PhD Students

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2019

yma15@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:

Education:
Petra University (Jordan), BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2012; Wright State University, MS in Pharmacology and Toxicology, 2015

Prior Research:

Rotations:
Dr. Gerard Ahern
Dr. Kenneth Kellar

mmk116@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:

Education:  
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, dual-degree in Biopsychology (B.S.) and Dance (B.A.), 2013;
Georgetown University, Pharmacology (M.S.), 2019

Prior Research:

  • Georgetown University: role of the dorsal vagal circuit in the modulation of gastric motility and tone (Drs. Vicini and Sahibzada)
  • George Washington University: efficacy of caspase in generating focal lesions on VTA-GABA neurons, sex differences in mouse behavioral studies (Dr. Polter)
  • UMBC: reward-seeking behavior in early childhood development (Social Development Lab), drug +/- occupational therapies in schizophrenic outpatients (MPRC)

Rotations:
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Tingting Wang

js4774@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:

Education:
CUNY Hunter College, BS in Biomedical Science, 2019

Prior Research:

Rotations:
Dr. G. William Rebeck
Dr. Italo Mocchetti


2018

gag44@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:
Alzheimer’s Disease, glial interactions

Education:
Georgetown University, BS in Neurobiology, 2016

Prior Research: After graduation, I worked as a research assistant at Walter Reed for 2 years. Our lab focused on current vaccine trials for various infectious diseases, specifically focused on the effects of novel vaccines on white blood cells.

Rotations:
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Katherine Conant
Dr. Daniel Pak

baj46@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:

Education:
University of Notre Dame, BS in Chemistry, 2015; Georgetown University, MS in Pharmacology, 2016; Georgetown University School of Medicine MD/PhD (in progress)

Prior Research: I researched anticancer drug discovery in the organic chemistry lab of Dr. Marvin Miller at the University of Notre Dame. I synthesized and characterized anticancer compounds with nano-molar activity against breast cancer over the course of several iterations of a structure-activity relationship study. These compounds exhibited selective activity against breast cancer among the cell lines that were tested.

Rotations:
Dr. Anna Riegel
Dr. William Welch
Dr. Jeffrey Toretsky

ss3984@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:

Education:
University of Naples – Federico II, PharmD, 2016

Prior Research: As an undergraduate, I carried out my experimental thesis at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where I have been actively involved in experiments aimed at studying several topics: (1) The functional roles of microglia cells within the mesolimbic dopamine system during the course of the normal aging; (2) Investigation on the aging-related increases in microglial density and lipofuscin as benign/protective or neurotoxic factors. The culmination of this effort was an honor’s thesis, entitled “Phenotypes of Basal Ganglia Microglia and Interactions with Surrounding Neurons During the Course of Normal Aging.” My graduate-level research experience in the Neuroscience Department at GU, involves investigation on the influence of the glycoprotein 120 on dendritic spine formation in the striatum of a mouse model with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder.

Rotations:
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Tingting Wang
Dr. Kenneth Kellar

ejw68@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:
Neurodegeneration, Oxidative stress, Homeostatic plasticity

Education:
Morehouse College, B.S. in Biology, 2017

Prior Research: I’ve had several research experiences prior to matriculating into the PhD program at Georgetown University. My first experience was at the University of North Texas Health Science Center where the goal of my project was to look at the effect of chemical compounds on the Human Voltage-Gated proton channel (Hv1), and examine which compound would bind with a higher efficacy. The results from our study demonstrated that while ZnCl, Amiloride, and 5-(N,N-Hexamethylene) amiloride were able to bind and inhibit the Hv1 proton channel, 5-(N,N-Hexamethylene) amiloride was the best antagonist for reducing the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS). My next research experience was at Morehouse School of Medicine where the objective of my research project was to look at the chemical compound, fumaric acid (FA), and its role in the reduction of cell toxicity and dopamine neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra and striatum regions of the brain. We were able to show that FA is able to prevent the increase of ROS, reduce mitochondrial function impairment, and prevent a loss of dopaminergic neurons in a Parkinson’s Disease model. Finally, my research at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine consisted of determining acetylcholinesterase (ACHE) levels in various regions of rat brain previously tested for fear extinction. Our studies indicated that several brain regions that contribute to fear extinction had higher levels of ACHE compared to other brain regions not involved in fear extinction.

