Our Team

Principal Investigator

  • headshot: jia liu

    Jia Liu, Ph.D.

    • Director, Epigenetics Facility
    • Director, Rodent Behavioral Analysis Suite
    • Research Associate Professor, Neuroscience Initiative
    Email: jliu1@gc.cuny.edu
    Phone: 212.413.3183

    Jia received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with the focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair in neuronal excitotoxicity and epilepsy. Following her graduate study, she joined Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as a postdoctoral fellow, where she carried out research on the epigenetic mechanisms regulating myelination and oligodendrocyte development in the central nervous system in physiological and diseased conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis. She later became a Research Assistant Professor at the Friedman Brain Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She joined the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center in 2017 and led her own research investigating the glial mechanisms of stress disorders. She also founded the Epigenetics Facility and the Rodent Behavioral Analysis Suite in the Neuroscience Initiative and served as the director of both facilities. Outside the lab, she loves traveling and baking!

Current Members

  • Catherine Leckie

    • Research Assistant, Epigenetics Facility
    Email: cleckie@gc.cuny.edu

    Catherine is the Research Assistant for the Epigenetics Facility in the ASRC Neuroscience Initiative. Her primary duties include executing epigenetic experiments and maintaining the core facility. She also helps to conduct epigenetic experiments focused on oligodendrocytes and myelination under the direction of Dr. Jia Liu. Prior to joining the ASRC, Catherine received a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience from The Johns Hopkins University. She was a part of Dr. Chris Ross’s Huntington’s Disease Lab and Dr. Kathryn Wagner’s Muscular Dystrophy lab as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. Her current research interests focus on the impact of the ketogenic diet on the epigenetic regulation of oligodendrocyte and myelination cross talk, and it’s applications towards stress and anxiety resilience. ​Outside of the ASRC, she loves to read, collect vinyl records, and play board games!

Headshot: Laila Gad

Laila Gad

Undergraduate Research Intern

Laila is currently a Junior in the Macaulay Honors Program at Hunter College, majoring in journalism and minoring in environmental science. She is really passionate about the intersections between aging and climate change, and has hopes of becoming a geriatrician in the future. Outside of the lab, she loves playing with her cat and going for walks in Central Park.

Maisha Ahmed

Undergraduate Research Intern

Maisha is currently a Senior in the Honors Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in Cell & Molecular Biology and earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Science. At her home institution, she works in a yeast cell lab as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. She hopes to pursue biomedical research as a PhD student in the future. Outside of the lab, she lovesspending time with family, going to the park, baking and cooking!


Headshot: Valentina Bonnefil

Valentina Bonnefil
Research Assistant

Current Position: Pediatrics Residency in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Headshot: Rafid Quadir

Rafid Quadir
Undergraduate Research Intern

Current Position: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Headshot: Hongbo Hao

Hongbo Hao
Research Associate

Current Position: Physician in China

Headshot: Aleena Matthew

Aleena Matthew
Undergraduate Research Intern