Research Team


Joyce Tung, PhD
Vice President, Research

Joyce joined 23andMe in 2007 and manages the 23andMe research team, which is responsible for consumer health and ancestry research and development, academic and industry collaborations, computational analyses for therapeutics, and new research methods and tools development. While a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, Joyce studied the genetics of mouse and human pigmentation. She earned her PhD in Genetics from the University of California, San Francisco where she was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow.


David Hinds, PhD
Principal Scientist, Statistical Genetics

David joined 23andMe in 2009. He leads the 23andMe statistical genetics group and works on understanding the role of genetics in disease and complex traits. Prior to 23andMe, he spent nine years at Perlegen Sciences as lead analyst for the company’s genome-wide polymorphism discovery projects and contributed to the International HapMap Project. David earned his PhD in Structural Biology from Stanford University having received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral fellowship.


Joanna L. Mountain, PhD
Senior Director of Research

Joanna joined 23andMe in 2007 and is responsible for overseeing research projects, ensuring the protection of research participants, and developing ancestry product offerings. Prior to joining 23andMe, Joanna earned a PhD in Genetics from Stanford University and served on the faculties of the Anthropological Sciences and Genetics Departments at Stanford. She has been awarded multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and has authored or co-authored over 50 papers in the field of human genetics. Joanna spent two years in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer and continues to be particularly interested in the genetic diversity of Africa.


Catherine Weldon
Survey Research Assistant

Catherine joined 23andMe in 2013 and primarily assists in the creation, implementation, and testing of 23andMe surveys. Before joining 23andMe, she was involved in research focused on the ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding genomics research and personalized medicine at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of California, San Francisco. Catherine earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.


Catherine H. Wilson, PhD
Managing Scientist, Data Collection

Catherine joined 23andMe in 2013 and is responsible for designing and managing online collection of phenotypic, behavioral, and environmental data. This includes surveys, interactive tools such as cognitive tasks and games, passive observational measurement, as well as research participant engagement. Prior to 23andMe, she worked at the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Stanford University and was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. Catherine earned her PhD in Social Science Research from the California Institute of Technology.


Matthew McIntyre, PhD
Senior Scientist, Data Collection

Matthew joined 23andMe in 2013 and is responsible for ensuring the company maintains high-quality information about its research participants’ health and traits in order to conduct innovative genetic research. Previously, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard School of Public Health and taught anthropology at the University of Central Florida, where his research focused on hormones and child growth. Matthew earned his PhD in Anthropology and Master of Science in Epidemiology, both from Harvard University.


Michaela Johnson
Survey Research Assistant

Michaela joined 23andMe in 2015. She assists in data collection through creation, implementation, and testing of surveys. Previously, she worked for the Health Improvement Program and Stanford Prevention Research Center, where she was involved in biometric screening, health counseling, and study recruitment. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Society and Genetics.


Anna Faaborg, MS
Manager, Research Communities

Anna joined 23andMe in 2013 and leads a team of project managers responsible for execution of longitudinal research studies. These studies actively recruit participants with specific conditions, such as lupus, with the goals of uncovering the genetic factors contributing to disease risk, severity, and response to treatments. Previously, she was a project manager at Genentech, where she managed execution of biomarker plans for oncology clinical trials. Anna received a Master’s degree in Genetics and Development from Columbia University.


Carrie Northover, PhD
Director, Research Services

Carrie joined 23andMe in 2013 and leads the Project Management group within the Research team. The group is responsible for executing 23andMe research-related partnerships. Prior to 23andMe, Carrie held IP licensing and contracting positions at UCSF and Genentech. She earned her PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University.


Helen McCurdy
Senior Research Assistant

Helen joined 23andMe in 2013 and serves as a participant liaison for the company’s disease cohorts. In this role, she coordinates, develops, and implements engagement, recruitment, and enrollment strategies. Previously, she worked as a research associate in a neuroscience lab, investigating mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration. Helen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Stanford University.


Laura Russell, MS
Project Manager, Research Communities

Laura joined 23andMe in 2014. She oversees the development of disease communities, such as the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Community. Her responsibilities include Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, advisor and participant engagement, recruitment, surveys, and communications. Prior to 23andMe, she was the project manager for the Stroke Disparities Program at Georgetown University focusing on secondary stroke prevention in a predominantly African American population. She earned a Master’s degree at Georgetown University in Clinical and Translational Research, where she focused on the application of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in clinical settings.


Meghan Moreno
Senior Research Assistant

Meghan joined 23andMe in 2011 and works on disease research initiatives as well as genetic ancestry research. Additionally, she works with the 23andMe Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure the rights of research participants are protected. Prior to 23andMe, Meghan spent two years with the National Institutes of Health in Phoenix, AZ studying genetic components of diabetes and obesity in Pima Indians. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Stanford University.


