Jillian Belgrad, MD, PhD Candidate

Trainee Representative


Jillian is a fourth year MD/PhD student in Anastasia Khvorova’s Lab at UMass Chan Medical School. Jillian grew up in Massachusetts and received her Bachelor’s in Cellular Neuroscience from Colgate University in 2017. At Colgate, she worked in Dr. Jun Yoshino’s lab studying microglial contributions to neuroinflammation in Major Depression Disorder. Following graduation, Jillian was a post-baccalaureate researcher in Dr. R. Douglas Fields’ lab at the NIH’s NICHD investigating white matter development focused on oligodendrocyte contributions to Gulf War Illness and Hereditary Spastic Paralgesia. Between her experience at Colgate and at the NIH, seeing researchers and clinicians develop and investigate new therapeutics for neurological and developmental diseases, she was motivated to pursue an MD/PhD and matriculated into the MSTP at UMass Chan in 2019 and subsequently joined the Khvorova lab in 2021. In the lab, her work aims to develop novel oligonucleotide therapeutics to control and understand somatic repeat expansion in Huntington’s disease and related trinucleotide expansion disorders. Jillian uses multiple mouse models of Huntington’s Disease and chemically modified siRNA and ASOs to study impact of disrupting expression of proteins that facilitate the somatic expansion of the CAG locus. She hopes to use this work in nucleic acid therapeutics to develop therapies for neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders in the future. Outside the lab, Jillian loves to run and workout, bake, go to concerts, and spend time with friends, family, and pets