David Spiegel's picture David Spiegel Professor of Chemistry

Professor David A. Spiegel, Ph.D., M.D., was born in New York City, and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. From a very young age, he was fascinated by the chemistry and biology of small molecules, and at 16 began doing research in a neuroanesthesiology laboratory at the University of Iowa. He went on to attend Harvard University where he conducted research under the guidance of Professor Yoshito Kishi. After graduating from Harvard, David began in Yale University’s M.D./Ph.D. program. There he conducted graduate research in Professor John Wood’s laboratory focusing on developing synthetic approaches toward the phomoidrides. During the course of these studies, he discovered that trialkylborane-water complexes could function as H-atom donors in free radical reactions. Following graduation from Yale, Professor Spiegel moved back to Harvard for postdoctoral studies under the guidance of Professor Stuart L. Schreiber. There he focused on developing an oligomer-based method for small-molecule synthesis to enable the rapid assembly of skeletally diverse small molecules starting from simple monomers.

David began as an Assistant Professor at Yale in June of 2007, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011, and then to Full Professor (with tenure) in 2014. During his time as a faculty member at Yale, David has led the Spiegel Group’s research efforts in a number of successful directions, ranging from the development of antibody-recruiting molecules to fundamental studies of advanced glycation end-products.  He has also served as a consultant for International Flavors and Fragrances, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Pharmaseq.  He has been recognized with various awards and honors, including the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Department of Defense Era of Hope Scholar Award, the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award in Aging Research, the Novartis Early Career Award in Organic Chemistry, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and others.  He has been fortunate to be named recipient of the NIH New Innovator Award, the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

David is married to Kathryn Picanso, a lawyer in New Haven. They have a son, Leo Francis Spiegel, who was born in 2011.

Graduate Students

Jesse Collins's picture Jesse Collins

Jesse grew up in Northern California, and pursued a B.A. in Molecular Biology at U.C. Berkeley. During his time there, Jesse worked in a lab studying dengue virus and took classes focused on immunology and bioengineering. He continued to pursue his interest in immunology by beginning a PhD in Immunobiology at Yale in 2014. Jesse has been very interested in interdisciplinary approaches to problems, and was excited to join the Spiegel lab to work at the interface of synthetic chemistry and molecular biology. He is now working on engineering immune-modulating proteins controlled by bifunctional small molecules. Outside of the lab, Jesse enjoys hiking, ultimate frisbee, and especially boardgames.

Robert Hale's picture Robert Hale

Robert was born in New York City and grew up in Astoria, NY, and Little Silver, NJ. As an undergraduate engineering major at the Stevens Institute of Technology, he found that he was doing more problem solving under the direction of mass spectrometry specialist Dr. Athula Attygalle than in any engineering class. As a result, he changed his major to chemistry upon beginning his sophomore year. He performed mass spectrometric studies of oxalate and carbonate salts for his undergraduate research before earning a B. S. in chemistry in May 2015. He is enjoying gaining experience in the more tactile, sensory world of organic synthesis as he works to extend the methodology developed for glucosepane to access other natural products. When outside of the lab, Robert enjoys cooking, active things, the occasional trip to the shooting range and discussing all manner of history and politics, especially that to do with the railroads, cities and infrastructure. 

David Caianiello's picture David Caianiello

Dave is a native of Rhode Island. He became interested in the biological applications of chemistry as an undergraduate at Brown University, where he used an under-appreciated method for measuring light absorption to determine how dyes stack in water. In the Spiegel Lab he is working on the development of new bifunctional molecules. Outside of the lab, Dave enjoys wandering around New Haven listening to too many podcasts.  

Emily Branham's picture Emily Branham

Emily was born and raised in Georgia and has steadily been moving up the coast for school since she left home. In North Carolina, she earned a chemistry BS, a biology minor, and a creative writing minor from UNC Chapel Hill. Now, she is living in Branford, Connecticut with her fiancé, Chris, and their pets while she pursues her chemistry PhD at Yale. As an undergraduate, she discovered her love for chemistry research during her first summer research program, a chemistry REU at Georgia Tech where she worked on achieving targeted cancer therapy through the synthetic combination of HDAC inhibitors and NSAIDs. From then forward, she did synthetic research during her semesters at UNC Chapel Hill. First, she worked at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, where she helped synthesize bioactive natural products as clinical trial candidates for the treatment of cancer or AIDS. Later, she moved to Dr. Michael Crimmins’ lab, where she worked toward the novel total synthesis of the natural product Brianthein W. Her research interests led her to participate in a chemical biology REU program at Vanderbilt University, during which she worked on a novel synthetic route toward a UV-cleavable bicyclononyne-biotin tag. Finally, during the summer before her senior year of undergrad, she flew to Jena, Germany to synthesize candidate compounds for a Notch inhibitor-focused SAR project. Now, Emily is interested in the combination of organic chemistry and chemical biology and is motivated to find chemical solutions to biological and medical problems. In the Spiegel lab, she is working on the synthesis and analysis of bifunctional molecules with possible therapeutic applications. In her free time, Emily enjoys playing with her pup, a ridiculously smart Australian shepherd named Joey, training her cats, writing, cooking (and eating) delicious food with her fiancé, and playing violin in the Hamden Symphony Orchestra. 

