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Marissa Scavuzzo, PhD

PhD in developmental biology, Baylor College of Medicine.

BS in neuroscience and biology, Baldwin Wallace University.

Marissa Scavuzzo imagines gene expression like a symphony, with molecules choreographed to dance together like a meticulously orchestrated ballet. She is passionate about equity in education, open science, mentoring the next generation of scientists, and teasing apart this molecular symphony that directs cells to shift states – enteric glia are her instrument of choice. She is currently an HHMI Hanna H. Gray Fellow studying how these diverse and highly dynamic cells contribute to gastrointestinal health and disease and is founder of the non-profit Rise Up: Northeast Ohio, which is largely run and operated by members of the Tesar Lab.

Marissa, originally from Houston, TX, received her undergraduate degrees in Neuroscience and Biology a few miles from Cleveland, OH at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH. Here, she worked with Dr. Andrew Mickley to gain insight into memory formation and extinction. She completed her thesis research in the same lab studying how signaling pathways in different brain regions contribute to the formation of autistic-like behaviors in rats. Marissa moved back to her hometown where she worked as a research technician with Dr. Thomas Cooper at Baylor College of Medicine, where she investigated how coordinated RNA alternative splicing contributes to muscle development, recovery, and disease in cell culture and mouse models. Marissa then received her PhD in Developmental Biology from Baylor College of Medicine where she worked with Dr. Malgorzata Borowiak to better understand the molecular, cellular, and temporal mechanisms regulating endocrine development and physiology in mice and human stem cell based models. After completing her PhD, Marissa moved back to Cleveland to work in the Tesar Lab where she is using a combination of genetic mouse models, novel in vitro cell systems, and human stem cell based technologies to lay the foundation for a new research program in enteric glial cell biology.

When not in the lab, you can usually find Marissa hanging out with her husband Andrew and their daughter Lillo, hiking, staring at Lake Erie, kayaking, painting, listening to live music, checking out art, or doing anything outdoors.