Mentors

Mentors must meet the following requirements in order to be considered for approval:

  • A long standing track record of successful, independent research
  • Must have already obtained their own funding (i.e R01)
  • Time to dedicate to a mentee
  • Desire to be a mentor and willingness to write a letter of support
  • Successful record of mentoring trainees in academic careers

Tony Wyss-Coray, M.D. Mentor 2016 Cycle

Tony Wyss-Coray, M.D
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital - Stanford Hospitals and Clinics
Following his graduate training in cellular immunology, Dr. Wyss-Coray has worked in the field of neurobiology and neurodegeneration for more than 20 years. Using cellular and mouse models of aging and disease, his lab is focusing on understanding how immune responses and changes in the systemic environment impact brain health and function. More recently the lab has been particularly intrigued by the observation that brain aging can be altered by changes in the systemic environment. The lab has shown that blood-derived factors are sufficient to modulate brain physiology at the molecular, cellular, and functional level.  The Wyss-Coray lab has developed focused proteomic tools to measure hundreds of secreted signaling proteins we believe are critical regulators (and indicators) of physiological and pathophysiological processes throughout the body with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. Mentor to Dr. Ivy. 

Dr. Nicholas Maragakis

Bio & Pic coming soon!

Mentor to Dr. Habela. 

Dr. Marcelo Wood

Bio & Pic coming soon!

Mentor to Dr. Autumn Ivy

Dr. Dan Cooper

Bio & Pic coming soon!

Mentor to Dr. Autumn Ivy. 

Dr. Dwight Bergles PhD

Bio & Pic coming soon!

Mentor to Dr. Habela. 

Peggy C Nopoulos, Associate Director for Education

Peggy C Nopoulos, Associate Director for Education
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

I am trained as a psychiatrist and my research expertise is in structural brain imaging using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). I am one of the few scientists at my institution doing this work in a childhood population and have successfully carried out several large-scale studies of school-aged children in a variety of patient populations (children with oral clefts, at risk for Huntington’s disease, children born prematurely). In the past 5 years, our lab as included infant assessments (using MRI and novel cognitive tasks) as part of the current PPG project. To date, our Nopoulos lab has completed assessments on more than 1,100 infants and children. These assessments include: 1) brain imaging (MRI); 2) a full neuropsychological/ cognitive battery; 3) behavioral measurements, 4) measures of motor function, and 5) biospecimen (DNA) collection. In addition to the patient populations, this work has generated data sets of comparison groups comprised of normal healthy children, providing the resources to study and publish on topics of normal brain development, and in particular sex differences in brain structure and function. A large part of my career has been in mentoring and fostering the career of the young scientists. Between 2001 and 2005 I developed and directed the Iowa Medical Student Research Program including the Research Distinction Track. From 2001-2011 I was the Director of the Iowa Doris Duke Clinical Fellowship Program, a year-out program for medical students doing clinical research. Most recently, I was named the Associate Director of Education for the University of Iowa Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS). In this role, I have developed the Translational Biomedicine Program which is a degree granting program designed to train junior investigators at the level of fellows or junior faculty.  I have mentored many post-doctoral fellows through the Neurobiology of Psychosis T32 in psychiatry and am also active in mentoring pre-doctoral students in our Neuroscience graduate program and the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).  Mentor to Dr. Boes. 

Hugo J. Bellen, D.V.M., Ph.D. Mentor 2016 CycleHugo J. Bellen, D.V.M., Ph.D. Mentor 2016 Cycle
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Distinguished Service Professor, Baylor College of Medicine
Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, Texas Children’s Hospital

Hugo J. Bellen is a professor at Baylor College of Medicine and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute who studies genetics and neurobiology in the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly. Dr. Bellen obtained an M.B.A. from the University of Brussels, a D.V.M. from the Department of Veterinary Medicine of Ghent University and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California, Davis. He performed his postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Walter J. Gehring at the Biozentrum in the University of Basel. His current research focuses on an effort to decipher the mechanisms by which mutations in specific genes cause neurodegeneration, and to this end, he and his colleagues performed unbiased forward genetic screens in fruit flies that detect the progressive decline in function and morphology of photoreceptor neurons. To date, Dr. Bellen’s group used this strategy to uncover over 165 genes that cause a neurodegenerative phenotype when mutated. Many of these genes encode homologues of human genes that are known to cause neurodegenerative diseases, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (Lou Gehrig's disease), Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Leigh syndrome, and others, and these studies will help provide a much better understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which neurodegeneration occurs. A prevailing theme among these mutants seems to be dysfunction of the neuronal mitochondria and an increasing inability to deal with oxidative stress, which manifests as lipid droplets. Dr. Bellen’s group is now implementing similar strategies in fruit flies to elucidate the mechanisms by which genetic alterations cause neurodevelopmental disorders, such as microcephaly, autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy, and spinocerebellar ataxia. Mentor to  Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao.

