Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory
Hearst Foundation Developmental Chair
I completed my B.S. in Chemistry and Biology at Université Joseph Fourrier Grenoble, during which I did an exchange program at the Université de Montreal (Canada) where I realized my deep interest in neurosciences. I then received my M.S. in Neurobiology and Neurosciences from the Université Grenoble Alpes, where I started to learn about astrocyte physiology during my internships at the Grenoble Institute of Neurosciences. I pursued my path by joining Pr Alain Buisson’s lab for my Ph.D., where I studied the involvement of astrocytes in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease under the supervision of Dr. Mireille Albrieux. In the Allen lab, my work is to keep understanding the role of astrocytes in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. If you don’t find me in the electrophysiology room, chances are you will find me on a surfboard at one of San Diego’s wonderful beaches or reading a book in a hammock somewhere.
I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. As an undergraduate, I did summer research in the lab of Dr. David Ginty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Following graduation, I joined Dr. Ginty’s group as a research assistant studying spinal cord interneuron subtype contribution to the sense of touch. For my PhD training, I joined the Harvard University Program in Neuroscience where I studied the role of dopamine receptor expression in serotonergic neuron modulation of behavior in Dr. Susan Dymecki’s lab. As a postdoc in the Allen lab, I study the role of astrocyte secreted factors in neurodevelopment and neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition to my research, I am committed to service, teaching, and mentorship and am an active member of Salk’s Underrepresented Minorities Actively Supporting Excellence (URMase) group and a mentor in the Society for Neuroscience’s Neuroscience Scholars Program. Outside of lab, I enjoy running and traveling.
I am a native of Barcelona, Spain, where I completed undergraduate studies at the University of Barcelona. As part of my bachelor’s degree, I moved to Germany to study the biology of malaria-causing parasites. For my master’s degree I attended Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, where I studied CD8-T cell regulation during infection. For graduate school, I joined Elina Zuniga’s laboratory at UC San Diego, where I investigated host adaptations to chronic viral infection, and discovered immune mechanisms that induce a leaky gut after chronic viral infection, and that sickness behavior anorexia and gut microbiome components are both targets and regulators of antiviral CD8 T cell responses. As a postdoc in the Allen lab, I am currently studying the crosstalk between astrocytes and the immune system and its implications for synapses during healthy aging. Outside of lab I really enjoy spending time with my family and in the ocean.
Laura Sancho Fernandez
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Nanjing University, China. I studied smooth muscle physiology as an undergraduate in Dr. Min-Sheng Zhu’s lab at Model Animal Research Center (MARC) of Nanjing Unviersity. Then I joined the same lab for my PhD training, but started to focus on neuroscience, in particular, neurite outgrowth and axon guidance. Now as a Postdoc In Allen lab, I am investigating the role of astrocytes secreted proteins in Alzheimer’s disease, as well as developing novel tools to target region- and age-specific astrocyte subtypes. Outside of lab, I enjoy spending time with my family.
I received my BS from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where I majored in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Religion. As an undergraduate, I worked in the lab of Dr. Gretchen Neigh where I mainly focused on investigating metabolic and behavioral consequences of fructose exposure and adolescent stress. After graduating, I joined the CDC as an ORISE Fellow in the Poxvirus and Rabies Branch where I primarily worked on serological assay optimization and disease surveillance activities. I am currently a graduate student in the Neurosciences Graduate Program at UCSD. In the Allen lab, I am characterizing how changes to astrocyte-secreted factors contribute to synaptic dysfunction in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Outside of lab, I enjoy camping, climbing, traveling and spending time with friends and family.
I received my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at MIT and studied biochemistry at Ludwig Maximilian University (Germany) before moving to San Diego to pursue my MD/PhD. I joined the Allen lab as a UC San Diego graduate student in Neuroscience, and I began researching the role of astrocyte proteins in neurodevelopmental disorders. Outside the lab, I enjoy rock climbing, reading, playing violin, hiking, and skiing.
I went into science knowing I wanted to explore the brain. I completed my B.S. in Biotechnology Engineering at Universidad Autónoma de Quéretaro, México. I discovered my passion for glia biology when I joined the Bhat Lab for an internship at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center studying glioblastoma. I understood then the fundamental role of glia in regulating functions of the brain. I joined the Allen lab through UC San Diego Neurosciences Graduate Program. My work in the Allen lab focuses on activity-regulated genes in astrocytes and their modulatory role in synaptic plasticity. Outside of the lab, I help make science available for non-scientific audiences, with emphasis on the Hispanic community. I love traveling, camping, and spending time outdoors with my fiancée, my family and friends, and my dogs: Glia and Loki, I named the former.