Current Members

Principal Investigator


Hilary Coller, Ph.D.

Professor Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology UCLA
Professor Biological Chemistry David Geffen School of Medicine
Interim Director Molecular Biology Institute
Interim Chair Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program
Chair Bioinformatics Outreach Committee
Editor in Chief Physiological Genomics


 MCDB Biochem MBI Bioinformatics Physiological Genomics

Research Staff

David Jelinek, Ph.D.

Laboratory Manager; Senior Scientist



Aside from being a lab manager and being responsible for smooth and safe everyday operations, I am involved in all mouse related research in the Coller Laboratory. Currently, I am studying the role of autophagy in melanoma growth. The loss of autophagy in the tumor microenvironment leads to a decrease in tumor growth. I am interested in teasing out which part of the tumor microenvironment is the most sensitive to loss of autophagy and could be targeted for future cancer treatment. 

I enjoy soccer and have been playing it my whole life. Since coming to Los Angeles, I got into running. I have become a marathoner and participate in the LA marathon every year. I always try to get our lab members to run the LA marathon. So far, I got 3 of them!  But my passion is skiing. I love mountains covered with fluffy white snow after a storm, crisp air, and blue skies. Trees, bumps, and steeps is the way to go down a mountain.

 Favorite show/movie: Predator, Doom


Mithun Mitra, Ph.D.

Associate Project Scientist; Senior Scientist



I am using lab-based and computational methods to study gene-regulatory pathways in quiescent and cancer cells. I am passionate about mentoring undergraduate students in different experimental and bioinformatics projects. I love reading non-fiction books related to science, medicine, and history. I also enjoy reading and watching classic sci-fi novels and movies, respectively.

 Favorite show/movie: StarWars (episodes IV, V, and VI)

Aaron Ambrus, Ph.D. 

Assistant Project Scientist; Senior Scientist



I am interested in understanding the role of autophagy in wound healing in human patients and mouse models. My hope is that we will develop new approaches for treating patients with chronic wounds. Outside of lab, I spend my time mentoring marathon runners, being a UCLA football season ticket holder, and fathering my 2 sons.

 Favorite show/movie: Terminator 2

Postdoctoral Researchers

Laurent Voisin, Ph.D. 



I received a Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 2016 from the University of Paris-Saclay in France. During my Ph.D. studies, I was focused on the understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms governing entosis, a new form of cell death. My work has consisted in determining the different stages of the elimination of cancer cells, evaluating the fate and impact of entosis process on cancer. I joined the Coller Laboratory in 2020 as a Postdoctoral Scholar to study the role of autophagy in melanoma growth and molecular basis of quiescence. My current research focus is on the interactions between melanoma cancer cells and fibroblasts. My hobbies include hiking, cooking, being a wine connoisseur, music, and traveling. I also love to play soccer. My favorite team is Olympique de Marseille!

 Favorite show/movie: La Haine 

Graduate Students

Kaiser Atai 

Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Doctoral Program (MBIDP)


I am focused on understanding and characterizing changes that occur in the nucleus and chromatin of quiescent cells. Our lab uses a combination of sequencing, microscopy, and proteomics-based approaches to tackle these outstanding questions both in-vitro and in-vivo. Outside of the lab, I’m interested in cooking, cars, and concerts.

 Favorite show/movie: True Detective 


Undergraduate Students


Bhrugu Bharathi 

Computational and Systems Biology Major


At the Coller Lab, I am investigating the role and conservation of non-coding RNAs in quiescence using informatics approaches. I am also interested in studying methods for gene sequencing and searching, as well as for phylogenetic tree reconstruction. In my free time, I enjoy reading, finding new music to listen to, and playing pick-up sports with my friends.

 Favorite show/movie: The Lighthouse

Cecilia Lei

Biology Major


I will be working with Abe Horillo in the lab, with research interest in the epigenome’s role in cell cycle regulation and tumor suppression. I am also interested in cancer cells and stem cells. I am keen on watching different kinds of movies, especially science fictions. Besides, I love playing basketball. 

 Favorite show/movie: The Amazing Spider-Man

Edmund Zhi

Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Major; Bioinformatics Minor



I work with Dr. Coller to use R and Python to help with data visualization and analysis in the autophagy experiments. This includes taking the data I'm given to generate plots, create slopes using regression models, and conduct statistical tests. Outside of research, I enjoy playing guitar, dancing, acting, and powerlifting.

 Favorite show/movie: The Office; Iron Man 3

Eliana Harmony Bohn 

Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Major; Biomedical Research Minor


I work primarily under Kaiser's project investigating epigenetic factors related to quiescence, with a particular focus on the histone modification H4K20me3. Outside of lab, I enjoy hoop dancing and am a multi-prop fire spinner/performer.

 Favorite show/movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Isabel Romero

Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Major; Biomedical Research Minor



I am interested in stem cells, cell regeneration, and virology. I love to stay busy with weightlifting, kickboxing, or volleyball! Additionally, I love to go out and spend time with my friends.

 Favorite show/movie: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Namita Shyam

Biology Major; Biomedical Research Minor


Currently, I am working on the apoptosis and senescence project for E230 MEFs. Generally, I am really interested in learning about cancer therapies and new research conducted to advance our understanding of cancer biology. Outside of lab, I take voice acting lessons and will be making my demo reel soon! I also enjoy running, traveling, and making art in my free time.


  Favorite show/movie: Stranger Things/Knives Out

Prerana Kasanagottu

Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Major


I am super interested in stem cell and regenerative cell research! I am also interested in working with mice as a model organism. I also dance! I'm on a competitive dance team at UCLA, bataaka nu shaak! I love reading and playing video games.


  Favorite show/movie: The Office

Riley Xin

Computational and Systems Biology Major



I’m involved in the APA and cancer dormancy projects. My interest lies in applying ( and hopefully building) bioinformatics tools to analyze NGS data which will give us inferences on the biological processes. Isn’t this interplay of data science and biology really cool! I have a general interest in art, which, like data science, finds beauty in both order and chaos.


 Favorite show/movie: Puss in Boots!


Highschool Students


Samuel Copen


 I'm excited to work in the autophagy subgroup

  Favorite show/movie: Big Bang Theory