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Research Scientists, Consulting Professors, and Staff

Francisco de la Vega photo

Francisco M. De La VegaConsulting Professor (Genetics)

francisco.delavega at stanford dot edu

The availability of human genome sequences is enabling studies in disease and evolution not possible before, and could lead to a revolution in personalized genomics. Challenges include the massive amounts of data, the complex relationships among the types of relevant data, and the need to make the data accessible from different perspectives. The variation in the DNA sequence among the billions of separate copies of extant human genomes can occasionally be of medical significance because it can alter disease susceptibility and reactions to drugs and pathogens. Aspects of the effective collection, representation, and use of high throughput genomics data in the elucidation of the etiology of common disease have been a major theme of  Dr. De La Vega's work. He is currently interested in: the application of ultra-high throughput sequencing technologies in genetic epidemiology and population studies, aiming to identify the role of rare and structural variants in complex diseases; the study of genetic variation of populations of mixed ancestry and personal genome sequence analysis and annotation; and the development of ancestry deconvolution methods, panels of ancestry informative markers, and annotations of genetic variants of medical significance and their prevalence based on ethnic groups and ancestral origin.


Katie Kanagawa photo

Katie Kanagawa, Communications Manager

kkanagaw at stanford dot edu

Katie has been managing lab communications and lab projects since the Spring of 2014. She is also the Communications and Outreach Manager for Stanford’s Center for Computational, Evolutionary and Human Genomics (CEHG) and the new Department of Biomedical Data Science (DBDS). She received her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2009 and worked until 2012 as a lecturer and adjunct faculty member at San Francisco State University. Before joining the Stanford community, she worked on the Communications team of San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, Breast Cancer Action, and managed the social media campaigns for California non-profits, Media Watch and the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media. 


Snehit Prabhu photo

Snehit PrabhuSenior Research Scientist

snehit at stanford dot edu

Snehit is a computer scientist and statistician by training with an abiding interest in quantitative and clinical genetics. As part of the Clinical Genomics (ClinGen) initiative, he works on several projects that are trying to bring rigor, standardization, and reproducibility to the burgeoning field of next-generation genetic testing. His areas of research include statistical methodologies for genetic tests, interpretation and actionability of test results, data sharing modalities, and lastly, regulatory and privacy frameworks surrounding all aspects of such testing. He received his PhD at Columbia University under the supervision of Itsik Pe’er, where he worked on a variety of problems like cost-efficient large scale sequencing, gene-gene interaction mapping and statistical inference techniques. 


Peter Underhill photo

Peter UnderhillResearch Associate Scientist

under at stanford dot edu

Since 1992, Peter Underhill has worked in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine, in the laboratory of Dr. Luca L. Cavalli-Sforza. Dr. Underhill's research involves the molecular analysis of human DNA sequence variation in human populations. He has been doing pioneering research on human Y chromosome diversification since 1992 that has led to the development of a robust gene tree that elegantly defines numerous Y chromosome varieties with distinctive geographic localization. The main focus of his research involves deciphering population affinity, substructure and history in contemporary populations using Y chromosome compound SNP and STR lineages. Dr. Underhill has coauthored numerous peer-reviewed publications on the subject. He received his B.S. in oceanography from California State University Humboldt, Arcata and his Ph.D. in marine studies from University of Delaware, Newark.


Ashley Zehnder headshot

Ashley Zehnder, Research Scientist

azehnder at stanford dot edu

Ashley Zehnder graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005, completed a small animal medicine and surgery internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City in 2006 and a 3-year residency in Companion Avian and Pet Exotic Medicine at the University of California-Davis, becoming boarded in Avian Medicine in 2009.  She completed her Cancer Biology PhD in the Khavari Lab at Stanford in 2016, working on novel therapeutic strategies to target altered signaling pathways in epithelial cancers. Since beginning her research training at Stanford, she has pursued interests in cancer biology as well as comparative medicine by maintaining active research interests in both fields.  She spearheaded the Zoobiquity Research Symposium held at Stanford in April 2014 and Stanford One Health symposium in 2016, which brought together veterinarians and human medical researchers to discuss research efforts in infectious diseases, cancer as well as novel animal models of disease.  She is also on the Board of Advisors for Stanford One Health.  More recently, she has founded a research alliance to bring together medical professionals to pursue research interests relating to cancer in non-domestic species, shedding light on the biology of tumors in these potentially valuable animal models (www.escra.org).  Her current research focuses on building resources and methods to improve sharing of veterinary clinical data across the US as well as developing a tumor database focused on non-domestic species, thereby helping to identify potential novel models of cancer for human and animal research.