Lab Leadership

Viviana Simon, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor | Simon Lab
Director | Personalized Virology Initiative

Dr. Viviana Simon’s research focuses on understanding viral-host interactions in the context of human and viral diversity. She is interested in the mode of action of known (APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases, SAMHD1) and novel retroviral restriction factors as well as the corresponding HIV, SIV and HTLV antagonists. In addition, she studies the mechanisms driving HIV-1 drug resistance, the role of copy number variation within immune system genes and develop tools to study HIV latency and anti-sense transcription at the single cell level. Her research has been continuously funded by NIH/NIAID since 2003. In addition to conducting basic research, she serves the community by mentoring and teaching. Not only is she a member of the M.D./Ph.D. Admissions committee, but she is also Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute Seminar Series and since 2016, the Director of the Personalized Virology Initiative.

Faculty Page        PubMed          viviana.simon@mssm.edu

Lubbertus Mulder, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor | Mulder Lab

Dr. Lubbertus Mulder is a research assistant professor in the Microbiology Department at ISMMS and joined the Simon lab in 2006. Prior to that he received his formal education and initial training in Italy, (University of Milan, European Joint Research Center Ispra, and the Institute for Immunobiological Research Siena now GSK). He did his post-doctoral work at the Skirball Intitute at NYU Medical Center, and at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center where he trained in molecular virology. His research interest include the interaction of host factors with HIV-1, the impact of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) on HIV-1 life cycle, the use of ERVs as molecular markers of different pathological states.

Faculty Page        PubMed          lubbertus.mulder@mssm.edu

Giulio Kleiner, Ph.D.

Lab Manager & Post Doctoral Fellow 

Dr. Kleiner is the lab manager for the Simon lab since joining in 2019. Prior to joining Mount Sinai Dr. Kleiner achieved a Masters in Medical Biotechnologies and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience – Neurobiology at the University of Trieste in Trieste, Italy. Dr. Kleiner worked in different fields of the neurosciences. His PhD thesis was centered on an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, his first postdoc was focused on the rare genetic disease “Mevalonate Kinase Deficiency” and, finally, Dr. Kleiner’s research at Columbia University investigated the role of sulfide oxidation impairment in the pathogenesis of primary CoQ deficiency.

Outside of the lab Dr. Kleiner enjoys scuba diving and playing rugby!

PubMed              giulio.kleiner@mssm.edu

Komal Srivastava, M.S.

Clinical Research Manager 

Ms. Srivastava joined the Simon Lab in 2020 as the clinical research manager focusing on operations and managament for the Personalized Virology Initiative. Prior to joining the lab, Komal worked at Mount Sinai for the Program for the Protection of Human Subjects and then for the Leni & Peter W. May Department of Orthopedics. Komal earned her bachelors in Economics and Sociocultural Anthropology from University of California, Davis and then achieved her Masters in Health Care Delivery & Leadership from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Outside of the lab Komal enjoys dance, travelling (especially where beaches are involved) and party planning!

komal.srivastava@mountsinai.org

Post Doctoral Fellows

Grace Eunhye Kim, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Kim joined the Simon laboratory in 2019. She received her Ph.D. degree from Seoul National University, Republic of Korea. Her doctoral thesis focused on immunology and the characterization of anti-inflammatory drugs. Prior to joining the Simon laboratory, Dr. Kim was a permanent full-time employee as a senior research scientist at the International Vaccine Institute for 7 years during which she focused her research efforts on developing vaccines against infectious diseases such as Shigella and influenza for developing countries. Dr. Kim‘s research explored single dose, mucosal vaccination strategies based on live-attenuated vaccines to achieve long-lived heterosubtypic immunity against Shigella and influenza viruses. At Mount Sinai, Dr. Kim’s current research efforts are focused on examining the susceptibility of CD4+ T memory stem cells to infection and examining approaches to prevent this cell type from becoming an HIV reservoir.

eunhye.kim@mssm.edu

Lab Members

Hala Alshammary, M.S.