Chi Van Dang, MD
Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania is a world leader in cancer research, patient care, and education. Our leadership team brings together years of experience and expertise with the goal of eliminating cancer. Dr. Chi V. Dang has conducted seminal research on the molecular signaling pathways and mechanisms that govern the unusual metabolism of cancer cells. His lab recently discovered that the same protein important in cancer metabolism also disrupts the circadian rhythm, which established a novel link between oncogenic transformation and circadian and metabolic dysrhythmia. Mentor to Dr. Mai Dang


Malay Haldar, MD PhD
Assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania
Research in his laboratory is focused on role of the innate immune system in solid tumor biology. Specifically, he studies the mononuclear phagocyte system with an emphasis on their role in the tumor microenvironment. Mentor to Dr. Dang.

Praveen B. Raju, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in Neurology
Laboratory for Childhood Brain Tumor Research
Weill Cornell Medical College
Dr. Raju completed his MD in 2001 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he also completed his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology / Genetics. He served as a resident in Pediatrics at Babies & Children's Hospital of New York / Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and subsequently finished his Pediatric Neurology Fellowship training at Children's Hospital, Boston / Harvard Medical School in 2006 where he served as Chief Fellow during his final year. Prior to joining the Weill Cornell Medical College faculty, Dr. Raju was a Fellow of the Pediatric Scientist Development Program (PSDP)  at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In addition to his clinical responsibilities, Dr. Raju directs the Laboratory for Childhood Brain Tumor Research at Weill Cornell Medical College and studies the developmental origins of pediatric brain tumors with a particular focus on medulloblastoma and its relationship to developmental signal transduction pathways. Through the utilization of sophisticated mouse genetics techniques, Dr. Raju and his team are creating new and improved preclinical mouse models of these childhood brain tumors to better understand their biology, investigate novel treatment approaches, as well as identify treatment resistance mechanisms that can be translated back for use in patients in order to improve their outcomes. Dr. Raju's research program has received support from the NIH/NINDS, NIH/NICHD, Department of Defense (DOD), STARR Cancer Consortium, St. Baldrick's Foundation for Childhood Cancer, Hartwell Foundation for Pediatric Research, American Brain Tumor Association, Unravel Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Hyundai Hope on Wheels Foundation, and Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Mentor to Dr. Hennika. 

David C. Lyden, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Stavros S Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Caridlogy
Weill Cornell Medical College
Departments of Pediatrics and Cell and Developmental Biology, Weill Cornell Medicine
Early work in Dr. Lyden's laboratory resulted in several fundamental discoveries that involve the role of bone marrow-derived stem and progenitor cells in tumor vasculogenesis and in metastasis. Dr. Lyden and colleagues subsequently identified two bone marrow-derived cell types, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) of myeloid origin that both participate in the formation of new blood vessels in the primary tumor that occurred by vasculogenesis as opposed to angiogenesis. Dr. Lyden's laboratory then went on to show that secreted factors by the primary tumor prime certain tissues for tumor cell engraftment. His laboratory defined the concept of the "pre-metastatic niche". At the pre-metastatic niche, newly recruited bone marrow-derived myeloid progenitor cells collaborate with other cells types residing in the tissue parenchyma. Together, these cells provide a platform of pro-inflammatory molecules, such as S100 family members, growth factors, matrix-degrading enzymes (MMP9) and adhesion molecules (fibronectin and laminin), thereby accelerating assembly of the metastatic lesion. Dr. Lyden's team investigation of tumor-secreted factors that mediate the crosstalk between tumors and cells in the remote metastatic microenvironment has led to his discovery that tumor-secreted microvesicles, known as exosomes, initiate pre-metastatic niche formation by educating stromal cells and bone marrow progenitor cells, thus supporting a pro-metastatic microenvironment. His laboratory has identified key proteins and the presence of nucleic acids in exosomes that support thrombosis generation, vascular leakiness, and pre-metastatic niche formation. Recently, he has defined the role of tumor exosomal integrins in organotropic metastasis. Mentor to Dr. Hennika.

