Principal Investigators

Elizabeth Tarling, Ph.D. ~ Associate Professor

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine-Cardiology at UCLA. I did my undergraduate and graduate training at the University of Nottingham, in the UK. In 2008 I moved to UCLA, and joined the laboratory of Dr. Peter Edwards, where my research was focused on investigating the role of the ATP Binding Cassette Transporter ABCG1 in lipid metabolism, inflammation, atherosclerosis and innate immunity. In 2013, I was promoted to Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiology at UCLA, and in 2018 to Associate Professor. My research interests are understanding and identifying mechanisms that control cellular and whole body cholesterol homeostasis, with a focus on pulmonary lipid homeostasis, immunity and disease. I love running (road and trail), reading and spending time with my family.

Thomas Vallim, Ph.D. ~ Associate Professor

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at UCLA. I was born in Brazil and emigrated to England as a teenager, where I received both my M.Sci and Ph.D from the University of Nottingham. In 2008, I came to UCLA for my post-doctoral studies in Peter Edwards' lab. I was promoted to Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiology at UCLA in 2013, and in 2016, I joined the Department of Biological Chemistry. My research interests are in identifying novel molecular regulators of pathways that control lipid metabolism in health and disease. In my spare time, I love to hang out with my family, traveling and watching football (or soccer, as we call it here in the US!)


Bethan Clifford, Ph.D. ~ Postdoctoral Fellow
I am the small and excitable post-doc of the lab. I came to LA in July 2016 after completing my undergrad and PhD at the University of Nottingham in England. My current research focus is novel regulators of cholesterol metabolism, but I can usually be found wandering round the lab in confusion. When I’m not doing this, I’m often with a book, in hunt of something edible, or taking a nap. Sometimes all three.
Leslie Sedgeman, Ph.D. ~ Postdoctoral Fellow
Prior to joining the Tarling-Vallim lab, I received a BA in chemistry from Vassar College, and a PhD in Molecular Physiology from Vanderbilt University, in the laboratory of Dr. Kelsey Vickers. I joined the lab in November 2018, and have been investigating the posttranscriptional mechanisms of gene regulation in bile acid and cholesterol metabolism. Broadly, my research interests center around understanding how cells and organisms sense and respond to nutrients. Outside the lab, I enjoy cooking, traveling, hiking, and exploring our new home area of Southern California.

Kelsey Jarrett, Ph.D. ~ Postdoctoral Fellow
Before joining the Tarling-Vallim group in December 2018, I completed a B.S. in Microbiology and M.S. in Cellular Physiology at Southern Illinois Universtiy Carbondale, and a Ph.D. in Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. My projects in the laboratory aim to broaden our understanding of genes involved in bile acid and lipid metabolism by combining techniques like genome editing with the power of different omics datasets. On the rare occasion that I cannot get enough science in the laboratory, I can be found talking about the daily life of a scientist on Twitter and Instagram or communicating with tomorrow's scientists through Skype a Scientist and other local science outreach programs. When I'm not working on something science-related, I can be found reading, baking far too many treats, or going for walks or runs to explore the city.
Madelaine Sholto, Ph.D. ~ Postdoctoral Fellow
I joined the Tarling-Vallim lab in November 2019, after carrying out my BSc and PhD at the University of Nottingham. My current research involves investigating novel regulatory targets of bile acid and lipid metabolism by utilising omics technology and bioinformatics analysis. In my free time I really enjoy going on hikes, as well as finding new foody and craft beer places to try.

Elinor Lee, MD, Ph.D. ~ Postdoctoral Fellow
I did my undergrad (Majoring in Biology and English) at Amherst College and my MD at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine. I completed my Residency in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. I recently completed my Ph.D. in the Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology program at UCLA (STAR program). I joined the lab in July 2016, and my research is focused on understanding the role of lipid metabolism in the rare lung disease Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis. I love hanging out with friends, trying out different restaurants, traveling and exploring new places.

