Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Sponsors

Use this list as a guide to identify potential research sponsors (PIs) that interest you. Please note that if you select a faculty member who is affiliated with the School of Medicine (denoted SOM), you will register for NEUR 388/388S/390. If you select a faculty member who is affiliated with the College of Arts and Sciences (denoted CAS), you will register for BIOL 388/388S/390. This is not an exhaustive list. If you find a researcher at CWRU, Cleveland Clinic, UH, the VA, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland Museum of Natural History or the Holden Arboretum that is doing neuroscience research, you may be able to complete your capstone in their lab. Contact David Friel or Ashley Nemes-Baran in the SOM or Jessica Fox in the CAS to discuss this further.

We recommend volunteering with the lab for at least one semester before enrolling in NEUR/BIOL 388/388S/390 to make sure that it is a good fit. Once you are ready to enroll, reach out to the appropriate contact for the course syllabus and enrollment forms: NEUR 388/388S/390 David Friel, Ph.D. ddf2@case.edu or Ashley Nemes-Baran, Ph.D. adn50@case.edu and for BIOL 388/388S/390 Jessica Fox, Ph.D. jlf88@case.edu

It is not required to register for NEUR/BIOL 388/388S/390 in order to work in a laboratory, but you will need to complete a minimum of 6 credits of research to fulfill the neuroscience major. Most students volunteer in laboratories early in their education and begin registering for credit in their junior or senior year to complete the capstone project. Be sure to discuss this with the PI of the laboratory so that they are aware of your intentions.


When sending an email be sure to include:

  1. Why you are interested in the lab - be specific!
  2. Your education and any specific lab skills you have
  3. The time that you are able to spend in the lab and how long you hope to stay

Don’t be afraid to follow up if you don’t hear back right away. Remember that PIs are very busy running their research labs and may not get back to you right away. If you are really interested in working with them, politely follow up ~2 weeks later. If a position is not available currently and you are really interested in working with them, request that they keep you in mind for future opportunities.


PIs have been organized by their Field of Neuroscience. Click the Fields below to Navigate to each section within this document, or scroll down to see all Fields and Researchers. Keep in mind that many investigators conduct research in multiple areas of neuroscience but may be listed in only one category, so be sure to visit the links provided to their faculty websites, visit their laboratory websites, and explore their publications to learn more about their work. You may also wish to search this document for keywords to identify research sponsors that match your interests. We try to keep this list updated but note that it is not an exhaustive list. We have neuroscience researchers across campus, at Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the VA, etc.

Fields of Neuroscience

  • Cellular, Molecular, and Genetic Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neuroscience
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Neurodegenerative Disease
  • Neural Engineering
  • Neuroimmunology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Nervous System Injury and Repair
  • Sensory Neuroscience
  • Neurobiology and Neuromechanical Systems

Cellular, Molecular, and Genetic Neurosciences

Walter F. Boron, MD, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
The Boron Lab has three major research areas: (1) the regulation of intracellular pH (pHi), including the broader field of acid-base homeostasis, (2) Sensors for extracellular CO2 and HCO3-- and (3) gas channels. The regulation of pHi is critically important because virtually every biological process—cell division, metabolism, motility, signal transduction, and the actions of channels and transporters—depends on pHi. They are now using a variety of approaches to understand how Na+-coupled HCO3− transporters work, the role they play in pHi regulation, and the importance of HCO3– transport in organs such as the kidney and brain, both in health and disease. 

Susann M. Brady-Kalnay, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
The Brady-Kalnay Lab is studying the role of receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs) in signals transduced upon cell-cell contact.  Interestingly, they found that PTPµ associates with another family of cell adhesion molecules called cadherins.  They are investigating the role of RPTPs and tyrosine phosphorylation in assembly and signal transduction at sites of cell-cell adhesion. 

Matthias Buck, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Research in The Buck Lab focuses on protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions in cell signaling and migration in organ development, cancer, and macular degeneration. For this, they characterize protein interactions and seek to determine how they form the molecular basis of mechanisms in cell signaling. These studies will provide insight into the normal functions of the signaling proteins and how they are disrupted in diseased states. The knowledge gained will also help in screening for small molecule agents that can be used to manipulate protein-protein interactions (and consequently signaling in cells) in a chemical biology approach. 

