Moriarity Lab Team

Principal Investigator

Moriarity Cropped Photo


Branden Moriarity, PhD

Full Bio



Post-Doctoral Associates

  • Amy Molan, PhD

    • Amy is currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the Pediatric Department following the completion of her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Minnesota. Amy's postdoctoral research is focused on improving methods for engineering primary human T-cells to eventually be used in clinical settings. Currently she is pursuing a career targeted towards independent research positions at R01 institutions where she can use the tools created in her postdoc for pediatric cancer treatment. Outside of research Amy volunteers with the Angel Foundation, plays video games and disc golfs with her daughter and partner, and enjoys traveling anytime she can.

PhD Students

  • Kelsie Becklin

    • Kelsie is a second-year graduate student in the Comparative Molecular Biosciences (CMB) program. Her research focuses primarily on generating new cancer models using induced pluripotent stem cells and genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9. Kelsie hopes these models will provide an improved platform to screen cancer therapies prior to clinical testing and aid in the investigation of the genes and pathways that lead to cancer initiation, progression, and various drug responses. 
  • Kanut Laoharawee

    • Kanut is a third-year graduate student in the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDBG) Program. His research focuses on engineering primary human B lymphocytes (a.k.a. B cells) to create clinical products for treating human genetic inherited diseases. Kanut's long-term goal is to engineer B cells for cell-based protein/enzyme replacement therapies.

  • Emily Pomeroy

    • Emily is a third-year graduate student in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology (MICaB) Program. She has a BS in Physiology and an MS in Neuroscience from Northern Michigan University. Her research involves engineering primary human NK cells with the goal of creating clinical products for treating cancer. Emily's long-term goal is to become an independent investigator in the fields of immunology and genome engineering, with a focus on clinical translation. Emily loves her dog and cat, camping, cooking, and music. 
  • Branden Smeester

    • Branden is a fourth-year graduate student in the Comparative Molecular Biosciences (CMB) program. In his research, he aims to develop an understanding of the genes and pathways that control osteosarcomagenesis in order to provide new targets for therapeutic development and clinical translation. He holds a BS in Biology from the University of Minnesota. Prior to graduate school, he had hobbies, interests and a general lust for life. These goals have been significantly altered and he may or may not hate it. 

Research Staff

  • Micki Diers, Lab Manager

    • Micki is a Research Scientist and the Moriarity Lab Manager. She has a combined 24 years of research experience at the UMN. She has had the opportunity to work with some great doctors over the years including Dr. Scott McIvor, Dr. David Largaespada, Dr. Brenda Weigel, Dr. Bruce Blazar, Dr. Branden Moriarity, and Dr. Beau Webber, contributing to several areas of cancer research. Her current focus in the Moriarity/Webber labs is T-cell work, engineering T-cells for enhanced cancer immunotherapy. She loves dogs, spending weekends at the lake, and traveling.
  • Matt Johnson

    • Matt, a research scientist, joined the lab in March 2016 and works on the B cell, Dendritic cell, and T-cell projects. Prior to joining the lab he researched methods of HIV vaccination as a post-doc at the Emory Vaccine Center. He completed his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology as a member of Dr. Richard Koup's lab in the Vaccine Research Center at the NIH through Georgetown University. He has a BSc in Medical Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
  • Mitchell Kluesner

    • Mitch joined the lab in the spring of 2016 while an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, where he received his BS in Biochemistry and Neuroscience, with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. As a lab technician, Mitch uses bioinformatic techniques to design, employ, and analyze CRISPR-Cas9 base editing approaches. When not in the lab or on his computer, Mitch likes to spend time in the woods mushroom hunting or playing music.
  • Walker Lahr

    • Walker joined the lab in December of 2016 and works with primary human T, B, and NK cells to further develop base editor and varioius HDR techniques. He has a BS in Biology from the College of Holy Cross. His research has the goal of creating clinical products for therapy. Walker is working towards a career in medicine and hopes to deliver translational therapies to interested patients.
  • Cara-lin Lonetree

    • Cara-lin joined the lab in November 2017 and is the lead technician on the T-cell base editor project. She has a BSc in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and an MSc in Cell & Gene Therapy from University College London. She eats a lot of chocolate and you can bring her some any time.
  • Nicholas Slipek

    • Nick joined the lab in the fall of 2018 to work on several projects developing better T-cell therapies. He has a BA in biology from the College of Holy Cross. Nick is looking forward to attending medical school and hopes to focus his career on improving clinical trial design and participation as well as medical ethics. Nick loves to ski and will take you skiing any time you want!

Administrative Team

  • Emerson Fuller, Administrative Assistant
  • Rebecca Ingison, Administrative Support
  • Sandra Wagner, Lab Safety Manager


  • Sam Bingea

    • Sam is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Human Physiology. Sam is working on his honors thesis project using base editor technology to correct Fanconi Anemia (FA) patient-derived primary fibroblasts. The long-term goal of this project is to reprogram corrected cells into iPSCs, which could then be differentiated into hematopoietic stem cells (HCT) for use in Autologous HCT transplant. Sam hopes to pursue a career in medicine and is interested in hematology/oncology and surgery.
  • Samantha Lee

    • Samantha is an undergraduate at UMN majoring in Genetcs, Cell Biology, and Development with a minor in Computer Science. Sam joined the Moriarity Lab in June 2015 and wrote her honors thesis, "Rapid Generation of Multiplexed and Conditional CRISPR Transgenic Mouse Models" under the advising of Dr. Branden Moriarity. Upon graduation in May 2019, Sam plans to work in Chicago as an Associate Data Scientist for Blue Cross Blue Shield of IL, NM, MT, OK, and TX. Sam's long-term goal is to work in the field of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology with a focus on cancer biology.
  • Madison Vignes

    • Madison is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Biology with minors in Public Health and Spanish. Madison joined the Moriarity lab in May of 2017 and is currently working on a project that uses Base Editor technology to genetically modify Jurkats, a line of human T lymphocyte cells, without inducing deleterious translocations. Madison's immediate career goal is to pursue a Masters in Epidemiology with a focus in cancer/chronic disease Epidemiology.
  • Kenta Yamamoto

    • Kenta is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the College of Biological Sciences, majoring in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. His research uses Base Editor technology to correct disease-causing mutations in hematopoietic stem cells. Kenta's long-term goal is to pursue medical research such as genome engineering or medicinal chemistry, as well as potentially practice medicine.