We believe that science is for everybody and we recognize that a diverse group strengthens our lab. We strive to create an inclusive environment for all lab members to succeed while being their full selves.
Dr. Bielinsky received her PhD in immunology from the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany. After completing post-doctoral work in the field of cell cycle regulation at Brown University, RI, she joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2001. Dr. Bielinsky is a former Scholar of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society. She serves as Associate Dean for Foundational Science in the Medical School, and as Associate Director for Basic Shared Resources and Co-Leader of the Genetic Mechanisms Program in the Masonic Cancer Center.
Colette is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics (BMBB) Department at the University of Minnesota. She has broad interests in the DNA replication stress response, DNA double-stranded break repair, and gene targeting. The principle objectives of her Ph.D. research are to better understand how RAD18 regulates recombination processes and gain insights into chromosomal radial formation. Outside of the lab, she enjoys going on long trail runs, reading historical fiction, and spending time with family and friends.
Kevin received his B.S. in Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. He is currently a MD/PhD student at the University of Minnesota. Kevin joined the Bielinsky Lab and Myers Lab in 2018 and is currently a graduate student in the Bioinformatics & Computational Biology program. His thesis work focuses on developing both the computational and experimental methods for targeted CRISPR-Cas9 chemical-genetic screens and applying this approach for elucidating modes-of-action for putative AML targeted therapeutics.
Liangjun obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. from Zhejiang University Medical School, China. His thesis focused on analysis of carcinogen-DNA adducts. After graduation, he received a National Research Council (Washington D.C.) fellowship and studied the molecular mechanism of arsenic carcinogenesis in the US Environmental Protection Agency. Upon completion of the fellowship, he worked in a private biotech company on the role of the APC gene in colorectal cancers. Then he moved his research interest to repressive mechanisms of Polycomb group proteins, and published several high profile papers with Dr. Jones at Southern Methodist University and Dr. Simon at the University of Minnesota. He joined Dr. Bielinsky’s lab in September 2018. His current work is focused on MCM10 function in transformed and non-transformed cells.
Marissa received her B.A. in Chemistry from the College of St. Benedict. Following graduation, she worked as a Research Technician at the Masonic Cancer Center (MCC). Her research used rat and mouse models to evaluate whether acetaldehyde and formaldehyde enhance the carcinogenic properties of tobacco-specific carcinogens. Upon entering the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences PhD program, she joined the Bielinsky laboratory and started investigating the role of RING finger protein 4 (RNF4) in the replication stress response. She is currently characterizing the genetic interaction between Mcm10 and RNF4 in mammalian cells.
Megan Schmit received her BA in Chemistry and a BS in Biotechnology from University at Buffalo, SUNY. While an undergraduate Megan grew her interest in DNA replication and repair in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Surtees. In 2015, Megan joined the medical scientist training program (MSTP or MD/PhD) at the University of Minnesota. When she joined the Bielinsky lab, we had recently developed a collaboration focusing on a patient with natural killer cell deficiency (NKD) caused by a mutation in MCM10. NKD is a rare disease in which natural killer (NK) cell function is reduced, leaving affected individuals susceptible to repeated viral infections and cancer. Deficiencies in several replication proteins cause a class of NKD that has complete loss of mature NK cells. Surprisingly, defects in these ubiquitous replication proteins do not affect other cells in the body. Megan is now tackling this clinically relevant project to uncover the molecular mechanism(s) by which inherited mutations in replication genes prevent NK cell maturation.
Ryan received his BA in Biochemistry from The College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, MN in 2007. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Iowa in 2013. His graduate studies focused on transcriptional regulation and oogenesis in fruit flies in the laboratory of Dr. Pamela Geyer. Ryan joined the Bielinsky laboratory as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2013 and began studying the contribution that the essential DNA replication factor Mcm10 makes to prevent human genome instability. These investigations revealed a novel requirement for Mcm10 in telomere maintenance, a topic that remains the primary focus of his research. Outside of lab Ryan likes to stay physically active in a variety of ways, especially skiing, and enjoys live music.
Ya-Chu received her B.S. and M.S. in the Department of Biochemical Science and Technology at National Taiwan University, Taiwan. After graduation, she worked as a Research Assistant in a Cancer Bioinformatics laboratory in the Biomedical Engineering Center at National Taiwan University. Her studies focused on the roles of miRNAs and genes in cancer cell death. Continuing her passion for system biology, she came to the U.S. and joined Dr. Anja-Katrin Bielinsky’s laboratory in the Biochemistry Molecular Biology and Biophysics Program at the University of Minnesota. She studies DNA replication and repair by integrating proteomics and large-scale CRISPR/Cas9 screening technologies, specifically focusing on RNF4. Besides research, she likes to play volleyball and cut the birthday cakes that Wendy makes.
Kacey received her B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology & Development from the University of Minnesota in 2015. She worked as a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland before returning to the University of Minnesota to join the medical scientist training program (MSTP or MD/PhD) in 2018. Kacey joined the Tolar and Bielinsky labs in 2020 and is currently a graduate student in the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology & Genetics program. Her clinical and research interests are broadly centered around pediatric genetic diseases, specifically those that predispose to cancer. Her thesis project is focused on the mechanisms underlying development of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in a genetic skin condition called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). Specifically, she is focused on elucidating the role of High Mobility Group Box 1 protein (HMGB1) in inflammatory signaling pathways and genomic stability in keratinocytes, the cell of origin for SCC.
Rachel is an undergraduate currently working toward a B.A. in Human Physiology with minors in Biochemistry and Public Health. She joined the Bielinsky lab in the fall of 2020 and began working alongside Colette Rogers as a member of Team RAD18. With Colette’s mentorship she has since worked to better understand the role of RAD18 in regulating homologous recombination and is currently beginning work on chromosomal radial formation. In the future she hopes to pursue an MD while continuing her involvement in research. Outside of the lab you can usually find her outdoors, running, water skiing, or spending time with her dog.