The Troemel Lab

Emily Troemel
Principal Investigator

Office: 4202 Bonner Hall
e-mail: etroemel
office phone: (858) 246-0708

University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.S.
University of California, San Francisco Ph.D.
Renovis, Inc. Research Scientist
MGH/Harvard Med, Postdoctoral fellowship
UC San Diego Faculty 2008


Vladimir Lažetić
Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Belgrade, B.S./M.S./D.V.M.
University of Wyoming, Ph.D.
American Heart Association Fellow


Spencer Gang
Postdoctoral Fellow

Santa Clara University, B.S.
UC San Diego IRACDA fellow


Cheng-Ju Kuo
Postdoctoral Fellow

National Sun Yat-sen University, B.S.
National Cheng Kung University, M.S.
National Cheng Kung University, PhD


Lakshmi Batachari
PhD Student

Harvey Mudd College, B.S.


Mario Bardan Sarmiento
Lab Manager

Texas State University, B.S.


Katie Li
Undergraduate Lab Assistant

UC San Diego, B.S. (Expected 2023)

Michael Blanchard
Undergraduate Research Assistant

UC San Diego, B.S. (Expected 2024)

Deevya Raman
Undergraduate Research Assistant

UC San Diego, B.S. (Expected 2024)

Ian Baick
Undergraduate Research Assistant

UC San Diego, B.S. (Expected 2024)


Lab Alumni

Project Scientists:
Kirthi Reddy, PhD

Eillen Tecle, PhD: Asst Prof at California State Univeristy, DH

Visiting Computational Biologist:
Ryan Underwood, PhD

Postdoctoral fellows:
Jessica Sowa, PhD: Asst Prof at West Chester University

Johan Panek, PhD: Marie Curie Fellow at U of Newcastle

Aaron Reinke, PhD: Asst Prof at U of Toronto

Michael Botts, PhD: Research Scientist at Genus

Malina Bakowski, PhD: Investigator at CALIBR

Margery Smelkinson, PhD: Staff Scientist at NIH

Amy Ma, PhD: Asst Prof, Drexel University

Katie Estes, PhD

PhD Students:
Tiffany Dunbar

Suzy Szumowski

Keir Balla

Robert Luallen

Lianne Cohen

Master’s Students:
Theresa Bui

Zhi (Jean) Yan, MD

Tal Dror

Erin Daniels

Ivana Sfarcic

Bretta McCall

Crystal Chhan

Visiting Scholars:
Tian Li, PhD

Cheng-Ju Kuo

Undergraduate assistants:
David Nguyen

John Popovich

Chris Probert

Chelsea Herrmann

Sirena Louie

Cristina Monterroza

Grace Sek

Vicky Cao

Peter Nguy

Fengting Wu

Aelita Meng

Jennie Huynh

Noelle Ying

Lakshmi Somasundaram

Vanessa Lei

Chris Pham

Kealia Attaway

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Lab Address: UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr, #0349
4205 Bonner Hall
La Jolla, CA 92093-0349
Lab Phone: (858) 246-0882

Professor Troemel received her BS in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 1992, and her PhD in Cell Biology from the University of California, San Francisco in 1999. For her PhD thesis work she identified and characterized the first chemosensory receptors in the nematode C. elegans and used them to understand the logic of behavioral responses to odors, as well as how neuronal identity is established. After a brief postdoc studying visual motion detection in Drosophila, she helped launch a start-up biotech company in South San Francisco where she studied questions of neuronal identity, neuroinflammation and performed drug screening in mammalian systems. After this company went public, she returned to academic research to do a postdoctoral fellowship at Mass General/Harvard Med, where she identified the first natural pathogen of C. elegans. She named this pathogen Nematocida parisii, and it defined a new genus and species of microsporidia, which are priority pathogens of medical and agricultural significance. Here in her own lab at UC San Diego, she is using this natural host/pathogen system to investigate the host response to intracellular infection. Recent findings include describing how a common transcriptional response to N. parisii and a natural RNA virus constitute a new immune/stress response.


Outside of lab Prof. Troemel enjoys swimming in the ocean and taking videos of turtles, sharks and other sea life, as well as heading to the mountains or desert for climbing. She also has an active meditation practice and has taken teacher training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness.
Vladimir is currently working on two projects that will improve our knowledge about regulation of the innate immune response in C. elegans. In the first project, he is characterizing the function of the predicted transcription factor ZIP-1, to understand how it regulates the intracellular pathogen response. In the second project, Vladimir is uncovering the roles of uncharacterized pals gene family members in immunity.
Spencer is working on two projects in the lab. In one, he is investigating how the IPR-induced CUL-6 cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase complex promotes enhanced proteostasis capacity in response to stress. In the second, he is trying to understand the pals gene family, which have unknown biochemical functions, and their importance in regulation of the IPR and potential role in innate immune response to intracellular pathogens.
Cheng-Ju is working to understand the role of autophagy in pnp-1 mutants. pnp-1 is an ortholog of human purine nucleoside phosphorylase important in purine metabolism. His project will advance our knowledge of how autophagy, purine metabolism and the IPR regulate the C. elegans innate immune response.
Lakshmi is interested in uncovering the immune signaling components that regulate host-virus interactions at the epithelial barrier. During viral infection in C. elegans, activation of the Intracellular Pathogen Response (IPR) is dependent on DRH-1, a homolog to mammalian pattern recognition receptor RIG-I. By defining how DRH-1 mediates viral detection and IPR activation, Lakshmi is excited to elucidate the evolutionary conservation or rewiring of RIG-I signaling in epithelial cells. 
In addition to lab maintenance and reagent prep, Mario is working to characterize the role of autophagy in the increased thermotolerance of pals-22 mutants. Furthermore, he is researching the effects of lysosomal inhibition on the increased resistance of pals-22 mutants to N. parisii.
Katie is a lab assistant in the Troemel lab, and fulfills requests for reagents, plates, and other consumables. Katie employs sterile technique in reagent prep to facilitate downstream experiments conducted by other lab members.
Michael is an undergraduate research assistant working with Vladimir, a postdoc in our lab, to investigate the role of SUMOylation in the pals-22/pals-25 regulatory pathway of the intracellular pathogen response.
Deevya is working with Spencer, a postdoc in the lab, to further characterize how and when pals-25 activates IPR gene expression in the absence of pals-22.
Ian is an undergraduate research assistant working under Cheng-Ju, a postdoc in our lab, to understand the roles of autophagy and purine nucleoside phosphorylase in the context of the intracellular pathogen response.