Blavatnik Associates

Blavatnik Associates are graduate students and postdocs chosen through a competitive application process who provide strategy and leadership around Blavatnik Fund applications.

Blavatnik Associates

Robert Amezquita, Ph.D. Candidate

Robert Amezquita is a PhD candidate in the Department of Immunobiology in the Kaech and Kleinstein labs, studying the development of immunological responses that provides us protection from infectious disease and cancer. Utilizing computational methodologies to extract the most from modern high throughput sequencing, he focuses on leveraging a genome-wide, systems biology approach to gain new insights into CD8+ T cells, a key player in our immune systems which mediates potent antiviral and antitumour immunity. Robert is a recipient of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellowship and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. As a data scientist, Robert was a member of the team awarded a Grand Prize at the Center for Biomedical and Interventional Technology’s Data Science Marathon for work in predicting acute myocardial infarction patient readmissions. In addition, Robert works to reach out to the broader community, promoting (data) science to younger generations through Yale Splash teaching days, and as a Yale Online Education Innovation grant recipient, crafted a web app to help teach data science through interactive modules. As a graduate of University of California - San Diego’s Bioengineering program, Robert has always been passionate about the translation of science from bench to bedside, harnessing a broad education ranging from fluid dynamics to biomaterials in the hopes of pushing forward tomorrow’s cures.

Mary Burke, Ph.D. Candidate
Interdepartmental Neuroscience

Mary Burke is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program studying the neurobiology of obesity. The goal of her thesis work is to evaluate the therapeutic potential of a novel target for restoring gut-brain communication in overweight and obese patients. Beyond the lab, Mary is a strong advocate for science outreach and education. She served as director of the Neuroscience Outreach Group and Brain Education Day at Yale, and has also worked to create opportunities for Yale students and post-docs to learn about entrepreneurship in the life sciences. Prior to attending Yale, she graduated from Oberlin College with a BA degree in Neuroscience and French. Outside of her professional interests, she enjoys yoga, running, and singing a cappella.

Colby Keistler, Ph.D. Candidate
Interdepartmental Neuroscience

Colby Keistler is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, where she studies the neurobiology of alcoholism. Her projects are aimed at understanding the neural pathways that underlie relapse in recovering alcoholics, with the goal of translating these discoveries into improved therapeutic strategies. Colby is the recipient of several awards, including a Gruber Science Fellowship, a Kavli Neuroscience Fellowship, and a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA). She is also involved with the Biomedical Careers Committee, which provides career development resources and opportunities to the biomedical community at Yale. Prior to attending Yale, Colby graduated magna cum laude with a BS degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry from Duke University. Outside of her professional interests, she enjoys traveling, cooking and yoga.

Farhan Murshed, Med. Student 2017

Farhan Murshed is a fourth year medical student at Yale School of Medicine and NIH-NHLBI Research Fellow in the Yale Department of Biomedical Engineering. His primary research publications are in oncology and infectious disease at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a Graduate Affiliate of Berkeley College at Yale and earned his AB from Harvard University.

Joori Park, Ph.D. Candidate
Molecular, Cellular & Dev. Biology

Joori Park is a sixth year PhD candidate in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. She investigates how insects sense the world by understanding the gustatory system in fruit flies. Besides science, she is interested in business and student government. She currently serves as the Graduate and Professional Student Senate Professional Development Committee Chair, and was a former Graduate Student Assembly Chair. Prior to attending Yale, Joori graduated from Stanford. Outside of her professional interests, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and baking.

Santiago Salazar, Ph.D. Candidate

Santiago is a PhD candidate in the department of Genetics at Yale University’s School of Medicine. His project in Dr. Stephen Strittmatter’s lab includes investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Before coming to Yale, Santiago studied breast cancer and mammary gland development as an undergraduate researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Santiago was also co-founder of Anthos Pharmaceuticals; a Yale startup looking to commercialize a novel Alzheimer’s therapeutic through the NIH Neuro Startup Challenge. Along with his sustained commitment to translational research, Santiago brings to the Yale Canaan partnership his passion for entrepreneurship.

Milica Vukmirovic, Ph.D.
Assoc. Research Scientist, Pulmonary

Milica Vukmirovic is a Associate Research Scientist at the Yale School of Medicine where she works on a platform for functional transcriptomics, and leads translational research projects to identify transcriptomic profiles of lung diseases such as: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and Sarcoidosis. She has published in MCB, Circ Cardiovasc Genetics, and other journals, and assisted in preparing successful grant applications and business plans for ventures in early stage of development. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow & Project Manager at the International Centre for Health Innovation, Ivey Business School, Canada, where she evaluated a potential for inventions to be adopted into the health care sector. She received a PhD in Life Sciences from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and was a Postdoctoral Associate at Florida State University, College of Medicine, where she actively supported the development of postdoctoral and entrepreneurial programs.