Research interests / what I do


Esteban G. Burchard, MD, MPH
Principal Investigator
[email protected]

Complex gene-environment interactions in health, disease, and drug response; identifying risk factors for asthma in ethnically diverse populations, including social, environmental, and genetic factors that contribute to health disparities

For a detailed profile, see Genetics and Asthma: A Former Harold Amos Scholar Researches the Impact of Ancestry on Disease and Health Disparities

Chih-Hao Chang (James), PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Scholar
[email protected]
Molecular and genetic epidemiology, next-generation sequencing analysis of complex traits, precision genomic medicine
Contreras Oseguera

Maria G. Contreras
Research Data Analyst I
[email protected]

Asthma in admixed populations; drug response;gene-environment interactions, epigenetics, gene by gene interactions, and risk factors that may contribute to the disease

Jennifer R. Elhawary, MS
Research Data Analyst III
[email protected]
Statistical analysis, genetic association studies in admixed populations, effects of genetic ancestry/ethnicity and health history on childhood asthma, epigenetics of asthma outcomes, management of study databases, collaboration agreements


Celeste Eng
R&D Scientist
Lab Manager
[email protected]

Management of the Asthma Collaboratory; data generation, sample management, high-throughput mutation detection, genotyping, and sequencing technologies, coordinate and support all study recruitment and other related aspects of the research studies


Donglei Hu, PhD
Genetic Research Specialist
[email protected]

Discovering genetic and epigenetic factors in development and treatment of asthma in different ethnic groups, statistical analysis


Scott Huntsman, MS
[email protected]

Management of genetic data and programming, genome-wide SNP data, high-throughput sequencing, CNVs, methylation data


Jonathan Witonsky, MD, MAS
Postdoctoral Research Fellow 
[email protected]

Pediatric allergy and immunology, genetic and social factors in the development of asthma, asthma disparities, and pulmonary function reference equations in genetically admixed populations

Former lab members

Assistant professors

Who, Years mentored


Main research

Marquitta White (2019-2020) Program Officer in the Division of Lung Disease at NHLBI Asthma pharmacogenetics

Neeta Thakur (2011–2017)

Assistant Professor, UCSF

Defining mechanisms of social and environmental stressors in asthma, health disparities in asthma, pulmonary diseases, development of targeted interventions to address social determinants of asthma

Joshua Galanter (2007–2016)

Senior Safety Scientist, Genentech

Pulmonary diseases and clinical pharmacology, genetic and environmental determinants of asthma in minority populations

Dara Torgerson (2011–2013)

Assistant Professor, McGill University

Analytical strategies for identifying genetic contributions to complex disease in diverse populations, molecular evolution, statistical genetics, applied population genetics

UCSF clinical research post-doctoral fellows

Who, years mentored


Main research

Ty Elliot (2018-2019) Physician, UCSF Gene-environment interactions and epigenetic factors in the development of asthma, pulmonary function testing in admixed populations, and health disparities research

Harriet Corvol (2007–2008)

Assistant Professor, Pediatric Pulmonology and Critical Care, Hôpital Trousseau, Paris, France

asthma pharmacogenetics

Shannon Thyne (2002–2007)

Professor, Pediatrics, UCSF

clinical asthma research

Yuhjung J. Tsai (2005–2006)

Physician, Johns Hopkins Medical Center

genetics, admixture, and asthma

UCSF PhD Post-doctoral Fellows

Who, years mentored


Main research

Marquitta White (2014-2020) Program Officer in the Division of Lung Disease at NHLBI Asthma Pharmacogenetics
Kevin Keys (2016-2020) Senior Scientist, Ambys Medicines  Ancestry and Gene Expressions
Angel Mak (2015-2021) Senior Scientist, Bioinformatics, CytomX Therapeutics  Asthma Pharmacogenetics
Lesly Samedy Bates (2017-2020) NIH/NICHD-Program officer and Children's National Hospital Clinical Pharmacist Racial Differences in Drug Response 

Maria Pino-Yanes (2012–2014)

Assistant Professor, University of La Laguna, Tenerife

Genetic basis of asthma and related phenotypes, admixture mapping, genome-wide association studies, identification of new genes associated with asthma and IgE levels in Latinos

Meghan McGarry (2012–2015)

Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSF Pediatrics

Clinical differences in drug response affecting asthma control and exacerbations among urban minority youths, health disparities in asthma, pediatric pulmonary diseases, drug response in cystic fibrosis patients

Nicolas E. Barcelo (2014)

resident in psychiatry, UCLA

Social stress, discrimination, violence, and asthma; obesity and inflammation; mental health; race disparities in health; humanities in medicine.

