Scroll below to find out more about us, what we do, like and where do we come from. Or if you are interested in knowing what people from the lab went on to do, see here.

Juanma Vaquerizas | Group Leader
Jahnavi Bhaskaran | IMPRS PhD Student
Sara de la Cruz Molina | Postdoctoral Fellow
Noelia Díaz | Postdoctoral Fellow
Benjamín Hernández-Rodríguez | ZENCODE-ITN PhD Student
Fabian Groll | IMPRS PhD Student
Liz Ing-Simmons | Postdoctoral Fellow
Sara Llorente Armijo | MSc Student
Paul-Georg Majev | PhD Student (joint with the Adams lab)
Maria Rigau | Postdoctoral Fellow
Quirze Rovira | ZENCODE-ITN PhD Student
Virginie Tissières | Postdoctoral Fellow

Juanma Vaquerizas |

Juanma (Spanish short form for ‘Juan Manuel’) studied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. He received his PhD from the Spanish National Cancer Centre and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (2008) where he worked on the characterisation of the human transcription factor repertoire (Vaquerizas et al., 2009). Juanma trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Nick Luscombe at the EMBL – European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, UK. Here, in collaboration with Asifa Akhtar’s laboratory he focused on the study of the dosage compensation mechanism in Drosophila melanogaster (Kind et al., 2008; Vaquerizas et al., 2010; Conrad et al., 2012). Since 2012, Juanma is a Max Planck Research Group Leader at the MPI in Muenster.

On top of science, Juanma also enjoys rowing, cycling, tech-stuff and playing the guitar with his band.


Jahnavi Bhaskaran |

Jahnavi completed her Bachelor’s in Biotechnology in India and her Master’s in Biology at ETH Zurich.  She was first introduced to computational biology in Tuncay Baubec’s lab  at University of Zurich where she was studying DNA methylation in cancer. During her PhD, she plans to combine her new-found interest in high-dimensional data with her longstanding interest in cancer biology.

Jahnavi enjoys Carnatic music, Bollywood dance and most importantly, Pongal-Sambar with a lot of ghee.

“To confront cancer is to encounter a parallel species, one perhaps more adapted to survival than even we are.” – The Emperor of All Maladies


Sara de la Cruz Molina |

Sara studied Biotechnology at the University of León and completed her Master in Sciences at the University of Valencia, in collaboration with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). She obtained her PhD in Natural Sciences with a focus in Genetics, from the University of Cologne. During her PhD she characterised a new set of DNA regulatory elements, poised enhancers, which play a fundamental role in the exit of pluripotency and establishment of early developmental programs. Afterwards, Sara moved to Connecticut to work as a postdoc at Yale University. There she collaborated in a project to identify regulatory elements responsible of driving evolutionary morphological changes in primates. She joined the lab in June 2019 and focuses on characterising transposable elements and their regulatory role in mouse development.

“I went looking for my dreams outside of myself and discovered, it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it” Lucy Maud Montgomery

Sara likes cinema in original version, hiking and chocolate.


Noelia Díaz |

Noelia studied Biology at Universitat de Barcelona. After her college years she worked for a spin-off company from Université of Gembloux (THT) where she was involved in the improvement of the production of a local strain of Streptococcus thermophilus. She then took a Master on Biomedicine at Universitat Pompeu Fabra that lead to a PhD at the Institute of Marine Sciences under the supervision of Prof. Francesc Piferrer. During her PhD she studied the effect of environment on the regulation of sex differentiation in European sea bass. Attracted by the freedom and power of analysing your own NGS data and the strong epigenetic background of the Vaquerizas laboratory, Noelia joined the group in August 2014 as a postdoctoral fellow to work on the relationship between 3D chromatin organisation and gene regulation during developmental, evolutionary and disease transitions.

When she is not at the lab, Noelia enjoys discovering the hidden things in life, experimenting with cooking, road cycling, dancing and crafting.



Fabian Groll |
Fabian studied biology at the RWTH Aachen university, where he specialised in cellular and molecular biology. During his masters thesis, Fabian examined the role of the Notch-3 receptor in autoimmune diseases. After joining the lab as part of the CiM-IMPRS graduate program in 2018, Fabian will focus on examining zygotic genome activation during early embryogenesis.

