Pena, IzabellaShe/her
Hereditary Disease Foundation
Postdoctoral Fellow

    43 Vassar Street, Room: 46-4285
    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139


    Education & Training

    University of Campinas – São Paulo, Brazil
    Ph.D., Genetics and Molecular Biology

    University of Campinas – São Paulo, Brazil
    B.Sc., Biology

    Short Biography

    Izabella received both her B.Sc in Biology and Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Campinas in her home Brazil. Dr Pena’s research aims to investigate new routes of vitamin and amino acid metabolism in epilepsies and neurodegeneration. My previous research focused on a particular metabolic disorder called Pyridoxine Dependent Epilepsy, related to a defect in the breakdown of Lysine. I solved crystal structures of key enzymes in the pathway and also developed a series of zebrafish models that recapitulate these diseases and their biochemical aspects providing valuable insights on pathophysiology mechanisms. In the Heiman lab, my postdoctoral work focuses on investigating the types of molecules that accumulate in the mitochondria and/or lysosomes in Huntington’s Disease. Additionally, I use CRISPR screening technology to investigate new genes involved in vitamin B6 homeostasis. Outside the lab, Izabella is a vocal spokesperson and science communicator for Brazilians and Latinx/Hispanic communities especially on social media such as Twitter (@izabellapena1) and YouTube. She is part of a charity called ContraCOVID ( that aims to spread accurate information about the Covid-19 pandemic, promote vaccinations and other forms of disease prevention to the lay public in Portuguese, Spanish and English. 

    Raleigh LinvilleJeffrey Shi