Versiti - Lab Team | Sridhar Rao Laboratory | Versiti Blood Research Institute

Lab Team


Interested in joining the Rao lab?

We are seeking highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs. If you are interested in joining the team, contact us using the link below.

Principal Investigator

Cary Stelloh

Lab Manager

Cary Stelloh is a lifelong resident of the Milwaukee area and earned a bachelor of arts in biological sciences from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

In Dr. Rao’s lab, he serves as the lab manager of animal husbandry. Outside of the lab, Cary is a movie fanatic, history buff, recreational runner and proud dog parent.

Kirthi Pulakanti

Bioinformatic Analyst

Kirthi Pulakanti, MS, grew up in Hospet Karnataka, India. She earned her bachelor of engineering in biotechnology in India and her MS in computational sciences at Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

In Dr. Rao’s lab, she works on NGS data and is interested in enhancer biology and epigenetics in leukemia. In her free time, Kirthi enjoys cooking and reading to and playing board games with her sons.

Alison Meyer

Research Scientist

Genetic cooperativity of cohesin mutations in leukemia

Alison Meyer, PhD, grew up in Beaver Dam, Wisc. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Marquette University and went on to earn a master’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she worked with Dr. Elizabeth Craig on molecular chaperones in ribosome biogenesis. She completed postdoctoral training at Duke University, where she transitioned to cancer research.

In Dr. Rao’s lab, Dr. Meyer studies the genetic interaction between two common mutational drivers of acute myeloid leukemia: NPM1c and cohesin haploinsufficiency. In her free time, Dr. Meyer enjoys running, baking and reading.

Katelyn Heimbruch

Katelyn Heimbruch, MSTP Student

Cohesin mutations in core-binding factor leukemia

Katelyn Heimbruch grew up in Franklin, Wisc., and earned a bachelor of science in genetics from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

In Dr. Rao’s lab, she studies how cohesin mutations interact with core-binding factor leukemias. In her free time, Katelyn enjoys cooking, baking and exercising.

Puja Agrawal

MSTP Student

Molecular function of enhancers in early development

Puja Agrawal grew up in Cupertino, Calif., and earned her bachelor of science in molecular and cell biology from the University of California Berkeley.

In Dr. Rao’s lab, she is interested in studying how enhancer-promoter interactions regulate gene expression to drive differentiation in mouse embryonic stem cells through molecular and NGS methods. In her free time, Puja enjoys cooking, baking, crocheting and photography.

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Sridhar Rao Laboratory
The Rao Laboratory studies the process of hematopoiesis and the ability of a single blood stem cell to create all of the blood cells needed in one lifetime.
Versiti Blood Research Institute
Versiti Blood Research Institute investigators study blood disorders like hemophilia, blood cancers like leukemia, and other blood diseases.