Postdoctoral Symposium


Consuelo Walss-Bass, Ph.D. 
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Chair, Postdoctoral Symposium

Dr. Walss-Bass is Professor with tenure in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  She is the Director of the Psychiatric Genetics Program and the UTHealth Brain Collection for Research in Psychiatric Disorders. Her research focuses on the understanding of psychiatric disorders at the molecular level. She utilizes genomic and proteomic approaches in human and animal models to correlate genetic/epigenetic modifications with cellular function. Dr. Walss-Bass established the UTHealth Brain Collection resource to help study brain disorders and also focuses on development of human-derived induced-pluripotent stem cells to obtain virtual brain biopsies of individuals with psychiatric disorders. As Director of the Psychiatric Genetics Program, Dr. Walss-Bass oversees all genetic studies carried out at the Department of Psychiatry and assists clinical investigators in genotype-phenotype correlations to better understand the genetic underpinnings of psychiatric disorders.  Her work has led to more than 65 peer-reviewed publications, in most of which she is either the first or last author and she has received almost continuous NIH and prestigious private foundation awards.  She is a sought after speaker both nationally and internationally and has served on multiple NIH review committees both as a regular and invited member.

Callie Kwartler, Ph.D.
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Medical Genetics
A novel role for smooth muscle α-actin in the nucleus of smooth muscle cells

Callie Kwartler earned her B.A. in Biology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and received her Ph.D. at the M.D. Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She did her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dianna Milewicz, M.D., Ph.D. studying the molecular mechanisms of vascular disease in patients with rare variants in MYH11.  In 2013, Dr. Kwartler moved to UT Southwestern to take a postdoctoral fellowship position in the laboratory of Thomas Carroll, Ph.D. in the Division of Nephrology, where she worked on the development of the renal stroma in the mouse embryo. In 2016, she returned to the laboratory of Dianna Milewicz, M.D., Ph.D. to do a second postdoctoral fellowship, and over the past three years she has established an induced pluripotent stem cell-based model system to study the causes of strokes in children. In her career to date, Dr. Kwartler has published 16 original research articles including 6 as first author. She has won numerous awards, including a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association and the 2018 Best Mentor Award, Postdoc Category sponsored by Proteintech.

Natalie Sirisaengtaksin, Ph.D.
MDACC UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
“Bacterial outer membrane vesicles provide an alternative pathway for trafficking of type III-secreted effectors into epithelial cells”

Natalie received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston, Texas. There, she studied the molecular mechanisms that underlie endocytic trafficking and its influence on neuroblastoma. Natalie joined the lab of Anne-Marie Krachler, Ph.D. in July 2017. Her current studies focus on the delivery of bacterial virulence factors to human cells through outer membrane vesicles.

Jose Felix Moruno-Manchon, Ph.D.
Department of Neurology
“Inhibiting sphingosine kinase 2 mitigates mutant-Huntingtin-induced neurodegeneration in neuron models of Huntington disease”

Felix received his Ph.D. from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, where he studied the regulation of the main processes that degrades and recycles cellular material. In October 2014, Felix joined Dr. Andrey Tsvetkov’s lab in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. He studied the neurodegenerative mechanisms involved in Huntington disease and in the aged brain. Recently, he joined Dr. Louise McCullough’s lab in the Department of Neurology to expand his research on the brain processes that become dysregulated with aging in a sex-dependent manner.