Principal Investigator

Erin (Eun-Young) Ahn, Ph.D received her BS (1996) and MS (1998) from Seoul National University in South Korea, and then her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2003). After her graduate study, she moved to San Diego, California and completed her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Dong-Er Zhang at the Scripps Research Institute and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Erin started her independent laboratory in 2012 to study the molecular mechanisms of abnormal gene expression associated with cancer and genetic diseases. She is currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Erin led a multi-group international collaboration to define a novel rare genetic disease, named ZTTK syndrome, which is caused by loss-of-function mutations in the SON gene. In 2019, she had the great honor of being a Nominee for the RARE Champion of Hope Award (Global Genes) recommended by the ZTTK syndrome parent/family group who appreciated her dedication to the study of ZTTK syndrome. She is also a founding member of the ZTTK SON-Shine Foundation.

UAB News highlighted Erin’s role in the ZTTK SON-Shine Foundation: “UAB researcher shines light on a rare disease that causes developmental and intellectual delays

Erin loves all living creatures on earth – humans, animals, bugs, and plants – and she is an avid dog lover. In her free time, she enjoys running outside (not on the treadmill!), taking care of her plants, playing piano and spending time with her family and two dogs, Pip and Candy.


Huashi Li, MS, received her BS at Northeastern Agricultural University (1990) and her MS in Entomology at Beijing Agricultural University (1993) in China. Soon after, she joined UAB, where she has worked for 15 years. Her previous research experience includes working with lung fibrosis and actin-myosin dynamics and their regulation of rapid consolidation of LTP and memory.

Huashi joined Erin’s lab in 2020 and she is extremely interested in working on the lab’s novel Son mouse models, which she oversees daily and tirelessly. Her excitement for research motivates everybody around her! Outside of the lab, Huashi likes to garden and travel.

Hyung-Gyoon Kim, Ph.D., holds a BS degree from Korea University (1985), a MS from the University of Houston (1988), and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (1996). He then pursued postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. Alan Wells and Christopher Klug at UAB.

During his graduate studies, Hyung focused on the transcriptional modulation of proto-oncogene expression using small Triples Forming Oligonucleotides. His postdoctoral research involved the development of a murine model of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) associated with a chromosomal translocation known as “inv16.”

Currently serving as the lab manager in Dr. Ahn’s lab, Hyung oversees overall lab operations and is also responsible for managing regulatory Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocols. Outside of his professional endeavors, he has a passion for fishing, providing medical interpretation to Korean patients who may face language barriers in English, and venturing into various corners of the world and forging connections with new individuals throughout his journeys. Moreover, indulging in TikTok videos in bed on Saturday mornings has recently become a ritual for him.

Bohye Park, Ph.D., received her BS (2014) and MS (2016) in Food and Nutrition at Yonsei University in South Korea. She then received her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2022.

Bohye is currently working as a post-doctoral research fellow in Erin’s lab. Her research focuses on the functional significance of SON in metabolic abnormalities in ZTTK syndrome patients. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing cello, watching TV show, and spending time with her family.

Caitlin Harvey received her B.S. in 2021 in Biochemistry at the University of Alabama – Huntsville. She came to UAB in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences in hopes of researching cancer or pediatric diseases.

Now in Erin’s lab, she is beginning research on the effects of SON on circular RNA in glioblastomas. In her time outside of the lab, Caitlin enjoys reading, playing with her cows and cats, and watching football.

Mostafa Mohamed, MS, graduated from the University of Alexandria’s School of Pharmacy in 2012. He later got his Master’s in Biotechnology at the same University.

Mostafa came to UAB and Erin’s lab as a research scholar from Egypt. He is now a pursuing a Ph.D. at UAB in the GGB theme of GBS. In the lab he is researching the effect of SON on alternative splicing mechanisms in different cell types, with a special interest in bioinformatics. Outside of lab, Mostafa enjoys talking to his wife and kids in Egypt, watching TV series, and cooking.

Sophia Dunlap received her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Michigan. She came to UAB to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences to research cancer and ways to improve cancer therapeutics.

She recently joined Erin’s lab to study SON and how it modulates spicing in glioblastoma. Outside of the lab, Sophia enjoys reading, arts and crafts, and playing with her cats, Bee and Loo.

