Principal Investigator

Martin Hetzer

Vice President, Chief Science Officer
Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation Chair

Martin Hetzer received his Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Vienna, Austria and completed his postdoctoral training at the European Molecular Biology Lab in Heidelberg, Germany. He is currently a Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation Chair and Professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Research Associates

Rafael Arrojo e Drigo

Research Associate


Simone Bersini

Research Associate

I’m an unconventional bioengineer who likes to play with cells and develop microscale models for cancer biology and musculo-skeletal tissue engineering. My project is focused on understanding how nucleoporins can influence cancer cell biomechanics. I like traveling, swimming and watching soccer games and F1.

Ukrae Cho

Research Associate

I am interested in understanding the molecular drivers of normal and pathological aging. More specifically, I study if/how long-lived proteins in post-mitotic organs give rise to aging phenotypes, such as gene dysregulation and loss of nuclear integrity. During my PhD at Stanford, I was mainly trained as a research tool developer. I have built an ultrasensitive time-resolved luminescence microscope, and engineered destabilizing domains that function in room temperature-dwelling organisms. When not in the lab, I enjoy soccer, snorkeling, and eating poke/acai bowl.

Shefali Krishna

Research Associate

I am originally from India and currently a postdoc in the Hetzer lab. I am broadly interested in studying organelle dynamics, protein homeostasis and cellular metabolism. I did my PhD at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where I worked on nutrient trafficking from lysosomes. In the Hetzer lab I work on the homeostasis of long-lived proteins in post-mitotic cells and their role in aging. Outside of lab, I like traveling, biking, dancing and watching sci-fi movies.

Asako McCloskey

Research Associate

I am a postdoc and originally from Japan. I finished my Ph.D. at Kyoto University in 2013 working on nuclear export of RNAs. My major research interests are how nuclear pores affect organism aging and how cells keep them healthy. I just started learning how to surf and my current goal is to stand up on the board!

Rahul Sharma

Research Associate

Originally from India, I completed my doctoral work in University of Bern (Switzerland) studying Nuclear organisation and Dosage compensation in worms before moving to San Diego. As a postdoc in Hetzer lab, I’m investigating the role of nuclear pore proteins in (i) maintenance of protein homeostasis at the nuclear envelope and (ii) cellular differentiation using proximity labeling approach, proteomics and stem cell models. Outside the lab, I’m most likely to be found riding my bike around San Diego, playing volleyball or sampling cuisines at local hotspots.

Swati Tyagi

Research Associate

Staff Scientists

Abby Buchwalter

Staff Scientist

I am a recent SoCal transplant from New York (with a detour to the Midwest for college and grad school). I am generally interested in studying how cellular organelles are assembled and maintained. I did my thesis work on membrane protein sorting within the endoplasmic reticulum. As a postdoc in the Hetzer lab, I intend to study regulation of nuclear pore complex assembly and function by the cell cycle. Outside of the lab, I enjoy running, knitting, and eating peanut butter.
Research Assistant

Hannah Tsai

Research Assistant

I joined the Hetzer as a research assistant after receiving my BS degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UC San Diego in 2015. Along with Robbie and the Integrative Biology Laboratory at Salk, we are exploring the potential of age-dependent transcriptome to create a biological age predictor. Outside of lab, I enjoy playing volleyball, running and eating. 

Lab Assistant

Madison Carmichael

Lab Assistant

Graduate Student

Pavel Ikrenyi

Graduate Student

Pavel is a graduate student from Slovakia. He is currently working on nucleoporins in the lab.

Jeanae Kaneshiro

Graduate Student


Hyeseon Kang

Graduate Student

Lab Coordinator

Robbie Schulte

Lab Coordinator

I have been the lab coordinator for the Hetzer lab for about six years.  Previously I worked for two other labs here at the Institute, Bart Sefton’s for fourteen years where we studied signal transduction in hematopoetic cells and Bob Hyman’s for twelve years where we studied hematopoetic differentiation.  Obviously I enjoy the academic science here at Salk and this “new lab” has been a great fit. Outside the lab, I enjoy traveling, cycling, kayaking and Dog Beach with the dogs.  San Diego is the perfect place if you enjoy being outdoors.

Hetzer lab alumni

Daniel Anderson

Senior Scientist
Cleave Biosciences

Maya Capelson

Assistant Professor
University of Pennsylvania

Jonah Cool

Research Scientist

Maximiliano D’Angelo

Assistant Professor
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Christine Doucet

Junior Scientist
Centre national de la recharche scientifique

Toby Franks

Exemplar Genetics

Pau Pascual Garcia

University of Pennsylvania

Emily Hatch

Assistant Professor
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Arkaitz Ibarra

Molecular Stethoscope

Filipe Jacinto

Postdoc, Portugal

Yun Liang


Will Light


Jessica Talamas

University of Pennsylvania

Brandon Toyama


Jesse Vargas

Project Scientist
San Diego Center For Systems Biology