Meet Our Fellows

Blood Banking & Transfusion Medicine

Elizabeth Staley received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Following graduation, she worked as a laboratory technician/teaching assistant at the University of Missouri for one year, prior to relocating to Birmingham Alabama for graduate school. She completed her PhD in the lab of Dr. Robin Lorenz. Elizabeth subsequently earned her MD from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She remained at the University of Alabama-Birmingham for residency training in Clinical Pathology, and a Hemostasis Fellowship. Elizabeth is currently engaged in fellowship training in transfusion medicine at Washington University in St. Lous. She enjoys exploring St. Louis with her family, their favorite place to visit is the City Museum.

Clinical Chemistry

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.

Chris Farnsworth was born and raised in Rochester, New York. He attended college at Roberts Wesleyan College and majored in biology. Immediately following his undergraduate degree, he worked for three years in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Noble at the University of Rochester studying glioma. He went on to get his PhD in pathology at the University of Rochester with Dr. Robert Mooney. Chris studied the impact of obesity on immune responses and infection by S. aureus. He is currently pursuing his fellowship in Clinical Chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests include the impact of cancer and infection on peritoneal macrophages and pneumatic tube transport as a source pre-analytic variability in laboratory testing. Chris enjoys running and hiking in his spare time.


Jessica Petrone grew up in central Illinois. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology at Saint Louis University, where she also attended medical school. After medical school, she joined the AP/CP residency program at Washington University School of Medicine. She is currently completing her cytopathology fellowship before finishing her final year of residency. During training at Washington University, she has been involved in a variety of hematology and cytology projects. Her current research interests include molecular ancillary studies of salivary gland fine needle aspiration biopsies. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, playing board games, and going to the theatre.


Douglas A. Laurain grew up in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He majored in microbiology and psychology at Michigan State University. He then attended medical school at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. During his fourth year of medical school, Douglas was a camp counselor for the American Academy of Dermatology Camp Discovery program, working with children with chronic skin conditions. He completed his transitional year at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan followed by a dermatology residency at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis and spending time with family/friends. He is currently serving as the Dermatopathology Fellow here at Washington University in St. Louis.


Joshua Baalwa was raised in Jinja, Uganda near the source of the Nile river and earned a medical degree and masters degree in internal medicine from Makerere University Medical School in Kampala, Uganda. He went on to work as a registrar in internal medicine at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, Uganda before relocating to Alabama to pursue a PhD at the University of Alabama at Birmingham under the mentorship of Dr. Beatrice Hahn (first to trace the origins of HIV and Malaria to chimpanzees and gorillas) and Dr. George Shaw. For his PhD, Joshua studied cloning full length replication competent HIV viruses and exploring their transmission biology. Joshua completed his residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and is board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. He is currently completing a fellowship in hematopathology here at Washington University in St. Louis. He enjoys volunteering and meeting new people. He also serves as a junior deacon at his local church in Houston, Texas.

Farhan Khan was born and raised in Multan, Pakistan and earned dual bachelor’s degrees in medicine and surgery from Nishtar Medical Institution/ University of Health Sciences with several honors including valedictorian. He completed his Anatomic and Clinical Pathology residency at Howard University, Washington, DC. He came to the Washington University in St. Louis for Surgical Pathology and Hematopathology Fellowships. Farhan is interested in teaching and academics and was awarded Teaching Fellow of the Year 2018-2019 by the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University. He enjoys spending time with family, friends and following cricket.

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.

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 (, an open-source, community-driven database for the interpretation of clinically-relevant genetic variants that are observed in cancer. She is a first-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.

Liver/GI Pathology

Liang-I Kang is originally from Taiwan (R.O.C) and spent the majority of her childhood in Delaware. She attended the University of Delaware for her undergraduate studies, and then completed her MD/PhD degrees at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She conducted her thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Wendy Mars, investigating a non-proteolytic role for tissue-type plasminogen activator in hepatic stellate cells during acute and chronic liver injury, which was funded by an NIH F30 grant. Her research interests include organ inflammation, fibrosis, and associated tumorigenesis, as well as tumor microenvironment (e.g. tumor-stromal interactions). She chose the Washington University School of Medicine for post-graduate training because it simultaneously had the highest density of laboratories of interest to her, top-tier clinical training, best value in for the cost of living, and one of the most structured research tracks available. She loves to bake (including with her sourdough starter, Gus), take her daughter to the public library, and hoard recipes.

Medical & Public Health Microbiology

Born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut, Sophonie Jean completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and French at the University of Richmond in Virginia. She went on to pursue a PhD at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she studied protein trafficking in the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum and nutrient acquisition systems in STI pathogen, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. While at VCU, Sophonie was awarded the Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology. Following completion of her doctoral work, Sophonie joined the Vaginal Microbiome Consortium also at VCU as a post-doctoral fellow and investigated the role of the vaginal microbiome on women’s health and pregnancy outcomes. Sophonie is currently completing the Clinical and Public Health Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis and hopes to pursue a career as Clinical Microbiologist in the near future. In her free time, she enjoys reading fantasy fiction, watching documentaries and spoiling her new niece.

