Current Members:


Marianna Alperin, MD MS
Principal Investigator

Dr. Alperin is a practicing female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS) specialist with expertise in basic science and clinical research. Her overarching goal is to facilitate the highest quality patient care through mechanistic research and the cultivation of interactions between basic, translational, and clinical scientists and health care providers from various disciplines with a shared interest in women’s health. She completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard School of Medicine and FPMRS fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh, where she had also obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Research. Throughout her career, she has actively pursued and organized multi-disciplinary research programs and has worked closely with experts from disparate fields from bioengineering to stem cell biology. Alperin lab aims to shift the current research paradigm in female pelvic medicine towards more mechanistic studies, ultimately improving the lives of women suffering from pelvic floor disorders through innovative preventative and therapeutic strategies.

Courtney Rundio, MS
Staff Research Associate/Lab Manager

Courtney completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University in 2020, then completed her Master’s of Biomedical Sciences in 2021. Her interest in science and medicine led her to the Alperin lab where she is enjoying learning about pelvic floor disorders, birth injury, and muscle cell physiology. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, reading, and traveling.

Francesca Sesillo Boscolo, PhD
Post-Doctoral Scholar

Francesca obtained her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, after which she had joined the Alperin lab as a postdoc in 2018. She is interested in investigating the role of muscle stem cells in the pelvic floor muscles’ plasticity during pregnancy. When out of the lab, Francesca loves cooking for her friends and enjoys outdoor activities in beautiful San Diego.

Megan Routzong, PhD
Post-Doctoral Scholar

Megan obtained her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 where she applied computational modeling to study female pelvic floor biomechanics and variation in pelvic morphology. She joined the Alperin lab in Fall of 2021 to evaluate the impact of pregnancy, childbirth, and aging on female pelvic floor skeletal muscles utilizing computational and experimental methods. Outside of the lab, Megan enjoys reading, writing, photography, and spending time outdoors with her fiancé and their dog.

Lindsey Burnett, PhD, MD
Clinical and Research Fellow

Lindsey is a Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Fellow. She completed her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology prior to medical school and most recently completed her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UC San Diego. When she’s not in the lab or the clinic she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters.

Julie Suyama, PhD, MD
Clinical and Post-Doctoral Fellow

Julie Suyama, MD, PhD is a clinical and post-doctoral fellow in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at UCSD/Kaiser San Diego. She is a “West Coast soul” who loves the outdoors and finally made her way to San Diego with her husband, daughter, and Bernadoodle for fellowship after spending her entire early life on the East Coast. Julie attended UNC Chapel Hill for college, where she double majored in Biology and Romance Languages. She then trekked northward, first to Virginia where she attended a combined MD-PhD program at Virginia Commonwealth University and then to Pennsylvania where she completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Julie’s research expertise is in Neuropharmacology, and her doctoral thesis investigated the abuse-related behavioral and neurochemical effects of synthetic psychostimulant drugs. Her current research interests lie in central mechanisms of bladder and pelvic floor dysfunction, particularly as it relates to bladder pain syndrome and overactive bladder. Julie is an eternal optimist and extrovert who loves connecting with other people – colleagues, patients, and researchers alike. She is passionately dedicated to empowering and improving the lives of women, one pelvic floor at a time!

John Rudell, PhD
Laboratory Assistant

John earned his Ph.D. at UC Davis where he studied the molecular mechanisms of neuromuscular junction formation and stabilization. He is excited to be back in the lab studying pelvis floor muscles and associated muscle stem cells. In his free time John enjoys paddle-boarding, trying to surf, and being outside with his wife, daughters and dog.

Emma Zelus
PhD Student

photo of emma zelus

Emma has a B.S. in Bioengineering from UC San Diego. She is currently a PhD student in the UCSD Bioengineering Department. Her research is focused on the use of minimally invasive injectable biomaterials for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence. She enjoys board game nights with friends and visiting the beach. 

Bianca Pena
PhD Student

Bianca obtained her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently a PhD student in the UCSD Bioengineering Department. Her research is focused on advancing minimally invasive injectable biomaterials to mitigate childbirth injury. On her free time she likes to hang out with friends and family, visit the beach, and try new restaurants in San Diego.

Tatyanna Henderson, MD
Resident Physician

Tatyanna is a current resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UC San Diego. She attended medical school at Duke University and prior to that earned her Bachelor of Science at Eckerd College. She is planning to pursue a career in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive surgery.

