Leadership Team

Diversigen is a microbiome sequencing and analysis provider run by microbiome scientists.Our mission is to accelerate the entire microbiome industry toward breakthrough discoveries – paving the way for innovation. 

Driven. Passionate. Innovative.

Joy Nassif

Joy Nassif

Vice-President, General Manager

Joy Nassif has over 20 years experience in financial and executive management in the healthcare, diagnostic testing, and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to joining Diversigen, she held leadership positions at Quest Diagnostics as Vice President of Clinical Trials, and Vice President of Anatomic Pathology. Ms. Nassif held the positions of Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Franklin Heath, Inc. (A Corning Company). She was responsible for all aspects of operations and administration for this start-up healthcare company. Additionally, Ms. Nassif was director of Finance for Covance, Inc. working in its Phase II-III contract research organization. Ms. Nassif graduated summa cum laude from Kean University with a BS in Accounting. She is a Certified Public Accountant. In addition to her corporate positions, she has served on the Board of Advisors for several non-profit groups and organizations.

Dan Knights

Dan Knights, PhD

Senior Scientific Advisor, Diversigen (Former CSO and Founder CoreBiome)

Dr. Dan Knights is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Biotechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota. Dan received his PhD from the University of Colorado in Computer Science, and went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. In his multidisciplinary research lab, his team applies machine learning techniques to study gut microbes and disease, building bioinformatics tools for microbiome-targeted drug discovery and analysis of diet-microbiome interactions. Dan is co-author on over 100 peer-reviewed articles on the microbiome and machine learning Throughout his career, Dan has developed computational methods that researchers use to study the human microbiome. These methods are used in his lab to discover new ways the microbiome is linked to human health, including investigations in obesity, hospital-acquired infections, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Dan has also been an active participant in community-based work, where has discovered significant changes that occur in the human gut microbiome of immigrants as they experience ‘Westernization’ changes towards microbiomes linked to obesity. In 2017 Dan, along with Drs. Kenny Beckman and Daryl Gohl from the University of Minnesota Genomics Center founded CoreBiome, now Diversigen, a microbiome analysis company bringing together cutting-edge machine learning and genomics. Dan is now co-leading Diversigen with Joy Nassif, where together they are accelerating the translation of the microbiome in healthcare, agriculture, and industrial monitoring with large-scale data generation and big data analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Daryl Gohl

Daryl Gohl, PhD

Senior Scientific Advisor, Diversigen (Former CSO and Founder CoreBiome)

Daryl Gohl, Ph.D., is head of the University of Minnesota Genomics Center’s Innovation Lab and is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell biology, and Development at the University of Minnesota. After obtaining a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, he went onto complete postdoctoral studies at Stanford University in the Department of Neurobiology, where he began his work on next-generation sequencing methods. Daryl’s work has improved the accuracy and resolution of next-generation sequencing, while expanding scope and scale of measurements. His years of research have contributed to the development of amplicon-based microbiome profiling methods and a novel shallow shotgun sequencing approach. These improvements in next-generation sequencing enable dense sampling and increased power, resolution, and through-put in large-scale microbiome studies. In 2017 Daryl, along with Drs. Kenny Beckman and Dan Knights from the University of Minnesota Genomics Center founded CoreBiome, now Diversigen, a microbiome analysis company bringing together cutting-edge machine learning and genomics.

Kenny Beckman

Kenny Beckman, PhD

Senior Scientific Advisor, Diversigen (Former CSO and Founder CoreBiome)

Kenneth Beckman, Ph.D. is the Director of the University of Minnesota Genomics Center (UMGC), a 40-person core facility which provides genomic technology and consulting, carries out technology innovation, and delivers clinical (CLIA) next-generation sequencing in collaboration with Fairview Health System / MHeath. Dr. Beckman earned his B.A. from Cornell University, majoring in Biology. After his undergraduate work, he won a Keasbey Scholarship to pursue a PhD at the University of Cambridge (UK), from which he graduated with a degree in Molecular Plant Pathology. Moving to the University of California, Berkeley, Beckman was a postdoc, and then staff scientist, in the laboratory of Bruce Ames, where he worked on the biochemistry of DNA damage, and its role in aging and mitochondrial function. In the late 1990s, he left academia to work in a number of Bay Area start-up companies and was co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Gorilla Genomics, Inc. from 1999-2003. Returning to the academic track in 2003, Beckman was Principal Investigator and founding Director of the Functional Genomics Core at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) in Oakland, CA, before coming to the University of Minnesota in 2009 to take on the directorship of the Genomics Center. Between 2009 and the present, Beckman modernized and grew the UMGC from a 10-person services unit with an annual budget of around $2M to a 40-person unit with a $12M annual budget, an active research program. This re-structuring included the addition of cutting-edge next-generation sequencing instrumentation and services including microbiome profiling for academic researchers. In 2017 Kenny, along with Drs. Daryl Gohl and Dan Knights founded CoreBiome, now Diversigen, a microbiome analysis company bringing together cutting-edge machine learning and genomics. Kenny is now COO of Diversigen.

Emily Hollister

Emily Hollister, PHD

Director, R&D, Computational Biology

Dr. Emily Hollister is a microbial ecologist with training in bioinformatics and statistics. Dr. Hollister holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biological and Chemical Sciences from Wells College and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences from Texas A&M University. She also completed her postdoctoral training in Molecular Microbial Ecology in the Department of Soil & Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University. Her microbiome experience ranges from soils and biofuel production systems to the human microbiome, built environment, and pre-clinical models of disease.

Tonya Ward

Tonya Ward, PHD

Director, Data Science & Bioinformatics

Tonya Ward is an accomplished microbiome scientist with expertise in molecular biology, next generation sequencing, microbiome informatics and data visualization. Dr. Ward joined CoreBiome, now Diversigen, in 2018 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the academic lab of Dr. Knights at the University of Minnesota. Her postdoctoral work included creating tools for microbiome analysis, leading local clinical microbiome research studies and collaborating on numerous multi-center microbiome initiatives. Ward received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University Ottawa where she studied the human milk metagenome and immune proteins in human milk.

Andrew Degar

Andrew Degar, PhD

Director, qPCR & Sequencing

Dr. Andrew Degar is a molecular biologist with expertise in qPCR and metagenomic sequencing. He earned his Bachelor of Science and Professional Science Master’s in Biotechnology from the University of South Carolina and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Mercer University. Dr. Degar has previously led multiple pharmaceutical clinical trials as a principal investigator related to qPCR studies under GLP conditions. His experience with qPCR helped develop the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Metagenomic and Microbiome Research scientific services and CLIA, CAP, and GLP compliance.

Megan Coombs

Megan Coombs, MBA

Senior Manager, Service Coordination

Megan has over eight years of experience as a business administrator creating organizational structure and processes that enable organizations to achieve their next level of financial & operational success. Prior to joining Diversigen, Megan was the business administrator of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor College of Medicine where she was responsible for the day-to day operations of the research center and its finances. Megan received her bachelor’s degree in Biology & Human Development at the University of Houston-Downton and her MBA from Concordia University in Austin, Texas. Megan has a keen business and financial acumen as well as a passion for value creation through utilization of her strong analytical, communication, collaboration, and financial management skills. At Diversigen, Megan oversees a multi-site team of service coordinators who provide customer interface and project management for all services related business.

We’re hiring! Join our team!

Diversigen provides services and generates data for research purposes only.  Not all services are available in all regions.