Rotations:
Dr. Gerard Ahern
Dr. Tingting Wang
Dr. Patrick Forcelli


2017

msa150@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title:
The role of Alzheimer’s disease risk factor genes in hyperexcitability. Advisor: Dr. Daniel Pak

Thesis Research: I employ a wide array of molecular biology techniques to study the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease risk factor genes in hyperexcitability.

Research Interests:
Amyloid beta, hyperexcitability, synaptic plasticity 

Education:
George Mason University, B.S. in Biology, 2014;
Georgetown University, M.S. in Pharmacology, 2017

Prior Research: I studied the role of single nucleotide variants on Perilipin 4 and its impact on bone, skeletal muscle and fat phenotypes at the Research Center for Genetic Medicine at Children National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Rotations:
Dr. Robert Yasuda
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. William Rebeck

ddc48@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-Thesis
Advisors: Dr. Wei Lu (NINDS/NIH); Dr. Stefano Vicini

Research Interests:
Neuroscience, Synapses, Neural Circuits, Electrophysiology

Education:
Arcadia University, BA Psychology, 2015; Columbia University,TC, MS Neuroscience, 2016

Prior Research: Synapse development and function, behavioral neuroscience, cellular and molecular neuroscience, pharmacology.

Rotations:
Dr. SOOHyun Lee (NIMH/NIH)
Dr. Stefano Vicini (Georgetown)
Dr. Timothy Petros (NICHD/NIH)

sng46@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title:
APP phosphorylation and internalization regulates synaptic removal of AMPARs. Advisors: Dr. Stefano Vicini; Dr. Daniel Pak

Thesis Research: I use patch clamp electrophysiology in acute slices and primary culture along with confocal imaging to examine effects of APP phosphorylation sites on synaptic removal of AMPA receptors.

Research Interests:
Electrophysiology, Neuropharmacology, Synaptic plasticity, Alzheimer’s Disease

Education:
University of Richmond, B.S. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 2016; Georgetown University, M.S. Physiology & Biophysics, 2017

Prior Research: University of Richmond, under DR. J. Ellis Bell, examining the structure of suppressor of IκB Kinase ε (SIKE) using various spectroscopic techniques including 2D NMR & circular dichroism

Rotations:
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Gerard Ahern

Amanda Schneeweis

aks133@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title:
Identifying phosphorylated-tau epitopes involved during hyperexcitation. Advisor: Dr. Daniel Pak

Thesis Research: I use molecular biology and imaging techniques to better understand tau phosphorylation characteristics during hyperexcitation.

Research Interests:
Synaptic plasticity, Neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s Disease

Education:
Purdue University, BS in Biomedical Engineering, 2017

Prior Research: Understanding structural relaxations of proteins in lyophilized solids using dielectric spectroscopy. Studying the chemical and physical stability of an HIV fusion inhibitor.

Rotations:
Dr. Italo Mocchetti
Dr. William Rebeck
Dr. Daniel Pak


2016

ssa83@georgetown.edu

Research Title:
The role of matric metalleoprotieneases in the efficacy of the antidepressants drugs. Advisor: Dr. Katherine Conant

Research Interests:
Neuroplasticity, Perineuronal nets, MMPs, Electrophysiology

Thesis Research: In my dissertation proposal, I’m investigating a novel mechanism of linking antidepressant drug’s effects to perineuronal nets (PNN) processing and exploring the role of matrix metalleoprotieneases (MMPs) in promoting the development of a new prospective on our understanding of the mode of action of antidepressants. Some prior research provide evidence to support our hypothesis that MMPs are important contributors in controlling extracellular proteolysis in the synaptic plasticity. However, their role in the antidepressant efficacy have not been explored yet. My two primary research questions of my proposed projectare: Can monoamines and monoamines modulators stimulate MMPs dependent mechanisms of neuroplasticity, spinogenesis and neuronal dynamics. Whether MMPs activity is important for the antidepressant effects on the PNN integrity and neuronal activity.

