Dr. Gretchen Ehrenkaufer joins SPARK as program manager

Dr. Gretchen Ehrenkaufer joins SPARK as program manager

Posted on May 28th, 2021

Please welcome SPARK’s new program manager, Dr. Gretchen Ehrenkaufer!

Dr. Ehrenkaufer did her doctoral work at UCSF in the lab of Dr. Thomas Kornberg, where she studied Hedgehog signaling in Drosophila development. After graduating with a Ph.D. in cell biology, she began infectious disease work in Dr. Upi Singh’s lab at Stanford, studying the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica that causes amoebic dysentery. While in Dr. Singh’s lab, she worked on many diverse projects, including investigating the transcriptional changes and molecular mechanisms of amebic development, and analysis of small RNA populations.

Her involvement with SPARK began in 2016 as part of a project to develop new therapeutics to treat amoebic infection. Along with her colleagues Dr. Monica Marcolino and Dr. Susmitha Suresh, she performed drug repurposing screens to identify compounds targeting both E. histolytica and free-living amoeba that cause life-threatening central nervous system (CNS) disease. This work has resulted in multiple publications, and identified promising drug candidates, including several with pan-parasitic activity and others that are FDA approved or in late clinical stages, which should speed the transition to use in patients. Experiments to validate the in vivo activity of these compounds are ongoing.

Dr. Ehrenkaufer is excited to be joining SPARK as a program manager to continue contributing to the development of treatments for conditions that threaten human health.