Cathy Collins, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Collins lab is particularly interested in cellular mechanisms of plasticity that allow the nervous system to adapt to impairments in axons. These include cell-autonomous signaling pathways that become triggered in damaged axons and neuron-glial interactions that mediate circuit adaptations to axonal damage. 

Evan Deneris, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
Research in the Deneris lab is aimed at understanding the genetic mechanisms that act across the lifespan to regulate serotonin system function and to determine how these mechanisms impact serotonin-modulated behaviors. Their studies have identified transcription factors that function in an embryonic regulatory network to specify serotonin neurons in the mammalian ventral hindbrain. Current research in the lab is focused on using a recently developed temporally controlled genetic targeting approach to investigate the requirement for ongoing serotonergic transcription in serotonin system maturation and maintenance across the lifespan. These findings demonstrate that alterations in serotonergic transcriptional networks at any stage of life can disrupt serotonin system modulation of behavior and physiology. 

Peter J. Harte, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Harte Lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of homeotic gene expression during Drosophila development. The homeotic genes encode a family of transcription factors that act as key determinants of embryonic cell fates. Each is expressed in a different region of the embryo, programming the cells in which it is expressed to follow a specific developmental pathway. 

Hua Lou, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The research focus of The Lou Laboratory is to understand alternative pre-mRNA splicing in mammals: its biological role and the molecular mechanisms that regulate alternative splicing. They are specifically interested in regulation of alternative splicing in neurons and heart tissues under both normal and pathological conditions. They combine genetic and biochemical approaches and use several model systems in our studies.

Tingwei Mu, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
The Mu Laboratory aims to understand protein homeostasis (proteostasis) of ion channels which are major drug targets. Loss of their proteostasis and thus function leads to numerous diseases, including neurological, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular diseases. To function, ion channel proteins need to fold into their native structures and assemble properly in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) for subsequent trafficking to the plasma membrane in a fully functional state. Mutations in a given protein could lead to protein misfolding and excessive ER-associated degradation (ERAD), and thus a significantly lowered concentration of proteins in cell membranes and loss of function. 

Xin Qi, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
The research goals of The Qi Lab are to advance the knowledge on the fundamental mechanisms of mitochondrial-derived metabolic dysregulation and neurodegeneration. These intertwined biological processes exert a profound influence on human health. The laboratory has been studying the molecular mechanisms governing these key biological processes and their complex interrelationship, by harnessing the power of functional proteomics and metabolomics combined with patient iPS cells and diseased animals. They also aim to develop “mitochondrial medicine” as therapeutic strategies for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

Peter C. Scacheri, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Scacheri Lab leverages the known role of gene enhancer elements in defining cell state to gain new insight into the aberrant cellular states that drive human cancer. They utilize cutting edge genomics technologies for this work and are continuously developing and applying new computational approaches to utilize these data to inform our understanding of biology.

Ashleigh Schaffer, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Schaffer Laboratory is primarily interested in understanding the unique functions of ubiquitously expressed proteins in human brain development and pediatric neurological disease. They focus on a set of ubiquitously expressed proteins that regulate RNA biogenesis, stability, and protein translation called RNA binding proteins. They use a variety of animal and stem cell models to investigate protein function on a gross and molecular scale.

Corey Smith, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Varied sympathetic activity is translated into differential hormonal profiles under the sympatho-adrenal stress response. The Smith Lab studies multiple components of this vital physiological response system. They study the synaptic peptide transmitter regulation of hormone release at the splanchnic-adrenal synapse and they study the regulation of activity-dependent differential transmitter release from neuroendocrine adrenal medullary chromaffin cells. A second line of investigation entails techniques development for the study of sympathetic control of the cardiovascular system.

Hoonkyo Suh, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The long-term goal of The Suh Lab is to map neural circuits in order to understand how adult neurogenesis-induced neural circuits account for cognition and mental stability, and how dysfunctions of the same neural circuits underlie neurological, affective, addictive and psychiatric diseases. They hypothesize that the function of newly generated granule cells is specified by neural circuits in which new granule cells are making connections with distinct brain input neurons, and that different disorders disrupt sub-regions of neural circuits that new granule cells are involved in. 

Alan Tartakoff, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
The research program in The Tartakoff Lab concerns both basic cell biology and disease-oriented investigations including dynamic spatial relations in eukaryotic cells, development of genetic strategies to combat disease and studies of Huntington’s Disease.

