Sonia M. Vallabh
Principal Investigator
Sonia’s scientific mission is to develop a treatment for prion disease. Besides therapeutic development, her research focuses on the biomarkers, models, tools, assays, patient cohorts, and datasets that will enable translation of therapeutics in the clinic. She earned her Ph.D. from Harvard in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, under Stuart Schreiber. Sonia also holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She retrained as a scientist after learning in 2011 that she had inherited the PRNP D178N mutation that causes genetic prion disease, and had claimed her mother’s life the year before. Outside of the lab, Sonia also co-runs the scientific nonprofit Prion Alliance.
Eric Vallabh Minikel
Principal Investigator
Eric is Sonia’s husband. He followed Sonia into biomedicine to join the quest for a cure. He trained on human genomics in the MacArthur Lab and on chemical biology in the Schreiber Lab and earned his Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from Harvard. He blogs at and tweets as @cureffi.
Meredith Mortberg
Research Associate
Meredith is a research associate working on in vivo characterization of therapeutic drug activity and the validation of novel chemical assays which will ultimately aid in the treatment of prion disease. She graduated from University of Texas at Dallas in 2019 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Previously, she spent two years working as an undergraduate research assistant investigating the effect of stress on memory consolidation in anxiety disorders.
Juliana Gentile
Postdoctoral Associate
Juliana is a postdoctoral associate studying the effects of prion protein-lowering therapy in vivo. Prior to working at the Broad Institute, she earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in Dr. Tony Koleske’s Lab at Yale University, where she studied mechanisms of actin regulation in dendritic spines.
Taylor Corridon
Research Associate
Taylor is a research associate assisting in studying the effects of prion protein-lowering therapy in vivo. She graduated from James Madison University in 2021 with a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Pre-Professional Health studies and a concentration in neuroscience. Previously, she spent two years as an undergraduate research assistant studying the tunable band gap potentials of c3 heme cytochrome mutants in order to work towards creating a conventional semiconductor.
Vanessa Laversenne
Research Scientist
Vanessa is a research scientist working on drug development strategies for prion disease. She has studied neurodegenerative diseases for 10 years with the mission of bringing therapeutics one step closer to the patient. Prior joining the Broad, she trained as a biotech engineer in Switzerland and specialized in Alzheimer’s disease and immunotherapy during her Ph.D. studies at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). She moved to the U.S. in 2019 to investigate the mechanisms of aging in Alzheimer’s disease as part of the Mair lab at the Harvard School of Public Health. She joined the Broad institute in 2022 in order to be closer to translational science and do research that will benefit patients in the near future.
Ethan Jeremy Cynder Walker
Postdoctoral Associate
Ethan is a postdoctoral associate working on discovering small-molecule therapeutics for prion disease using a blend of high-throughput screening and focused biochemistry. Prior to joining the Broad Institute, they earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry in the lab of Professor Sina Ghaemmaghami at the University of Rochester, studying protein unfolding in mammalian cells and thermophilic bacteria using methionine oxidation and proteomics methodologies.
Raja Mohan Gopalakrishnan
Postdoctoral Associate
Raja is a postdoctoral associate working to understand the normal functions of prion protein and exploring strategies to lower its expression. He graduated in microbiology and completed his PhD on eukaryotic gene expression of enzymes. Before joining the Broad, he completed two years of postdoctoral training at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Boston, studying the immune and inflammatory changes occurring during acute SIV infection of rhesus macaques.

Lab alumni:

  • Andrew G. Reidenbach. Research Scientist 2017-2022. Principal Scientist, Magnet Biomedicine.
  • Prof. Cristina Nonato. Visiting scholar 2017-2018. Professor, University of São Paolo.
  • Francesca Pavlovici. Intern 2017. PhD Student, University of California Santa Cruz.
  • Stacy G. Guzman. Intern 2017. Medical Student, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Rishi N. Shah. Intern 2016. Cyber Operations Officer, U.S. Army.