The Team


Dabeiba Bernal-Rubio( Senior Associate Researcher, Laboratory Manager




“My main research area is primary human cells isolations, differentiation and culture as well as DENV infections mainly related with DHIPC ongoing project. Also coordinate different projects in the lab by interacting with all the investigators in the team and providing technical and administrative support.”

tarrell malloy

Tarrell Malloy (

Program Coordinator



“My main role is to manage the multi-investigator project DHIPC, organize conference calls and coordinate all the needs for the different groups involved. I act as the liaison between the investigators and the administrative and financial offices both at ISMMS and the NIH. I also manage all the other projects of Dr. Fernandez-Sesma and assist Dr. Fernandez-Sesma and her team with grant submissions and scheduling”.


 Paula Lopez-Monteagudo PhD  ( Postdoctoral Fellow




“My main research interest lies in the study of the specific interactions between influenza A virus (IAV) and human myeloid cells. Specifically, I am focused in the role that human dendritic cells (DCs) have triggering the inflammatory response as well as initiating the adaptive response during IAV infection. In relation with that, I am also interested in the study of influenza virus virulence factors and how they can modulate the immune system.”


Rafael Fenutria, PhD  ( Postdoctoral Fellow




“My major area of interest is to understand the earliest events that occur when flaviviruses interact with human immune cells, and trying to understand the mechanistic details by which flaviviruses modulate human immune responses. We are also working to develop a novel (improved) mouse model for immunological evaluation of flavivirus infection”.


  Gabe (Laurence) Webb ( PhD Student


I study interactions of the cGAS-STING innate immune sensing pathway with different pathogenic arboviruses. My research goal is to inform the design of vaccines and antivirals by exploring the interplay of host-viral protein-protein interactions and discovery of previously unknown ways in which these viruses evade innate immune sensing.


   Tongtong Zhu( PhD Student





Tongtong Zhu is a Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Dr. Ana Fernandez-Sesma at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the Department of Microbiology. He holds a Masters of Public Health in Health Policy Analysis from Columbia University and graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. His thesis is focused on the molecular aspects of dengue virus innate immune modulation by characterizing the major triggers of innate immunity in human cells during dengue virus infections through the DNA sensor protein cGAS. He currently serves on the board of Rubin Museum in New York City.

Jessica Pintado Silva( PhD Student

I am interested in virus-host interactions on a very detailed level.  My main research focuses on the mechanism of interaction between viral and host proteins and their modulation of immune responses in host cells. Specifically, my work focuses on the characterization of viral proteases and the methods by which they interact, target and inhibit key components of the innate immune system.


Uma Potla, MS, Associate Researcher, 2015-2019

Former Postdoctoral Fellows:

Sebastian Aguirre, PhD
Irene Ramos, PhD
Ana Maestre, PhD
Eric F. Mayer, MD, MSc
Kevin Maringer, PhD
Juan R. Rodriguez-Madoz, PhD
Graduate Students
Tinaye Mutetwa, MSc, (graduated 2019)
Rebecca Hamlin, MD (graduated 2018), PhD (awarded 2016)
Edwin Carbajal, PREP (2015-2017)
Anthony Fredericks, MSBS (graduated 2015)
Sarah Pagni, PhD, MPH  (PhD awarded 2013)
Phoenix Bell, MSBS (2012)
Timothy Savage, MSBS (2010)