Giulio Maria Pasinetti, M.D., Ph.D.
The Saunders Family Chair and Professor of Neurology
Giulio Maria Pasinetti is the Chief of the Brain Institute Center of Excellence for Novel Approaches to Neurodiagnostics and Neurotherapeutics and is the Saunders Family Chair and Professor in Neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Pasinetti also serves as the Director of the Basic and Biomedical Research and Training, Geriatric Education and Clinical at the Bronx VA Medical Center. Dr. Pasinetti’s research on lifestyle factors and metabolic co-morbidities, including diabetes, influencing clinical dementia, neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease has made him a top expert in his field. Dr. Pasinetti is the recipient of several academic awards, including the Zenith and Temple awards from the Alzheimer’s Association, the Nathan W. and Margaret T. Shock Aging Research Foundation Award of the Gerontological Society of America, and the Foundation Queen Sofia of Spain Research Center Award on Alzheimer’s Disease. Most recently, Dr. Pasinetti received The Faculty Council Award for academic excellence at Mount Sinai and The Charles Dana Alliance for Brain Research Award from the Dana Foundation, recognizing productivity and worldwide leadership in his field.
Lap Ho, Ph.D.
Dr. Ho is trained in nutrition, biochemistry, and molecular biology, with more than 20 years of experience in translational neuroscience research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Dr. Ho’s work has generated insights on the molecular mechanisms underlying the onset and progression of AD, and this information has been translated into multiple therapeutic developments. To date, his research has resulted in over 80 papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Ho has extensive experience with experimental and preclinical studies characterizing the bioactivities of polyphenol components in the brain and the beneficial impacts of dietary supplementation with polyphenol preparations in reducing AD mechanisms in mouse models.
Hanna Redding, Ph.D.
Dr. Redding’s main research interests are in the areas of neurodegeneration, tau protein structure, and biochemistry, with an outstanding expertise in tau protein phosphorylation and proteolytic degradation in Alzheimers disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, including progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration. She is a pioneer in the application of modern technologies to study neurodegeneration and ultrastructural changes associated with abnormal fibrillary aggregation of tau protein. More recently, Dr. Redding is focusing on the role of polyphenols in preventing intracellular accumulation of tau protein in aggresomes and interfering with abnormal aggregation and phosphorylation of tau protein in cultured cells and transgenic mouse models.
Shrishailam Yemul, Ph.D.
Dr. Yemul has worked in the lab for last 15 years supporting various aspects of different projects including cloning and construction of transgenic vectors for the generation of transgenic mouse models in study of neurodegenerative diseases. He has also worked on protein profiling of brain tissue, CSF and serum from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, Autism, Schizophrenia using Surface -enhanced Laser Desorption -ionization Mass Spectrometry (SELDI), Western blotting, mRNA etc for Biomarker discovery.
Dr. Frolinger is trained in behavioral neuroscience with educational and research background ranging from physiological sciences to behavioral sciences, psychopharmacology and neuroscience. Her main research area during the last few years is novel animal models for affective and neurodegenerative disorders. In that context Dr. Frolinger was successful in developing and using appropriate animal models to link basic physiological and molecular findings in this field to behavioral outcomes and her work is a part in collaborative efforts that are exemplary for biological psychiatry research. Dr. Frolinger will join the lab with emphasis on studying gene expression and optogenetics in animal models of stress.
Maria Sebastian Valverde, Ph.D
Dr. Sebastian obtained her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2018 from the University of Zaragoza in Spain. Her studies were focused on the biophysical and structural characterization of bacterial proteins with high potentiality as antimicrobial targets. Additionally, Dr. Sebastian acquired extensive experience in the use of High Throughput Screening techniques for the identification and characterization of new drugs. In the Pasinetti lab, Dr. Sebastian is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that link neuroinflammation and depression, as well as in the development of new compounds that inhibit neuroinflammation as a potential treatment for different neuronal disorders.
Chad Smith, Ph.D.
Dr. Smith is trained in molecular biology and received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2015. His field of research was to investigate the role of molecular chaperones such as heat shock proteins in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Disease, and their potential to suppress proteinopathic stress. He is particularly interested in how early synaptic deficiencies modulate memory and cognitive impairments. Dr. Smith works to establish optogenetic models to study how diverse polyphenols alter gene expression, signaling pathways, and synaptic plasticity involved in physiological resilience against stress.