Paul J. Tesar, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Tesar Laboratory sits at the interface between stem cell biology and developmental neuroscience. They use pluripotent stem cells to model neurological development and disease with a specific focus on glial cells in the central nervous system – oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. They are interested in the molecular mechanisms by which cells acquire glial fate and function during development and maintain their functionality throughout life. They leverage this knowledge to define the cellular and molecular dysfunction that underlies certain neurological diseases and strive to develop meaningful therapeutic interventions using high throughput chemical screening and other approaches. 

Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, MD, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
Research in Dr. Wynshaw-Boris's laboratory is focused on understanding genetic and biochemical pathways important for the development and function of the mammalian central nervous system, primarily using mouse models and more recently induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) of human and mammalian diseases to define pathways disrupted in these diseases.

Wen-Cheng Xiong, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Xiong Lab is interested in molecular mechanisms underlying neural development, neuro-degeneration, and bone homeostasis. Although neural development, neurodegeneration, and bone homeostasis are three distinct events/processes, there are potential links among these processes. For example, patients with neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), frequently have non-cognitive/non-motor-related defects. These non-typical symptoms occur earlier in AD/PD patients’ life, thus, they not only impact patients’ quality of life but also could be a predictor for disease progression. The Xiong Lab has found that one of these non-typical defects is a bone-degenerative-like phenotype. They, therefore, have invested significant efforts in understanding why and how non-typical deficits (e.g., bone deficits) are associated with AD/PD. Technically, they have used a combination of biochemical (in vitro), cell biological (in culture), and genetic mutant animal models to address this issue.

Clinical Neuroscience

Brian S. Appleby, MD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurology
Research Interests include Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, Behavioral Neurology, Prion disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Frontotemporal Dementia.

Alberto Costa, MD, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pediatrics
Dr. Costa has spent the past 18 years investigating the biological underpinnings of Down syndrome and searching for potential drug therapies to enhance cognition and prevent the development of Alzheimer-type dementia in persons with this genetic disorder. Among dozens of successfully completed projects, he led pioneering research on the effects of the antidepressant fluoxetine on enhancing adult neurogenesis in the mouse model for Down syndrome Ts65Dn. His research team was also the first to demonstrate the learning and memory-enhancing effects of the Alzheimer’s disease drug memantine on these animals. Recently, he translated these findings into the first clinical study in the field of Down syndrome based directly on experimental results in animal models. 

Marta Couce, MD, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
One of Dr. Couce’s main interests in neuropathology has been the field of metabolism, and, particularly, how the brain plays a key role in obesity. Working with autopsy human brains, they were among the first ones to map key neurotransmitters and their receptors in specific hypothalamic nuclei. Directly related to her training as a Neuropathologist came also her interest in brain tumors. Some of her earlier publications are directly linked to interesting, unique cases from the diagnostic end. The intention of these publications was to communicate unusual findings in well-known primary and metastatic tumors of the Central Nervous System (CNS), with particular emphasis in their molecular fingerprint.

James Leverenz, MD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Dr. Leverenz’s primary clinical and research interests are the aging-associated neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and Parkinson’s disease.

Irina Pikuleva, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Cholesterol is essential for life in mammals. However, if chronically in excess, it becomes a risk factor for cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases and possibly age-related macular degeneration (for details, click here. The focus of The Pikuleva Laboratory is on the four cytochrome P450 enzymes 7A1, 27A1, 46A1, and 11A1 that are necessary for cholesterol elimination from different organs.

Martha Sajatovic, MD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Psychiatry
Dr. Sajatovic’s research interests have focused on outcomes in mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder and on neuropsychiatric outcomes of brain disorders including stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.  Dr. Sajatovic is a recognized expert in the areas of treatment adherence and in health promotion. She also has research interests in the psychopharmacology of psychosis and mood disorders and in mental health rating scales.

Andrew E. Sloan, MD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurological Surgery
Research interests include Brain tumors, Convection Enhanced Delivery (CED), Gamma Knife and Cyberknife Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Image Guided Neurosurgery, Neurosurgery, Skull Base Surgery, Stereotactic Surgery, and Tumor Vaccines (Immunotherapy).