Fabian likes computers, sport and learning new things.


Benjamín Hernández Rodríguez |

Benjamín is a PhD student in the lab involved in the ZENCODE-ITN project. Before, Benjamín was involved in the characterisation of the Drosophila homologue of the chromatin remodeller ATRX (López-Falcón et al., 2014) and in the construction of logic gates encoded genetically into Bacillus subtilis

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds […] However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Benjamín likes books, surfing… the www and daydreaming.


Liz Ing-Simmons |

Liz studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK, and then did a Masters in Systems Biology at the same university, during which she was introduced to the power of computational biology. During her PhD at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre (now MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences), Liz investigated the role of the cohesin complex in genome organisation and its effects on gene regulation by enhancers. She joined the lab in March 2017 to work on genome organisation in Drosophila.

Liz likes R, reproducibility, cooking, and tea. When not thinking about science she is probably thinking about food.


Sara Llorente Armijo |

Sara studied Health Biology at the Universidad de Alcalá (UAH), Spain. During her bachelor’s final project and a couple of summer fellowships she discovered the power of bioinformatics. After working at the group of Dr. Miguel Manzanares in the Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), where she studied the gene expression variability of cardiovascular disease, she went to Sweden to study a MSc in Bioinformatics at Lund University. She is currently doing her Master’s final project at the Vaquerizas lab where she is studying the chromatin architecture in Xenopus.

Sara dances hip hop and contemporary. She also likes hiking, exploring cities and cooking.


Paul-Georg Majev |

Paul-Georg studied Biology in Hamburg and Freiburg. During his Master’s Thesis in Wolfgang Hess’ Lab at the University of Freiburg he investigated the interactions of the two ncRNAs Yfr22 and Yfr23 in Picocyanobacteria. Leaving the oceans behind, Paul-Georg joined the Department of Tissue Morphogenesis, headed by Ralf Adams, at the MPI in Muenster to examine how vascular cells in mouse long bones interact with other cells in the surrounding tissue and may mediate bone growth and maintenance. In this undertaking Paul-Georg proudly resides at and is co-supervised by the Vaquerizas Lab.

If he is not sitting behind a computer screen for work, Paul-Georg is often found sitting behind a computer screen just for fun. If he is not there, he is probably ballroom dancing, going to the opera or just enjoying nature.


Maria Rigau |

Maria studied Human Biology at Universitat Pompeu Fabra and completed her Master’s in Biomedical Research at Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. After doing internships in the Genetics Departments of both universities, she worked for a year at the Tissue Engineering laboratory in Linz, Austria. After that, she started a computational biology PhD at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, where she studied the functional impact of structural variants and their evolutionary implications. She finished her PhD in 2019 and joined the lab in March 2020, with the aim of studying the regulatory role of transposable elements in early human development.

Maria likes travelling, eating and spending time with her friends.


Quirze Rovira |

Quirze did his Bachelor in Biology at the University of Girona. During his Bachelor thesis, he started studying transposable elements (TEs) in the Gonzalez Lab at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE-CSIC-UPF). Quirze then pursued a MSc in Bioinformatics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and joined Manuel Irimia’s lab at the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) to study the role of TEs in the regulation of alternative splicing during early development stages of mammalian genomes. As part of ZENCODE-ITN Quirze will investigate the regulation and expression of TEs in Zebrafish, particularly interested in the developmental stages.

Nothing in bioinformatics makes sense except in the light of biology.
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of DNA.

Quirze loves playing Ultimate Frisbee, explore the wild and travel to new places.


Virginie Tissières |

Virginie studied Molecular Biology at the University of Basel. She obtained her Master in developmental biology in the same university. As a PhD student, she dissected the regulatory landscape of the Ptch1 gene in the context of artiodactyl (pig) limb evolution in the laboratory of Dr. Javier Lopez-Rios, first in the Department of Biomedicine of the University of Basel and then in the CABD in Seville. Virginie joined the lab as a postdoc in June 2020 to study genome organization during early mammalian embryogenesis.

Virginie likes reading, hiking, baking and tea.