Our Team


Timothy A Blenkinsop, PhD

Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor

TimBluePic1crop copyTimothy is the Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor in the departments of Cell, Development and Regenerative Biology and Ophthalmology, member of the Black Family Stem Cell Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Hong Leong visiting professor at the National University of Singapore. He received his PhD from New York University Medical Center under the mentorship of Dr. Eric Lang, directed by Rodofo Llinàs. He then became a post-doctoral fellow at the Neural Stem Cell Institute under the leadership of Dr. Sally Temple. Dr. Blenkinsop leads a team focused on understanding the plasticity of the retina in the effort to develop therapies for retina based eye diseases. He is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and International Society for Stem Cell Research. Dr. Blenkinsop has authored publications in journals including Cell Stem Cell, Journal of Neuroscience and Stem Cell Reports, which have been highlighted in Nature in Cell.



Marie Fernandes, PhD

Senior Research Associate

Marie PictureCrop1Marie completed her PhD in Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology at Universite de la Mediterranee, France. For her postdoctoral work, she joined Veronica van Heyningen lab at the MRC, Human Genetics Unit, in Edinburgh, UK, where she studied the control of PAX6 during eye development. She furthered her interest in developmental biology and neuroscience by joining Nadia Dahmane lab at Institut de Biologie du Development de Luminy, France, where she studied a new modulator of Sonic Hedgehog pathway during cerebellar development and tumorigenesis. She then moved to the US to join the lab of Lee Niswander, HHMI, at Memorial Sloan Kettering, NY, where she studied neural tube defects (NTD) by using ENU-mutagenesis in mice and forward genetics to identify new genes and pathways involved in NTD. Next in Jean Hebert lab, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY, she focused on embryonic neural development using conditional knockout mice. In particular she studied the role of the BMP and FGF pathways in forebrain and cerebellar development. Since 2014, in Tim Blenkinsop lab, she is investigating how human adult RPE cells can be manipulated to treat patients with ocular degenerative, aging and genetic diseases.

Marie also worked as a Medical Writer and a Scientific Administrator. She was born and raised in Marseille, France, and she lives in Brooklyn.


Lauren Schiff

Graduate Student


Lauren is a PhD Candidate in the Biomedical Sciences department at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Her thesis focuses on isolating retinal pigment epithelial stem cells and modeling Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy, a blinding disease of the retina. Lauren also works on developing retinal transplantation methods to improve vision. Prior to graduate school, Lauren worked as a research scientist in the lab of Dr. Paul Frenette at Albert Einstein College of Medicine studying the hematopoietic stem cell niche. A California native, Lauren received her Master of Science from the University of Sydney and her Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In her free time, Lauren enjoys surfing and hiking with her dog, Penny.




Bar Nachmani

Graduate Student

nachmb01Bar is a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences department at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She works on human embryonic stem cell differentiation into the eye layers as a model for eye development and disease. Bar also works on generating a CRISPR knock-out cell line that would enable a better understanding of the role of FOXS1 during eye development. Bar grew up in Israel, and completed her high-school education in the UK. She received her Bachelor of Science from University of Toronto in Canada, were she was involved in generating mouse iPSC lines through a secondary reprogramming system in the lab of Dr. Andras Nagy. Outside of school, Bar enjoys yoga and exploring the vibrant New York food scene.