Amr Elkholy graduated from School of Pharmacy at Alexandria University, Egypt in 2012. There, he found himself interested in learning more about the molecular pathology of cancer.  He joined UAB as a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Sciences in hopes of finding a cure for cancer.

Now in Erin’s lab, Amr is interested in investigating the role of RNA splicing in the pathobiology of leukemia and glioblastoma. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, listening to music, and spending time with friends.

Leah Gehrs started her scientific journey at the University of Mississippi, and received her B.S. from Lindenwood University in 2015.  After graduation, Leah worked in a cancer research lab at Washington University in St. Louis. While here, she discovered her passion for research. She came to UAB to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences eager to research cancer and hoping to find better therapies.

Now in Erin’s lab, Leah is studying SON overexpression and its effects on many cancers, including leukemia. Outside of the lab, Leah likes to enjoy nice weather, go to concerts, read, and bake.

GBS Rotation Students

Alana Franceski (Early Fall 2021), Vinh Doan (Early Fall 2021)

Lab Alumni

Lana Vukadin, Ph.D, completed her BS (2015) in Athletic Training at University of Mobile. Soon after, and with great interests in hematopoietic research, she joined Erin’s lab as a graduate student at University of South Alabama, where she completed her PhD (2020).

Lana is currently working as a post-doctoral research fellow in Erin’s lab, where her research interests expanded further, including examining functions of SON DNA-binding protein in transcription and splicing in various cancer types and the recently identified genetic disorder, the ZTTK syndrome. In her free time, she likes to take care of her two kittens (Billie and Jean), watch her favorite TV show, The Office, and trash talk any basketball teams that play against the Lakers!

Jay Prakash Sah, PhD, collected and completed all of his degrees internationally: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Microbiology at Tribhuvan University, Nepal (2004); Master of Science (MS) in Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) – Clinical Biochemistry at H. N. B. Garhwal University, India (2007); Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Integrated Biomedical Science at Soonchunhyang University, South Korea (2019).

Despite his long list of degrees and experiences as an Assistant Professor for over 12 years in his home country (Nepal), Jay was interested in joining Erin’s laboratory to continue his passion for research! Currently he is a post-doctoral research fellow in our laboratory. His experience in skeletal myogenesis is a perfect contribution to our ZTTK study, as the ZTTK patients often exhibit muscular atrophy. During his free time in the lab, Jay likes to have trivial talk and bully our new graduate student, Caitlin. During his free time outside of the lab, he enjoys hanging out with his two kids, watching movies, playing volleyball, and drinking margaritas on a warm day!

Inga Tytler received her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Auburn University in the Fall of 2019. She joined Erin’s lab in 2021 after working in virology research for her undergraduate career. Inga is currently working as a researcher in Erin’s lab. She is planning to attend graduate school in fall of 2021 to obtain a MPH in Epidemiology. When she is not in lab, she spends her time rowing, consuming far too much caffeine, yelling on twitter, and telling her cats they’re beautiful.

Current position – Graduate Student at the George Washington University

Graduate Students

  • Manal Al Sheikh (Environmental Toxicology MS Degree Program, 2014-2015)
  • Joshua Stone (Ph.D. BMS Graduate Program, 2014-Mar 2019; current position – Postdoctoral fellow at NIH/NCI)
  • Joshua Phillips (Ph.D. student in BMS Graduate Program, 2014-2018; co-mentor with Dr. Ming Tan)
  • Lana Vukadin (Ph.D. student in BMS Graduate Program, Jun 2016-Aug 2020; current position – Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham)
  • Alexander Richard (Ph.D. student in BMS Graduate Program, Jun 2016-Sept 2020; current position – Postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Alabama)

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Christopher Hickey (current position – Assistant Professor of Biology, Palm Beach Atlantic University)
  • Jung-Hyun Kim (current position – Senior Research Associate, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
  • Eun Young Park
  • Hyunkyung Kong

Research Technicians

  • Johnny Tran (current position – Medical student)

Medical Students for Summer Research

  • Aaron Dinerman (May 2017 – April 2018)
  • Brittaney Jackson (2019; won the best oral presentation award in Med School Summer Research competition)

Summer REU Students

  • Hanna Taglinao: UAB Summer in Biomedical Sciences Research Program (June 2021-July 2021)
  • Deanine Dilworth: UAB PARAdiGM (June 2021-July 2021)