People – Iris Lindberg

Current Lab Members

Iris Lindberg, Ph.D.

Prof. Lindberg did her undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, and graduate work at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She then performed postdoctoral research at NIH for three years before assuming an assistant professorship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans in 1984, where she rose through the ranks to professor. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, in 2007, Dr. Lindberg moved the laboratory to the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore, where she is now a professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. A complete CV can be found by clicking here: 2017CVLindbergv3

The focus of the work in the Lindberg laboratory is secretory pathway biochemistry and cell biology, i.e., the folding, maturation, and packaging of secretory signaling proteins and their synthesizing enzymes. While historically the emphasis has been on proteolytic maturation, new interests include chaperone interactions and folding pathways. For more detail please see our research page.

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Tim Jarvela, Postdoctoral Fellow

timTim received his PhD in 2014 from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied Golgi function and biochemistry. In our lab,Tim has worked on the role of secretory chaperones in neurodegenerative disease, particularly in Parkinson’s, and is now working on the role of PCSK1 variants in obesity and diabetes. He can be reached at:


Aadit Mehta, Summer Student

Aadit has an interest in neuroscience and is working this summer to perfect our hippocampal primary cell model as well as chaperone Western blotting. He attends high school in Salisbury, Maryland. He can be reached at:


Nikki Kellerman, Graduate Student (Molecular Master’s program)

Nikki’s project during her rotation is to delete 7B2 and proSAAS using Crispr/Cas9 and examine biological effects in endocrine cells. She can be reached






Tomas Bachor, Postdoctoral Fellow

Tomas just arrived this summer from Argentina, where he worked on diabetes and brain development. He can be reached





Josh Ostovitz, Graduate Student (Molecular Master’s program)

Josh is performing a rotation this summer on synuclein cell-to-cell transfer in the presence of different forms of proSAAS. He can be reached


 Past Baltimore and New Orleans lab members


Former Lab Members


Keirra Dillard, Master’s Program


Keirra was a Master’s student who assisted us with genotyping efforts, and also undertook a research rotation in our laboratory on human PCSK1 mutations.




Bruno Ramos Molina, Postdoctoral Fellow

Bruno received his PhD in Biochemistry from University of Murcia, Spain, where he studied the structure, expression and functional aspects of antizyme inhibitor 2 (AZIN2), a protein involved in polyamine metabolism. In our lab, Bruno worked on the structure of the proPC2-7B2 complex, identifying PC inhibitors active in cell culture, and studying threonine phosphorylation of 7B2 by FAM20C. He moved to the Creemers laboratory in Belgium in 2015 and to the University of Malaga in 2016. He can be reached at:


Alex Winters, Graduate Student(Genetics).

Alex examined various human PC2 SNPs for their activity and expression. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at JHU.


Nevin Varghese, undergraduate

Nevin was a UMBC undergraduate obtaining his first research experience. He worked with Tim on the role of chaperone proteins in synuclein aggregation in Parkinson’s disease. He can be reached at: nevin



Elias Blanco, Postdoctoral Fellow

Elias is a Ph.D. graduate of Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, where he studied the subcellular sorting mechanisms of the CART peptide precursor. His research in our lab involved the biochemical characterization and subcellular localization studies of new PC1/3 mutants discovered in patients with severe endocrine and gastrointestinal dysfunction. His work entailed understanding how PC1/3 mutations affect activity and trafficking. He is now back in Chile, and his email is

Hong Weng Pang, Research Technician.

Hong graduated from Towson University in 2012 with majors in biology, chemistry and MB3 (molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics). While in our lab, Hong worked on the cell biology of FGF23. Hong




Juan Ramon Peinado, Visiting Professor

Juan, a former postdoctoral professor in the laboratory, was a visiting professor from the University of Ciudad Real, Spain. He is interested in diabetes and obesity and worked on islet amyloid peptide fibrillation as well as prohormone convertase 1/3 maturation. He has now returned to Spain.

Kevin Li, Research Technician

Kevin graduated in December 2012 from Washington University with a degree in Neuroscience and started in our laboratory in June of that year. He worked on the post-translational processing of FGF23, and is now in medical school.

