Principal Investigator: 

John Lis

Laboratory Manager:

Janis K. Werner


Abdullah Ozer

photoI am a Research Associate and I have been in the Lis Lab since 2007. I got my Bachelors degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bilkent University, Turkey, and my Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Texas. In my graduate study working with Richard K. Bruick in Department of Biochemistry at UTSW, I characterized the function of ING4 protein in regulation of mammalian Hypoxia Response Pathway, the primary cellular response mechanism for oxygen deprivation. I have a general interest in developing novel high-throughput technologies that enable us, in ways that were not possible before, to disrupt, image, and characterize biological processes particularly in transcriptional regulation in live cells. Since I have joined the Lis Lab, I have been involved in many projects including the improvement of RNA Aptamer selection and characterization methods and their implamantaton for selection and characterization of RNA aptamers to a number of proteins including many transcription factors, and imaging of proteins and their post-translational modifications with RNA aptamers in living cells. Recently, I have been working on developing novel and improved methods for determination of 4D nuclear architecture and characterization of enhancers with high resolution and high sensitivity in mammalian cells. Also in the last three years I have been involved in a challenging project called “Raising Irem and Harun”, serving as the father (trying hard to be a good one).

 Judhajeet Ray

Judajheet Ray

I am a postdoc in the Lis lab since early 2015. I received my Bachelors and Masters degrees from University of Calcutta, India and my Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Iowa State University under the guidance of Prof. Marit Nilsen-Hamilton. During my Ph.D. I have developed an imaging technique utilizing RNA aptamers to detect gene expression in living cells. I am very much interested in the application of aptamers to answer biological questions. Currently I am involved in characterizing RNA aptamers selected against factors that are known to be involved in regulation of transcriptional pausing. The aptamers will be very useful tools to perturb the molecular interactions of these proteins inside cells to analyze their roles in Pol II pausing.

Anniina Vihervaara

My focus is to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie transcriptional decisions in the dynamic chromatin environment. Currently, I utilize heat stress to induce a rapid change in the transcriptional profile of human cells and analyse how gene expression is adjusted and coordinated across the genome.

Erin Wissink

My interest is understanding how cells use gene expression to respond to their changing environments. I completed my PhD at Cornell in Andrew Grimson’s lab, where I investigated post-transcriptional gene regulation. I had a short postdoc at UCLA where I worked with Tracy Johnson’s group to understand connections between chromatin and splicing.  I am profiling nascent transcription during a variety of stresses to identify the enhancers and genes that are turned on and off. I joined the Lis lab in 2017, and I am profiling nascent transcription in cells undergoing acute extracellular stresses.

Takuya Kajitani

I joined the Lis lab in April 2018. I completed my PhD at Kyoto University, Japan. I spent most of my PhD student life at Hokkaido University as a visiting student. I have been interested in the molecular basis and biological significance of gene expression. I hope to explore novel aspects of them using cutting edge technologies with the Lis lab members. I run around the campus on the weekends while thinking about  RNA polymerase II running on chromatin.

 Graduate Students:


Gregory Booth


Greg received his bachelors degree from the University of Toronto and is currently a graduate student in the field of Biochemistry Molecular and Cell Biology.  His research in the Lis lab is focused on understanding the function and evolution of factors involved in promoter proximal pausing. Using genomic approaches to study transcription in yeast, Greg is comparing the phenotypes of distantly related budding and fission yeast before and after perturbing conserved machinery that play a role in pausing in metazoans.



 Nathaniel Tippens

Nathaniel Tippens

Nate is a PhD student in the Computational Biology and Medicine program, and he is working on a new experimental technique to map all protein-DNA interactions in accessible regions of the genome. He is interested in applying this and other genomic techniques to study the transcriptional mechanisms that specify cellular identity.




Lina Bagepalli


I am a graduate student part of the Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology field at Cornell. I did my undergraduate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and previously studied cancer and cell biology related research. My current research involves elucidating the functions of the particular domains of the protein Heat Shock Factor 1 using RNA aptamers. I have characterized the binding of many selected aptamers using UV crosslinking and EMSA based methodologies and have identified that a majority of our selected HSF1 aptamers bind to the DNA Binding domain and Trimerization domain. I am continuing this work and am currently focused on using HSF1 aptamers a tools to inhibit HSF1 function measured by genome wide assays. In my free time, I like to cook, dance, paint and play the piano and violin.

Kara Rode

Jawaher Al Zahrani

Michael DeBerardine

Julius Judd

I received my Bachelors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from SUNY Albany. Prior to coming to Cornell, I investigated the mechanism of distributive conjugal transfer in mycobacteria under the guidance of Todd Gray and Keith Derbyshire at the Wadsworth Center. I am now a PhD student in the field of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, where I am co-advised by Cédric Feschotte. I am working to develop new tools for measuring the nascent transcriptional impacts of a genetic perturbation, in a massively parallel manner, and will use them to investigate the contribution of species-specific transposable elements to regulatory networks. Outside of the lab, I enjoy exploring the great outdoors by skiing, mountain and rock climbing, and cycling.






 Laboratory Technician

Jennifer Lynn Curtis