Nervous System Injury and Repair

Yu-Shang Lee, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is one of the most damaging, immobilizing, and irreversible injuries that a patient can survive.  There are over 1,275,000 SCI patients living in the United States, yet no cure exists to date.  The Lee Lab’s research focus is on the potential treatment of SCI which results in a change, either temporary or permanent, in its normal motor, sensory, or autonomic function.  They use nerve bridging technique to repair the injured site and neurorehabilitation approaches and to restore lost function.

Jerry Silver, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The ultimate goal of the Silver lab is to understand the basic biology that underlies axonal dieback and regeneration failure in the adult spinal cord and then use this knowledge to develop strategies to maximally overcome the lack of regeneration after both incomplete and complete cord injury in order to promote functional repair. Although highly controversial from its inception, the Silver lab was one of the very first to suggest that overtly growth-repulsive environments, whose function was to actively turn axons away from improper trajectories during embryogenesis, might reappear in the injured CNS and block the attempt of severed axons to re-grow.

Richard Zigmond, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Zigmond Laboratory studies plasticity in the adult nervous system. They are interested in the ways in which the chemistry of the adult nervous system can change and the functional consequences of such changes. They focus particularly on alterations that occur in response to 1) neural damage and 2) changes in the neural activity. Currently, they are focusing on the molecules and cells involved in altering neuronal gene expression in response to axonal injury and in changing the intrinsic growth capacity of these neurons. Their studies focus on sympathetic and sensory neurons. Previous research has established that, when a peripheral neuron’s axon is severed, it decreases its synthesis of a number of proteins involved in neurotransmission and increases its synthesis of other proteins involved in regeneration. They find that, following axotomy, sympathetic neurons in the superior cervical ganglion express vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), galanin, and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, three neuropeptides not normally expressed by these neurons. These changes are detected both at the peptide and mRNA levels.

Neural Engineering

Dominique M. Durand, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Durand's research is in the area of Neural Engineering. Neural Engineering is a new discipline at the interface between engineering and neuroscience. In The Durand Laboratory, research topics combine computational neuroscience, engineering, and electrophysiology to solve problems in the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

Robert Kirsch, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Kirsch’s research focuses on the mechanics and control of human movement with the goal of restoring functional movement to people with disabilities. The Kirsch Laboratory studies the properties of the intact body to determine basic mechanical properties and to understand how the nervous system controls movement. They also study individuals with neurological disorders such as spinal cord injury to determine how we can restore movements using electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles (FES), or surgical procedures such as muscle tendon transfers.

P. Hunter Peckham, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biomedical Engineering
The major area of Dr. Peckham's research is in rehabilitation engineering and neuroprostheses. Dr. Peckham's research effort focuses on functional restoration of the paralyzed upper extremity in individuals with spinal cord injury. He and collaborators have developed implantable neural prostheses which utilize electrical stimulation to control neuromuscular activation. This function enables individuals with central nervous system disability to regain the ability to perform essential activities of daily living.

Dustin Tyler, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biomedical Engineering
The purpose of the research in The Tyler Lab is to develop and understand the symbiotic integration of humans and technology through neural links. This work involves research in sensory, motor, and cognitive neuroscience. Through the integration of engineered devices into living systems the goals are to improving human health and healthcare; industrial and commercial applications of neural interface technology; and social, gaming, and entertainment connects.  The research goal is to advance the field of Neural Engineering in three specific areas: 1) Clinical implementation of devices in neural prosthesis systems for individuals with diseased or compromised neural systems, 2) Advanced devices to improve extraction of information from and activation of the human nervous system, and 3) Neuromimetic interfaces between neural tissue and engineered devices.

Murat Yildirim, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Yildirim Lab investigates brain complexity through the lenses of engineering, optics, photonics, behavioral, and computational neuroscience to solve basic and translational neuroscience problems. We are creating cutting-edge, custom-made microscopes and computational techniques to perform large-scale fluorescent and label-free imaging, as well as perturbations of neural circuits that result in complex behavior in vivo and in vitro. We are developing diagnostic and therapeutic platforms for a variety of neurological disorders by developing these novel platforms.

