Lab News


May 2024: Kaat Vrints (visiting summer student in 2023) will be conducting her research for master’s thesis at KU Leuven on NF1. Her thesis will be titled ”Identifying neural sensitivity to socio-communicative signals: A comparison between children with Neurofibromatosis (NF1), autism and neurotypical controls.’’

April 2024: Research fellow Alex Dyson is the recipient of a Young Investigator’s Award from the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF). The Young Investigator Award is CTF’s longest running award program, and provides two-year salary support to early career NF researchers, such as senior doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers, to help them get established as independent NF investigators. You can learn more here. Congratulations Alex!

March 2024: Research fellow Torrey Mandigo and laboratory technician Suraj Math presented posters at The Allied Genetics Conference (TAGC) in Washington DC this March. TAGC is a unique conference organized by the Genetics Society of America that fosters collaboration between biological research communities by alternating community-specific sessions with cross-community thematic sessions. Learn more here. Well done Torrey and Suraj!


November 2023: The Walker lab is honored to receive financial support from Cure NF with Jack. This generous donation will empower us to continue and intensify our dedicated research efforts aimed at understanding and combating NF1. This donation was made possible by fundraising and the annual Great Jacksby Golf Tournament hosted in Milton, GA. To learn more about Cure NF with Jack click here. To see how this money will be used, click here.

October 2023: Vikas Kumar joins the Walker Lab after completing his PhD at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India earlier this year. Welcome Vikas!

July 2023: Laboratory technician Suraj Math recently participated in the Summer Science Slam hosted by the Mass General Research Institute. Suraj discussed the importance of fruit flies as models for identifying new drug molecules and therapies. Well done Suraj! You can see an overview of the Summer Science Slam here.

July 2023: Summer student Nicole Benjamin was recently featured on the University of New Hampshire’s website, highlighting the work she’s doing in our lab. Nicole is here as a SOAR intern, a program specific to UNH. To read more about SOAR and Nicole’s summer project, click here.

July 2023: The Walker Lab is excited to welcome Kaat Vrints to the lab for the summer. Kaat comes to us all the way from Leuven, Belgium where she is a biomedical sciences student at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Welcome Kaat!

June 2023: Research fellow Stephanie Bouley recently gave a platform talk at the annual NF Conference held this year in Scottdale, AZ. Her talk focused on identifying novel therapeutic targets by comparing expression differences in NF1-dysregulated cells. You can learn more about the NF Conference here.

June 2023: Three Walker lab members presented at the Annual Boston Area Drosophila Meeting on June 14th, 2023, hosted this year at Brandeis University. Research fellow Alex Dyson gave a brief talk on his work investigating tactile hypersensitivity in NF1-deficient Drosophila, while research fellow Torrey Mandigo and research technician Suraj Math presented posters on their research focused on mechanisms of sleep regulation and phenotypic consequences of disrupted N-glycosylation, respectively.

June 2023: The Walker Lab is pleased to welcome Athena Ye to the lab as our newest research technician. Athena recently graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Welcome Athena!

June 2023: Research fellow Stephanie Bouley was recently featured on the Children’s Tumor Foundation’s blog, highlighting her career trajectory since receiving a Young Investigator Award in 2016. You can read the article here:

May 2023: We’re excited to welcome Nicole Benjamin to the lab. Nicole is a visiting student from University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH and will be here for the summer. Welcome Nicole!

May 2023: Ph.D. candidate Francisco Fernandez was chosen to present his research as part of the annual Rising Stars Symposium hosted by Sanford Burnham Prebys in La Jolla, CA. He was one of 12 Ph.D. candidates and post-docs presenting as part of the symposium. Congratulations Francisco!

May 2023: The Walker lab is pleased to welcome Bidisha Paul to MGH as a post-doctoral research fellow. Dr. Paul received her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. Welcome to the lab Bidisha!

April 2023: Dr. Jim Walker presented as part of the Tuesday Takeaways Speaker Series, an educational lunch time talk hosted by NF Northeast. Jim spoke about our efforts in the lab to identify new therapeutic strategies for NF.

March 2023: Post-doctoral research fellow Torrey Mandigo has been selected as a winner of a SAC 2023 Poster of Distinction Award. He will receive a $1,000 travel award for his excellent work. Well done Torrey!

