Meet Our Fellows
Blood Banking & Transfusion Medicine
Nicholas (Nick) Gau was raised in an Air Force family and claims Minnesota as his home. He earned bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Clinical Laboratory Science from South Dakota State University. Nick was certified as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist by the National Credentialing Agency, and was a medical technologist for a large community hospital in South Dakota for 3 years, working in chemistry, hematology, and blood bank laboratories. He earned his medical degree from the University of South Dakota and completed Anatomic and Clinical Pathology residency at Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as Anatomic Pathology Co-Chief Resident. Nick is a diplomate of the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. Dusting off his technologist skills, Nick continues his training at Washington University as a Blood Banking and Transfusion Medicine clinical fellow. He has accepted a fellowship in Hematopathology in Minnesota in 2020. Among Nick’s favorite pastimes are strategy board games and exploring the St. Louis region with his wife and son.
Ray Zhang grew up in New York. He completed undergraduate studies at Stony Brook University and graduate and medical school training at the University of Pennsylvania. He also completed a residency in clinical pathology at Washington University in St. Louis. Ray has a career interest in building software tools and data infrastructure for laboratory support of clinical workflows, particularly in the areas of transfusion, transplantation, and cellular therapy testing and banking.
Melissa Budelier was raised in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Marquette University. She went on to receive her PhD in Biochemistry from Washington University in St Louis. Her thesis research, in the laboratory of Dr. Alex Evers, focused on protein-sterol interactions and mass spectrometry methods development. Melissa is pursuing a fellowship in Clinical Chemistry. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys running, biking, climbing, and spending time with family and friends.
Caroline Franks was raised in Salisbury, MD. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a minor in mathematics. Caroline completed her PhD in chemistry at the University of Virginia where she developed and implemented mass spectrometry-based methods to study the function of lipid enzyme diacylglycerol kinase. She is now pursuing a fellowship in clinical chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. Outside of work, Caroline enjoys hanging out with her dog Ruthie and exploring local parks.
Christopher Suciu is from a suburb of Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University. He went on to complete an MD and MS at the Tulane University School of Medicine, followed by a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is currently in his second year of a blended molecular genetic pathology and clinical informatics fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. He enjoys playing tennis, rowing, and listening to live music.
Tiffany Chen is a native Texan. She completed her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry as part of the Dean’s Scholars honors program at the University of Texas in Austin. She then spent a year conducting pharmaceutical chemistry research at the University of California-San Fransico before pursuing her MD at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Tiffany is passionate about teaching, with extensive experiences since college and has co-chaired the surgical pathology medical student clerkship while in residency. She is finishing her AP residency and will be staying at Washington University in St. Louis to complete a dermatopathology fellowship from 2019-2020. Her hobbies include rock climbing, hiking, and camping.
Laboratory Genetics & Genomics
Khadija Belhassan grew up between the Atlas Mountains in center of Morocco where she earned her high school diploma, then moved on to complete her MD at Fez Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy. After graduating, she worked in the emergency department in an underserved area in Morocco. She decided afterward to elect for a medical genetics residency program that she completed at Fez Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy. During her residency studies, she acquired clinical genetic experience from the Human Genetic Department at Cincinnati Children Hospital through her observer-ship training. She also had the opportunity to serve as a guest researcher at the Medical Genetics Branch at the National Institute of Health with Dr. Muenke. There she focused her study on next-generation sequencing, interpretation data of patients with holoprosencephaly cerebral malformations. Khadija is a clinical fellow in the Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics at Washington University in St. Louis. In her free time, she enjoys walking in nature, meditating and reading literature books in spare time.
Juliette was raised near Chicago. She completed her BSc.(Hon) in Biological Sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Juliette then moved to Houston, TX to earn her PhD at Baylor College of Medicine in Molecular and Human Genetics under the mentorship of Dr. Huda Zoghbi. A post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical and Environmental Toxicogenomics took Juliette to Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she was part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Health Effects and Environmental Research Laboratory. After completion of her postdoc, Juliette worked for a late-stage genomics startup doing clinical genomics and variant classification for several NGS products. Juliette is currently a fellow in Laboratory Genetics and Genomics at Washington University. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors with her husband and three young children.
Killannin Krysiak received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she stayed on as a research technician and focused on improving the efficacy of the anti-tumor properties of bisphosphonates before pursuing her doctorate. In 2014, Kilannin received her PhD in Molecular Genetics and Genomics from Washington University in St. Louis for work investigating the role of HSPA9 in hematopoiesis and myelodysplastic syndrome. Her work at the McDonnell Genome Institute focused on the analysis and interpretation of genomic and transcriptomic cancer sequencing data and was part of a team of developers and researchers creating CIViC (civicdb.org), an open-source, community-driven database for the interpretation of clinically-relevant genetic variants that are observed in cancer. She is a second-year fellow for the Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics.
Fumihiko “Fumi” Urano was raised in Paris, France and Tokyo, Japan. He is currently a Professor of Medicine and pursuing Medical Genetics and Genomics training through the alternative pathway to board eligibility for academic faculty. Fumi earned his MD and PhD from Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan. He has been running a research program in order to understand the mechanisms of diseases caused by endoplasmic reticulum dysfunction, including diabetes, neurodegeneration and Wolfram syndrome. He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2011. His career goal is to fulfill unmet medical needs and decrease human suffering through genetic medicine, including genetic diagnosis and gene therapy. When he has free time, Fumi enjoys practicing soccer with his twin sons and checking out local restaurants with his wife.
