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Dr. Mahajan’s lab provides an immersive,  intensive training environment for students and fellows to discover the molecular mechanisms that cause blindness and develop therapies to prevent vision loss. Highly collaborative research teams are made up of scientists, surgeons, and engineers from around the world, interacting on a daily basis and using advanced scientific methods.


Saif Khan B.S.

Saif joined the Mahajan lab in 2015 as an undergraduate from the University of Bath in England. He pursued and helped solve the first X-ray crystal structure of calpain-5 and performed various structural biology techniques to study protein stability and conformation change. After spending a year in the lab, he returned to England to complete his B.S. in Biochemistry and later joined the Protein and Crystallography Facility at the University of Iowa. Saif has been accepted into the Molecular Biology graduate program at USC for fall 2021 where he will be  focusing on Cryo-Electron Microscopy.

Katherine Wert Ph.D.

Katie became an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School after her postdoctoral fellowship in the Mahajan lab.  Her overall research goal was to discover and understand the mechanisms underlying neuroretinal disease and to develop novel therapeutics for these complex degenerative disorders using gene therapy, cell transplantations, and genome engineering technologies. She utilized gene editing strategies to create mouse models for human disease and studied specific mutations within human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Katie earned her  Master of Science in Human Clinical Nutrition from Columbia University in 2009 and a Ph.D. in Nutrition and Metabolic Biology from Columbia University in 2013. She completed her first post-doctoral fellowship in genome engineering, stem cell, and developmental biology at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. 

Paul Finn Ph.D.

Paul was a member of the  Mahajan Lab as a postdoctoral research fellow and member of the ChEM-H Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center in 2018. He completed his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Temple University in 2015 and in 2016 continued his studies at the California Institute of Technology. Paul was awarded an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2017 to pursue small molecule inhibitors of DNA-protein binding. Paul was developing small molecule protease inhibitors for the treatment of Autosomal Dominant Neovascular Inflammatory Vitreoretinal (ADNIV).  His research interests include the development of chemical tools and therapeutics for the study of aberrant cellular signaling in muscular and neurological disease.

Daniel Machlab

Daniel completed  a masters degree in  computer engineering. He used big data analytics to understand patterns in retina tissues and diseases. Additionally, he was involved in making tools for researchers to manage and share experimental data. His research goal was to find biomarkers for tissue diseases using his bioinformatics skills.

Dylan Parsons Ph.D.

Dylan joined the lab in 2019. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from SUNY Geneseo in 2014 and completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Rochester. Dylan’s research interests included complex molecular synthesis and structure guided design of biologically relevant targets. His focuse wan on the development and optimization of inhibitors for targets associated with eye disease. He is currently working for a local Bay Area biotech company.

Ted Paulson

Ted is a computer engineer at Amazon. He was in the Mahajan lab as an undergraduate. He used computing and data tools to provide researchers with data analysis of proteins. Ted worked with database systems, programming tools and experimental proteomic data to allow researchers to better understand and access data. His research goal was to help scientists more effectively analyze data and provide more efficient methods to find markers for disease.

Angela Li B.S.

Angela Li is a first year medical student at Stanford University. She joined the lab in 2018 and will be using bioinformatics to characterize genetic eye diseases. She is interested in functional genomics and proteomics, translational bioinformatics, precision medicine, and diseases of the eye.

Nathaniel Roybal M.D., Ph.D.

Nate was a  lab member from 2014 to 2016 and he continues to collaborate to this day. Nate is a Vitreoretinal Surgeon and Scientific Director of the Vision Research Center at Eye Associates of New Mexico and is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of New Mexico. Nate received his undergraduate degree in Animal Science from New Mexico State University, followed by an M.D., Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico. His doctoral studies focused on gene regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor. He completed a residency in ophthalmology and postdoctoral fellowship at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA. His postdoctoral studies focused on gene therapies and visual cycle biochemistry.  Nate  completed a Vitreoretinal Fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He remains interested in translational proteomics. 

Kellie Schaefer B.S.

Kellie joined the lab in 2014 and completed her Ph.D. in genetics in 2020. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with a focus on genetics at the University of Iowa. Kellie’s research projects included dissecting the mechanisms underlying regulation of angiogenic factors in eye pathology as well as protease interactions and regulation. She was awarded an NIH F31 grant in 2015. She currently is a scientist working at Adverum. 

Anuradha Gore B.S.

Anu was a member of the Mahajan Lab from 2014-2017. She completed an undergraduate honor's thesis in the lab researching targets of CAPN5. She earned her B.S. in Human Physiology and Biology from the University of Iowa in May 2018 and has been accepted to the University of Iowa Medical School for the Fall of 2020.

David Almeida M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.

David was a lab member from 2014 to 2016 and continues to be a collaborator. He is a vitreoretinal surgeon.  He completed his B.S. at the University of Toronto, his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Drug Research at the University of Szeged , his M.B.A. in healthcare management at George Washington University, his M.D. at Queen’s University, and his vitreoretinal diseases and surgery fellowship at the University of Iowa. His research interests include proliferative vitreoretinopathy, infectious endophthalmitis and complex surgical techniques. He is cofounder of Citrus Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical design firm specializing in multi-pharmacophore research and development. 

Eric Chin, M.D.

Eric was a lab member from 2014 to 2016 and continues to be a collaborator. He graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioengineering. He then received his Medical Degree from Chicago Medical School and went on to complete his ophthalmology residency at the University of California Davis and his surgical vitreoretinal fellowship at the University of Iowa. As a fellow his research focused on imaging and novel treatments for various retinal diseases. Eric is trained in all aspects of vitreoretinal medicine and surgery, as well as uveitis and ocular tumors. He serves as Clinical Faculty at Loma Linda University and the Loma Linda Veterans Affairs Hospital where he lectures and teaches residents.

Nicole Hehr B.A.

Nicole was a member of the Mahajan Lab in 2017. In 2018 while working with Dr. Alexander Bassuk, she received a grant from the Iowa Neuroscience Institute to explore inflammation in the retina post traumatic brain injury.  She graduated in May 2019 from the University of Iowa with honors and highest distinction in ancient civilizations. She received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Italy during the 2019-2020 school year and plans to attend medical school in the  fall of 2020.

Peter Tang M.D., Ph.D.

Peter joined Dr. Mahajan’s lab as a clinical fellow in 2017. He earned a B.A. in Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA and completed both his M.D. and Ph.D. as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. His graduate thesis explored the role of vitamin A metabolism in various inherited retinal dystrophies. Peter completed a transitional year internship at the Hennepin County Medical Center followed by ophthalmology residency training at the University of Minnesota, MN. He was at Stanford University 2017-2019 as a clinical fellow in Vitreoretinal Surgery in the Department of Ophthalmology. His research interests include inherited retinal dystrophies and molecular biology of vitreoretinal disease. He now practices in Minnesota.

Ryan Vande Zande D.O.


Ryan was a member of the Mahajan lab from 2011-2013  while he earned  his B.A. in Biology from the University of Iowa. He went on to Des Moines University where he is set to earn his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree in May 2018. Upon graduation, Ryan will continue his education as a Pediatric resident at the University of Oklahoma.