People of the Valenzano Lab

We are a team of international scientists working to answer open questions in the fields of evolutionary biology of aging and microbiome research.

senior scientist

drawing Kathrin Reichwald manages the Valenzano lab, from animal licences, to group coordination and support of scientific projects.

lab tech

drawing Lisa Adam is the Valenzano lab technician, currently helping set up the lab at the Leibniz Institute on Aging. Lisa supports molecular projects involving genome sequencing, cell culture and cytometry.


drawing Handan Melike Dönertaş is a computational biologist interested in biology of aging. She is developing computational models to study ecological dynamics in commensal/pathogenic microbes during host aging.
drawing Dennis de Bakker studies the genetic causes of naturally-occurring neurodegeneration in African killifishes using genomics, genome editing, histology and experimental anti-aging interventions.
drawing Silvia Cattelan studies male reproductive aging in turquoise killifish. Silvia is an experimental biologists performing experiments in captive killifish cohorts.

graduate students

drawing Jens Seidel is interested at the interplay between immune aging and microbiome composition in killifish and mice. He develops molecular methods to study how the host immune system shapes the commensal microbiome. Jens’ work involves molecular biology, genome editing and genomics.
drawing Gabriele Morabito works at the interface between genome instability and immune aging - he studies genome evolution and immune system-microbiome crosstalk during aging.
drawing Martin Bagic develops numerical models of genome evolution, exploring how demography and ecology shape the evolution of the genetic variants that cause aging across species in nature.

master students

drawing Mihaela Mihaljevic studies neurodegeneration in killifish brains using genome editing and histology. She also refines genome assemblies to better map genomic regions involved in fin color determination in turquoise killifish using Oxfor Nanopore technology.
drawing Sam Kean studies how microbiota establish themselves, persist and change in composition throughout host life. Sam’s work involves fieldwork, genomics, bioinformatics and microbiology.