Associate Researcher

Hala is an accomplished scientist who completed her Masters from New York University. Hala specializes in coordinating lab experiments and working with the Pathogen Surveillance Program.

hala.alshammary@mssm.edu

Angela Amoako, M.S.

Associate Researcher 

Prior to joining the Simon Lab, Angela accomplished her Bachelors in Biology from St. Olaf College and achieved her Masters in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin. Angela’s research interests center on infectious diseases and their causative agents. Angela plans on building a career in science and medicine by becomeing a physician scientist.

angela.amoako@mssm.edu

Katherine Beach, B.S.

Clinical Research Assistant

Prior to joining the Simon Lab, Katie accomplished her Bachelors in Science in Psychology with a double minor in French and Neuroscience from Haverford College. Her research interests center on COVID-19, Addiction and Depression and plans to explore further developing a career in the sciences by pursuing graduate studies.

Outside of the lab, Katie’s interests include running and cats!

katherine.beach@mssm.edu

María Carolina Bermúdez González, M.P.H.

Study Coordinator 

Carolina joined the Simon Lab in 2016. She completed her Masters degree in Public Health from the ISMMS. Prior to her Masters degree, Carolina worked as research technician in different laboratories at NYU studying malaria parasites. Currently she coordinates the Personalized Virology Initiative.

Outside of the lab you can spot Carolina biking around town, her other interests also focus on camping and vertical indoor farming!

maria.bermudez-gonzalez@mssm.edu

Gianna Cai, BA

Clinical Research Assistant

Gianna joined the Simon Lab in 2021. She accomplished her Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry at Mount Holyoke College. Her research interests primarily include vaccine responses among immunosuppressed populations and in the future, Gianna plans on attending medical school.

Outside of the lab, Gianna enjoys baking and bubble tea!

yuhan.cai@mssm.edu

Daniel Caughey, BS

Administrative Coordinator

Daniel accomplished his BS in Health Policy and Management from Providence College, including a program in Copenhagen, Denmark studying Healthcare Delivery and Prioritization. Prior to his time in the Simon Lab, Daniel worked as a Medical Team Associate in the Boston Children’s Hospital NICU. His research interests include Epidemiology and Global Health, which he hopes to study further in Graduate School in the near future.

Outside of the lab, Daniel enjoys running, hiking, and dogs!

daniel.caughey@mssm.edu

Christian Cognigni, BA

Associate Researcher

Christian accomplished his Bachelors of Arts in Biology with a minor in history from New York University, awarded with the Garcilaso De La Vega Prize in Latin American History. His research interests span microbial drug resistance and pathogenesis. In the future, Christian plans to attend graduate school and conduct his own research in Microbiology.

Outside the lab, Christian enjoys cooking and reading books!

christian.cognigni@mssm.edu

Charles Gleason, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator 

Charles achieved his Bachelors of Science from Brown University and completed post graduate training in data science. His research interests span synthetic biology and data structures!

Outside of the lab Charles is passionate for biophysics, mountains, and pie! (Especially ones he has made)

charles.gleason@mssm.edu

Neko Lyttle, BA

Clinical Research Coordinator

Neko achieved his Bachelors of Arts in Biology and plans to pursue a career in clinical research! Neko is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Clinical Trial Management

neko.lyttle@mssm.edu

Jake Mauldin, B.S.

Clinical Research Assistant

Jake accomplished his B.S. in Global Public Health from New York University. His research interests include Health Policy and Environmental Health. In the future, he plans on expanding his knowledge in graduate school.

Outside of the lab, Jake enjoys coaching, basketball, and e-sports!

jacob.mauldin@mssm.edu

Brian Monahan, MS

Associate Researcher

Brian accomplished his MS in Public Health with a focus in Epidemiology from University of Massachusetts Amherst, and his BS in Microbiology from University of Maine. His research interests include virology, immunology, genetics, biostatistics, epidemiology, and public health. Eventually, he would like to pursue a PhD in either virology, epidemiology, genetics or biostatistics.

