Lab Leadership

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

Professor | Simon Lab
Director | Personalized Virology Initiative

My research focuses on understanding viral-host interactions in the context of human and viral diversity. We are 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, we study 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. My research has been continuously funded by NIH/NIAID since 2003. In addition to conducting basic research, I serve my community by mentoring and teaching. I am the Co-director of the Advanced Virology Class and I am active in the Microbiology graduate training area (M.D./Ph.D. Admissions committee) and in the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute (Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute Seminar Series).

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, MS

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

Eun Hye Kim, Ph.D.

Post Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Eun Hye Kim joined the Simon laboratory in 2019. Dr. Kim 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

Miti Saksena, M.B.B.S.

Post Doctoral Fellow 

Miti joined the Simon Lab in 2020. Prior to her graduate schooling, Miti accomplished her medical degree in Medical College at Pramukhswami Medical College, Sardar Patel University, India and worked as a provider. Miti proceeded to achieve a Certificate in Clinical Research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and joined the Simon Lab!

Miti’s research interests span patient Outcomes research for hospital procedures, decision making analysis for treatments and scouring healthcare database analysis specifically for emergency patient care. Miti plans to become a licensed physician in the states after undergoing residency training to become a physician-scientist conscientious of practicing evidence based medicine (critical and emergency care)

Outside of the lab Miti enjoys kickboxing, gym-ing, baking acrylic pour painting and playing with dogs!

miti.saksena@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

Daniel Floda, BA

Associate Researcher

Daniel accomplished his Bachelors in Biology from Queen’s College where he majored in biology with coursework in evolutionary genetics, including an undergraduate research project on DNA barcoding of a genus of mountain flowers in Africa. Prior to working in the Simon Lab, Daniel worked as an associate researcher studying environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research interests include phylogenetics, evolutionary biology, data mining, machine learning, computational biology, plant genetics, and LA-ICP-MS. In the future he plans on getting a master’s degree in data science and becoming a data analyst. 

Outside of the lab, Daniel enjoys exploring New Jersey, reading history, following international politics and the stock market, painting miniatures, and admiring raccoons!

daniel.floda@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

Wanni Mendez

Medical Assistant 

Wanni is the superstar member of the clinical team and serves as our leading phlebotomists working with our research clinic and research participants!

wanni.mendez@mountsinai.org

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

Kayla Russo, BS

Associate Researcher

Kayla accomplished her Bachelors of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Rhode Island. Her research interests span studying the levels of SARS-COV2 antibodies in the body over time, as well as the long term affects of SARS.

kayla.russo@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

Amber Shin, BS

Associate Researcher 

Amber achieved her Bachelors of Science from Barnard College at Columbia University. Her research interests include acquired immune response and zoological viral transmissions, but she is taking the opportunity to expand her breadth of knowledge in virology as well! In the future Amber plans to attend graduate school to further advance her education in virology with the hopes of eventually joining a vaccine R&D team.

Outside of the lab Amber can be found searching for the greatest tea shop in the city! Follow her and her adorable dog’s adventures on Instagram @yuzumaltipoo!

 

amber.shin@mssm.edu

Levy Sominsky, BA

Associate Researcher 

Levy accomplished his Bachelors of Arts in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Vanderbilty University. His research interests span Host-pathogen interactions and translational medicine. Levy plans to pursue a career in medicine by becoming a clinician scientist.

Outside of the lab Levy enjoys hiking, playing soccer and mixing music.

levy.sominsky@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 living with HIV/AIDS, 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

Karine David, BS

Masters Student | Biomedical Sciences 

Karine graduated in May 2019 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology Pre-Medicine with a Minor in Psychology from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Tallahassee, FL). She is currently pursuing a Masters in Biomedical Science at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and working on her Masters Thesis under the direction of Dr. Viviana Simon in collaboration with the Krammer Laboratory as well. Her research interests include measuring antibody responses in seasonal coronaviruses and studying trends in respiratory pathogens and immunity and she plans on pursuing a career in medicine in the future.

Outside of the lab, Karine enjoys youtube, reading self-help/discovery books, powerlifting, and volunteering with underserved populations. She is also a coffee lover and  loves game-nights with friends. Please follow her Instagram: @drkarine as she chronicles her journey in medicine!

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