Melinda Aldrich (2007–2010)

Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University

genetic admixture and lung function in African Americans

Marc Via (2007–2010)

Assistant Professor, University of Barcelona

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Shweta Choudhry (2003–2009)

Assistant Professor, UCSF

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Clarence Gillett (2006–2008)

Research Scientist, DOW Chemical

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Hui Ju Tsai (2003–2006)

Assistant Professor,
Northwestern University

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Natasha Coyle (2003–2004)

Research Scientist, Applied Bio Systems

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Graduate students

Who, years mentored


Main research

Andreas Neophytou (2015–2017)

Postdoctoral, fellow

Environmental and genetic risk factors for common chronic diseases, effects of air pollution exposures on childhood asthma

Sonia Carlson (2015)

Medical Resident, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Social and environmental stress, biomarkers of inflammation, and asthma; health disparities in asthma

Melissa Spear (2012–2014)

PhD Student, Biomedical Sciences

Genetics of complex traits, genome-wide association studies, pharmacogenetics, statistical genetics, population genetics, admixture mapping

Smriti Singh (2014)

Medical Student

Socioeconomic, genetic, and environmental factors of health influencing asthma outcomes in minority populations; increasing access to healthcare for underrepresented populations in urban areas; health economics

Katherine Nishimura (2011–2014)

Senior Biostatistician at Cancer Research and Biostatistics

Environmental and genetic risk factors for common chronic diseases, effects of air pollution exposures on childhood asthma

Christopher Gignoux (2008–2013)

Associate Professor, University of Colorado Denver

population genetics

Katherine Drake (2006–2012)

in industry

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Max Seibold (2004–2008)

Associate Professor, NJH

genetics of lung disease

Anthony De Giacomo (2006–2008)

Orthopedic Surgery, Boston University

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Ronnie Sebro (2005–2008)

Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Undergraduate students

Who, years mentored


Main research

Priscilla Zhang (2020-2022) Clinical Research Coordinator, UCSF Molecular and genetic epidemiology, genetic and epigenetic factors in the development of different forms of asthma, epigenetic effects on mother and infant from maternal stressors during pregnancy
Brian Plotkin (2018-2019) Undergraduate, Case Western Reserve University Asthma and viral-infections in admixed populations
Annie Li (2017-2019) Undergraduate, University of Michigan Asthma in admixed populations; drug response; gene-gene interactions, and genetic variant associations
Andy Zeiger (2016-2019) Medical Student, Thomas Jefferson University Gene-environment interactions, population genetics, health disparities in clinical research, genetic determinants of telomere length

Oona Risse-Adams (2016-2018)

Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Asthma in admixed populations; drug response; gene-gene interactions, and genetic variant associations

Pagé Goddard (2015–2018)

Graduate student, Stanford University

Genetics of complex traits, asthma and drug response in admixed populations, differential gene expression and genetic variant associations

Elizabeth Castellanos (2010–2014)

Medical Student, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

social and environmental determinants of asthma in minority youth, clinical recruitment

Natalie Battle (2004–2006)

Physician, Washington University

asthma pharmacogenetics

Vanessa Aguilera (2009)

Director of Enterprise Operations, Semler Scientific, Inc

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Mariam Naqvi (2004–2006)

Ob-gyn Physician, Stanford University

asthma pharmacogenetics

Keyan Salari (2003–2005)

Urology Physician, Stanford

genetics, admixture, and asthma

Stacy Ly (2001–2003)

Physician, Davis, California

genetics, admixture, and asthma




Leandro Guerrero (2016)

Hitachi Chemical Advanced Therapeutics Solutions, LLC

Joan Balayan (2012–2015)

Pharmacy Student, UCSD

Lisa Caine, RT (2006–2015) Respiratory Therapist, Study Coordinator, Kaiser
Sandra Salazar (2009-2022) Grant Specialist, UCSF

Related link


Image credits: Sam S. Oh, Joshua Galanter