March 2023: Congratulations to former lab member Annabelle Elsner for winning the first-place award for the Genetics & Mol. Biology section of the 16th Annual Eckerd College Undergraduate Research Symposium! Learn more here:

February 2023: We are excited to announce that Post-doctoral research fellow Torrey Mandigo is one of the winners of the Harvard Brain Initiative 2022 Beauty of the Brain Image Contest. This year 32 submissions were received, of which 5 images were selected. A gallery of this year’s submissions can be found here and the winning submissions can be viewed here. Congratulations Torrey!

January 2023: The Walker lab is pleased to welcome Alex Dyson to MGH as a Post-doctoral research fellow. Dr. Dyson recently completed his Ph.D. in Psychiatry at the University of Manchester in England. Welcome to the lab Alex!


December 2022: The Walker Lab is pleased to announce that PhD Candidate Francisco Fernandez has been awarded the Neurofibromatosis Northeast Research Fellowship Award to fund his PhD research on NF1 and gene therapy. Congratulations Francisco!

November 2022: Research Fellow Stephanie Joy Bouley tied for 3rd place in the Clinical Fellows and PhD/Post-docs division of the 2nd annual Neurofibromatosis Young Investigators Forum. Congratulations Stephanie! Also pictured: Dr. Kyle Williams (who also won 3rd place) and Dr. Bruce Korf. You can read all about the NFYIF here in their most recent newsletter.

October 2022: The Walker lab is excited to welcome Miguel Guerra-Solano to the lab as a research technician. Miguel is also finishing his Masters at West Chester University. Welcome to the lab Miguel!

August 2022: The Walker lab has welcomed Ben Craine to the lab as an Undergraduate placement student. Ben will be with us for the next year conducting research before returning to the University of Exeter to complete his studies. Welcome Ben!

August 2022: The Walker lab is pleased to welcome Suraj Math to the lab as a research technician. Suraj recently completed a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science from Pune University. Welcome Suraj!

July 2022: Dr. Stephanie Bouley presented at the NF Summit organized by the Children’s Tumor Foundation in Chicago, IL. She presented on the NF1 Sleep Study being conducted by the Walker and Saxena labs. You can learn more about the NF Summit here and about the NF1 Sleep Study here.

June 2022: The Walker lab has welcomed David Degidio as one of our new research technicians. David recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor of Science. Welcome David!

June 2022: Dr. Torrey Mandigo presented at the annual Boston Area Drosophila (BAD) Meeting on June 16th on his post-doctoral research. His talk was entitled “Protein Glycosylation is a regulator sleep and circadian rhythms in Drosophila.” Learn more about BAD here.

June 2022: The Walker lab is pleased to welcome Annabelle Elsner for the summer. Annabelle is an undergraduate student from Eckerd College and is expected to complete her studies in 2024. Welcome Annabelle!

May 2022: The Walker Lab participated in the annual Steps2Cure NF Walk/Run in Wakefield, MA hosted by Neurofibromatosis Northeast under the team name Walker’s Walkers! Together, we were able to raise over $275 for NF research. Thank you for your support!

May 2022: Dr. Stephanie Joy Bouley recently presented at the 25th annual American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) meeting in Washington D.C., which focuses on advancing knowledge, awareness, and education of gene and cell therapies.

May 2022: Research technician Nick LoRocco has accepted a M.D./Ph.D. position at The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Congratulations Nick!

April 2022: Dr. James Walker received a grant from the Gilbert Family Foundation’s Gene Therapy Initiative grant. The Gilbert Family Foundation is a private foundation established by Jennifer and Dan Gilbert to accelerate a cure for neurofibromatosis type one (NF1) and build economic opportunity and equity in the city of Detroit. See:

April 2022: Ph.D. Candidate Francisco Fernandez was recognized as part of this year’s Massachusetts General Hospital Graduate Student Appreciation Week.

March 2022: Stephanie Joy Bouley, Ph.D. has been selected to receive one of the slots in the Mass General Brigham (MGB) Precision and Genomic Medicine (P&GM) T32 Training Program. Congratulations Stephanie!


October 2021: The Walker Lab now has a twitter account! Be sure to follow us @WalkerLabMGH!