Neurobiology and Neuromechanical Systems

Hillel Chiel, PhD
(CAS) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biology, Neurosciences and Biomedical Engineering 

Research: Soft tissue biomechanics, neural modeling, and soft robots

Animals must continuously adjust their behavior in response to complex and changing conditions. Most of their behavioral adjustments enhance their ability to survive and reproduce, and this ability is referred to as adaptive behavior. In the Chiel Lab at Case Western Reserve University, we ask: What are the mechanisms that underlie adaptive behavior? 

Angela Dixon, PhD
(CAS) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biology 

Research: Modeling of neurological diseases 

Dr. Dixon leads a multidisciplinary research program that employs an arsenal of diverse tools to model neurological diseases, replicate nervous system architecture and organization, and create health-monitoring sensors inspired by central and peripheral nervous system physiology. The lab seeks to answer basic research questions by using unique assays to understand key components underlying nervous system functions and related animal behaviors. 

Jessica Fox, PhD
(CAS) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biology

Research: Neurobiology, sensory systems, insect behavior

The Fox lab studies insect sensory systems using quantitative behavioral techniques, electrophysiology, computational modeling, and high-speed videography.

Gabriella Wolff, PhD
(CAS) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biology

Research: Neuroethology, evolutionary and comparative neurobiology, olfaction, learning and memory.  

In order to understand why mosquitoes seek to bite their preferred hosts, the Wolff lab compares odor-evoked neural activity, chemoreceptivity, learning and memory behavior, and expression patterns of dopamine and serotonin in olfactory brain centers across the species.

Mark Willis, PhD
(CAS) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biology

Research: Olfactory orientation and flight behavior

The behavior studied in the Willis lab is odor-modulated locomotion – specifically how flying and walking insects track odor plumes to locate important resources like food and mates. The animals we study and compare are the tobacco hornworm moth, Manduca sexta, and the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana. The experiments in our lab are aimed at two goals: 1) understanding how plume-tracking animals use information from many types of sensors (i.e., odor, visual & wind) to follow wind-borne plumes of odor, and 2) understanding how moths generate and control their flight maneuvers to adapt to different tasks and environments.

Neurodegenerative Disease

Drew Adams, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Adams Lab works at the interface of chemistry and biology, first using synthesis and high-throughput screening to identify new bioactive small molecules, and then using chemical biology techniques to characterize the cellular mechanisms of leading hits. Their specialized expertise has led to productive collaborations with multiple researchers in neurodegenerative disease, and a central focus of the lab is to elucidate key mechanisms controlling the formation of oligodendrocytes from oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Small molecules that enhance the differentiation of OPCs to oligodendrocytes may enable the regeneration of functional myelin and have a therapeutic impact in these debilitating diseases.

Farren B. S. Briggs, Ph.D., Sc.M.
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
Dr. Briggs’s current research spans understanding the etiology and pathology of MS from the micro- to the macro-level. For example, investigating whether a diagnostic signature for MS can be derived from readily available technologies (i.e. metabolomic assays), improving the phenotyping of the disease (which is critical for prognostication and the development of novel therapeutics), and describing patterns in healthcare utilization. He also conducts research in other neurological and autoimmune diseases, such as Parkinson's Disease, stroke, neuromyelitis optical, and transverse myelitis.

Shu Chen, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
The primary interest of Dr. Chen’s Lab is to characterize the chemical and structural abnormalities of PrP in the diseased state using a variety of biochemical and protein chemistry techniques. Their studies have shown that different conformational PrP variants are associated with distinct prion disease phenotypes, providing useful insight into the mechanisms of pathogenesis. Their studies on other proteins implicated in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease have also unraveled chemical and structural changes in these proteins that suggest a common mechanism underlying neurodegeneration.

Tara DeSilva, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The DeSilva lab has shown that activity-dependent glutamate release from neurons is a necessary factor to promote myelination during development. This process may be perturbed in autoimmune neuroinflammation, where the DeSilva lab has shown that excessive glutamate release occurs through the system Xc- transporter triggering a glutamate imbalance. This work suggests that glutamate signaling must be properly activated in demyelinating diseases in order for new early-stage myelin-producing cells to initiate remyelination.

Ranjan Dutta, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system and is the major cause of atraumatic neurological disability in young adults in North America and Europe.  Although existing therapeutic options are helpful during the initial relapse-remitting phase of MS, there are few available options for the progressive phase of the disease.  The Dutta Lab’s research is primarily directed toward understanding the molecular changes underlying the progressive neurological disability experienced by MS patients.

