Zulema Romero-Garcia, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professor


Dr. Romero received her Ph.D. from the University Granada (Spain) in 2009 and completed her postdoctoral fellowship work with Donald Kohn in 2015 at UCLA. During her postdoctoral fellowship she acquired extensive training in experimental hematology, viral vectors, gene editing methods, and GMP cell processing. She is currently an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UCLA.


Research Interests


Her research focuses on improving and developing new gene therapy methods for hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) to treat monogenic diseases of blood cells, including hemoglobinopathies (such as Sickle Cell Disease) and primary immune deficiencies.


Currently her central research work focus is on enhancing gene correction by investigating efficacy and toxicity from different sources of the DNA homologous donor template; studying the relationship between HSC cell cycle status and gene editing outcomes and engraftment of the long-term HSC in different immunodeficient mouse models; and translating the research-scale methods of editing to GMP-compatible, clinical scale manufacturing. While the field of Gene Editing of HSC to correct monogenic disorders is constantly advancing, it is her interest to study the mechanism of new gene editing methods, such as Base Editing and Prime Editing, and further translate these new methods to the clinic.


Selected publications 


Romero Z, Urbinati F, Geiger S, Cooper A, Wherley J, Kaufman ML, Hollis R, Senadheera S, Ruiz de Assin R, Sahagian A, Gellis A, Wang X, Gjertson D, DeOliveira S, Kempert P, Shupien S, Abdel-Azim H, Walters M, Meiselman HJ, WenbyRB, Gruber T, Marder V, Coates TD, and Kohn DB. Gene Transfer to Human Bone Marrow for Sickle Cell Disease. J Clin Invest. 2013. 123(8): 3317–3330. PMID: 23863630


Baldwin K, Urbinati F, Romero Z, Campo-Fernandez B, Kaufman ML, Cooper AR, Hollis RP, and Kohn DB. Enrichment of Human Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells Facilitates Transduction for Stem Cell Gene Therapy. Stem Cells, 2015. 33(5):1532-42. PMID: 25588820


Hoban MD, Cost GJ, Mendel MC, Romero Z, Kaufman ML, Joglekar AV, Ho M, Lumaquin D, David Gray, Lill G, Cooper AR, Urbinati F, Senadheera S, Zhu A, Paschon DE, Zhang L, Rebar EJ, Wilber A, Wang X, Reik A, Holmes MC, Gregory PD, Hollis RP and Kohn DB. Correction of the Sickle Mutation in Human Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells. Blood, 2015. 125:2597-2604. PMID: 25733580


Romero Z, Campo-Fernandez B, Wherley J, Kaufman ML, Urbinati F, Cooper AR, Hoban MD, Baldwin KM, Lumaquin D, Wang X, Senadheera S, Hollis RP and Kohn DB. The human ankyrin 1 promoter insulator prevents silencing of gene expression in a beta-globin lentiviral vector in human hematopoietic stem cells. Mol. Ther. Methods Clin. Dev. 2015. 22; 2:15012. PMID: 26029723

Hoban MD, Lumaquin D, Kuo CY, Romero Z, Long J, Ho M, Young C, Mojadidi M, Fitz-Gibbons S, Cooper AR, Lill G, Urbinati F, Campo B, Bjurstrom C, Pellegrini M, Hollis RP, Kohn DB. CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Correction of the Sickle Mutation in Human CD34+ cells. Mol Ther. 2016. 24(9):1561-9. PMID:27406980

Long J, Hoban MD, Cooper AR, Kaufman ML, Kuo CY, Campo-Fernandez B, Lumaquin D, Hollis RP, Wang X, Kohn DB, Romero Z. Characterization of Gene Alterations following Editing of the β-Globin Gene Locus in Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells. Mol Ther. 2017.pii: S1525-0016(17)30557-9. PMID: 29221806

Kuo CY, Long JD, Campo-Fernandez B, de Oliveira S, Cooper AR, Romero Z, Hoban MD, Joglekar AV, Lill GR, Kaufman ML, et al., Site-Specific Gene Editing of Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells for X-Linked Hyper-IgM Syndrome. Cell Rep. 23, 2018, 2606–2616.

Lomova A, Clark DN, Campo-Fernandez B, Flores-Bjurström C, Kaufman ML, Fitz-Gibbon S, Wang X, Miyahira EY, Brown D, DeWitt MA, Corn JE, Hollis RP, Romero Z, Kohn DB. Improving Gene Editing Outcomes in Human Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells by Temporal Control of DNA Repair. Stem Cells 37, 2019, 284–294.

Romero Z, Lomova A, Said S, Miggelbrink A, Kuo CY, Campo-Fernandez B, Hoban MD, Masiuk KE, Clark DN, Long J, Sanchez JM, Velez M, Miyahira E, Zhang R, Brown D, Wang X, Kurmangaliyev Y, Hollis RP, and Kohn DB. Editing the Sickle Cell Disease Mutation in Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells: Comparison of Endonucleases and Homologous Donor Templates. Mol Ther.  May 2019. 2019 Aug 7;27(8):1389-1406. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2019.05.014.

Magis W, DeWitt MA, Wyman SK, Vu JT, Heo SJ, Shao SJ, Hennig F, Romero Z, Campo-Fernandez B, Said S, McNeill MS, Rettig GR, Sun Y, Wang Y, Behlke MA, Kohn DB, Boffelli D, Walters MC, Corn JE, Martin DIK. Genome editing of the sickle mutation is amplified in vivo. iScience, 25(6):104374, 2022 PMID: 35633935