Kelsey Gallo, MD
Resident Physician

Kelsey is a resident in Urology at UC San Diego Health. She completed medical school at Rush Medical College in Chicago, where she is from. She plans to pursue a career in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery upon graduating residency. Her research interests include the effects of radiation on bladder mechanics and antifibrotic therapy for the bladder.

Jolene Rudell, MD PhD
Assistant Professor

Jolene is a board-certified pediatric ophthalmologist and a clinician scientist, bringing her research background in neuromuscular junctions in skeletal muscles into the field of pediatric eye disease and extraocular muscle disease including strabismus, or eye misalignment. She is currently an Assistant Professor at UCSD in the Department of Ophthalmology at the Shiley Eye Center. She graduated from Stanford University as an undergraduate, and then did basic science research with Nobel laureate David Baltimore at Caltech before completing her MD PhD degree and ophthalmology residency at UC Davis, and clinical fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus at Seattle Children’s Hospital/University of Washington. In addition to her research background, she utilizes and applies the lab techniques in muscle in the Alperin lab into the field of extraocular muscles to answer clinical questions and to help understand and treat diseases in her patients. 

Saya French
Volunteer Lab Assistant

Saya is an undergraduate student at UCSD, majoring in Human Biology with a minor in Accounting. She is interested in learning about women’s health, specifically pelvic floor disorders following childbirth. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her daughter and teach her about the things her mom learned in lab and in class.

Lab Alumni

Pamela Duran, PhD

Pamela has a B.S. in Bioengineering from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, México. She completed her PhD in the UCSD Bioengineering Department, and is interested in developing novel biomaterials for the treatment of pelvic floor disorders. She likes to go to the movies with her family and enjoys doing handcrafts and working out with her friends.

Brittni Baynes, MS

photo of britta baynes

Britta earned her B.S. from UCSD in Physiology and Neuroscience and her M.S. in Biomedical Science from LSU Health Sciences Center. Her research focused on the neuroscience of drug addiction and stress disorders. She is currently interested in investigating the effects of pregnancy on pelvic floor muscles. In her free time, Britta enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her two children. 

Mary Rieger, MD

Mary is a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery fellow at the University of California, San Diego – Kaiser San Diego program. Prior to starting her fellowship, she went to medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and completed residency training in OB/GYN at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas in Austin. Her research interests include studying the effects of mechanical load of pregnancy on the pelvic floor muscles. In her free time, Mary enjoys spending time at the beach with her husband and her son.

Emmy Do

Emmy began research in the Alperin lab as an undergraduate student at UCSD majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. She recently completed her Masters and is interested in pursuing a career in biological research related to immunochemistry and women’s health issues. When not in lab, she enjoys cooking, being with family, and watching TV shows/movies with her dog.

Varsha Rajesh

Varsha is an undergraduate student at UCSD, majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. She is interested in learning biochemical techniques and how they apply to various fields such as women’s health, forensics and astrobiology. In her free time, she likes doing art and watching movies.

Manali Shah

Manali is an undergraduate student at UCSD majoring in Bioengineering. She is interested in learning about women’s health and how medicine and engineering go hand-in-hand. In her free time she enjoys being outdoors playing frisbee, skiing, going to the beach, and traveling. 

Michelle Wong, BS

Michelle earned her B.S in Biology from California Institute of Technology in 2017. Her research interest lies in the pathophysiology of pelvic floor dysfunction, and she currently studies the impact of age on pelvic floor muscles. She is currently attending medical school where she hopes she can continue addressing clinical problems through basic science research. In her free time, she enjoys basketball, hiking, and cooking.

Tatiana Catanzarite, MD MS

Tatiana completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University and then medical school at University of California at Davis. She then pursued residency training in OB/GYN at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, followed by fellowship training in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) at the University of California, San Diego – Kaiser San Diego program, after which she joined the FPMRS faculty at UCSD. During fellowship, she was delighted to have the opportunity to work in the Alperin lab studying mechanisms of muscle injury at the time of vaginal birth and hopes that this work will ultimately contribute to deeper understandings of the contribution of muscle injury/recovery in the development of pelvic floor disorders in women.

Amanda Artsen, MD

Amanda completed Ob/Gyn residency at the University of California, San Diego, where she studied the muscle architecture of rhesus macaque pelvic floor muscles and the human external anal sphincter. She is now at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center pursuing her FPMRS fellowship and is studying the immunology of polypropylene mesh complications. She loves long distance running and singing and dancing with her toddler.