Nadia Litterman, PhD
Scientist, Project Manager

Nadia joined 23andMe in 2015. She is responsible for managing academic and industry partnerships, communication of 23andMe research findings, and grant-funded programs. Previously, Nadia directed collaborations and grant projects at Collaborative Drug Discovery and performed postdoctoral research screening drugs for neurodegenerative disease in stem cell models. As a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow, she earned her PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard University.


Patricia K. Penton
Research Assistant

Patricia joined 23andMe in 2015 and works to recruit and retain research community participants, primarily for the IBD community. Additionally, she provides engineering support by developing web-based interfaces for engaging research participants. Prior to 23andMe, she was a Microbiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patricia received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from the University of Cincinnati.


Paul Cannon, PhD
Parkinson’s Disease Program Manager

Paul joined 23andMe in 2014 to lead the Parkinson’s disease community. In this role, he aims to increase understanding of the biology of Parkinson’s disease with the ultimate goal of finding therapeutic approaches that can slow or stop disease progression. He has over twenty years experience in pharmaceutical research and development, where he held diverse positions including leading Roche Palo Alto’s CNS drug discovery group. Paul received his PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Calgary.


Michelle Agee, MS
Regulatory Scientist

Michelle joined 23andMe in 2014. Her primary responsibilities are to ensure the protection of the company’s research participants and to make sure 23andMe studies comply with all laws and regulations for each country where research is conducted. Previously, she had a similar role in research ethics and compliance at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. Michelle received a Master’s of Science degree in International Healthcare Management, Economics, and Policy from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.


Sarah Elson, PhD
Senior Scientist, Program Management

Sarah joined 23andMe in 2013 and is responsible for research policy and other program management functions within the research team. Previously, Sarah was the research program manager for the Athena Breast Health Network, a University of California initiative in breast cancer prevention and care. She also worked as a science writer and patent agent at Exelixis, Inc. Sarah earned her PhD in biomedical sciences from the University of California, San Francisco, where she was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow.


Aaron Kleinman, PhD
Computational Biologist

Aaron joined 23andMe in 2013. He is responsible for developing and implementing algorithms to further improve the use of 23andMe genetic data. In addition, he runs statistical analyses to aid the company’s therapeutic discovery efforts. As a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow, he conducted research on the mathematics of phylogenetic reconstruction algorithms. He received his PhD in Mathematics with a Designated Emphasis in Computational and Genomic Biology from University of California, Berkeley.


Fah Sathirapongsasuti, PhD
Computational Biologist

Fah joined 23andMe in 2013. He analyzes research participant data to identify new therapeutic targets through the integration of genomic and biomedical data with the goal of realizing precision medicine. Research Fah conducted for his PhD studies at Harvard – developing the first method to detect copy number variations from exome sequencing data – has been cited more than 100 times. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, he earned the President’s Award for Academic Excellence.


Kasia Bryc, PhD
Computational Biologist

Kasia joined 23andMe in 2014 and is responsible for the statistical methods underlying the company’s ancestry service. Prior to joining 23andMe, she was an National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School. Kasia earned her PhD in Biometry from Cornell University, where her research illuminated the genetic population structure of Africans, and the complex admixture of African Americans and Hispanic/Latino populations.


Nick Furlotte, PhD
Senior Scientist

Nick joined 23andMe in 2013 and works with a small team focused on developing the next generation of 23andMe’s consumer health platform. This team works with various groups across the company to keep 23andMe at the forefront of science and technology and to drive the discovery of genetic variations influencing human traits as well as the development of predictive models for human disease that utilize both genetics, lifestyle and environment. Nick earned his PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and his Master of Science in Bioinformatics from University of Memphis.


Robert Bell, MBA
Senior Bioinformaticist

Robert joined 23andMe in 2013. He develops software and methods to support the company’s research platform with the goal of connecting association test findings with the underlying biology. Prior to 23andMe, Robert worked in quantitative portfolio management and software development at Axa Rosenberg Investment Management LLC. He received an MBA from University of California, Berkeley.

Babak Small

Babak Alipanahi, PhD
Computational Biologist

Babak joined 23andMe in 2015 and is responsible for designing and implementing computer algorithms and machine learning-based tools to analyze large amounts of biological data. He is a member of the Computational Biology and Ancestry R&D teams and collaborates closely with the Therapeutics group. Prior to 23andMe, he was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Toronto where he designed and developed transcriptional regulatory models using deep learning techniques and analyzed implications of genetic mutations on the transcriptome. Babak earned his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo.

Geoff Benton, PhD
Director, Health R&D

Geoff joined 23andMe in 2010 and is responsible for identifying, researching, and developing new health products and features. Previously, he was a venture capital intern at Burrill and Company where he performed due diligence on prospective investments as well as sourced potential new investment deals. Geoff earned his PhD in Cell Biology from the University of California, San Francisco.