Jonathan Haines, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
Research interests include: Defining the genetic architecture of common diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and Alzheimer's disease, Biological data aggregation, integration, and analysis, with a focus on international collaborations related to genomic data across diverse populations, Electronic health records linked to biospecimens and Genetics of rare genetic disorders.

Qingzhong Kong, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
The Kong laboratory focuses on prion diseases, processing and functions of the cellular prion protein, and gene therapies, including six main research areas: Public health risks of animal prions, Animal modeling of human prion diseases, Skin prions, and novel human prion diseases, Etiology of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, Processing and functions of the normal cellular prion protein (PrP) in the biology and diseases of skeletal muscles and brain, Gene therapies for cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Helen Miranda, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Miranda Lab focuses on the investigations of cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous molecular events involved in spinal bulbar muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) models. New advances in stem cell research currently include the possibility of exploring co-cultures of multiple cell types to study their interactions. Therefore, their lab uses iPSCs developed for SBMA and ALS8 to dissect the contributions of motor neurons, astrocytes, and skeletal muscles for motor neuron diseases.

Paul Park, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
The Park Laboratory focuses on the biology of the retina and structure-function studies of rhodopsin and other G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) using cutting-edge biochemical, biophysical, and genetic technologies. One of the major focuses of the laboratory is on answering long-standing fundamental questions about the structure and function of rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is the dim light receptor in rod photoreceptor cells of the retina that initiates vision upon photon capture. Mutations in the rhodopsin gene account for about 15% of all retinal degenerative diseases. Mutations in rhodopsin can lead to retinitis pigmentosa and congenital night blindness. Retinitis pigmentosa is the most common inherited retinal degenerative disease and affects about 1.5 million people worldwide. More than 100 point mutations have been discovered in the rhodopsin gene that is associated with night blindness or vision loss. The mechanistic basis for how rhodopsin causes these diseased states is currently unclear. Research in the laboratory will help us better understand the mechanistic basis of mutations in rhodopsin that cause inherited vision disorders and thereby provide critical insights for the discovery and implementation of targeted therapeutic strategies to combat these types of disorders.

Andrew Pieper, MD, PhD
(SOM) University Hospitals Harrington Discovery Institute
The Pieper lab strives to identify and pursue important biological insights into neuropsychiatry, with a particular focus on neurodegeneration in disease, injury, and normal aging. Their ultimate goal is to improve human brain health through translational basic science leading to new therapies for patients suffering from currently incurable or difficult-to-treat neuropsychiatric disorders.

Jiri Safar, MD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
The Safar Lab developed a battery of ultrasensitive new tools for investigating the mechanism of misfolding of major proteins causing AD, AD-related dementias (ADRD), and prion diseases directly in human brains. Through methods such as conformation-dependent immunoassay (CDI), conformational stability assay (CSA), conformation-sensitive mass spectroscopy (MS), fluorescence spectroscopy, and cryo-electron Microscopy (cryo-EM), the laboratory's ultimate goal is to elucidate the structure of disease-causing distinct misfolded forms — strains — of human brain-derived amyloid beta, tau, and prions.

Ashleigh Schaffer, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Schaffer Laboratory is primarily interested in understanding the unique functions of ubiquitously expressed proteins in human brain development and pediatric neurological disease. They focus on a set of ubiquitously expressed proteins that regulate RNA biogenesis, stability, and protein translation called RNA binding proteins. They use a variety of animal and stem cell models to investigate protein function on a gross and molecular scale.

Neena Singh, MD, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
The research in Singh's laboratory is broadly focused on the pathophysiology of iron in disorders of the brain and the eye. Current interests in the lab include Iron cycling in the eye, the Pathophysiology of iron in corneal infections, glaucoma, and cataracts, and the eye as a model to understand the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Prion disorders.

Witold K. Surewicz, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
The Surewicz group is interested in the biophysical and biochemical aspects of prion protein folding/misfolding and the molecular basis of prion strains and TSE transmissibility barriers. The current focus of their research is on (i) Elucidating the molecular mechanisms and structural basis of PrP conformational conversion; (ii) Determining structural determinants of prion infectivity; (iii) Understanding the role of non-proteinaceous cofactors in prion protein conversion to the infectious form; (iv) Understanding the molecular/structural basis of prion strains and TSE transmissibility barriers. Methodologically, this research constitutes a combination of state-of-the-art methods of protein chemistry, structural biology, and studies using transgenic mice.