Jake Swartzel's picture Jake Swartzel

Jake grew up outside Boston, and moved to pursue a B.S. in Biochemistry at The University of Texas at Austin. While an undergraduate, his advanced coursework focused on organic chemistry and synthetic biology. He conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Walter Fast toward the development of novel covalent enzyme inhibitors. He began his PhD in Chemical Biology at Yale in 2017, and he is excited to work at the crossroads of chemistry, biology, and medicine in the Spiegel lab, where he works on designing novel bifunctional molecules. Outside the lab, Jake enjoys weightlifting, yoga, video games, and spending time with good friends.  

Theo Koelsch's picture Theo Koelsch

Theo grew up in Colorado and attended CU Boulder, majoring in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Music. At CU, he worked in the lab of Dr. Zhongping Tan, using insights into the effects of specific glycosylation to develop a bivalent HIV entry inhibitor from a small molecule and a glycosylated peptide. He continued to follow his interest in the intersection of chemistry and biology by beginning a PhD in Chemical Biology at Yale in 2017. In the Spiegel Lab, he is investigating the function of advanced glycation end products, which may have therapeutic implications for multiple diseases. Outside of the lab, Theo enjoys hiking, long bike rides, and playing trombone and piano.

Jason Ray's picture Jason Ray

Jason grew up in North Carolina and decided at age ten to become a scientist. He studied chemistry at Brigham Young University, where his coursework focused on organic chemistry and biochemistry. He did research with Dr. Jeffery Tessem on genetic pathways that could be targeted to reverse type 1 and type 2 diabetes. He was a teaching assistant for several general chemistry classes and tutored students extensively in both math and chemistry. Because of his love for research and teaching, Jason plans to become a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution. His research in the Spiegel lab focuses on novel uses of bifunctional molecules. Outside of lab, Jason enjoys reading, running, and spending time with his wife.

Rebecca Howell's picture Rebecca Howell

Rebecca grew up in Connecticut and attended Bucknell University where she majored in Cell Biology/ Biochemistry.  At Bucknell, she worked in Dr. Charles Clapp’s laboratory using site-directed mutagenesis to probe conformational changes of soybean lipoxygenase.  After graduation, she completed a one-year appointment in the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Dr. Joern Schmitz’s laboratory.  Here she generated stable cell lines expressing soluble and membrane bound Fc receptors to explore differences in therapeutic antibody binding in Rhesus macaques and humans. Next, she joined the Immunology team at Moderna Therapeutics and worked under the guidance of Dr. Gilles Besin for three years developing high-throughput flow cytometry-based screening methods to assess biological interactions of novel delivery and mRNA chemistries.  Her work on the Moderna platform contributed to several drug candidates currently in Phase I.  She began her graduate studies at Yale in Chemical Biology in 2018 and joined the Spiegel lab to work at the interface between chemistry and immunology. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys baking, cooking, traveling with her husband and playing with her dog.

Edward deRamon's picture Edward deRamon

Eddie grew up in New York where he attended SUNY New Paltz, majoring in Chemistry. There, his research was primarily focused in organic chemistry, while a summer research program at Johns Hopkins University opened him up to chemical biology. He began his PhD in Chemical Biology at Yale in 2018, where his combined interest in these research areas led him to join the Spiegel lab. Here, his work is primarily focused on the development of therapeutically relevant bifunctional molecules. Outside of lab, Eddie enjoys hiking, camping, and weightlifting.

Undergraduate Students

Angela Gong's picture Angela Gong
Angela is from Lexington, Massachusetts and is a prospective Chemistry major. She became interested in chemical biology after unexpectedly purchasing a book about drug development, and is excited to work in the Spiegel Lab. She is thinking about attending medical school or pursuing a MD/PhD after college. When not in class or lab, Angela enjoys music, baking, and sleeping. 

Postdocs and Fellows

David McDonald's picture David McDonald

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, David studied chemistry, immunology and biochemistry at the University of Sydney. He went on to study the deleterious activation of naïve CD8+ T lymphocytes in the liver at the Centenary Institute under the tutelage of Dr Patrick Bertolino. David returned to the University of Sydney for his PhD studies, under the supervision of Professor Richard Payne and Associate Professor Scott Byrne. There, he combined his interests in chemistry and immunology for the development and evaluation of self‑adjuvanting vaccines for cancer and tuberculosis. In the Spiegel lab, David is working towards novel methods to rapidly identify small molecules that target specific proteins and cells. Away from the bench, David enjoys board games, craft beer, and hiking.