Education:
Georgetown University, Physiology and Biophysics, MS; Qassim College of Medicine, Medicine and Surgery, MD

Prior Research: The neuroprotective mechanisms of Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers in LPS-induce inflammation in BV2 microglia cells model and in glutamate excitotoxicity in primary neuronal cells

Rotations:
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Sonia Villapol
Dr. Katherine Conant

sh1111@georgetown.edu

Research Title:
Assessing basal ganglia pathways for seizure restraint. Advisor: Dr. Patrick Forcelli

Research Interests:
Epilepsy, Neurophsyiology, Seizure Circuits, Optogenetics, Chemogenetics, Fiber Photometry

Thesis Research: Under Dr. Forcelli’s supervision, I am systematically assessing the ability of divergent basal ganglia pathways to control seizures in various preclinical models of epilepsy. To harness and modulate these circuits, we employ a combination of optogenetics and chemogenetics. By complementing these approaches with fiber photometry, I aim to map the activity of the basal ganglia in the normal and epileptic brains with cell-type and pathway specificity.
 

Education: George Mason/Georgetown Universities-M.S. Biomedical Sciences, 2013
University of Missouri, Columbia-B.S. Biological Sciences, 2012

Prior Research: Mentors: Dr. Jim Sowers, Dr. Adam Whaley-Connell, Dr. Ravi Nistala
With my undergraduate mentors, I studied the roles of nutrient-sensing and trophic signaling pathways in metabolic syndrome and explored pharmacological agents as treatments for physiologic decline.

Rotations:
Dr. Niaz Sahibzada and Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Bob Yasuda
Dr. Richard Gillis


2015

amh79@georgetown.edu

eml97@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title:
Memory processing in the medial temporal lobe.
Advisors: Dr. Ludise Malkova; Dr. Patrick Forcelli

Research Interests:
Cognition, Memory, Hippocampus, Parahippoampal cortex

Education:
Smith College, B.A. in Neuroscience and Biological Sciences, 2015

Prior Research: The Effects of oxytocin in the lateral septum and central nucleus of amygdala on same-sex peer affiliation in meadow voles.

Rotations:
Dr. Ludise Malkova
Dr. Patrick Forcelli
Dr. Stefano Vicini

Thesis Research:


2014

tan30@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title:
Differential functions of sex-linked neuroligins at synapses.
Advisor: Dr. Katherine Roche (NINDS)

Research Interests:
Synapse, Cell adhesion molecules, Autism

Education:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BS in Biology/BA in History

Prior Research: At UNC, I worked as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Lee Graves lab. I examined changes in kinases that ultimately lead to drug-resistance in myeloid leukemia. After graduation, I worked with Dr. Silvia Kreda at the Cystic Fibrosis Center at UNC where I studied the role of bicarbonate in mucin secretion.

Rotations:
Dr. Li Yang (NCI)
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Katherine Roche (NINDS)

Thesis Research: My research is focused on the molecular functions of neuroligins (NLGNs), at synapses. More specifically, I am studying the human specific isoforms of neuroligins, NLGN4X and NLGN4Y. While NLGN4X is expressed in both male and female, NLGN4Y is only expressed in male. My thesis is aimed to elucidate the differential functions of these sex-linked adhesion molecules at synapses.


Program Graduates

2019

  • Evan Wicker (Russo Partners LLC) dissertation and abstract
  • Erin Wenzel (Spero Therapeutics) dissertation and abstract

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

  • My Chau, M.S. (Ph.D. 2009 in Cell Biology)
  • Guisou Zarbalian M.S.

2003

2002

2001

2000