Tim Kaddis, BS

Tim is currently a medical student at UCLA School of Medicine, He first got involved with the Alperin lab during his senior year at UC San Diego, and over the next couple of years he had worked on multiple projects designed to further understanding of the composition & physiology of the pelvic floor muscles. Through these projects, he was able to perfect a variety of laboratory techniques, learn a framework for effective research, and ultimately, contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the important field, such as female pelvic medicine.

Neil Aiad, BS

Neil graduated from UCSD with a B.S degree in Bioengineering. While in the Alperin Lab, he studied biomechanics with regards to active force generation in pelvic floor muscles. He enjoys running and listening to music in his free time.


Alperin M, Abramowitch S, Alarab M, Bortolini M, Brown B, Burnett LA, Connell KA, Damaser M, de Vita R, Gargett CE, Guess MK, Guler Z, Jorge RN, Kelley RS, Kibschull M, Miller K, Moalli PA, Mysorekar IU, Routzong MR, Shynlova O, Swenson CW, Therriault MA, Northington GM. Foundational science and mechanistic insights for a shared disease model: an expert consensus : Developed by the AUGS Basic Science Subcommittee and IUGA Special Interest Group. Int Urogynecol J. 2022 Jun;33(6):1387-1392. doi: 10.1007/s00192-022-05253-y. Epub 2022 Jun 8. PubMed PMID: 35674811; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9266184.

Alperin M, Abramowitch S, Alarab M, Bortolini M, Brown B, Burnett LA, Connell KA, Damaser MS, de Vita R, Gargett CE, Guess MK, Guler Z, Jorge RN, Kelley RS, Kibschull M, Miller K, Moalli PA, Mysorekar IU, Routzong MR, Shynlova O, Swenson CW, Therriault MA, Northington GM. Foundational Science and Mechanistic Insights for a Shared Disease Model: An Expert Consensus. Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg. 2022 Jun 1;28(6):347-350. doi: 10.1097/SPV.0000000000001216. Epub 2022 May 24. PubMed PMID: 35609252; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9248017.

Rieger MM, Wong M, Burnett LA, Sesillo FB, Baynes BB, Alperin M. Mechanisms governing protective pregnancy-induced adaptations of the pelvic floor muscles in the rat preclinical model. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022 May;226(5):708.e1-708.e13. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2021.11.1353. Epub 2021 Nov 18. PubMed PMID: 34801444; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9172206.

Routzong MR, Cook MS, Barone W, Abramowitch SD, Alperin M. Novel Application of Photogrammetry to Quantify Fascicle Orientations of Female Cadaveric Pelvic Floor Muscles. Ann Biomed Eng. 2021 Aug;49(8):1888-1899. doi: 10.1007/s10439-021-02747-6. Epub 2021 Feb 26. PubMed PMID: 33638030; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8376743.

Rieger M, Duran P, Cook M, Schenk S, Shah M, Jacobs M, Christman K, Kado DM, Alperin M. Quantifying the Effects of Aging on Morphological and Cellular Properties of Human Female Pelvic Floor Muscles. Ann Biomed Eng. 2021 Aug;49(8):1836-1847. doi: 10.1007/s10439-021-02748-5. Epub 2021 Mar 8. PubMed PMID: 33683527; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8376748.

Boscolo Sesillo F, Wong M, Cortez A, Alperin M. Isolation of muscle stem cells from rat skeletal muscles. Stem Cell Res. 2020 Mar;43:101684. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2019.101684. Epub 2019 Dec 10. PubMed PMID: 31931473

Burnett LA, Cook M, Shah S, Michelle Wong M, Kado DM, Alperin M. Age-associated changes in the mechanical properties of human cadaveric pelvic floor muscles. J Biomech. 2020 Jan 2;98:109436. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2019.109436. Epub 2019 Oct 31. PubMed PMID: 31708240

Burnett LA, Sesillo Boscolo F, Laurent LC, Wong M, Alperin M. Uncovering changes in proteomic signature of rat pelvic floor muscles in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Aug. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.04.025. Epub 2019 Apr 29. PubMed PMID: 31047881; NIHMSID:NIHMS1528124.

