Principal Investigator

C.V. Starr Associate 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.


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


Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award.


NYU Langone Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award.


C.V. Starr Endowed Associate Professor of Microbiology.




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.

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

Exene Anderson

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!

    Krystal Ching

    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.

      Sophie Dyzenhaus

      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.

        Juliana Ilmain

        Graduate Student

          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! 

          Anna O'Keeffe

          Research Associate

            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.

            Keenan Lacey

            Postdoctoral Fellow

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            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.

            Sofya Perelman

            Postdoctoral Fellow

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            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.

            Will Sause

            Postdoctoral Fellow

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            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!

            Xuhui Zheng

            Graduate Student

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            Hometown: Bernardston, MA



            M.S. and B.S. - Microbiology - UMass, Amherst

            Ph.D. - Microbiology - NYU


            Project: I'm trying to understand the molecular basis of the species specificity of the LukAB leukocidin to create a novel mouse model susceptible to this toxin.


            Fun Fact:  I share a birthday with my brother and sister, they are twins and were born on my 2nd birthday. 

            Kristina Boguslawski

            MSTP Student

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            Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA



            B.S. - Biology - Denison University 

            Ph.D. - Microbiology - New York University 


            Project: 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.

            Ashley DuMont

            Associate Research Scientist

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            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.

            Christa Emanuel

            Administrative Assistant

              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!

              Leena Kader

              Research Associate

                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. 

                Matthew Keller

                Graduate Student

                  Hometown: Hampden Maine



                  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! 

                  Rachel Prescott

                  Graduate Student

                    Hometown: Hong Kong, China/Fremont, CA



                    B.S. - Biomedical Engineering - University of California, Davis


                    Project: I study the role of leukocidins in the generation of adaptive immunity against S. aureus


                    Fun Fact: I may not know all the best bars, but I do know all the dessert places in the city!

                    Kayan Tam

                    Graduate Student

                      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.

                      Erin Zwack

                      Postdoctoral Fellow

                        Past Lab Members

                        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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