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Pierre Fontanillas, PhD
Senior Statistical Geneticist

Pierre joined 23andMe in 2015 and works on understanding the genetic architecture of complex traits. He is responsible for supporting academic and commercial collaborations, and 23andMe therapeutic discovery efforts. Previously, he was a Research Scientist at Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT where he was actively involved in International Sequencing Consortia, and he analyzed the contribution of rare and common genetics variants to metabolic diseases (type 2 diabetes, lipids, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases). Pierre earned his PhD in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.


Shirin Fuller
Project Manager, Research Communities

Shirin joined 23andMe in 2015 and is primarily responsible for ensuring that research community enrollment, participation, and project goals are met through cross-functional collaboration. In addition, she is the project manager for the IBD and lupus studies. Prior to 23andMe, she served as purification lead for developing antibody manufacturing processes for therapeutic candidates to support Phase I-III clinical trials at Genentech. Shirin received her Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley.


Pooja Gandhi, Ed.D
Regulatory Scientist

Pooja joined 23andMe in 2015 and is responsible for IRB compliance and regulation enforcement of multiple research projects. In addition, she manages various IRB submissions. Prior to 23andMe, Pooja was a program manager for human genetic research studies at the University of Pittsburgh where she oversaw a number of initiatives including the 3D Facial Norms Project for NIDCR’s FaceBase Consortium which generates data in support of advancing research into craniofacial development and malformation. She earned her Ed.D. in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a Master’s in Education from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s in Science from the University of Mumbai.


Karl Heilbron, PhD
Computational Biologist

Karl joined 23andMe in 2016 and is dedicated to studying Parkinson’s disease using the vast amounts of genetic and trait data in the 23andMe database. Before 23andMe, he completed his DPhil (PhD) in Zoology at the University of Oxford where he performed experimental evolution in populations of hypermutator bacteria and followed the genomic changes that allowed these populations to adapt to novel environments.


Naomi Iwata, MS
Senior Research Assistant

Naomi joined 23andMe in 2015 and serves as participant liaison for Disease Initiatives, screening and enrolling participants, developing recruitment materials for participant engagement, and providing engineering support for the research studies. Prior to 23andMe, she worked as a Lab Manager/Study Coordinator for the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. Naomi has also worked at the University of Washington as Research Assistant for the Department of Psychiatry. She received her Master of Science in Mental Health Service Population Research from King’s College London.


Faith Kreitzer, PhD
Scientist, Project Manager

Faith joined 23andMe in 2016 and is responsible for developing and managing external research projects with industry partners. Before 23andMe, she worked at the Gladstone Institutes in a number of roles including Technology Licensing Associate and Program Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Faith also completed her postdoctoral training at Gladstone Institutes. She earned her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Washington.

David Pozniak

G. David Poznik, PhD
Computational Biologist, Population Geneticist

David joined 23andMe in 2015 and works to develop and improve methods to learn about customers’ ancestry from their DNA. Prior to 23andMe, he was a graduate student at Stanford, where the primary aim of his research was to study human history using Y-chromosome sequences. Before returning to school, David served as Senior Research Analyst for the Department of Genetics & Epidemiology at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center, where he led the analysis for a number of linkage and GWAS studies aimed at identifying genes underlying diabetic nephropathy. David earned both his PhD in Biomedical Informatics and his Master of Science in Statistics from Stanford University.

Olga S

Olga V. Sazonova, PhD
Computational Biologist

Olga joined 23andMe in 2015, serving as the primary analyst for whole genome sequencing data generated for the 23andMe – Genentech Parkinson’s Disease partnership. Olga works closely with Engineering and other members of the Research group to process, filter, and analyze the thousands of individual genomes generated by this project. Additionally, she is involved in several projects aimed at deepening our understanding of human health through 23andMe customer data. Prior to 23andMe, she was a computational scientist in the translational genomics group at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. Olga received her post-doctoral training as an NRSA fellow at Stanford University, where she worked on the application of next generation sequencing to understanding transcriptional regulation in coronary artery disease. She earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University.

Janie Small

Janie Shelton, PhD
Survey Methodologist

Janie joined 23andMe in 2015 and is responsible for developing novel areas of online data collection and analyzing data on a wide-range of phenotypes. Prior to 23andMe, she worked at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime where she focused on survey methods and analytical techniques to estimate the number of people among various hidden populations. Janie has also worked at the University of California, Davis, investigating environmental causes for the increase in autism spectrum disorders observed in California. Janie earned her PhD in Epidemiology at University of California, Davis and her Masters in Public Health, Biostatistics & Epidemiology from the University of Southern California.


Vladimir Vacic, PhD
Senior Scientist, Computational Biology

Vladimir joined 23andMe in 2015 and manages the Computational Biology group within the Research team. He leads the analysis of research sequencing data and works closely with the Therapeutics team on computational analysis of candidate drug targets. Prior to joining 23andMe, he was one of the founding scientists at the New York Genome Center, where he was leading a cancer genome analysis and computational biology group. Vladimir earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Riverside and trained as a postdoctoral fellow in computational genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Columbia University.

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