October 2021: The Walker lab was featured on the Children’s Tumor Foundation Blog along with our collaborator Dr. Ben Kleinstiver to discuss the impact that support form the NF1 Gene Therapy Initiative research program has had on our research. Read more here: 

September 2021: Dr. Stephanie Joy Bouley was accepted to attend The Neurofibromatosis Young Investigators’ Forum (NFYIF), a highly competitive research and professional development forum that strives to encourage, promote, and empower Young Investigators to forge collegial connections and acquire the necessary skills and relationships to increase their research productivity and catalyze their career trajectory in neurofibromatosis. Learn more here:

September 2021: Graduate student Francisco Fernandez, along with several classmates, has published a paper in Nature Biotechnology on how community building should be integrated into the graduate classroom to foster the development of a professional identity and build connections between students and faculty to improve student wellness and support students from diverse backgrounds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Well done Francisco! You can read the paper here:

July 2021: We are happy to welcome Co-op students Austin Birmingham and Sophia Castellani to the Walker Lab. Both are undergraduate students from Northeastern University and are expected complete their studies in 2023. They will be working in the Walker lab for the next six months. Welcome Austin and Sophia!

June 2021: This month, both Dr. Jim Walker and Dr. Stephanie Joy Bouley presented at the annual NF Conference organized by the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), which was held virtually this year. Dr. Bouley spoke on the laboratory’s efforts towards developing CRISPR-based gene therapies for Neurofibromatosis Type 1, while Dr. Walker focused on identifying novel drugs to treat NF1-associated tumors using genetic screens in Drosophila cells. The Walker lab is looking forward to attending next year’s meeting in person in Philadelphia, PA.

June 2021: The Walker lab is pleased to welcome Anya Thomas for the summer. Anya is an undergraduate student from Eckerd College and is expected to complete her studies in 2022. Welcome Anya!

May 2021: Graduate student Francisco Fernandez has passed his qualifying exam. Congratulations Francisco!

March 2021: Torrey Mandigo, Ph.D. was accepted as a Post-doctoral Fellow on the Harvard Medical School Research Training Program in Sleep, Circadian and Respiratory Neurobiology. Congratulations Torrey!


November 2020: We are pleased to welcome Nicholas LoRocco to the Walker lab as a new research technician. Nick recently graduated from Northeastern University with his Bachelor of Science degree. Welcome Nick!

September 2020: The Walker lab is excited to welcome graduate student Francisco Fernandez to the lab. Francisco is pursuing a Ph.D. from the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard University. Welcome Francisco! To learn more about Francisco’s journey to Harvard, click here.

August 2020: We are pleased to welcome Research Fellow Torrey Mandigo, Ph.D to the Walker lab! Torrey recently graduated with his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Boston College. Welcome Torrey!

May 2020: Congratulations and farewell to Research Associate Brittany Leger, who is beginning her graduate school career at the University of California San Diego this fall. She will be greatly missed in the Walker lab. Good luck Brittany!


October 2019: Dr. Stephanie Joy Bouley has received the Dorothy and Spiro Latsis Fellowship in Neurofibromatosis Research from Boston Children’s Hospital. With this two-year fellowship, Dr. Bouley will continue her work on identifying unique network signatures associated with NF1 loss in plexiform neurofibromas. Congratulations Stephanie!

September 2019: Dr. Jim Walker recently spoke at the annual NF Conference hosted by the Children’s Tumor Foundation in San Francisco, California. Dr. Walker’s talk, entitled “Modeling NF1 in Drosophila” kicked off the Animal Models session of the four-day conference and focused on the novel insights the fruit fly Drosophila has provided into NF1 biology.

May 2019: Dr. Jim Walker was one of two recipients to receive funding from the Children’s Tumor Foundation in the form of a NF1 Gene Therapy Initiative Award. Dr. Walker’s project focuses on investigating the feasibility of using genome editing (both CRISPR-based homology-directed repair and base editing) as a therapeutic approach to correct three pathogenic NF1 mutations in cultured human Schwann cells. We will capitalize on recently developed CRISPR/Cas9 and Cas12a variants, which increase the targeting range, activity, and fidelity (reducing off-targets) of gene-editing in collaboration with Dr. Ben Kleinstiver of the Center for Genomic Medicine at MGH.

March 2019: Jim successfully completed a two-day workshop on mentoring undergraduate science researchers run by the Harvard FAS Science Education Office.

March 2019: Research Associate Brittany Leger recently gave a Plenary Platform Presentation at the Genetics Society of America 60th Annual Drosophila Research Conference held in Dallas, Texas. This work is a result of a collaboration between the Walker and Saxena labs from the Center for Genomic Medicine at MGH, as well as with the Schreiber lab at the Broad Institute and focuses on the effects of ALG10 mutations and protein N-glycosylation on sleep and seizure phenotypes in a Drosophila model of ALG10 loss. Well done Brittany!

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