Lab Culture

A diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is key to conducting innovative science. This page describes how we work to uplift one another, both inside and outside the lab, to facilitate a successful, respectful and welcoming lab environment.

Beyond the Ahituv Lab monthly dialogue

On the third Friday of every month, a lab member picks a book, article, movie, podcast, etc to discuss a topic that is unrelated to our direct research interests. Every lab member has a turn leading these dialogues. In June 2020, we discussed How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

Social events

Get to Know You Happy Hour

On the second Friday of every month, one lab member organizes a happy hour and, if comfortable, shares fun facts, upbringing, or unseen barriers so that the lab can learn more about how to best support this lab member both inside and outside the lab. This is also an opportunity to share or teach the lab a hidden talent. As an example, Nadav taught us how to juggle!

New Lab Member Happy Hour

When a new scientist joins the lab, we get together for a special happy hour to introduce ourselves to facilitate the transition into the Ahituv Lab.

Movie Night

Once a quarter, the lab watches a movie in Rock Hall Auditorium. We choose the movie together in lab meeting, often a somewhat scientific movie, for example, Rampage (2018), Strange Nature (2018), and Contagion (2011).

Quarterly community service event

Once a quarter, the lab collectively chooses a community service to participate in. For example, Letters to a Pre-Scientist, SF-Marin Food Bank volunteering, Bay Area Science Festival.

Extracurricular and outreach activities

Women in Life Sciences (WILS)

A UCSF trainee-run organization supporting women in science at all levels (students, postdocs, faculty, and staff).

UCSF Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP)

A UCSF partnership with K-12 classrooms to educate and encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds in science.

F45 Training

A 45-minute fitness workout offered at UCSF that combines elements of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training, and functional training. Many of our lab members are part of it.

UCSF English Friendship Corner

A free, informal, conversational English class taught by committed San Francisco volunteers. A collaboration between the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars and ISSO.

Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS @ UCSF)

A chapter of the national SACNAS organization, whose mission is to promote the recruitment, retention, and career development of underrepresented minorities in the sciences.


A group of Bay Area scientists passionate about biotech who invest in publicly traded biotech companies together.

UCSF Grad Slam and Postdoc Slam

Our lab has a long history of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows competing in Grad Slam and Postdoc Slam, "TED Talk"-like competitions where researchers are challenged to present their work in less than 3 minutes using language that is understood by both people in science and outside of science. We've cheered on finalists (Hane Ryu, 2017; Aaron Hardin, PhD, 2017; Serena Tamura, 2020) and cash prize winners (Navneet Matharu, PhD, "Runner-Up" and "People's Choice" 2016; Wei Gordon, "Grand Prize" 2022). The "Grand Prize" winner of UCSF Grad Slam goes on to compete the winners of every UC in UC-wide Grad Slam (Wei Gordon, "Audience Choice Winner," 2022). We believe that developing effective communication skills for a broad audience is as important to the advancement of scientific research as the benchwork itself, so we encourage and support our lab members through these incredibly ambitious but fun events!

Anecdotes and experiences of current and former lab members

Ofer Yizhar Barnea, postdoctoral fellow: I joined the Ahituv Lab and moved to the U.S. with my wife and two kids. That was terrifying! Aside from the great personalities that I work by on a day-to-day basis, Nadav dedicates an hour a week to meet each of us, caring not just for the science we do but also for the scientist and for being part of the group. That is not a given; that is human leadership.

Jamal Ghoumid, visiting scholar: I joined the Ahituv Lab for one year as a visiting scholar. I am from France, where I am also an MD. When I arrived, I was pretty upset by the changes: a new working language, a new lab culture, a new country. Despite initial worries, I have been rapidly given confidence by the inclusive and welcoming environment that Nadav has known how to create in his lab. Lana has been very patient and helpful in answering all my questions, especially when I was lost by cultural differences! All the members of the lab have been of valuable support, both professional and personal. People wanted to learn about my background, experience, and how we do science in France. I immediately felt a member of the lab! What I appreciate is that people come from all parts of the world: USA, Israel, China, Japan, India, Greece, and now Morocco and France! The difference is strength. Besides my project, I opened my mind to other cultures.

Dianne Laboy Cintrón, graduate student: From the moment I walked in the lab as a rotation student I felt welcomed. Beyond the amazing research going on between the walls of the Ahituv Lab, there are countless positive moments that allowed me to see myself as a graduate student here for the remainder of my PhD education. To mention a few, the mentorship of other lab members, specifically Serena and Navneet; the patience of Rachel and Lana any time I ask them questions about where something is in the lab; and the knowledge Jamal shares any time I have a question. This is a truly collaborative lab. Whenever I ask something of another lab member I am met with an ‘of course’ or ‘if you need help…be happy to help you.’

More experiences

Angel Ku, lab member For UCSF graduate, DACA gives a chance to fight cancer
Mee J. Kim, graduate student High School Internship Program Partners Teens with Scientists
Betty Booker, postdoctoral fellow Video, 5 minutes: UCSF Leaders and Scholars Reflect on First-Generation College Experiences