Yogikala Prabhu, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Prabhu received her PhD in Natural Sciences from University of Cologne, Germany. She carried out her graduate studies in the laboratory of Dr. Angelika A. Noegel which was funded by Institute for Genetics and Functional Genomics. Her doctoral thesis involved studying the role of GABAB- like GPCRs in model organism, Dictyostelium discoideum. She moved to the USA and continued to work as a postdoctoral researcher at NICHD/NIH in the laboratory of Dr. Juan S. Bonifacino, where she addressed retrograde trafficking of transmembrane cargoes by retromer protein complexes. She also studied endocytosis of beta-secretase and its implications in Alzheimer’s disease. She worked with a mouse prohormone convertase 1/3 mutation that leads to obesity and multiple endocrinological defects. Yogi is now doing a technology transfer internship at NIH.

Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Visiting Professor

Hiro visited our laboratory in 2012-2013 from the University of Shizuoka, Japan. He is interested in the mechanism of bioactive peptide processing in peripheral tissues and in carcinoma. He has found that some non-endocrine cells release bioactive peptides as precursors, and would like to determine how these precursors are converted to active forms in the extracellular milieu. In our lab, he worked on the biosynthesis of FGF23 in osteocytes. He can be reached at


Laura Sanglas, Postdoc

Laura completed her Ph. D. in Biotechnology in July 2010 under the supervision of Prof. Francesc Xavier Aviles at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Her doctoral research was primarily focused on the structural and biochemical characterization of metallocarboxypeptidases and their protein inhibitors.  She worked on an isoform of TAFI (thrombin activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor) as well as purifying prohormone convertase 2 for crystallographic efforts. She  also worked on structure-function analysis of 7B2. She is now working at UM College Park.

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Valeria Albornoz, Senior Research Assistant

Val is from Santiago, Chile. She completed her B.Sc. in Biochemistry at the University of Chile in 2005. She worked our lab from June 2012 to June 2013 and her research work was focused on both the PC1/3 project as well as the FGF23 project.

Michael Helwig, Postdoc

Michael received his Diploma in Biology from the Philipps-University, Germany in 2004. He then joined the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland to attend a one year post-graduate Marie Curie Training on neuroendocrine energy balance regulation. Back in Germany he started his doctoral thesis on photoperiod-dependent neuropeptide processing in seasonal mammals at the Department of Animal physiology and received his PhD from the Philipps-University in Marburg in 2008. Following that Michael worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Technical University in Munich, Germany on a neuroproteomics project aiming to identify novel protein candidates involved in the development of diet-induced obesity. He joined our lab in September 2009, received a Leopoldina Fellowship in 2010, and worked on three topics in the lab:  catecholamine modulation of convertase activity; control of proglucagon processing by 7B2 levels; and 7B2 as a neuronal chaperone involved in neurodegenerative disease.

Michael has now moved  on to the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)  in Bonn.

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Indrani Dasgupta, Postdoc

Indrani completed her Ph.D. from the University of Houston in 2008. She was studying the unusual secondary structures formed by tandem repeat DNA sequences, which are known to expand to large numbers in the human genome and can lead to various neuromuscular diseases such as Huntington’s Disease, Friedrich Ataxia etc; using thermal melting and NMR techniques.Following that she joined as a post-doc at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston where she was screening a chemical library to identify a pharmaceutical excipient, to be used as component of a self-regulated liposomal insulin delivery system.She was also involved in developing a novel liposome based diagnostic particle for early detection of amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease. She has joined the lab in March 2011. Indrani’s research in our lab involved  understanding the structure and function of  the neuroendocrine protein 7B2, which plays a critical role in the maturation of PC2 and serves as a secretory chaperone. Indrani has now left the bench and is studying patent law.

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Akina Hoshino, Graduate Student

Akina did her undergraduate work at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie,NY, graduated in 2002, and did her thesis work in our laboratory.

Prohormone convertase 1/3 (PC1)  exhibits very low specific activity and is highly unstable. PC1/3 has two active forms – the 87kDa and 66kDa PC1 – and both forms will aggregate into different species, although the 66 kDa form has a higher propensity to aggregate. Akina’s project involved understanding how aggregation and/or interaction with its endogenous binding partner, proSAAS, regulate PC1/3 activity. In addition, she developed assays to look at the aggregation of PC1, a-synuclein, and Abeta to determine whether 7B2 or proSAAS may affect aggregation of proteins other than convertases.

Akina is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in the Reh Lab studying stem cells.

