Current Lab Members (by project)

Characterization of amyloid-beta oligomers

Thomas J. Esparza, Senior Technician and Lab Manager (2007-)
TJ is working on the development of molecular contrast agents for brain MRI. He is focused on antibody production, testing, purification and optimization.

Hao Jiang, PhD. Post-doctoral fellow (2014-)
Hao is currently working on two major projects. The first is focused on identification of synaptic toxic components in Alzheimer’s diseases patient tissue, by developing a live-cell imaging based synaptic toxicity assay using primary neurons with endogenous fluorescent synaptic proteins. The second project involves production of novel antibodies for therapeutic uses.

Norelle Wildburger, PhD Post-doctoral fellow (2015-)
Norelle is focused on the analysis of Alzheimer’s disease proteins by mass spectrometry. Her goal is to identify proteins primarily responsible for toxicity throughout the disease course, which can be targeted with novel therapeutics.

(A) Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) spectrum for undigested, full-length Aβ1-40. Each peak represents an ion fragmented from Aβ1-40, with peaks labeled ‘b’ representing N-terminal fragment ions and peaks labeled ‘y’ representing C-terminal fragment ions. The numbers indicate measured mass/charge ratio (m/z). The single letter amino acid code across the top indicates the de novo sequence identified by mass spectrometry, which matches the amyloid precursor protein sequence corresponding to Aβ1-40. The line breaks between amino acids indicate a cleavage of the amide bond between two adjacent amino acids producing fragment ions. The lines below each amino acid indicate a detected ‘b’ ion, and lines above indicate a detected ‘y’ ion. Inset: isotopic envelope for the +5 charged, full-length Aβ1-40: the peaks are spaced 0.2 daltons apart at z = +5 because the naturally occurring isotopes (e.g. 13C and 15N) differ by 1 dalton. For the +5 ion, the observed m/z was 866.4351 (theoretical m/z = 866.4370), which was −2.1 parts per million (ppm) error from the theoretical mass of Aβ1-40. (B) Spectrum for full length Aβ1-42. For the +5 ion, the observed m/z was 903.2623 (theoretical m/z = 903.2612), which was 1.2 ppm error from the theoretical mass of Aβ1-42.

Characterization of Microglial Cells in Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s disease

Myles Fountain, Technician (2016-)
Myles is working on characterizing microglial phenotypes based on their surface and intracellular markers. In doing so, he hopes that this information could be used by pharmaceutical companies to craft better, more specifically targeted therapeutics.

Mihika Gangolli PhD, Biomedical Engineering PhD Student (2014-)
Mihika is developing quantitative radiological-pathological correlation methods in human brain tissue and implementing these methods to perform radiological-pathological correlations in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). These methods include histology to MRI image coregistration and the development of histology derived metrics which can then be correlated to advanced diffusion MRI data. She is also working on developing an animal model of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) using a repetitive concussive injury paradigm in transgenic mice.

Phosphorylated tau accumulates in neurons and astrocytes (left panel) in the sulcal depths of cortical gray matter, one of the distinguishing features of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Curving fibers in a sulcus of human brain tissue (middle panel) are can be correlated to corresponding high resolution advanced diffusion MRI data (right panel) to perform radiological-pathological correlations in human ex vivo brain tissue.

Erik Hsu, Undergraduate student (2015-)
Eric is working on the role of astrocyte injury in chronic traumatic encephalopathy and testing the hypothesis that autoimmune attack on astrocytes underlies some of the pathology.
Sam Kim, Undergraduate (2016-)
Sam is working with Andrew and Terry on dendritic injury.
Alan Makedon, Undergraduate 2016-
Alan is working with Stu and McKenzie on quantitation of hippocampal injury.
Shamilka Seneviratne Undergraduate student (2016-)
Shamilka is working on microglial response to chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Shiran Su Biomedical Engineering PhD Student (2017-)
Shiran is working on optimizing assessing the test-retest reliability for advanced diffusion MRI analyses.
Terrance Kummer, MD PhD. Assistant Professor of Neurology (2012-)
Dr. Kummer’s research is focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying neuronal trauma and degeneration during and following acute brain injury through the use of advanced brain imaging and monitoring techniques available both in the laboratory and in the clinical setting. Current work includes studying dendritic injury following traumatic brain injury, and severe traumatic brain injury using a rotational acceleration model of traumatic brain injury in mice.

Andrew Sauerbeck, PhD. Post-doctoral fellow (2015-)
Andrew is developing a mouse model of severe traumatic brain injury using a rotational acceleration model. He is studying the resulting dendritic injury that occurs, and is also interested in the characterization of microglia following traumatic brain injury.