David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
The Gandal Lab



Principal Investigator

Michael Gandal, MD PhD

BS, Engineering, Stanford
MD/PhD, Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Gandal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He received his BS in Engineering (biomedical computation) from Stanford University and his MD/PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, using electrophysiology to investigate neural circuit dysfunction in mouse models of schizophrenia and autism. He completed his residency training in Psychiatry at UCLA and a postdoctoral fellowship in neurogenetics in the lab of Dan Geschwind, characterizing the genetic contributions to shared gene expression alterations in human brain across several major psychiatric disorders. Dr. Gandal joined the faculty at UCLA in 2017. 


Staff Research Associates

Ashok Patowary, PhD

PhD, Genomics, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi India

My current research focuses on using next-generation sequencing to characterize the neurogenetic underpinnings of psychiatric disorders including autism and schizophrenia. I am conducting experiments using single-cell and long-read RNA sequencing to understand alterative splicing changes in psychiatric disease brain. Prior to joining the Gandal Lab, I was a Senior Fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle, where my research focused on gene discovery in familial autism. I obtained my Ph.D. degree in Genomics from CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi India and Master’s from Tezpur University, Assam. I was born and brought up in Guwahati (Assam), India. I love travelling to places with natural beauty when I am have days off from work.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Leanna Hernandez, PhD 

BS, Psychology, USC
PhD, Neuroscience, UCLA

Dr. Hernandez received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Southern California and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research investigates how polygenic risk for immune-related disorders affects structural brain development and is associated with psychiatric phenotypes. To do so, she employs a variety of methods including neuroimaging, genomic analyses, and statistical modeling. When she's not at the lab she enjoys spending time outdoors at LA's beautiful beaches, going to concerts, and traveling.

Pan Zhang, PhD 

Pan received his B.S. in Biotechnology from Lanzhou University, China and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing, China. He is broadly interested in exploring functional genomics data to study the molecular mechanism through which genetic variants contribute to complex traits. His current research focuses on understanding the link between common genome structural variants and psychiatric disorders. To do so, he mainly uses computational approaches to identify dysregulated endophenotypes at different levels. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and road trips.

Arjun Bhattacharya, PhD

PhD, Biostatistics, UNC

Arjun is jointly mentored with Dr. Bogdan Pasaniuc. Arjun graduated with a PhD in Biostatistics from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020, supervised by Mike Love in Biostatistics and Melissa Troester in Epidemiology. Arjun is interested in developing statistical methods for genetic association and epidemiological studies and implement them to understand how biological heterogeneity influences health outcomes and disparities in cancer and neuropsychiatric disorders. 

Graduate Students

Jill Haney de Bree

PhD candidate, Neuroscience
BS, Mathematics, UCLA

Jill began her Neuroscience PhD at UCLA in 2016 after earning her BS degree in Math Applied Science also at UCLA in 2014. Jill's projects are broadly concerned with using integrative genomic approaches to better establish the molecular phenotypes of psychiatric disorders (mainly ASD and schizophrenia). When not in lab Jill loves to explore Southern California with friends and family, read books, and watch TV shows and movies (especially in the science fiction genre). 

Minsoo Kim, MD/PhD student, Human Genetics

MD/PhD student, Genetics & Genomics
BS, Applied & Computational Mathematics + Bioengineering, Caltech

Minsoo joined the lab in fall 2018. He is currently interested in investigating the neuro-immune signaling pathway of neurodevelopmental diseases. In his pastime, he watches Tarantino movies repeatedly to get inspired.

Jessie Buth, PhD student, Neuroscience

PhD candidate, Neuroscience
BS, UC Berkeley

Jessie is jointly mentored by Dr. Ben Novitch and Mike Gandal. 


Cindy Wen, PhD student, Bioinformatics

PhD student in Bioinformatics
BS, Cornell University, Computational Biology 

Cindy joined the lab in 2020. She is working to comprehensively characterize principles of gene regulation in the developing brain human and its relationship with genetic risk for neuropsychiatric GWAS.


Research Assistants


Connor Jops

BS, Computational and Systems Biology, UCLA

Connor graduated from UCLA in 2020 with a BS in Computational and Systems Biology.


Graduate Rotation Students

  • Winter, 2018 -- Nick Bayley, Bioinformatics
  • Fall, 2019 -- Serena Hughes, Bioinformatics
  • Spring, 2020 -- Lauren Wagner, NSIDP
  • Summer, 2020 -- Charlie Schleifer, MSTP/NSIDP



  • Sepideh Parhami, Research Assistant 2017-8; Graduate student in computer science, UCLA
  • Nick Page, undergraduate summer student, 2018-9; Neuroscience PhD student at UCSF