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Mirella Vivoli, Postdoc

Mirella achieved her Master’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Rome Sapienza, Italy in 2006. Then, she started her doctoral thesis on structural and functional studies of pyridoxal 5′-phosphate-dependent enzymes at the Department of Biochemical sciences Alessandro Rossi Fanelli and received her PhD in Biochemistry from University of Rome Sapienza, in March 2010. She worked on identifying novel PC inhibitors and  purifying PC1/3 for crystallography.

Mirella is now in Exeter, England working in the Harmer lab.

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Akihiko Ozawa, Postdoc

Aki did his graduate work at Ehime University, Japan, graduating in 2003.

His current research interests revolve around post-translational modifications of peptide hormones, discovering novel signaling molecules and characterizing their biological properties.

Aki is currently an independent investigator at the Torrey Pines Institute for Biomedical Studies in Port St Lucie, Florida.

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Lindsay Pickett, Research Technician

Lindsay Pickett  worked on the biochemistry of naturally occurring PC1/3 mutations known to be associated with obesity and gastrointestinal disorders; she had a separate project on  PC1/3 evolution.

Lindsay  is now enrolled in the Program in Neuroscience graduate program here at UMB. Please direct email to


Dorota Kowalska, Postdoc

Dr. Kowalska received her Masters of Science from the Department of Chemistry, University of Warsaw, Poland in 1997 and her Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry, University of Surrey, Guildford, England in 2003.

She holds a position as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Food Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland, and was on loan to our lab in order to work on purifying prohormone convertase 1 for the purpose of crystallization.  She has now returned to her former position in Warsaw.

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Adam Lick, Research Technician

Adam graduated in 2009 from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

He joined the lab in September 2009 and was working to purify various novel prohormones. Adam used a wide range of techniques revolving around construction of His-Tag plasmids and eventual protein purification via Ni-NTA affinity and reverse phase HPLC. He then moved on to studying the protein chemistry and cell biology of FGF23.

Adam  left the lab in the summer of 2012 and is now enrolled in medical school. He can be contacted at

Joseph Miceli, Research Technician

Joe did his undergraduate work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

In the lab, he purified various prohormones, such as POMC, proenkephalin, and prodynorphin, from E. coli using histidine tag/Ni affinity chromatography and reverse phase chromatography. He also cared for the various mammalian cell cultures which produce our prohormone convertases for purification in the lab.

Joe is doing graduate work at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, in a Biological Design Ph.D. program; he will graduate in 2015.  Please direct email to

Past New Orleans Lab Members

Former Graduate Students

John Mathis (1988- 1994) Staff Scientist at Pioneer Seed Co., Iowa

Yi Zhou (1990- 1995) Senior Scientist, Cellular Genomics, Connecticut

Maria Sayah (3/00- 12/00) (Master’s thesis; French practical training); Senior Scientist, Sunovion, Boston

Yolanda Fortenberry (1997- 2001) Assistant Professor of Hematology, Johns Hopkins University Medical School, Baltimore

Former Postdoctoral Fellows

Steven F. Roberts (1988-1991); Staff Scientist (Protein Chemistry), Antex, Rockville, MD

Joseh Irvine (1989-1991);Head of Knowledge Exchange at UHI, Lerwick, Shetland Islands, United Kingdom

Osvaldo Vindrola (1991- 1993) Professor, Universidad de Puebla, Mexico

Xiaorong Zhu (1994- 1997) Research Assistant Professor, University of Chicago, IL

Nazarius Lamango (1994- 1996) Professor, Florida A&M University, FL

Karla Johanning (1994- 1998) Business Owner, Austin TX

Laurent Muller (1996-1999) Senior Researcher, College de France, Paris, France

Ekaterina Apletalina (1997-2000) Senior Research Associate, Boston University, MA

Angus Cameron (1999- 2000) Bristol ChemLabS University Teacher Fellow, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.

Jae-Ryoung Hwang (1997-2001) Research Assistant Professor, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea

Virginie Laurent (1999-2002) (now Laurent-Gyde) Staff Scientist, University of Strasbourg, France

Juan Ramon Peinado (2002-2003) Assistant Professor, University of  Ciudad Real, Spain

Magda Kacprzak (2002-2005) Staff Scientist, MCI Bioventures, Poland

Sang-Nam Lee (2002-2007) Assistant Professor, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

The Costa Lab

A tiny portion of the Costa Lab in the mid-80s, taken at ‘Man Emerging’, a sculpture that is no longer located where it was then- on Hains Point in Washington DC.






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