Sheth VR, Duran P, Wong J, Shah S, Du J, Christman KL, Chang EY, Alperin M. Multimodal imaging assessment and histologic correlation of the female rat pelvic floor muscles’ anatomy. J Anat. 2019 Apr;234(4):543-550. doi: 10.1111/joa.12943. Epub 2019 Feb 10. PubMed PMID: 30740685; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6422690.

Duran P, Ward S, Christman KL, Alperin M. Mechanical impact of parturition-related strains on rat pelvic striated sphincters. Neurourol Urodyn. 2019 Mar;38(3):912-919. doi: 10.1002/nau.23946. Epub 2019 Feb 19. PubMed PMID: 30779377; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6431564.

Alperin M, Burnett L, Lukacz E, Brubaker L. The mysteries of menopause and urogynecologic health: clinical and scientific gaps. Menopause. 2019 Jan;26(1):103-111. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001209. PubMed PMID: 30300297; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6376984.

Baah-Dwomoh A, Alperin M, Cook M, De Vita R. Mechanical Analysis of the Uterosacral Ligament: Swine vs. Human. Ann Biomed Eng. 2018 Dec;46(12):2036-2047. doi: 10.1007/s10439-018-2103-x. Epub 2018 Jul 26. PubMed PMID: 30051246; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6249056.

Stewart AM, Cook MS, Dyer KY, Alperin M. Structure-function relationship of the human external anal sphincter. Int Urogynecol J. 2018 May;29(5):673-678. doi: 10.1007/s00192-017-3404-6. Epub 2017 Jul 8. PubMed PMID: 28689239; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5889349.

Catanzarite T, Bremner S, Barlow CL, Bou-Malham L, O’Connor S, Alperin M. Pelvic muscles’ mechanical response to strains in the absence and presence of pregnancy-induced adaptations in a rat model. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 May;218(5):512.e1-512.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2018.02.001. Epub 2018 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 29432755; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5916022.

Stewart AM, Cook MS, Esparza MC, Slayden OD, Alperin M. Architectural assessment of rhesus macaque pelvic floor muscles: comparison for use as a human model. Int Urogynecol J. 2017 Oct;28(10):1527-1535. doi: 10.1007/s00192-017-3303-x. Epub 2017 Mar 11. PubMed PMID: 28285397; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5593758.

Cook MS, Bou-Malham L, Esparza MC, Alperin M. Age-related alterations in female obturator internus muscle. Int Urogynecol J. 2017 May;28(5):729-734. doi: 10.1007/s00192-016-3167-5. Epub 2016 Oct 4. PubMed PMID: 27704154; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5450648.

Alperin M, Cook M, Tuttle LJ, Esparza MC, Lieber RL. Impact of vaginal parity and aging on the architectural design of pelvic floor muscles. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Sep;215(3):312.e1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.02.033. Epub 2016 Mar 5. PubMed PMID: 26953079; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5003683.

Alperin M, Kaddis T, Pichika R, Esparza MC, Lieber RL. Pregnancy-induced adaptations in intramuscular extracellular matrix of rat pelvic floor muscles. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Aug;215(2):210.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.02.018. Epub 2016 Feb 12. PubMed PMID: 26875952; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5450638.

Alperin M, Lawley DM, Esparza MC, Lieber RL. Pregnancy-induced adaptations in the intrinsic structure of rat pelvic floor muscles. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Aug;213(2):191.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.05.012. Epub 2015 May 13. PubMed PMID: 25979618; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4757427.

Alperin M, Tuttle LJ, Conner BR, Dixon DM, Mathewson MA, Ward SR, Lieber RL. Comparison of pelvic muscle architecture between humans and commonly used laboratory species. Int Urogynecol J. 2014 Nov;25(11):1507-15. doi: 10.1007/s00192-014-2423-9. Epub 2014 Jun 11. PubMed PMID: 24915840; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4264598.

Alperin M, Feola A, Duerr R, Moalli P, Abramowitch S. Pregnancy- and delivery-induced biomechanical changes in rat vagina persist postpartum. Int Urogynecol J. 2010 Sep;21(9):1169-74. doi: 10.1007/s00192-010-1149-6. Epub 2010 Apr 28. PubMed PMID: 20424824; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2939831.

Alperin M, Feola A, Meyn L, Duerr R, Abramowitch S, Moalli P. Collagen scaffold: a treatment for simulated maternal birth injury in the rat model. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Jun;202(6):589.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2010.04.003. PubMed PMID: 20510960; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2921182.

The complete bibliography can be found here:


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