David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD
Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor, Vice Chair of Research Affairs
Department of Neurology Director, Neurofibromatosis Center
Washington University School of Medicine  St. Louis, Missouri, USA
David H. Gutmann received his undergraduate, graduate (PhD) and medical (MD) degrees from the University of Michigan, where he trained in immunogenetics in the laboratory of Dr. John Niederhuber. During his residency in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, he had the good fortune of working with Dr. Kenneth Fischbeck who sparked his interest in neurogenetics. He then returned to the University of Michigan for research fellowship training in Human Genetics with Dr. Francis Collins. During this time, he identified the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) protein and began to elucidate its function as a RAS regulator. In late 1993, he was recruited to Washington University, becoming a full professor in 2001 and the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor in 2002. He established the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Neurofibromatosis Clinical Program in 1994 and the Washington University Neurofibromatosis Center in 2004. His laboratory is currently focused on understanding the genomic, molecular and cellular basis for nervous system problems affecting children and adults with NF1 using both human biospecimens and novel genetically-engineered mouse strains. Over the past 20 years, his team has developed numerous mouse models of NF1-associated optic glioma, somatic growth defects, attention deficit, autism, plexiform neurofibroma, and spatial learning impairments as well as NF2-associated meningioma. They have used these preclinical models to define the cellular origins of tumors, the contribution of the tumor microenvironment, and the major growth control pathways that dictate brain development in NF. He has published over 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and has been recognized for his achievements with numerous awards, including the 2012 Children’s Tumor Foundation Frederich von Recklinghausen Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2013 Washington University Distinguished Faculty Research Award, the 2014 Riley Church Lectureship and the 2017 Alexander von Humboldt Award.  He also serves as a member of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Advisory Council. Mentor to Dr. Morris.

Jeffrey Milbrandt, MD, PhD
James S McDonnell Professor and Chair of Genetics,
Professor of Pathology & Immunology, Medicine and Neurology
My major interest is in elucidating molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases with the overall goal of identifying pathways that can be targeted to develop new treatments for these disorders. In particular, we are focused on understanding the pathways used to dismantle injured axons, and the role of glial metabolism in maintaining axon health. I have headed a productive biomedical research laboratory for 33 years during which time I have trained/mentored 26 graduate students, 47 post-doctoral fellows including 21 clinical fellows, 12 of which were K08 or T32 recipients. Of the former trainees, 43 have moved on to independent academic positions and 12 are working in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry. My lab has made major discoveries including the identification of immediate-early genes (Egr and Nur families), the identification and characterization of the GDNF related neurotrophic factors Neurturin, Persephin and Artemin and many of their receptors and their active translation into clinical applications. More recently, we have focused on diabetic peripheral neuropathy and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. We elucidated the pathways involved in axonal self-destruction after injury and disease; in particular the molecular mechanism of axon protection afforded by the NAD biosynthetic enzyme Nmnat and the TIR domain protein Sarm1. We also study how metabolic dysfunction in Schwann cells leads to inefficient nerve regeneration as well as axonal degeneration, which is especially pronounced in the small unmyelinated sensory and autonomic fibers affected in neuropathy. In addition, we are now moving into studies of neuropsychiatric disease using iPSC-derived neurons. Mentor to Dr. McGill.

Hongjun Song, MD Professor of Neuroscience
Department of Neuroscience and Mahoney Institute for Neurosciences,
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
Research in my laboratory focuses on understanding mechanisms regulating neural stem cells and neurogenesis in the mammalian brain and how these processes affect neural function. We are interested in the endogenous function of adult hippocampal neurogenesis and exploiting this system as a robust model of neural development to investigate molecular, cellular, and circuitry mechanisms underlying the etiopathology of neurodevelopmental disorders. Insights from these investigations may also facilitate novel strategies for cell transplantation and regeneration following injury or degenerative diseases affecting the nervous system. I have mentored a number of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows and undergraduate students. Our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have received fellowships from NIH (F31 and K99), American Heart Association fellowships, Children’s Tumor Foundation, Roche postdoctoral fellowship, Human Frontier Science Program Fellowships, Life Science Research Program fellowship, EMBO fellowship, and Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund fellowships and NARSAD. Two of my formal graduate students received both Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award (2009, 2011) and Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award in Neuroscience from Society for Neuroscience (2012, 2013). Two formal postdoctoral fellows received Janet Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award from Society for Neuroscience (2013, 2014). Many of our undergraduate researchers have received Provost’s Undergraduate research Award and Howard Hughes Summer Research Award. I have also co-mentored K03, K08, K12 and R25 awards for clinical fellows. Since I started my own laboratory at the end of 2002, eighteen of my previous trainees are now assistant professors or tenured associate professors in different universities in US and aboard. Mentor to Dr. Habela.

