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Getahun earned his M.S. from the University of Maryland University College in biotechnology and B.S. in biology from Addis Ababa University. In 1998, he joined The Institute for Genomic Research, in Rockville MD, and worked on various genome sequencing projects. From 2004-2011, he worked at the J. Craig Venter Institute in the Pathogenic Functional Genomic Resource Center (PFGRC). His main task at the PFGRC was high throughput cloning and site-directed mutagenesis, protein expression, and purification. In 2012, Getahun joined the GENIE project as a research specialist, and his work involves high throughput cloning and site-directed mutagenesis of genetically-encoded neuronal activity sensor constructs for expression in various biological systems.