Principal Investigator

C.V. Starr Professor of Microbiology

Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, CA-MRSA, toxin, infection, macrophages, neutrophils, PMN, leukotoxin, gene expression, bacterial pathogenesis, toxin-cell interaction, immune response to infection, regulation of virulence factors, in vivo models of infection, leukocytes, toxin receptors.


Hometown: Rincon, Puerto Rico

Fun Fact: I love the beach

Victor J. Torres




NIH-NIGMS: Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar.

NSF-Summer Research Training Program (University of Iowa).

Hispanic Scholarship Fellow.

American Society for Microbiology Corporate Partner Travel Grant Award.

NIH-NIGMS: Individual Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship.

Pre-doctoral Sidney P. Colowick Award (Outstanding research achievements in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine).

NIH-NIAID: Individual Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship.
2006 & 2008             

Collier Award for Outstanding Research at the Gordon Conference on Microbial Toxins and Pathogenicity (Proctor Academy in Andover, NH).

Post-doctoral Sidney P. Colowick Award (Outstanding research achievements in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine).

Best Research Award at the Gordon Conference on Staphylococcal Diseases (Les Diablerets, Switzerland).

Levi Watkins Jr., Student Award for Contributions in fostering opportunities for under-represented minorities in education and research (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine).

NIH-NIAID: Research scholar development award (K22).

American Heart Association National Scientist Development Grant.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund: Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases.


The Dean’s List, recognition for exceptional research contributions to NYU Langone Medical center.


NYU SoM NextGen Stars lecture.


Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award.


NYU Langone Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award.


C.V. Starr Endowed Professorship.




Bachelor of Sciences: Concentration in Industrial Microbiology 

University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus, Mayagüez, PR, U.S.A.

Mentor: Mildred Chaparro, Ph.D.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Microbiology and Immunology

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine,Nashville, TN, U.S.A. 

Mentor: Timothy L. Cover, M.D.



Postdoctoral Fellow: Division of Infectious Diseases

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, U.S.A.

Mentor: Timothy L. Cover, M.D.



Postdoctoral Fellow: Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, U.S.A.

Mentor: Eric P. Skaar, Ph.D.


2008: Assistant Professor of Microbiology

2014: Associate Professor of Microbiology

2019: C.V. Starr Associate Professor of Microbiology

2020: C.V. Starr Professor of Microbiology

    Exene Anderson

    Graduate Student

    Hometown: Tucson, AZ



    B.S. - Microbiology and Molecular and Cellular Biology - University of Arizona 

    Project: I'm studying the expression of S. aureus leukotoxins in various organs during infection and how those genes are regulated. 


    Fun Fact: I was named after a punk rock singer

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    Ashley DuMont

    Associate Research Scientist

    Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA


    B.S. - Biology - Denison University 

    Ph.D. - Microbiology - New York University 

    Project:  I am working on developing a vaccine against S. aureus infections and I study the pathogenesis of multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria.

    Fun Fact: My artwork has been on the cover of Trends in Microbiology twice.

      Christa Emanuel

      Administrative Assistant

      Hometown: Queens, NY



      B.S. - Marketing, Minor Communication Studies - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

      Role: Lab Administrative Assistant- providing daily administrative and operations support to Dr. Torres and the lab.


      Fun Fact: I’ve climbed Mount Fuji.

        Juliana Ilmain

        Graduate Student

        Hometown: San Ramon, CA



        B.S. - Biology - Purdue University

        Project: I am studying the structure-function relationship of LukAB toxin diversity.

        Fun Fact: My nails are always painted.

          Matthew Keller

          Graduate Student

          Hometown: Munroe Falls, OH



          B.S. - Biology - Case Western Reserve University

          Project: I 'm studying host responses to S. aureus infections.  

          Fun Fact: I'm an avid volleyball player.


            Anna O'Keeffe

            Research Associate

            Hometown: Dublin, Ireland



            B.S. - Pharmacology - University College Dublin

            Project: I am working on developing new vaccines against S. aureus infections.

            Fun Fact: I like water sports! 

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            Sofya Perelman

            Postdoctoral Fellow

            Hometown: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia



            M.S. - Biophysics and Bioengineering -Lomonosov Moscow State University  

            Ph.D. - Cell and Molecular Biology - UT Southwestern Medical Center

            Project: I am investigating the role of leukocidin AB (LukAB) diversity in S. aureus pathogenesis.


            Fun Fact: Polo is my favorite sport to both watch and play.

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            Will Sause

            Postdoctoral Fellow

            Hometown:  Salt Lake City, UT



            B.S. - Biology - University of California, Santa Cruz

            Ph.D. - Microbiology - University of California, Santa Cruz

            Project: I study how S. aureus repurposes transcriptional regulators that are classically associated with metabolism to control pathogenesis in the host.


            Fun Fact: I like snowboarding!

              Chunyi Zhou

              Postdoctoral Fellow

              Hometown:  Xinyang, Henan, China



              M.D. - Clinical Medicine - Xinxiang Medical University

              Ph.D. - Microbiology - University of Nebraska Medical Center

              Project: I am working on the study of gastrointestinal tract colonization of CA-MRSA.


