School of Medicine

John A. Moran Eye Center Vinberg Lab

Lab Members

Postdoctoral Fellows

fatima_abbas.jpgFatima Abbas, PhD

Dr. Abbas earned a BSc in Biomedical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London in 2009, where she carried out her dissertation project, The Effect of the N-Acyl Ethanolamine Arachidoylethanolamine on the Contraction of Asterias Rubens Cardiac Stomach, under the supervision of Professor Maurice Elphick. She went on to complete an MSc in Neuroscience in Developmental Neurobiology at King’s College London, where she completed a research project in the lab of Dr. Martin Meyer. Dr. Abbas produced a synaptophysin tagged GCaMP and tested it in vivo in the visual system of larval zebrafish. She continued work in the Meyer lab as a technician before completing her PhD in 2016 with a thesis characterizing the properties of a direction selective superficial inhibitory interneuron in the zebrafish optic tectum. After completing her PhD, Fatima worked in the lab of Dr. Ellen J. Hoffman at the Child Study Center at Yale University, characterizing the function of high confidence autism risk genes in the developing zebrafish nervous system. Dr. Abbas brings her experience and interest in Calcium signaling in the visual system to the Vinberg lab, to address broad questions on retinal function—both in zebrafish and mouse models— using ex vivo ERG, calcium imaging and electrophysiology. 

silke_becker.jpgSilke Becker, PhD

Dr. Becker joined the Vinberg lab as a postdoctoral research associate in September 2017. She investigates how cardiac sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX1) contributes to the function of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium cells. She completed her doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Philip Aaronson at King’s College London, where she investigated calcium signaling during hypoxia in the pulmonary vasculature. She has previously studied the potential of stem cell transplantation to improve retinal function in models of retinal ganglion cell loss in Professor G. Astrid Limb’s laboratory at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, UK, and gene therapeutic approaches to treat aberrant neovascularization in a model of retinopathy of prematurity in Professor Mary Elizabeth Hartnett’s laboratory at the John A. Moran Eye Center.


Undergraduate Students


Taylor Boyd

Taylor is pursuing an honors Bachelor of Arts majoring in Health, Society, and Policy. Taylor plans to become a primary care physician with a focus on public health issues. Taylor also works as a learning assistant in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, sings in a choir, and participates in various volunteer programs. In the Vinberg Lab, Taylor is conducting behavioral and electroretinogram tests to understand how plasticity in the nervous system affects visually guided behavior when photoreceptor cell function is compromised due to retinitis pigmentosa.

Albert Kemp

Albert is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. Albert also has interest in studying to become an optometrist after graduation, making the research done at the Moran Eye Center even more applicable and engaging for him. He also works with elementary to high school-age children in teaching and helping them with math. In the Vinberg Lab, Albert is working with various experiments centered around ultrasound stimulation and extracellular recordings of retinal cells.


Lab Alumni

Nguyen Pham—Clinical Application Specialist, BioFire Diagnostics

Nguyen earned a BSc in Biochemistry with honors from the California State University, San Marcos in 2014 where, under the supervision of Dr. Sajith Jayasinghe, he investigated the structure and membrane association properties of polypeptides found in enteric bacteria responsible for cell adhesion and invasion. Following graduation, Nguyen went on to work at Ionis Pharmaceuticals in Carlsbad, CA as a Clinical Publications Specialist, under supervision of Dr. Brenda Baker, where he was responsible for conducting critical and exploratory analyses of Ionis’ integrated safety database to support development queries regarding Ionis’ antisense oligonucleotide drug platform. Additionally, he drafted manuscripts reporting Ionis’ clinical trial results, leading to several co-authored publications, and was the point person for presentations and publications review process with Ionis’ partner companies. Following the completion of his PhD, Nguyen took a position as a clinical application specialist at BioFire Diagnostics in Salt Lake City. Aside from doing experiments in the lab and taking care of his five cats, Nguyen is passionate about sports (primarily basketball, tennis, track and field, and Formula 1), music, and fashion.