Our Team

David Haussler

David Haussler

 Co-Founder Treehouse Initiative Distinguished Professor, Biomolecular Engineering Scientific Director, UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute

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When I was a kid, I liked Felix the Cat, solving puzzles, and reading The Phantom Tollbooth. I wanted to be big when I grew up. I work with Treehouse to make a difference. I want to learn how much we can improve pediatric cancer care with a genomics-based precision medicine approach.
 Olena Morozova Vaske

Olena Morozova Vaske

 Co-Founder Treehouse Initiative Assistant Professor of MCD Biology Colligan Presidential Chair in Pediatric Genomics

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Changing the story for children affected by cancer has become my lifelong commitment and focus of my research career. Early genomic studies demonstrated that childhood cancers are different from adult cancers and that simply using adult analysis methods would not work for the kids. This motivated us to build on the extraordinary bioinformatics expertise at UC Santa Cruz and launch Treehouse, an initiative that uses comparative cancer genomic analysis to help children treated in the clinic today. I am hopeful that our work will help change the landscape of pediatric cancer genomics and genome-guided medicine
Isabel Bjork

Isabel Bjork

Director of Operations, UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute Director, Pediatric Cancer Programs, UCSC Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative

 
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My favorite cartoon character was Wonder Woman. My favorite games to play were Clue and um, Chess; however nerdy that sounds! My favorite book was Ozma of Oz. For me, the question was never “What” I wanted to be when I grew up, but “Who?”: Wonder Woman or Ozma of course! (Sometimes Princess Leia.) As we are on the kid theme, when I was a kid, my favorite show was Mission Impossible. Treehouse is the impossible mission we choose to accept — our team of molecular detectives, plotting in our redwood forest, asking, how we change the current treatment and health outcomes for kids with cancer? “The important thing is not to stop questioning” (Einstein)
Sofie Salama

Sofie Salama

Research Scientist

 
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My favorite cartoon character was Aquaman, and I loved Monopoly. My favorite book was The Little Princess. I wanted to become two things when I was a kid: a doctor and Mom. I’m working with Treehouse because I am very motivated by the opportunity for research to impact patients directly. I’m interested in answering: Are driver pathways identified by expression analysis really good drug targets? It will take a combination of our work with precision medicine clinical trials and PDX/cell line models.
Anouk Van Den Bout

Anouk Van Den Bout

Assistant Specialist

Holly Beale

Holly Beale

Lead Computational Biologist

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My favorite comic book character is Tank Girl. When I was a kid, my favorite book was The Story of Ferdinand, but as an adult I discovered the Carl books, starting with Good Dog, Carl. When I was younger, I vividly remember being amazed that liver looked different from steak for functional reasons. I wanted to grow up to be someone who understood why liver has holes in it. My reasoning for working for Treehouse is that I like making progress on complicated questions, and it’s easy to stay motivated when we’re working to make kids’ lives better.

 

Katrina Learned

Katrina Learned

Data Coordinator

 
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When I was little my favorite cartoon character was Strawberry Shortcake. I loved riding bicycles with my siblings and the neighborhood kids. I loved (and still love) so many books! One of my favorite picture books as a child was Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. I loved that Miss Rumphius traveled the world, seeing different places and experiencing different cultures. I also loved that she and her family valued making the world a more beautiful place. Plus, the illustrations are so gorgeous! I wanted to grow up to be so many things, but mostly a science teacher or an architect. I am working at Treehouse because I am passionate about finding better treatments and cures for children with cancer, and because I have the utmost confidence in the abilities and methods of the Treehouse team. My daughter, Aurora, is a pediatric cancer survivor. For more information about Aurora’s story and the founding of Treehouse, please click below.

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Ellen Kephart

Ellen Kephart

Software Engineer

 
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As a kid, I enjoyed many Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Balto. I loved playing Magic: The Gathering and I still have many of the cards I collected. I read far too many books (mostly sci-fi) to pick one or three favorites! Our research at Treehouse could potentially change the face of childhood cancer treatment. My personal goal is to create software infrastructure that automates our protocols and enables our scientists to easily experiment with different data analysis techniques.

 

Geoff Lyle

Geoff Lyle

Junior Data Analyst

 
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When I was a kid I loved coming home from school and watching Animaniacs (especially Pinky and the Brain) or reading/rereading Calvin & Hobbes. I played different video games on our Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and eventually N64 against my older brother, who usually won. When I grew up I wanted to be a scientist who got to wear a white lab coat every day. Then, while studying computer science, I was struck by how much data is constantly being generated and how proper analysis can lead to useful conclusions. So I am happy to have found the Treehouse group at the UCSC Genomics Institute, where a desire to improve children’s lives is combined with clinical knowledge and thorough data analysis.

 

Gina Mawla

Gina Mawla

Postdoctoral Scholar

Ioannis (Yanni) Anastopoulos

Ioannis (Yanni) Anastopoulos

Graduate Student Researcher

 
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When I was a kid I loved watching Pokemon and Dragon Ball. I also played video games on Sega (Sonic the Hedgehog), and the original Tekken with my dad on the origin Playstation. Fun fact, I still have all those old consoles. When I started my academic career I wanted to be a doctor. However, between college and grad school I worked for a cancer genomics lab and I realized that computer science can be very very powerful in aiding doctors in their diagnosis and treatment options. I joined Treehouse because it combines computer science with the immediate clinical impact. I am interested in using machine learning methods to make better predictions on challenging forms of pediatric cancers, thereby aiding better treatment, and exploring how tumor heterogeneity affects treatment in greater detail

 

Yvonne Vasquez

Yvonne Vasquez

Junior Specialist

Allison Cheney

Allison Cheney

Graduate Student

Alumni

Jacob Pfeil

Jacob Pfeil

Ph.D. Student

 
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My favorite cartoon character as a kid was Scooby-Doo. I enjoyed playing Cranium, and reading the book Where the Sidewalk Ends. I wanted to be a physician when I grew up. I chose to work with Treehouse because I want to develop precision medicine tools for pediatric cancer. I hope to discover gene expression signatures that explain why some pediatric cancers do not respond well to standard of care therapies. I develop statistical models for pediatric gene expression data in order to detect abnormal gene expression patterns.I will answer these questions hopefully by assisting the team with tool development and integration!

 

Lauren Sanders

Lauren Sanders

Ph.D. Student

 
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When I was young, my favorite cartoon characters were Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. I loved to play tag or frisbee with my siblings and friends when I was a kid. My favorite children’s book is Harry Potter, which my mother read out loud to my family as we were growing up. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist, but then I discovered the power of genomics and changed my mind! I love my work at Treehouse because I have the opportunity to help harness the power of genomics data in the arena of precision medicine for pediatric cancers. I hope to investigate the similarities and differences between adult and pediatric cancers and through this research, contribute new biological answers and therapeutic avenues to the field of pediatric cancer treatment.