Our Team

Dr. Brian Lee

Brian Lee, MD PhD
Interim Director of the USC/Caltech MD-PhD Program
Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
Associate Director of the USC Neurorestoration Center

Dr. Brian Lee is the Interim Director of USC/Caltech MD/Ph.D Program and Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Dr. Lee earned his MD at USC and Ph.D in computational neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He underwent neurosurgery residency training at USC, followed by a fellowship in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) with Drs. Philip Starr and Edward Chang. He is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. Dr. Lee is the Principal Investigator of an NIH-funded research laboratory focused on human neurophysiology, particularly in epilepsy and movement disorders. Dr. Lee is an expert in neurophysiological brain recordings and stimulation using advanced intracranial subdural electrocorticography (ECoG) and stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) monitoring techniques. He specializes in implanting neuromodulation devices (VNS, RNS, DBS) for the treatment of neurological disorders. Dr. Lee’s research program develops neurorestorative technologies and cognitive-based brain-computer interface (BCI) devices for patients with epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. Key projects include modelling seizure activity in epilepsy, identifying biomarkers in Parkinson’s disease, and engineering artificial sensation through direct cortical stimulation for use in a closed-loop BCI system.

Paul W. Sternberg, PhD

Paul W. Sternberg, PhD
Caltech Co-Director of MD-PhD Program

Paul Sternberg graduated from Hampshire College in 1978 and joined the Biology Department at M.I.T. for his Ph.D., which he received in 1984. His graduate work on the Genetic Control of Nematode Development was under the supervision of H. Robert Horvitz. He then pursued postdoctoral research on yeast mating type with Ira Herskowitz at UCSF, and returned to C. elegans when he joined the Caltech Biology Division faculty in 1897 where he is now Bren Professor of Biology. He is Member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served on the U.S. National Advisory Council for Genome Research, and as President of the Genetics Society of America. He was an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1989 – 2017. He became lead-PI of WormBase in 1999, lead-PI of the Alliance of Genome Resources in 2016, and is a PI of the Gene Ontology Consortium. At Caltech, he led the Biology graduate Option for several years and co-founded the BioEngineering graduate Option. He has also co-founded two experimental scholarly communication platforms: WormBook and microPublication Biology.
His research focuses on the systems biology, genetics and genomics of Caenorhabditis elegans and other nematodes. Specific areas of recent interest are: How does the 302-neuron worm brain assess the future environment based on computation of sensory and physiological inputs?, Does the male worm have a neural representation of its mating partner?, How can we best predict gene expression from DNA sequence?, What are the functional consequences of de novo genetic variants found in individual with autism spectrum disorder?. What changes in the nervous system occur during sleep?, How do cells migrate accurately during development?, and What is the molecular genetic basis for animal-microbe symbiosis? His research seeks to understand how are the properties of an organism – its development, physiology and behavior – are encoded in its genome. His laboratory primarily use molecular genetics of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans but also apply proteomics, computational biology, biochemistry, cell biology, imaging, behavioral analysis, optogenetics, synthetic biology to not only C. elegans but also parasitic nematodes, budding yeast, mice, jellyfish, fungi, and human cells as needed.

Their major strategy is to perturb the activity of one or more genes and measure how cells or animals misbehave to infer gene function and genetic pathways. We measure gene expression by RNA-seq and transgenic reporters; we measure behavior using automated systems and optogenetics. We focus on intercellular signals and their transduction by the responding cell into transcriptional outputs. Many of the genes we have identified are the nematode counterparts of human genes, and we are leveraging C. elegans molecular genetics to study human genes with no actionable information and of the consequence of variants found in human individuals, including those with autism spectrum disorder. Nematodes are major health and agricultural problems, so we focus on parasite relevant biology such as dauer/infective juvenile development, using genomics and molecular genetics.

He has two children, one a mid-20s college graduate and the other an elementary school student, both of whom provide continual insight into the student perspective on education.

Roland V. RapanotRoland V. Rapanot
Program Manager
MD-PhD Program
Elizabeth AyalaElizabeth Ayala
Caltech, Biology Graduate Option Administrator
MD-PhD Program
Raina BeavenRaina Beaven
Caltech, Staff Support Associate
MD-PhD Program