Research Fellows

Alvin Chan, M.D. ~ Research Fellow
I am a Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellow studying the effects of bile acid pool manipulation on lipid absorption and fatty liver disease. Before joining the lab in July 2020, I completed my BS at UC Berkeley, MPH at Harvard University, MD at UC Irvine, and Pediatric Residency at UCLA. Outside of work, I enjoy running (especially marathons), watching basketball (whenever Lebron James is playing), and spending time with my wife and son.

Graduate Students

Emily Smith (Peluso) ~ Graduate Student
I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2017 with a degree in Biology. I then completed a research fellowship at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. I joined the Tarling-Vallim lab at UCLA in July 2021. I am interested in how peroxin family proteins contribute to the localization and function of key peroxisomal enzymes and may be required for lipid metabolism. In my free time, I enjoy camping with my dog and husband, spending time with friends, and traveling to new places.
Gabriella Rubert ~ Graduate Student
I am a Southern California native and graduated from Boston College in 2020 with a BS in Biochemistry before joining the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Doctoral Program here at UCLA. I officially joined the Tarling-Vallim lab for my thesis work in July 2021 and am interested in the epigenetic factors regulating lipid metabolism in the liver. As a Latina woman, I love to mentor younger scientists; I am very passionate about improving the accessibility and inclusivity of higher academia for underrepresented groups to address the disparities we see in STEM fields. Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, exploring Los Angeles, lifting weights, and snuggling up with a good book next to my cat Penelope.


Angela Cheng ~ Staff Research Assistant I
I did my undergrad at UC Berkeley, and started in this lab in the summer of 2014. My specialties in the lab include assays, extractions (of many varieties!), RNA libraries, and dry, witty put-downs. I enjoy reading books and drinking coffee, so shhhhh - you’re interrupting my reading ;)
Michelle Steel ~ Staff Research Assistant III
I joined the Tarling-Vallim Lab in March 2020 after closing out the Arispe Lab at UCLA. I’m a RVT by trade and have fewer letters behind my name than the rest of this bunch, but what I lack in letters I make up with experience. I started my career at UCLA in 2001 and know lots of tricks, but I am best known for my mouse skills and navigating through all of the fun compliance stuff. When I’m not wrangling mice or tackling a protocol, you can find me spending time with my family, tending my garden, or playing with my horses.


Ethan Chingyi Ie
I am currently a senior studying Computational Systems and Biology with an interest in statistics and data science. I joined the lab in January 2020 and have been working on identifying proteins involved in lipid regularization using statistical methods. When I am not coding, you can catch me binging netflix or playing tennis!
Arnold Pfahnl
I'm a third year studying Computer Science and Engineering with a general interest in bioinformatics. I joined the lab in September 2019 and I've worked on using various statistical techniques to extract new information from lipidomics data. Besides research, I'm usually playing the horn, biking, or swimming.

Rodrigo Baltazar-Nuñez ~ Undergraduate Student
I am a third year undergraduate student majoring in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology with minors in Biomedical Research and Public Health. I joined the lab in Fall 2021 and have been learning how to design guide RNAs for use in AAV-CRISPR gene targeting and knockdown. Outside of the lab, I like to watch Netflix documentaries, tutor kids, jog, or go out with friends! I’m also unnecessarily competitive when playing board games!
Meigan Wu ~ Undergraduate Student
I am a fourth year student majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and minoring in Anthropology. I joined the lab in September 2021, and I am very excited to learn more about lipid metabolism by helping out with cell experiments and mice experiments! Here are some fun facts about me: I like to play flute, do arts and crafts, and go on nature walks!

Lab Alumni

Joan Cheng ~ Staff Research Assistant I
Elizabeth Vanderwall ~ Lab Assistant I


Jenny Link, Ph.D. ~ Postdoctoral Fellow
Tyler Laws ~ Summer Undergraduate


Vivian Iloabuchi ~ Summer Undergraduate
Pauline Morand ~ Staff Research Assistant II


Li Huynh ~ Lab Assistant I
Timothy Yu ~ Undergraduate


Rachel Scott ~ Undergraduate
Madeline Guajardo ~ Undergraduate

Manasvi Paudel
Anthony Suberski