continued working together ever since. In my capacity on John’s team, I am a Research Specialist working on the biochemical characterization of L1 ribonucleoproteins.

Nataliia Khoruzhenko

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and a Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Chemoinformatics, both obtained in Ukraine. In parallel, I worked at a cord blood bank, where I focused on stem cell cultivation and conducted research on human placental biochemistry. My professional experience includes serving as an operator of LC-MS at Enamine Ltd. Then, I worked as a chemist in the R&D department of Creative Lab PERFI Ltd., a perfumery manufacturer. One of my core interests lies in the development and implementation of non-animal testing techniques in medical science. Also, I am deeply fascinated by the exploration of cryptic mechanisms underlying chronic disorders, such as inflammation diseases. I hold a firm conviction in the exceptional role of AI systems and computational techniques in shaping the future of science. I am thrilled to be a part of this transformative era and eagerly embrace opportunities for continuous learning and exploration. In 2023, I joined the LaCava group at ERIBA as a technician, which I perceive as a great chance and a fresh beginning in my career.

Mohammed Hanzala

I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Life Sciences with a major in Biotechnology from India. Thereafter, I joined the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi, as a Junior Research Fellow where I delved into the fascinating realm of mass spectrometry-based proteomics while actively contributing to a project focused on identifying diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for Celiac disease. In May 2023, I joined LaCava’s laboratory at the European Research Institute for the Biology of Ageing (ERIBA) as a mass spectrometry researcher, and I am thrilled to engage with the interdisciplinary domains of molecular biology and analytical chemistry. I am also eager to expand my knowledge by exploring the computational aspects of proteomics.

Josie Bleeker

I joined John’s group in September 2023, after I graduated from my master’s in Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to living in the US, I got my bachelor’s in Biology at Leiden University. I have always had a passion for biology, initially noticeable by a fascination for plants and animals, to now studying life at the cellular and molecular level. Apart from learning about biology, I also love teaching it – so I may not end up solely behind a lab bench, but also in front of a classroom. Either way, I am very happy John gave me the opportunity to expand my research experience here in Groningen, and I am excited for what the future will bring!

MSc Interns

Apostolis Mourtzinos

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. In 2020, I joined the Laboratory of Macromolecules and Interactomes in Groningen, NL as a lab technician. A year later I got enrolled in a 2-year Master’s program in Molecular Medicine and Innovative Treatment at the University of Groningen, which I started in parallel with my position as a lab technician at the LaCava Lab. Now I am on my Master’s internship on John’s team at The Rockefeller University, researching the contribution of LINE-1 retrotransposons in neurodegenerative diseases. My scientific interests focus on understanding the underlying mechanisms of various diseases through investigating macromolecular interactions.

Marko Radovic

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Physiology at the University of Belgrade, after which I started my Master’s in Molecular Medicine and Innovative Treatment at the University of Groningen. During the second year of my Master’s studies, I joined the LaCava group as part of my final Internship in the Laboratory of Cellular and Structural Biology at The Rockefeller University where I am working on a project connecting LINE-1 retrotransposons with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alumni (alphabetical)

Anastasiya Petrenko – BSc intern; technician

Arianna Picozzi – MSc intern

Bao-Han Ly – MSc intern; technician

David Coit – bioinformatician

Jean-Frédéric Olivier – visiting PhD student

Kinga Winczura – visiting PhD student

Lars ter Morsche – MSc intern; technician

Luciano Di Stefano – postdoctoral researcher

Maria Benitez Guijarro – visiting PhD student

Mehrnoosh Oghbaie – postdoctoral researcher

Michal Domanski – visiting PhD student

Samira Hozeifi – postdoctoral researcher

Sylvia van Beem – MSc intern; technician

Yuhui Dou – visiting PhD student