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.

Molecular Genetic Pathology

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 first 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.

Lulu Sun was raised in Ontario, Canada, and attended McGill University in Montreal for her undergraduate studies. She moved to the United States to enroll in the MD/PhD program at Washington University in St Louis. She completed her PhD in Immunology in Thaddeus Stappenbeck’s Lab, where her thesis work focused on the effect of viral infection and subsequent innate immune responses on epithelial turnover and wound healing. Lulu is an AP resident who will be doing a Molecular Genetic Pathology fellowship and a Surgical Pathology fellowship, with a special interest in GYN and GI pathology. Her goal is to remain in academic pathology. Lulu enjoys reading both literary and trashy novels, camping and hiking with her husband and two children, and trying out new restaurants and breweries.

Parker Wilson grew up outside Boston, Massachusetts and earned a bachelors degree from Johns Hopkins University in biomedical engineering with a concentration in computer science. He went on to complete an MD and a PhD in molecular and cellular biology at the Medical University of South Carolina where he focused on the interaction of G-protein coupled receptors in the renin-angiotensin system. Parker completed his combined AP/CP training and a fellowship in combined renal and genitourinary pathology at Yale University before coming to Washington University in St. Louis. He is currently a fellow in molecular genetic pathology and will pursue an academic career with a focus on kidney disease research.

Jennifer Yoest is originally from a small town in Eastern Kansas where she attended the University of Kansas and majored in biology with an emphasis in genetics. From there, she moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she obtained her MD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and trained in AP and CP at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Jennifer is currently a Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. Her interests include immune checkpoint inhibitors, assay validation, and regulatory compliance.

Neuropathology & Neuropathology Research

Jie Chen was born and raised in Linyi, China. During her 4th year of medical school at Taishan Medical College, China, she went to Ehime University School of Medicine, Japan, as an exchange student studying the effect of neurotrophic factors on nerve degeneration and regeneration. After graduating from medical school, she went to Japan again and earned her PhD degree from Ehime University School of Medicine. Besides continuing her research on neurotrophic factors, her PhD work also included analyzing the role of muscle-specific kinase in the pathogenesis of myasthenia gravis. After graduation, she moved to the United States and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she studied changes of the neuromuscular junction during developmental and some pathological conditions like ALS. Jie is pursuing AP/NP training.

Pediatric Pathology

Mercia Bezerra Gondim is originally from Natal/Brazil and graduated from Rio Grande do Norte Federal University. She completed neurosurgery residency in Brazil and pediatric neurosurgery fellowship in the Necker Enfants Malades Hospital, France. As a pediatric neurosurgeon attending in Brazil, she implemented several procedures and helped in treating rare and complicated cases. Also, as a member of a multidisciplinary team, she founded a local Association for Children with Myelomeningocele and Hydrocephalus. Thanks to this organization, they achieved many improvements in public welfare. Now, she is a board-certified Anatomic Pathologist and Neuropathologist. Her research on spinal cord malformations during her neuropathology training at the Indiana University School of Medicine received an award from the American Association of Neuropathologists. Merica loves to cook, bike, practice pilates and have fun with her husband and their 8-year-old twins. She plans to work in a Pediatric Hospital with a strong commitment to the development of the local community.

Selective (Surgical) Pathology

Nerissa A. Ladd grew up in Tampa Bay, Florida. She was in the 7-year accelerated BS/MD program with the University of Central Florida for undergrad then the University of South Florida for medical school. She completed her AP/CP pathology residency at the University of Colorado. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, snowshoeing, camping, cooking, and photography. She is currently serving as one of the Selective Surgical Pathology fellows at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sahar Nozad was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She received her medical degree from the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences. Sahar worked as a general physician in a rural hospital in Iran before moving to Germany where she obtained her German citizenship, as well as her German medical license. She received her AP/CP residency training at Albany Medical Center, NY and completed her hematopathology fellowship at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She is board certified in pathology and hematopathology and currently is attending her selective surgical pathology fellowship at Washington University in Saint Louis. Sahar enjoys reading books, hiking and photographing.

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.

Cody Weimholt was raised in Alaska and Oklahoma as a young child before moving to Kansas City as a young teenager. He obtained an Associate in art at Longview Community College prior to finishing his Bachelors in biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Following a three year period working as a nurse assistant in various hospital and nursing home settings, Cody matriculated into the 2009 medical school class at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his AP/CP residency at Barnes Jewish Hospital/Washington University in 2013. The following year he completed a fellowship in cytopathology at the same institution. He has stayed on and is currently finishing his second fellowship in general surgical pathology.