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 methods for improved purification of Alzheimer’s disease proteins for downstream characterization within our research group. Our goal is to identify potential therapeutic targets which are primarily responsible to toxicity throughout the disease course. TJ’s recent paper in Scientific Reports demonstrates the labs approach to purification of soluble amyloid-beta aggregates directly from human brain.
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 purification of amyloid-beta oligomers from human and mouse brain and structural characterization of amyloid-beta oligomers with chemical and biochemical approaches.Jiang_H_image3
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.

Detection of TBI pathology using advanced diffusion imaging

Joong Hee ‘Caleb’ Kim, PhD. Research Instructor (2013-)
Caleb is a research instructor working to develop advanced diffusion imaging methods in both ex vivo human brain tissue and in vivo mouse brain. He is also interested in the development and application of these advanced diffusion MRI methods to the human brain in vivo.


Fractional anisotropy, generalized fractional anisotropy, and mean kurtosis is measured using high resolution advanced diffusion MRI in human ex vivo brain tissue

Pashtun Shahim, MD PhD, post-doctoral fellow (2016-)
Pashtun is working on advanced diffusion MRI-based biomarkers for concussive TBI in athletes, military personnel, and others with multiple concussions. His work involves high spatial and angular resolution imaging made possible by new MRI hardware and analytical methods.
Shiran Su Biomedical Engineering PhD Student (2017-)
Shiran is working on optimizing assessing the test-retest reliability for advanced diffusion MRI analyses.
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.
Shamilka Seneviratne Undergraduate student (2016-)
Shamilka is working on microglial response to chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Shan Siddiqi, MD Resident physician in Psychiatry (2015-)
Dr. Siddiqi is a psychiatry resident interested in the use of neuroimaging and non-invasive electromagnetic brain stimulation techniques to study the dynamics of neural networks with the goal of applying theoretical/computational network models in translational experiments. His research is focused on the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for precision targeting and modulation of fMRI-based resting-state functional connectivity in patients with neuropsychiatric manifestations of TBI. He is currently spearheading a randomized-controlled trial of individualized connectome mapping to target rTMS for treatment-resistant depression in TBI patients.

3D reconstruction of the absolute difference between individual-level dorsal attention and default mode network maps in a patient with depression associated with repetitive head trauma; white circles represent personalized rTMS targets.

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.
Richard Davenport: technician (2016-)
Rich assists Terry and Andrew with behavioral and histopathological analysis of the aforementioned rotational acceleration model.
Sam Kim, Undergraduate (2016-)
Sam is working with Andrew and Terry on dendritic injury.
Stuart Friess, MD. Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (2012-)
Dr. Friess has a strong background in translational neurocritical care with specific training and expertise in large and small animal modelling of traumatic brain injury. Previous work has included developing neurobehavioral outcome measures in a swine model of head injury and multimodal intracranial monitoring in swine models of traumatic brain injury and cardiac arrest. Currently, Dr. Friess’s research is focused on studying the effects of delayed secondary insults on white matter injury following traumatic brain injury.
McKenzie Davies,: technician (2016-)
McKenzie is using histological staining methods and neurobehavioral outcome measures to study the effects of delayed hypoxia on white matter injury following traumatic brain injury in a mouse model.
Alan Makedon, Undergraduate 2016-
Alan is working with Stu and McKenzie on quantitation of hippocampal injury.