Rehan Rais was born and grew up in his hometown of Karachi, Pakistan where he completed his early education and medical training at Liaquat National Hospital and Medical College. After graduation, Rehan moved to the US where he started a combined AP/CP residency at Washington University in St. Louis. He is currently our Liver/GI pathology fellow and is interested in pursuing a future career in academia. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and playing cricket.
Medical & Public Health Microbiology
Kaitlin Mitchell is originally from Erie, Pennsylvania and earned a BS in microbiology from the University of Pittsburgh. She then completed a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she researched mechanisms of drug resistance in fungal biofilm infections. Kaitlin also obtained an MPH degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and spent time working at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. For her MPH capstone project, Kaitlin worked in the Philippines researching hospital antimicrobial stewardship. Her ongoing areas of interest include antibiotic resistance testing, point-of-care diagnostics, and global health. Outside of work she enjoys rock climbing, traveling, and exploring the parks of St. Louis.
Eric Ransom was born and raised in South Dakota. He graduated from instate Augustana University with a degree in biology. He earned his doctorate in microbiology at the University of Iowa, where he researched C. difficile pathogenesis and toxin regulation. Eric also completed an antimicrobial resistance fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. This research investigated novel approaches for detecting antimicrobial resistance. Eric has worked in a veterinary mycobacteriology laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Texas state public health mycobacteriology laboratory in Austin, Texas. Eric is now a medical and public health microbiology fellow at the Washington University School of Medicine. Outside of work, he is an avid board game enthusiast and college sports fan.
Molecular Genetic Pathology
Daniel Webber was raised in rural Oklahoma and earned bachelors and master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He worked as a clinical trials coordinator at Duke University for several years before returning to Arkansas to join the MD/PhD program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. While there, he worked in the lab of Charlotte Hobbs studying genetic and environmental risk factors in congenital heart defects. Daniel joined our program as a CP-only resident in 2017 and served as clinical pathology chief resident last year. He is currently completing a molecular genetic pathology fellowship out of sequence. Next year he will be returning to residency training and will be working in the lab of Jeff Gordon. Daniel enjoys spending time with friends and family, and he recently finished building an awesome treehouse for his three kids.
Guanjun (GJ) Xia received his medical degree from Fudan University in Shanghai, China and his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, focusing on T cell synapse formation. He also did a T32-funded Clinical Pharmacology fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University and has also worked at the FDA. He recently finished the AP/CP residency training at Drexel University College of Medicine and is now a Molecular Genetic Pathology fellow. In his free time, he enjoys reading and playing table tennis.
Neuropathology & Neuropathology Research
Nima Sharifai was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and spent most of his adult life in Miami, Florida, where he earned his bachelors, medical, and doctoral degrees. He has long been interested in neuroscience and completed his thesis work in the lab of Akira Chiba. There he implemented a technique for live visualization of protein-protein interactions within developing neurons. His work focused on identifying key molecular regulators involved in dendrogenesis and mapping their spatiotemporal interaction patterns at single-neuron resolution. Nima is a combined AP/NP resident and will begin his neuropathology fellowship next year here at Washington University in St. Louis. Nima loves all things football and enjoys traveling with his family and friends.
Sean Lu grew up in Taipei, Taiwan and earned his MD from the National Taiwan University. He then completed a PhD in Developmental Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in the lab of Dr. Huda Zoghbi, where he studied the roles of ATXN1/CIC complex in the development of the cerebral cortex. Sean joined the AP/NP program and is currently a second-year neuropathology fellow. He will be pursuing a Gastrointestinal & Hepatobiliary Pathology Fellowship at UCSF in 2020-2021. His current research focuses on utilizing novel molecular/proteomic tools to better classify various neoplasms. Outside of work, Sean enjoys reading, classical music, and photography.
Priya Skaria was born in Kerala, India. She obtained dual bachelor’s degrees in medicine and surgery from Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai, India. She volunteered at a Mission Hospital and served the medical needs of her hometown for a few years. With the goal of pursuing cancer research, she did an Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Residency at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Missouri. During this training, she did a one-month elective in Hematopathology with Dr. Elaine Jaffe at the National Institute of Health. She was honored with Dr. Gordon F. Vawter Pathologist in training award for her first cancer research project at The Society for Pediatric Pathology Annual Meeting in October 2016. She completed Hematopathology fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis and is currently a fellow trainee in Surgical Pathology. She has several other credits to her merit up to a national level in sports, music, and dance.
Selective (Head & Neck) Pathology
Manuel was born and raised in Santiago, Dominican Republic. There he went to Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) to complete his MD. Prior to residency, he worked as a surgical assistant in Otolaryngology and as a laboratory instructor for Microbiology and Cell Biology. He did his AP/CP residency at the University of Kansas and completed a fellowship in Cytopathology at the University of Miami. During residency, Manuel spent one-month studying renal tumors at an anatomic pathology laboratory in Czech Republic. He is passionate about teaching and laboratory test utilization and enjoys going to live music shows in small venues, cooking with friends, and traveling to new places.
Selective (Surgical) Pathology