Lab Members

John Witte

Professor, 415-502-6882

John is Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Urology, Head of the Division of Genetic and Cancer Epidemiology, Associate Director of the Institute for Human Genetics, and co-Leader of the Cancer Genetics Program at UCSF. He obtained a BS in Mathematical Sciences, a MS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, and a PhD in Epidemiology (with Sander Greenland at UCLA). Before joining the faculty at UCSF in 2003, he did a post-doc in Biostatistics and spent eight years on the faculty at Case Western Reserve University. In addition to work, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, outdoors, and in the swimming pool!

Erin Gilbertson

Doctoral Student

Erin is a PhD student in the Biological and Medical Informatics (BMI) program at UCSF. She received her BS in Genetics, Cell Biology and Develop with a minor in Computer Science in 2019 from the University of Minnesota. Erin joined the Witte Lab in June 2020 and is currently working on identifying possible genetic pleiotropy between IBD and prostate cancer. She is also interested in computational methods development and machine learning. Outside of the lab Erin enjoys bouldering, camping and anything that involves spending time on or in the water.

Jean Costello

Doctoral Student

Jean Costello is a PhD student in the Bioinformatics program. She received her BA in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 2014 and worked as a software developer for three years before enrolling in graduate school. She is interested in exploring the relationship between environmental exposures and preterm birth. When not at work, she enjoys making origami, playing piano, and hiking.

Jovia Nierenberg


Jovia joined the Witte lab in June 2020, after finishing her PhD in Epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, where she also received her MPH. Her doctoral research examined the genomics and metabolomics of kidney function, with Dr. Tanika N. Kelly as her primary mentor. Jovia earned a BA in Psychology at the University of San Francisco. She is interested in examining genomic relationships between cancer and other diseases of aging, as well as studying pleiotropic cancer variants. Jovia is an avid runner and hiker, and enjoys aerial acrobatics.

Linda Kachuri


Linda Kachuri joined the Witte lab in February 2018, shortly after completing her PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Rayjean Hung. She received an MPH in Epidemiology, also from the University of Toronto in 2012, and a BSc in Psychology from McGill University in 2010. Linda's doctoral research explored the role of rare variants in chromosome 5p15 and telomere length in lung cancer risk and progression. In addition to genetic epidemiology, she is also interested in environmental and occupational cancer risk factors. As a postdoc, Linda is looking forward to working on collaborative projects in prostate cancer, and leveraging genetic and molecular data to gain insight into the mechanisms of cancer etiology and progression. Outside of work Linda enjoys travelling, photography, and exploring the local food scene.

Taylor Cavazos

Doctoral Student

Taylor is a PhD student in the Biological and Medical Informatics (BMI) program at UCSF. She received her BS in Bioengineering: Bioinformatics at UCSD in 2017. She is interested in addressing the limitations of polygenic risk scores, including the poor performance in non-European populations. In general, Taylor is focused on developing computational tools that integrate multi-omic datasets to advance the treatment and understanding of human disease. Her favorite activities are hiking, wakeboarding, and spending time at the beach.

Travis Meyers


Travis completed his MPH and PhD in epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and joined the Witte Lab in 2017. He earned a BA in biology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang supervised Travis’s doctoral research on cumulative cigarette tar exposure, genetic variants, and their interactions on susceptibility and survival of lung and upper aerodigestive tract cancers. Travis is interested in genome-wide association studies as well as gene-environment interaction for cancer risk and progression. A Sacramento native, he enjoys running, tennis, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

Yu Jiang


Yu joined the Witte lab in August 2020, after finishing her PhD in Biostatistics at the Penn State University College of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Dajiang Liu. She received an MS in Biostatistics at Harvard University School of Public Health in 2015. Yu's dissertation research is focused on methods for meta-analysis of genetic association studies of sequence data. She is interested in integrating data from multiple technologies to answer a biological or medical question, identifying important features and predicting outcomes. When not at work, Yu enjoys going outdoors with her family, exploring different types of restaurants and cooking.


Former Lab Members (& Current Employer)