Bruce D Trapp, Ph.D.
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The Trapp Lab’s research aims are to obtain a better understanding of cellular/molecular events involved in glial cell development and myelin formation in the central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS and PNS) and to understand how myelin, myelin-forming cells, and axons are destroyed in autoimmune and inherited diseases of myelin. New data about the normal functioning of myelin-forming cells and myelin-axon interactions will help us understand the pathogenic mechanisms involved in permanent neurological disability in human diseases of myelin. They also focus on neuronal degeneration and axonal pathology in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus of MS patients.

Murat Yildirim, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Yildirim Lab investigates brain complexity through the lenses of engineering, optics, photonics, behavioral, and computational neuroscience to solve basic and translational neuroscience problems. We are creating cutting-edge, custom-made microscopes and computational techniques to perform large-scale fluorescent and label-free imaging, as well as perturbations of neural circuits that result in complex behavior in vivo and in vitro. We are developing diagnostic and therapeutic platforms for a variety of neurological disorders by developing these novel platforms.

Xiongwei Zhu, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
Dr. Zhu’s research focuses on the neurodegenerative mechanisms underlying Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The Zhu Lab has demonstrated that both oxidative stress and cell cycle-related abnormalities are among the earliest contributors to the disease. The major hypothesis being pursued is that while either oxidative stress or abnormalities in mitotic signaling can independently serve as initiators, both processes are necessary to propagate disease pathogenesis and progression.
 

Wen-Quan Zou, MD, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Pathology
Dr. Zou's research focus is in the areas of protein aggregation in conformational diseases especially on the physiological and pathologic prion proteins (PrPC and PrPSc) in prion diseases (PrD) as well as on neurotoxic amyloid β (Aβ) in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The co-existence of PrPC and PrPSc in the central nervous system is a prerequisite for PrD, a group of fatal transmissible neurodegenerative diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, scrapie in sheep and goat, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. 

Neurodevelopment

Heather Broihier, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Broihier laboratory investigates the development of neural circuits. In particular, molecular mechanisms controlling neuronal communication in Drosophila. They combine genetic, cellular, and electrophysiological approaches in this powerful model system to analyze the interaction of neurons with their environment during development. Extracellular signaling pathways regulate core attributes of neuronal identity—from neuronal survival to process outgrowth and synaptic function. Furthermore, aberrant intercellular signaling is a common feature of neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Michael J. Decker, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
The Decker Lab is focused on defining neurochemical, structural, and functional impairments attributable to hypoxic insults arising from either intrinsic physiologic or extrinsic environmental conditions. They established that postnatally occurring hypoxic insults induce increased sequestering of dopamine within the vesicular monoamine transporter. They also found increased levels of Dopamine D1 receptors and apoptosis within the substantia nigra pars compacta and ventral tegmental areas. Their ongoing studies are now characterizing neural structure and function in a cohort of children, aged 10-14 years, who were prematurely born and experienced hypoxic insults.

Pola Philippidou, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Philippidou Lab aims to reveal general principles involved in neuronal identity and synaptic specificity and advance our understanding of how neural circuits emerge during development. Significantly, their research has the potential to identify novel therapeutic targets for respiratory dysfunction. Most ALS patients die from respiratory failure within 3-5 years of diagnosis and current treatments do not slow disease progression.

Ashleigh Schaffer, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
The Schaffer Laboratory is primarily interested in understanding the unique functions of ubiquitously expressed proteins in human brain development and pediatric neurological disease. They focus on a set of ubiquitously expressed proteins that regulate RNA biogenesis, stability, and protein translation called RNA binding proteins. They use a variety of animal and stem cell models to investigate protein function on a gross and molecular scale.

Dhananjay Yellajoshyula, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Yellajoshyula lab focuses on understanding the cellular and transcriptional mechanisms regulating the development of oligodendrocyte lineage and the extracellular matrix during development. And how their dysregulation of these mechanisms contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders. To achieve this goal our lab uses mouse genetics and in vitro cultures. Our ongoing studies are focused on the mouse models on an inherited movement disorder DYT6 dystonia, that disrupts CNS motor function resulting from mutations to a transcription factor, THAP1. Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder characterized by debilitating involuntary movements resulting from abnormal motor control circuitry in the CNS.

