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Principal Investigator Heading link

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Peñalver Bernabé, Beatriz

“Dr. Peñalver Bernabé is a chemical and biological engineer applying systems biology approaches into regenerative medicine for more than 10 years. Broadly, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé has a great interest in dynamic biological processes (developmental processes, disease progression and treatment), especially those with applications in women’s healthcare. After 8 years working in the polymeric industry, leading several high-profile research and development projects that render multiple patents, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé returned to academia to work in applications for translational and regenerative medicine.

Since 2009, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé has been focused in developing statistical and computational platforms to analyze the evolution and treatment of breast cancer, the dynamical effects of mechano-transduction into cellular programs and ovarian follicle development in vivo and in vitro. Her recent research has been focused on the host-microbial interactions during pregnancy and postpartum, with initial studies in perinatal depression and anxiety. In all those projects, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé has been collaborating with very inter-disciplinary teams, composed by doctors and clinicians, experimentalists, statisticians and computational experts from US and internationally.”


Read Dr. Peñalver Bernabé’s CV here

Clinical Coordinators Heading link

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Cat Conway

“Catherine is a master’s student in the Graduate Program for Neuroscience and the clinical research coordinator for the MoMent: Moms & Mental Health research study. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a dual BS in Biology and Molecular/Cellular Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. Catherine has strong interests in women’s mental and physical health during pregnancy and the postpartum.”



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Nandi Tumbayar 

Email: nandit2@uic.ed

Graduate Students Heading link

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Suzanne Alvernaz

“Suzanne Alvernaz is a 5th year MD/PhD student currently in her 3rd year of the Bioinformatics PhD program at the University of Illinois Chicago. She completed her BS in Microbiology from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2018. Suzannes research focuses on using multi systems biological approaches to study changes in mood and brain functionality during pregnancy and postpartum. Outside of research, Suzanne founded the Infectious Disease medical student group at UIC in 2019 that was awarded the ID Student Interest Groups Grant Award from the Infectious Disease Society of America Foundation for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suzanne also actively works as a run lead with the Mobile Migrant Health Team, a student lead organization providing primary care for unhoused migrants in Chicago” 


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Yongchao Huang
“Yongchao Huang is a 1st year PhD candidate in the Bioinformatics program, graduated from the University of Iowa with a BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering focus tracking in bioinformatics and a minor in computer science.
He has a strong interest in artificial intelligence and a desire to develop and utilize the machine learning tools to understand and diagnose the mental disorder in close relationship with genetics and system biology. Learning through this field and applying his strengths to healthcare industry is his future goal. Besides, in his spare time, he has tremendous enthusiasm in sports and music, especially in tennis and classical music.”
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Emma Lee

“Emma is a third year PhD student in Bioinformatics. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelors of Science in Bioengineering in May of 2021. She is interested in utilizing genome-scale metabolic models to better understand metabolic differences that result from age and sex chromosome complement. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and cooking.”


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Blake Williams

“Blake is a second year PhD candidate in the Bioinformatics program. She is interested in utilizing single-cell sequencing and spatial proteomic/metabolomic technologies to understand cell-cell communications and how they change with aging.

Blake graduated from Santa Clara University with a BS and MS in Bioengineering with a focus in biomolecular and protein engineering. She has more than 10 years of experience working in a wet lab, including 7 years at an early-stage drug discovery start-up focused on discovering peptide-mimetics for cytokine receptors. Blake has experience with a wide range of wet lab skills, including cell culture, molecular biology, and flow cytometry. She decided to return to academia to pursue her interest in translational research.”




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Maigh Attre

“Maigh is a first year PhD student in the department of Biomedical Engineering and third year MD/PhD student co-advised by Dr. Bea Peñalver Bernabé and Dr. Alex Leow. Maigh is interested on computational approaches to research for historically medically underserved populations especially mental health changes during reproductive stages. Outside the lab, Maigh likes to knit, read, and try new coffee shops in Chicago.


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Ainsley Tran

“Ainsley is a first year graduate student in the Graduate Program of Neuroscience and a third year MD/PhD student in UIC’s MSTP. She received her BA from Washington University in St. Louis in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology. While there, she conducted research on apolipoprotein E in Alzheimer’s disease. She is interested in understanding the gut-brain access in mental health and how the gut microbiota can be targeted to advance therapeutics for mood disorders. In her free time, Ainsley enjoys rock climbing, watching anime, and trying new breweries.


Undergraduate Students Heading link

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Nivedha Senthil

“Nivedha is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a planned concentration in Bioinformatics. Additionally, she is also a member of the Honors College and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Student Journal and, in her free time, loves to run and play piano. After graduation, she plans to pursue medical school and continue to research in mental health and genetics.” 


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Urvi Dubey

“Urvi is an undergraduate student who is pursuing a dual degree in neuroscience and economics. Her goal is to pursue an MD and advocate for healthcare equality. As a research assistant, she focuses on performing EEGs and data management.” 


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Saba Ali

“Saba Ali is a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering. She is interested in bioinformatics and mental health. As a research assistant, her work focuses on perinatal mood disorders and the process of metabolic modeling. ” 


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Sakina Ghatalah 

” Sakina is a junior at UIC majoring in Political Science and minoring in Biological Sciences and Chemistry. At UIC, she is an intern at the UIC Heritage Garden, a member of the Honors College, and a member of the sustainability fee board. She also like to volunteer and organize events to increase access to education, food, and healthcare with Who is Hussain Chicago, a nonprofit she is on the executive board for. She hopes to contribute to research being done on women with hormonal imbalances or conditions like PCOS and overall advocate for intersectionality in women healthcare. ” 

Email: sghata2@uic.ed

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Madison Ferris 

” Madison is a third year biomedical engineering undergraduate student at UIC. She is a member of the Honors college and plays for the UIC Women’s Soccer team. Her work in the BeaLab enables her to pursue her interests in studying biomechanics and bioinformatics.” 


Alumni Heading link

Clinical Coordinators 

  • Brianna Betzaida Davíd
  • Unnathi Nagelli
  • Julia A. Camardo 
  • Cara L. Wolfe, BSN-RN

Graduate Students 

  • Ashwin Koppayi
  • Akanksha Dilip Khedekar
  • Suha Mohiuddin

Undergraduate Students 

  • Chandhana Voleti 
  • Maryam Ahmad
  • Rey Fowler
  • Loren Escot
  • Andrea Lopez
  • Rene Sieracki
  • Nelofer Arjumand
  • Shivani Senguttuvan
  • Andrea Ohk