Dr. Tallie Z. Baram 

Bio & Pic coming soon!

Mentor to Dr. Ivy Autumn

Philip Starr, MD Professor in-Residence of Neurological Surgery
Neuroscience, UCSF
I am surgical director of the most active program for deep brain stimulation (DBS) implantation surgery in the Western USA, and have implanted over 1000 patients. I direct a laboratory focusing on cortex-basal ganglia networks in humans, utilizing multisite physiological recording in humans undergoing neurosurgery. I introduced the use of intraoperative electrocorticography as a tool for the study of brain networks in human movement disorders (1-4), and pioneered the method of chronic ambulatory human brain recording using a totally implanted bidirectional neural interface (first human implant in 2013). My major research questions are: 1) How are cortex-basal ganglia networks affected by basal ganglia disease, including dystonia, and how are they modulated by successful therapy? and 2) how are cognitive and limbic circuits altered in disorders of thought and mood?. We utilize both invasive and noninvasive recording methods, and employ both acute and longitudinal recording paradigms. Our large volume of well characterized patients undergoing surgery for Parkinson's disease and dystonia is critical to this effort. In addition, with my colleagues Dr. Alastair Martin and Dr. Paul Larson, I co-developed a hardware and software system for interventional MRI-guided placement of deep brain stimulators. In 18 years at UCSF, I have assembled a cohesive, interdependent group of clinicians and researchers representing all of the necessary expertise for this study. Mentor to Dr. Viehoever.

Paul Allen Rosenberg, MD
Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Paul Rosenberg received his MD and PhD degrees from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed an internship at University Hospital, Boston, a neurology residency through the Harvard-Longwood Neurological Training Program and a fellowship in cellular neurobiology at Boston Children's Hospital. In our first line of research, we seek to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying brain injury in order to provide a rational basis for preventing and treating important neurological disorders and diseases. We are investigating how expression and function of the brain's major glutamate transporter, GLT1, is regulated at normal synapses and how GLT1 function is compromised in acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, we are working to characterize pathways of programmed cell death in neurons and oligodendrocytes. In our second line of research, we are investigating the biochemical and molecular basis of behavioral state regulation, with a particular focus on the role of nitric oxide and adenosine in regulating behavioral states (sleeping and waking). Mentor to Dr. Elitt.

Joseph J. Volpe, MD, PhD
Bronson Crothers Distinguished Professor of
Neurology (Harvard Medical School)
Neurologist-in-Chief Emeritus (Children's Hospital)
Joseph Volpe is generally considered to have founded the field of neonatal neurology. His research focuses on damage to the white matter of the brain in premature infants, a condition called periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Infants with PVL have an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy and can have intellectual or learning difficulties. Volpe has sought to define the biological mechanisms of PVL and design strategies to prevent it. He has approached this goal through both basic and clinical research. Through basic research, he has demonstrated that early differentiating oligodendrocytes (cells that compose the white matter of the brain) are exquisitely vulnerable to attack by free radicals. Volpe has discovered that this vulnerability relates to impaired antioxidant defenses, requires iron, leads to apoptotic death, is highly maturation-dependent and can be prevented with mechanism-specific interventions. Specifically, his work has identified two major upstream mechanisms: hypoxia-ischemia and systemic infection/inflammation with activation of brain microglia. These insults activate two major downstream mechanisms--excitotoxicity and, ultimately, generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. These insights have led to discovery of a variety of interventions that prevent or ameliorate the injury to early differentiating oligodendrocytes. Mentor to Dr. Elitt.

