Lab Members

Ellen J. Hoffman, MD, PhD

Principal Investigator

Email: ellen.hoffman@yale.edu

Ellen studied Biochemistry at SUNY Stony Brook and received her MD from SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine. As a medical student, she worked in the laboratory of Gail Mandel of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Ellen did her residency in Psychiatry and fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she worked in the laboratories of Deanna Benson and Joseph Buxbaum. She then completed a research fellowship in Childhood-Onset Neuropsychiatric Disorders at the Yale Child Study Center and received her PhD in Investigative Medicine from Yale University in the laboratories of Matthew State and Antonio Giraldez. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Yale Child Study Center and the Yale Neurogenetics Program.

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Hellen Weinschutz Mendes, PhD

Post-Doc

Email: hellen.weinschutz@yale.edu

Hellen was born and raised in Brazil where she obtained her B.S. in Biology from Pontifical Catholic University of Parana and her Master's degree in Immunogenetics from Federal University of Parana. During her Masters, Hellen was a visiting researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark. She moved to Canada and obtained her PhD in Biology at the University of Ottawa, where she studied the roles of dlx genes in the adult zebrafish brain. Hellen joined the Hoffman lab in January 2020 as a Postdoc Associate. Her research focuses on identifying biological mechanisms involving genes related to ASD and novel pharmacological candidates that target these pathways. Hellen also enjoys producing Podcasts, maps, traveling, swimming and being in Nature.

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Priyanka Jamadagni, PhD
Post-Doc
Email: priyanka.jamadagni@yale.edu

Priyanka was born and raised in India. She received her BS-MS dual degree from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Mohali in 2016. During her undergraduate studies, she worked with a range of model organisms from Drosophila melanogaster to mice before deciding zebrafish was her one true love. During her PhD, she worked on understanding the neurodevelopmental aspects of a developmental disorder called CHARGE syndrome in a zebrafish model for the disorder. She earned her PhD in 2022 from INRS, Canada. She joined the Hoffman Lab in May 2022 as a postdoctoral research associate. She is a recipient of the Kavli Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Her postdoctoral research focuses on exploring PTSD driver genes in zebrafish. She will also be exploring whole brain circuitry in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders. Outside of research, Priyanka is a pastel artist and loves everything music, art, books and food!!

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Sarah E Fitzpatrick

MD-PhD Student

Email: sarah.e.fitzpatrick@yale.edu

Sarah was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and received her B.S. in Neuroscience from Ohio State University in 2016. Throughout undergrad and for 2 years after graduation, she worked with Dr. Craig Erickson at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital studying neurodevelopmental disorders both from the bench and in clinical trials. She also spent time doing research at the UC Davis MIND Institute and OSU Nisonger Center. She left to Midwest to join the Yale MD-PhD program in August 2018. In Fall 2020 following 2 years of medical school, she will affiliate with INP and begin her graduate work in the Hoffman lab where she will study the roles of ASD-risk master regulator genes in early neurodevelopment. In her spare time, she enjoys salsa dancing, theater, hiking, and traveling.

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Marina Carlson

PhD Student

Email: marina.carlson@yale.edu

Marina earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at California State University Fresno in 2019. During her undergraduate degree, she worked in Dr. Joy Goto’s lab studying neurodegenerative disease in human neuroglioma cell culture and Drosophila. She also participated in the Harvard Amgen Scholars Program, conducting research in Dr. Amar Sahay’s lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. There she studied the differences in hippocampal neurogenesis in young and aged mice. She joined Yale as part of the MCGD track in 2019, and since joining the lab is now affiliated with the INP PhD program. She is most interested in performing comprehensive functional analyses of high confidence autism risk genes to identify underlying molecular mechanisms at play in early neurodevelopment. Beyond science, Marina loves dinosaurs, zombie movies, musicals, and reading terrible romance novels.

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April Pruitt
PhD Student
Email: april.pruitt@yale.edu

April attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she received her B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. She was awarded Outstanding Graduate for the College of Sciences in 2020. As an undergraduate, April worked in Dr. Karen Smith’s lab at UL Lafayette studying postnatal cerebellar glia and motor deficits, and participated in three summer research programs at LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, UC San Diego, and Stanford University, where she investigated a breadth of topics from ASD behavioral phenotypes to post-heart attack inflammation. She joined Yale Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and the Medical Research Scholars Program in August 2020 and is co-mentored by Dr. Kristen Brennand. April is a Kavli Institute for Neuroscience Scholar and Autism Science Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow. She is studying the development of GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons as well as the biological basis for sex bias in ASD. In her free time, April enjoys reading novels (especially romance), hiking, and driving across the country.

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Uma Neelakantan
Post-Graduate Associate
Email: uma.neelakantan@yale.edu

Uma grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and received her B.S. in Public Health with a concentration in Biology from American University through the 3-Year Public Health Scholars Program. As an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. John Bracht’s lab studying epigenetic modifications of pharmaceuticals in colorectal carcinoma. Uma joined the Hoffman lab in September 2020 with the interest in using the zebrafish model to study biological mechanisms underlying ASD and to identify novel pharmacological candidates. Beyond the lab, Uma enjoys trying new foods (specifically desserts), going on hikes, watching horror movies/reality TV, and travelling. 

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Grace Dossou
Undergraduate Student
Email: grace.dossou@yale.edu

Grace is a sophomore at Yale in Pauli Murray College majoring in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. She is originally from Cotonou Benin and resides in Lillington, North Carolina. Within her first year, she joined the cheer team and worked as a research assistant in the Hoffman Lab studying genes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders in zebrafish. During her free time, she enjoys cooking food that reminds her of home and exploring different cities and states with friends. Grace hopes to unite her medical research and gender studies background to improve the equity in health care of black women and other poc women.

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Valeria Ceron
Undergraduate Student
Email: valeria.ceron@yale.edu

Valeria was born in El Salvador and moved to the US at age 6. She grew up in Chicago where she obtained her high school diploma from the Latin School. A rising sophomore at Yale College, she plans to major in neuroscience and later attend medical school. With an interest in neuronal development and translational neuroscience, she aims to pursue a career in child psychiatry or neurology. She joined the Hoffman Lab in the summer of 2022, where her research focuses on characterizing mutations in high confidence ASD genes and identifying potential pharmacological candidates to treat the disorder. In her free time, Valeria loves spending time at the beach, shopping, and trying new restaurants with friends and family.