Outside of the lab, Brian enjoys photography, cooking, climbing.

brian.monahan@mssm.edu

Annika Oostenink

Clinical Research Assistant

Annika completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Sociology at Tulane University. Her research interests include COVID-19, addiction, and neurodegenerative diseases. In the future, Annika plans to attend medical school and hopes to become a Psychiatrist that works within prison populations. In her free time, Annika loves to hangout with friends and cook new recipes.

annika.oostenink@mssm.edu

Jose Polanco, BS

Associate Researcher

Jose accomplished his Bachelors of Science in Public Health from Syracuse University. His research interests span microbiology, cardiology, and genomics. In the future, he plans on becoming an orthopedic surgeon!

In his free time, Jose enjoys playing sports, video games, and spending time with his friends.

jose.polanco@mountsinai.org

Aria Rooker, BS

Associate Researcher

Aria accomplished her B.S. in Genomics and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, host genetic regulation of infectious diseases and cancer genetics and epigenetics. In the future, Aria plans to attend medical school and incorporate research into her career as a physician, with current plans to either specialize in infectious diseases or oncology.

Outside of the lab, Aria enjoys spending time outdoors, whether that be playing soccer, hiking, or snowboarding!

aria.rooker@mssm.edu

Ashley-Beathrese Salimbangon, BA

Clinical Research Assistant

Ashley accomplished her Bachelors of Arts from Princeton University. Her research background lies at the intersection of immunology and neurology. As an undergraduate, Ashley’s senior thesis investigated the innate immune responses of neurons to viral infections, specifically alphaherpesviruses. She is fundamentally interested in exploring the nuances of virology through a pathophysiological approach. Ashley hopes to pursue a career in medicine, where I am able to fuse my scientific interests in immunology.

Outside of the lab Ashley’s passions include Lacrosse and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

ashley-beathrese.salimbangon@mssm.edu

Morgan van Kesteren, B.A.

Clinical Research Assistant

Morgan accomplished her B.A. in Classical Studies from Colgate University. Her research interests include viral pathogenesis, vaccines, bone pathology, and effectiveness of surgical techniques. Morgan’s future plans include attending medical school and pursuing a career in pediatric orthopedic surgery.

Outside of the lab, Morgan enjoys sailing, hiking, playing soccer, singing, and baking with friends!

morgan.vankesteren@mssm.edu

Graduate Students

Arman Azad

Medical Student, BA

Arman achieved his Bachelors in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University. He is interested in immune responses to infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Arman is currently working on a project evaluating responses to SARS-CoV-2 in people with HIV, including antibody responses to vaccination and natural infection. He will be finishing up medical school at Mount Sinai before heading off to residency!

In his spare time, he loves biking around New York City and venturing out on longer rides upstate!

arman.azad@icahn.mssm.edu

Emma McGregor, BS

PhD Student

Emma completed her bachelors degree in biology from the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA) in 2016. Currently, Emma is working to understand the role of APOBEC3A in blocking HIV infection and is using computational approaches to understand the role of human endogenous retroviruses in gene regulation in the context of HIV.

emma.mcgregor@icahn.mssm.edu

Volunteers

Mahmoud Awawda, M.S.

Volunteer Associate Researcher

Prior to his time in the Simon Lab, Mahmoud achieved his Masters of Science in Analytical Chemistry.

Mahmoud.awawda@mssm.edu

Nina Damiecki

Volunteer

Nina is a volunteer in the Simon Lab currently working towards a BA in Psychology at The New School Eugene Lang. Her research interests are in neuroscience, specifically in the monitoring and early detection of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Her future plans are to graduate and attend medical school. She also runs a program called “Connections” where she partners psychology students from The New School with senior citizens who are a part of Greenwich House, a local organization, to create meaningful bidirectionally beneficial and intergenerational relationships. The hope is to give psychology students first-hand experience in geriatrics and to learn more about memory while the seniors gain companionship and technology lessons.

Outside of the lab, Nina enjoys playing the bass guitar, writing poetry and exploring new restaurants. 

nina.damiecki@mssm.edu