Paco Herson, PhD Professor
University of Colorado, Denver
Department of Pharmacology
Neuronal Injury Program NIP Laboratory

The Herson Laboratory has partnered with Dr. Richard Traystman to form the Neuronal Injury Program within the Department of Anesthesiology. We are a highly collaborative research group that works closely with several faculty (see below) from various departments here at Anschutz Medical Campus with the shared goal of furthering our understanding of the consequences of cerebral ischemia. Our multidisciplinary approach to basic translational research uses neurophysiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, histology and neuro-behavior to elucidate the mechanisms of neuronal injury and identify therapeutic targets for protection and repair. The primary mentor to Andra Dingman, MD.

Wendy Macklin, PhD Professor & Chair
University of Colorado (Anschutz Medical Campus) Cell and Development Biology
Research Interest: Oligodendrocyte Differentiation and Myelination in the Central Nervous System
Our research program focuses on brain development, studying the development of the oligodendrocyte cell lineage in the central nervous system in normal, mutant and transgenic mice, rats and zebrafish. The oligodendrocyte generates CNS myelin, which is essential for normal nervous system function. Thus, investigating the regulatory and signaling mechanisms that control its differentiation and the production of myelin is relevant to our understanding of brain development and of adult pathologies such as multiple sclerosis. The primary focus in the laboratory is on signaling pathways that regulate specification, migration and differentiation of oligodendrocytes. These projects have been supported for many years by grants from the NIH and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The mentor of Andra Dingman, MD. 

Timothy Benke, MD PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, Pharmacology and Otolaryngology
University of Colorado

My lab focuses on the mechanisms of synaptic transmission and plasticity, and in particular, alterations in synaptic plasticity associated with early life seizures (ELS) that lead to the development of neurocognitive deficits. These deficits share features with human autism (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). While many brain structures and signaling systems are involved, this work has focused on glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. We are interested in how the in vitro correlates of autism and learning impairment are affected by early life seizures (ELS), namely synaptic plasticity (LTP and LTD) in rodent brain slice preparations using a variety of electrophysiological, biophysical and biochemical techniques. To understand how synaptic changes in plasticity induced by ELS are linked to ASD and ID phenotypes in rodent models, we supplement our advanced electrophysiological techniques in tissue slices with behavioral analyses to measure cognitive function, social interactions, and repetitive behaviors. Importantly, I also serve as co-director of our NINDS-P30 funded Behavior and In vivo Neurophysiology Core (BINC). Our published work was pioneering to show that a mild seizure in early life results in permanent, hippocampal dependent, learning impairment with autistic features. This learning impairment is mediated at the synaptic level without gross morphological alterations. The mentor of Scott Demarest, MD.

Tamim H. Shaikh, PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
University of Colorado School of Medicine

Dr. Tamim Shaikh has a broad background in molecular genetics, with specific training and expertise in human genetics and genomics. The major focus of research in Dr. Shaikh’s laboratory is on uncovering the genetic etiology of Mendelian disorders which result in multiple congenital abnormalities including developmental delay (DD), intellectual disabilities (ID), autism spectrum disorders, structural brain abnormalities, seizure disorders, cardiac defects and craniofacial dysmorphism. They specialize in using high-throughput genomic technologies including SNP genotyping arrays, whole genome arrayCGH and whole exome sequencing (WES) for genome-wide detection of pathogenic mutations in patient DNA. This work has led to the detection of numerous novel, pathogenic mutations including copy number variations (CNVs), single nucleotide variations (SNVs) and small insertion/deletions (indels) in a significant proportion of our patient cohort. As part of their studies, they have developed expertise in computational analysis of the CNV and sequence data for efficient detection of potentially causal variants. The Shaikh laboratory is also involved in the functional characterization of the genes and mutations detected in our patients. They study the function of the candidate disease genes in early vertebrate development by gene disruption in zebrafish. Dr. Shaikh’s research has been supported by several NIH and non-federal grants for over 15 years, to carry out projects studying the genetic basis of birth defects and neurodevelopmental disorders. Other projects in the laboratory include investigating the genetic factors underlying variability in co-morbid phenotypes associated with Down syndrome including autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability and infantile spasms and investigating the genetic etiology of several complex neuropsychiatric disorders including autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and schizophrenia. In his work Dr. Shaikh has successfully led and collaborated with a diverse group of investigators including clinicians, molecular geneticists and bioinformaticians to meet and achieve the goals of research projects. Dr. Shaikh mentors Dr. Scott Demarest in the gene discovery and genomic aspects of his project. The mentor of Scott Demarest, MD.