Yijie Ma, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Yijie is a postdoctoral research fellow with dual appointments to the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at the Harvard Medical School (HMS). Yijie earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology in 2011 at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). His thesis work concentrated on molecular interplay between viruses and human innate immune system. He discovered that an essential human kinase in antiviral immunity is targeted by one virulence factor of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1), which is critical for HSV1 pathogenesis. After that, he undertook his first postdoctoral training at UIC where he developed an HSV1 attenuated vaccine and studied the molecular mechanisms behind the protective immunity induced by this vaccine. In 2014, he joined Dr. Elliott Kieff’s viral oncology group at BWH/HMS and worked closely with Dr. Gewurz. His work focuses on understanding Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) mediated B cell lymphomagenesis utilizing genome-wide and proteome-wide approaches. More specifically, he is investigating the role of NF-kB pathways in human B cell activation and transformation. Besides research, Yijie is a huge snowboarder and outdoor activity lover. He also enjoys going to concerts, festivals and other fun events with the company of some friends and beers.
Current position: Post-doctoral Fellow
Born and raised in sunny Singapore, Liang Wei won an Agency for Science and Technology (A*STAR) National Science Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and obtained his bachelors degree in Natural Sciences (Biological) with concentrations in Immunology and Virology. He performed honours-level research on the role of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-encoded micro-RNAs in modulating T cell function with Drs Mark Wills and Inmaculada Montanuy Sellart (Addenbrookes Hospital) After graduating from Cambridge, he performed a year of postgraduate research on hepatitis B virus (HBV) core promoter regulation with Assoc Prof Ren Ee Chee and Dr Ko Huiling (Singapore Immunology Network). He then moved to Boston in 2014 to start his PhD in Virology at Harvard Medical School. Despite never having had much interest in tumour biology (and expressly saying that to a professor working on polyomavirus oncogenesis), several twists of fate have brought him to work on B cell transformation by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) with Asst Prof Benjamin Gewurz (Brigham and Women’s Hospital). Apart from spending hours trying to understand how EBV manipulates B cell metabolism and G protein signaling to grow and survive indefinitely, Liang Wei also finds time to play squash, savour seafood and take in the sights around New England.
Merrin Leong, PhD
Merrin Leong did his doctoral research at Hong Kong University in the laboratory of Maria Lung, where he studied Epstein-Barr virus infection roles in regulation of host histone modifications. Merring identified that EBV infections induces histone bivalent switches in squameous epithelial cells, and found roles for these epigenetic modifiations in suppression of DNA damage repair genes in a methylation-independent manner.
Technical Research AssociateMichael joined the Gewurz lab in 2021. Michael graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science and Technology, concentrating in Ecosystem Health. During his undergraduate, Michael joined the Wang group in the Department of Biochemistry at University of Maryland, where he synthesized oligosaccharides for antibody-directed drug delivery. After the COVID pandemic began, he then joined a team that worked to expand the screening capabilities of a COVID-19 incidence monitoring study. Michael is now a graduate student in the Immunology program at Washington University in St. Louis
Brenda Piedras Iturbide
Technical Research Associate
Brenda joined the Gewurz lab in 2021 after recently graduating from Trinity College with a double major in Biology and Public Policy & Law. Brenda pursued her undergraduate research in the Toscano lab at Trinity, where she focused on invertabrate ecology.
Clarisel is a summer research intern participating in the Brigham & Women’s Division of Infectious disease Brigham Research in Infectious Disease and Global Engagement (BRIDGE) program. The Bridge program is an 8-week summer fellowship program that provides development in clinical and basic research skills in the field of infectious diseases, building a bridge to careers in medicine, public health, infectious disease research, and administration. The long-term goal is to assist underrepresented persons in building essential skills for their future careers.
Clarisel received a B.A from the University of North Carolina, where amongst her many research experiences she investigated the role of Microtubule Acetylation during Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and analyzed fluid dynamics in viral transmission from human expiratory activities. Clarisel is working closely with post-doctoral fellow Laura Murray-Nerger to characterize a novel host factor in control of the EBV lytic switch.