Susan Westfall, Ph.D
Dr. Westfall is an expert in gut-brain-axis research with extensive experience studying the interaction of the gut microbiota with plant-derived prebiotics and their synergistic effect on neurological disorders. At Mount Sinai, Dr. Westfall is continuing this line of research using cutting-edge technology to develop novel synbiotic formulations to maximize the production of grape-derived polyphenols towards the promotion of cognitive resilience against neuropsychiatric disorders. Before coming to Mount Sinai, Dr. Westfall completed her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from McGill University in 2018 where her major contribution was identifying a unique synbiotic formulation that promoted longevity and prevented the onset and progress of Alzheimer’s disease in Drosophila melanogaster. Dr. Westfall also completed her BSc in Biochemistry and MSc in Neuroscience from McGill University giving her a diverse array of skillsets.
Mr. Brathwaite graduated from Columbia University in May 2014 with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Science/Masters of Public Health at Boston University. His ultimate goal is to be a physician-scientist focusing on neurological conditions. Mr. Brathwaite has been trained in the characterization of novel brain bioavailable phenolic metabolites from complex botanical supplement mixture from in vitro studies under the tutelage of Dr. Ho. Following the identification and characterization of these novel metabolites, he was trained in testing the molecular mechanisms using optogenetics techniques to visualize and interpret different molecular pathways in brain regions associated with learning and memory function.
Ms. Caracci graduated from Carleton College in June 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Neuroscience. She is working as an Associate Researcher in the Pasinetti lab during her gap year before applying to medical school. She is assisting Dr. Westfall in her studies pertaining to the development of synbiotic treatments for anxiety and depression.
Mr. Iqbal graduated from McGill University in May 2018 with a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. During his Master’s degree, he developed a novel microencapsulated probiotic blend and studied its potential as a treatment for metabolic syndrome. He also investigated the effect that his designed treatment would have on the gut microbiota, and how that could impact factors of metabolic syndrome. He is currently working with Dr. Frolinger and focusing on the effects of dietary botanicals on promotion of cognitive resilience to stress-induced depression through suppression of neuroinflammatory mechanisms. Mr. Iqbal also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering which he obtained from McGill University.
Ms. Simkovic graduated from Johns Hopkins University in May 2018 with Bachelor’s degrees in English and Medicine, Science, and the Humanities. She is now working in the Pasinetti lab while taking a gap year before applying to graduate school. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a physician-scientist degree. Currently, she is actively contributing to various projects in the lab and assisting with grant and manuscript writing, as well as literature reviews.
Mr. Trageser is an alumnus of Virginia Tech with a degree in Biological Sciences. Currently, he is an Associate Researcher working with Dr. Smith investigating neurodegenerative diseases. He plans on pursuing further education in the field of neurobiology.
Research Program Coordinator
Ms. Gursahai has more than ten years of experience in the Department of Finance as a Funds Manager and over seven years of experience as a Project Manager for Research Grants in the Research Centers at Mount Sinai directed by Dr. Pasinetti. Ms. Gursahai has extensive experience in fiscal management of large NIH grants and is well trained in managing administrative and fiscal issues relating to grants. Ms. Gursahai has also been very instrumental in the renewal of several NIH and privately funded grants in our Center.
Ms. Carmona is currently a senior at Hunter College and is part of the Yalow Scholars program. She is studying Human Biology and Asian American Studies. She aspires to study medicine and public health in the immediate future. In the lab, she assisted with several projects, primarily concerning the preservation of cognitive and psychological resilience under chronic stress.
Prema T. Tareque
Ms. Tareque attends Fox Lane High School, where she is part of the Science Research Program. Her area of interest is neurology and hopes to be a neuroscientist in the future. This summer her project involved studying the effect of sleep deprivation on memory function through NLRP3-dependent inflammation. She is very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the Pasinetti lab amongst esteemed researchers.
Ms. Ye is a rising senior at the Brearley School. She is interested in biochemistry and is passionate about competition math and fencing. She hopes to enter the field of medicine in the future.