Loren Gragert, PhD, A(ACHI) – Principal Investigator, Division of Biomedical Informatics and Genomics
Dr. Gragert primary focus as an Early Stage Investigator at Tulane University School of Medicine is to apply the HLA informatics technologies and registry datasets developed at NMDP towards innovating in HLA genetic association studies in solid organ transplantation and cancer. The high impact translational environment that nurtured his success at NMDP is further enhanced at Tulane with his new proximity to experienced academic researchers and clinicians. His tight-knit relationship with NMDP continues through sponsored projects, and his collaborations with leaders in the field of immunogenetics continues to expand. Dr. Gragert is the Associate Director of the Tulane Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratory, passing the ACHI board exam in September 2022.
Dr. Gragert’s career path in immunogenetics began at the US bone marrow donor registry National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) in the Bioinformatics Research department led by Martin Maiers. His research projects at NMDP translated directly into operational implementations of informatics systems that enabled rapid identification of HLA-matched registry donors. An important early mentor and collaborator was Dr. Bill Klitz from the Department of Genetics at University of California-Berkeley, who gave him comprehensive training in statistical population genetics. He pursued his PhD coursework at University of Minnesota (UMN) while holding a full-time position at NMDP, enabling him to take new computer science and statistical methods straight from the classroom into my projects. He was the second PhD grantee for UMN’s BICB program, which is a unique private-partnership with Mayo Clinic, IBM, and later NMDP aimed at providing advanced training for informatics professionals in industry
D. Giovanni Biagini, PhD Candidate, Biomedical Sciences Program
Gio’s research project involves computational serology, using artificial intelligence coupled with immunogenetics to shed some light on the critical relationship between immunity and organ transplantation. His goal is to develop software tools to better equip physicians, get better outcomes for patients, and improve access and equity in donor-recipient matching.
Grace Williams, PhD, Biomedical Sciences Program
Grace Williams defended her dissertation on the role of HLA mismatching in solid organ transplant recipients in September 2023. Grace previously received BS in Biology from Southeastern Louisiana University where she studied the Systematic Morphometric Geometrics of Imopoema batatas subspecies. Grace enjoys bioinformatics research based in genetics, infectious disease, microbiology, and neurology.
Alyssa Paynter, PhD Student, Biomedical Informatics and Genomics Program
Alyssa Paynter is a 2nd year PhD student working a research project on population genetics and informatics tools to model HLA immunogenetics and kidney allograft outcomes, focusing on integrating models of HLA antigen processing. Alyssa previously received Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomathematics
Marian Little, PhD, Biomedical Sciences Program
Navchetan Kaur, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow
Navchetan acquired bioinformatics skills after joining Gragert Lab in September 2016 as postdoctoral fellow. She has contributed to projects on “Improving Matching Algorithms for Transplantation with HLA Genetics”. She has a PhD in Immunology from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, a tertiary referral center. This has led her to have a prior experience with Immunopathology diagnostics and HLA testing in a histocompatibility lab. In 2019 Dr. Kaur joined the Atul Butte lab at UCSF as a postdoctoral fellow.
Richard Davis – MD/MPH in Biostatistics
Richard explored the opportunity to learn data science and medical informatics when he joined Gragert Lab in August 2016 as MD/MPH student at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He contributed to the immune genes association project, while enhancing his own skillset. An aspiring pathologist, he aims to utilize his data skills for Pathology Informatics. Before joining Tulane, Richard did his B.S from Georgia Institute of Technology. Richard joined the M.D Pathology at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina starting in 2018.