Asli Beyza Ozdemir joined the Arditi Lab in August 2019 after graduating from UCLA with a bachelor of science in human biology and society. During her undergraduate studies, she worked on a systems biology project to identify candidate genes involving lipid and iron metabolism in fatty liver disease in the lab of Jake Lusis, PhD. She spent a summer interning in a breast cancer laboratory where she studied the prognostic value of the aquaporin protein family in triple-negative breast cancer under Ozgur Sahin, PhD, in Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Currently, Ozdemir maintains transgenic mouse colonies and assists in various experiments as well as computational analyses involving Kawasaki disease and microbiome studies. She is interested in the crosstalk between the immune system and microbiota. In her free time, Ozdemir enjoys cooking, reading and listening to podcasts and 1970s Turkish rock.
Rebecca Porritt, PhD, received her doctorate at the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Australia. During this time, her research focused on the innate immune response, specifically mechanisms regulating Type I interferon signaling. Porritt joined the Arditi Laboratory as a postdoctoral scientist in 2016. Porritt's postdoctoral studies focused on the T cell intrinsic role of Rip2 in regulating Th17 responses, and the role of IL-17 in mediating chronic lung inflammation in response to Chlamydia pneumoniae infection. As a project scientist in the Arditi Laboratory, Porritt now investigates the role of innate and adaptive immune responses mediating the pathogenesis of Kawasaki disease vasculitis and how to therapeutically target these responses to prevent cardiovascular lesions associated with Kawasaki disease.
Priya Soni, MD, is a physician-scientist with subspecialty training in pediatric infectious diseases from UCLA. In her early research at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, she studied the expression of Sox9 transcription factors and their effects on the proliferative capacity of intestinal stem cells. Soni's other research contributions include several global health initiatives in infectious diseases. Most recently, she conducted field research measuring long-term outcomes of sustainable vaccination programs through Hands up for Haiti. During her fellowship at UCLA, Soni pursued clinical/translational research in pediatric HIV to better understand the latent viral reservoir, in hopes of developing novel approaches for a sustained HIV cure. She joined the pediatric infectious diseases and immunology division at Cedars-Sinai as a physician-scientist. In addition to her clinical and teaching responsibilities, Soni is an active member of the Arditi Laboratory. She is a clinical translational researcher who studies the role of intestinal permeability, gut microbiome, metabolomics and host immune responses during human Kawasaki disease. She works with Magali Noval Rivas, PhD, and Moshe Arditi, MD, in translating basic science research findings obtained with the experimental Kawasaki disease mouse model to children with Kawasaki disease. She is a key leader in the strategic planning and response to the pandemic through the Cedars-Sinai COVID-19 taskforce. Her research focus has now expanded to better understand the complexities of this novel virus through her role as co-investigator for BCG Vaccine for Health Care Workers as Defense Against COVID 19 (BADAS) clinical trial. She is also involved with a collaborative study with UCLA evaluating clinical outcomes in mother-infant pairs affected by COVID-19.