Lab members

Principle Investigator

Dr. Katja Nowick

Dr. Nowick performed her doctoral work at the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Dr. Svante Pääbo’s lab on transcriptome evolution in primates and the functional characterization of FOXP2. She joint Dr. Lisa Stubbs lab at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for her postdoctoral work in 2006 to study the evolution of zinc finger transcription factors in primates. The lab relocated in 2008 to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2010 Dr. Nowick returned to Germany, to join the department of Dr. Hans Lehrach at the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, where she worked on the analysis of RUNX1 target genes and allelic differences in human ZNF genes. She received an Advanced Postdoc award from the Volkswagen Foundation that supports her research group at the University Leipzig. She is an editor for the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE).


PhD students

Deisy1Deisy Morselli Gysi

Deisy has achieved her bachelor in Biotechnology at the Pontificial Catholic University (PUCPR) and her bachelor in Statistics at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), both in Brazil. She worked as a Bioinformatician at the Heart Institute of the University of São Paulo (USP), where she started working with co-expression networks, specially ​investigating the influence of SNPs on the networks. Deisy joined Katja Nowick’s group as a PhD student in October 2015. She focuses her PhD project on studying the evolution of co-expression networks involved in cognitive diseases (such as Bipolar Disorder, depression, Alzheimer, Parkinson, etc.) and also in the evolution of primate brains. She is really excited about her project!

Maria Beatriz Walter Costa

Bia studied Biology at the University of Brasília (UnB), Brasília, Brazil. She achieved her Masters’ Degree in Bioinformatics under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marcelo Brigido, also at the University of Brasília. In her Masters, she studied anti-DNA antibodies, more specifically, the contribution of the heavy chain immunoglobulin families in the binding of antibodies to DNA. She joined Katja Nowick’s group as a PhD student in April 2013 and will focus her PhD project on studying the roles of long non-coding RNAs for the function and evolution of primate brains.

Alvaro Perdomo Sabogal

Varo, a Colombian biologist, was previously involved in studies on the ecology, conservation and population genetics of tropical species. He studied the reproductive biology and feeding habits of characids, a family of subtropical and tropical freshwater fish. Varo made his move into genetics when he started his Master in Biological Sciences at the National University of Colombia in 2005. After completing his Master in population genetics, studying an endangered catfish from South American streams, he worked as a research assistant for the Conservation Genetics group from the same University. There, he made significant contributions to the understanding of the dynamics that have shaped the population genetics of one of the most important commercial, but also endangered, fish from Colombian rivers, Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum. He worked for two other Universities (Universidad de La Sabana and Universidad de La Salle), where he performed administrative tasks related to the evaluation and improvement of the quality in higher education (graduate and postgraduate academic programs). Varo joined Dr. Katja Nowick’s group in March 2013. Now he is excited about embarking on the forthcoming research on the evolution of genes involved in the regulation of transcription. He aims to shed light on evolutionary processes affecting transcription factor genes within human populations, with some comparative analyses amongst non-human primates.

Sree Rohit Raj Kolora

Rohit studied Bioinformatics for his Masters at the University of Hyderabad (UoHyd), Hyderabad, India. His Bachelor’s degree was in Bioinformatics at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore, India. In his Masters, he studied the pathways in Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv in comparison to other known pathways. Then he tried to fill the holes in the pathways by sequence analysis of orthologous genes. This method was tested mainly on the TAG pathway, with confirmation through structure analysis for the presence of multiple putative hole-fillers. After his Masters he worked as a Project Assistant at the Center for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad, India. Here, he worked on the transcriptome analysis of gut-pathogens in the domestic silk moth (Bombyx mori) and the genome assembly of the wild silk-moth (Bombyx huttoni). He came to Leipzig in the last week of June 2013, to join Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) for a project on “Accelerated evolution in Chromosomal rearrangements and Speciation in Lacertid lizards” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Martin Schlegel, Prof. Dr. Klaus Henle, Prof. Dr. Peter Stadler, Dr. Rui Faria and Dr. Katja Nowick.

AminAmin Saffari

Amin is the Master Foo’s follower and he achieved his Bachelor degree in Iran. Genetic and Evolution drew his attention in Master level while he was studying Bioinformatics at Uppsala University of Sweden. He had worked on exploring the diversity of unmapped reads in human deep sequencing data during his Master thesis. Despite of learning different methods while he was studying bioinformatics he proceeded to spice up his academic knowledge by working on different projects in different labs to gain distinct variety of experiences and views. He joined Katja Nowick’s group as a PhD student in June 2015. With the aim of better understanding primate brain evolution, he takes advantage of existing data from long non-coding RNAs. Of particular focus to him are lcRNAs that are expressed in the brain to explore how they might be linked to human evolution and diseases. This progressive challenge takes most of Amin’s time these days.

Master students

Janine Rauch


Stefano Berto
Sabina Kanton
Katja Jacob
Lisa Falkowski
Sandra Gerstl
Claudia Grosse
Anna-Christina Erpf
Nadine Rastig
Lia Abbasi Moheb
Rosalina Tincopa Marca


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