Current Team Members

  • Dr. Eric Vilain received his Bachelor of Sciences and medical degree at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie and Faculte de Medecine Necker Enfants Malades in Paris, France. He also holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Pasteur Institute. Dr. Vilain is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics and a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Genetics and the French Board of Pediatrics. He is an honorary recipient of the International Academy of Pathology Award (1995), the David Smith Award (Western Society for Pediatric Research, 1996) and the Basil O’Connor Award (March of Dimes, 2002). Dr. Vilain is currently a Professor in the Departments of Human Genetics, Pediatrics and Urology, a Principal Investigator at the Human Genetics Laboratory at UCLA School of Medicine, and the Chief of Medical Genetics at UCLA. His laboratory is funded by several National Institutes of Health grants and works at discovering the genetic bases of sex determination, sex differences in the brain and sexual orientation. Dr. Vilain became interested in the biology of sexual development as a medical student in France, where he witnessed the care of children with disorders of sex development, and started challenging the rationale for early genital surgery. Dr. Vilain has become an expert in the field of the genetics of sex differences and has deciphered a large number of molecular mechanisms responsible for intersexuality in humans.

  • Primary research on identification and characterization of genes involved in Disorders of Sex Development.

  • Matt is a fourth year graduate student, who is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of brain organization through gonadal hormones. His main interest lies in understanding how hormones effect and alter gene expression through novel DNA methylation mechanisms.  Matt uses a neural stem cell model, in an attempt to answer how early programing through DNA methylation at a stem cell level transpires to permanent alterations in final linages of cells comprising the CNS.   He is also very interested in the genetic underpinnings that contribute to ones sexuality/orientations.   Through his stem cell work, he hopes to uncover early mechanisms that contribute/influence sexuality in adulthood.  Matt is a Maryland native, who received his B.S in biology from Stevenson University, prior to working several years as a research associate at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) at Ft. Detrick, MD.  

  • Ellen is a clinical Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility fellow in the UCLA-Cedars Sinai program.  Her research in the Vilain lab focuses on the use of whole exome sequencing to find and characterize new genes and variants involved in the ultimate evolutionary goal of sexual differentiation: fertility.  She received an ScB with Honors in Biology from Brown University in 2004, an MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2009, and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 2013. This makes her practically geriatric compared to the rest of the lab members, but she likes to think her clinical perspective adds something unique to the mix.

  • Allen is a third-year MCDB major from Orange County, California. He is currently interested in pursuing a medical degree with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. His research interests include understanding the role that hormones play in DNA methylation during early development. He is presently conducting research with Matt on a neural stem cell model to attempt recognize the changes in DNA methylation levels as a result of androgen exposure.

  • Lara is a third year Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major and Biomedical Research minor from Orange County, California. She works with Matt  to better understand how hormones can change gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms in neural stem cells during the development of the central nervous system. She is a member of the UCLA MARC U*STAR Program funded by the NIH and will be applying to Ph.D. programs in the fall.

  • Neerja hails from the great state of TEXAS, and she’s a first year biology major here at UCLA.  She works closely with Matt, in an attempt to uncover how androgens contribute to sexual orientation, using drosophila as a model.  Neerja is a very motivated and dedicated undergraduate who has aspirations of obtaining her M.D/Ph.D., (which should be a breeze for her).