              Fun Fact: My hometown is famous for Xinyang Maojian tea.

                  Krystal Ching

                  Graduate Student

                  Hometown: Alameda, CA


                  B.A. - Molecular and Cellular Biology, Immunology - University of California, Berkeley

                  Project: Mechanisms of exosome secretion in response to infection.

                  Fun Fact: I love playing ultimate frisbee!

                      Sophie Dyzenhaus

                      Graduate Student

                      Hometown: Toronto, Canada



                      B.S. - Immunology - University of Toronto


                      Project: I work on virulence mechanisms of contemporary S. aureus clinical isolates from bloodstream infections.


                      Fun Fact: My family moved a lot when I was younger, and by the time I was 8 I had lived on 4 different continents.

                          Sandra Gonzalez

                          Assistant Research Scientist

                          Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia



                          B.S. Microbiology - Universidad De Los Andes - Bogotá, Colombia

                          M.S. Microbiology - Universidad De Los Andes - Bogotá, Colombia

                          Project: I work on the host-pathogen interactions occurring during nosocomial MRSA pneumonia infections.


                          Fun Fact: I like to dance salsa and cumbia.

                              Leena Kader

                              Research Associate

                              Hometown: Berlin, CT



                              B.S. - Molecular and Cell Biology - University of Connecticut

                              Project: I am part of a project that is trying to generate monoclonal antibodies against S. aureus leukotoxins, which will ultimately identify functional epitopes.

                              Fun Fact: I am a coffee enthusiast!

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                                Keenan Lacey

                                Postdoctoral Fellow

                                Hometown: Dublin, Ireland



                                B.A. - Microbiology - Trinity College Dublin.

                                Ph.D. - Immunology - Trinity College Dublin.

                                Project: I work on the host-pathogen interactions occurring during nosocomial MRSA pneumonia infections.


                                Fun Fact: My grandfather was also a microbiologist and worked at the Guinness factory.

                                    Miranda Pawline

                                    Research Associate

                                    Hometown: Delanco, NJ



                                    B.S. - Biology and Chemistry - Florida Gulf Coast University  

                                    M.S. - Biology - New York University


                                    Project: Currently studying CA-MRSA colonization of the gastrointestinal tract and assisting in infectious disease hospital surveillance.


                                    Fun Fact:  I’ve had my boaters license since age 14 and can outfish my dad!

                                        Rachel Prescott

                                        Graduate Student

                                        Hometown: Hampden, ME



                                        B.S. - Biochemistry - Worcester Polytechnic Institute


                                        Project: I study the interactions between Staphylococcus bacteria and Influenza viruses in a co-infection model.

                                        Fun Fact:  I played the tuba in the WPI Marching Band! Go Tech! 

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                                          Xuhui Zheng

                                          Graduate Student

                                          Hometown: Beijing, China



                                          B.S. - Biological Sciences - Peking University 


                                          Project: Secretion and bacteria association of LukAB toxin.

                                          Fun Fact: My favorite symbol is the Sun not only because I was born during sunrise, my zodiac is related to sun, and my name means sunshine, but also because I have a passion for everything!

                                              Erin Zwack

                                              Postdoctoral Fellow

                                              Hometown: Oxford, CT



                                              B.S. - Biology with a concentration in Genomics - Davidson College 

                                              Ph.D. - Cellular and Molecular Biology - University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine 


                                              Project: Defining the toxin-dependent and toxin-independent S. aureus response of primary human phagocytes.


                                              Fun Fact: Completed an 8-day, 100-mile hike in the Adirondacks.

                                              Past Lab Members

                                              Kayan Tam, PhD - Graduate Student (2013-2020)

                                              Kristina Boguslawski, PhD - MSTP student (2015-2019)

                                              Irnov Irnov, PhD - Associate Research Scientist (2017-2019)

                                              Rita Chan - Research Associate (2013-2019)

                                              Marilyn Vasquez - SURP 2015, Research Associate (2016-2019)

                                              Bianca Dunn - Assistant Research Technician (2017-2019)

                                              Michael Lesser, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2018)

                                              Ashira Lubkin, PhD - MSTP student (2014-2019)

                                              Alexis Sommerfield - Research Associate (2015-2018)

                                              Evelien Berends, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2018)

                                              Lamia Harper, PhD - Graduate Student (2014-2018)

                                              Aidan O'Malley - Research Associate (2013-2017)

                                              David James, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2017)

                                              Divya Balasubramanian, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-2017)

                                              Pauline Yoong, PhD - Associate Research Scientist (2011- 2015)

                                              Elizabeth Ohneck, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015)

                                              Tamara Reyes-Robles, PhD - Graduate Student (2011-2015)

                                              Francis Alonzo, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2011-2014)

                                              Ashley DuMont, PhD - Graduate Student (2009-2013)

                                              Meredith Benson, PhD - Graduate Student (2009-2013)

                                              Amanda Smith - Research Associate (2009-2011)

                                              Sarit Lilo, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-2010)

                                              Kevin Fabrizio, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-2010)

                                              Torres Lab

                                              Alexandria Center for Life Sciences - West Tower

                                              430 East 29th St, Lab Rm 324

                                              New York, NY 10016

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