Neuroimmunology

Cornelia Bergmann, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Dr. Bergmann's research explores how the immune system controls viral infections of the central nervous system (CNS), while minimizing tissue destruction. Her studies evaluate how specialized cells of the CNS respond to virus infection and how these responses contribute to the recruitment of protective leukocytes circulating in the blood into the CNS.  This work has revealed how various leukocyte populations and their distinct functions interact to control viruses at distinct phases of disease. Ongoing research focuses on how specific immune functions can be manipulated to maximize viral control without leading to overt pathology involving neuronal damage.

Dimitrios Davalos, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The Davalos Lab studies the role that neuroimmune mechanisms play in brain function under physiological conditions and during neurological disease. Their recent studies have focused on microglial responses in the context of blood-brain barrier disruption, a pathological phenomenon that is very common among neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. Their research combines cutting-edge imaging techniques with molecular, cellular, and genetic approaches to study the interactions between blood vessels, neurons, and glia, and to better understand how their structural and functional relationships change between health and disease. By studying these relationships in real-time, their ultimate goal is to expand our understanding of the role of microglia in brain function and to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention for neurological diseases.

Antoine Louveau, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The Louveau Lab studies the role of the surrounding of the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges, in normal and pathological brain function. Contrary to the parenchyma that is virtually devoid of immune cells, except microglia, under normal conditions, the meninges harbor a rich and dynamic immune environment. The meninges are strategically positioned to be the interface between the periphery and the parenchyma, but we still do not fully understand how the meningeal compartment is interfering with brain function.

Jessica Williams, Ph.D.
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The Williams Lab aims to further understand the interplay between the immune and central nervous system (CNS) during Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in order to uncover novel therapeutic options for MS patients. More specifically, they are interested in how cytokines mediate neuroimmune crosstalk to facilitate CNS repair. A second focus of the Williams Lab is to determine how regionally distinct populations of glia communicate with immune cells to mediate autoimmune processes during MS pathogenesis and recovery.

Neurophysiology

Ken Baker, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Dr. Baker’s research interests are in the areas of neuromodulation, in particular the application of neurostimulation-based approaches for the study and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disease. The Baker Lab is currently involved in studies of the neurophysiology of movement disorders, the therapeutic mechanisms of deep brain stimulation (DBS), and the potential of novel DBS approaches to improve treatment efficacy and outcomes in both Parkinson’s disease and stroke. Their work involves experimental and clinical trial research in humans as well as preclinical trials using non-human animal models of disease. 

Sudha Chakrapani, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Physiology and Biophysics
The overarching research goals of The Chakrapani Lab are to develop a molecular-level understanding of ion-transport phenomena across cellular membranes that occurs under normal and pathophysiological conditions. Their current focus is on ion channels that mediate fast synaptic transmission at the neuronal and neuromuscular junction; namely, ligand- and voltage-gated ion channels. These channels play a central role in cellular excitability, and dysfunctions are associated with a number of neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic inflammatory pain.

Jianguo Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Dr. Cheng’s research interests focus on motor control and pain mechanisms and treatment. The lab uses animal models to study the mechanisms and therapeutic strategies of neuropathic pain. Specifically, they are interested in the interaction of the immune and nervous systems in pain and the identification of new therapeutic targets. They are particularly interested in studies that help translate basic research findings to safe, efficacious, and cost-effective care of patients. They also conduct a large number of clinical studies of innovative treatment modalities for chronic pain conditions.

Hod Dana, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The Dana Lab develops new methods and platforms for enabling large-scale recording and manipulation of neurons in the living brain. They work with state-of-the-art optical tools, such as ultrafast lasers, nonlinear microscopy, and high-harmonic generation, as well as with novel protein sensors and actuators for detecting and manipulating brain activity. The research in the lab is interdisciplinary and collaborative in its nature, and combines approaches from different fields, like engineering, physics, structural biology, and systems neuroscience. The current projects focus on changes to the brain activity in rodent models of multiple sclerosis and brain injuries, and how we can protect the affected brain circuits.

Thomas Dick, PhD
(SOM) University Hospitals Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine
Research interests include neural regulation of breathing, sleep apnea, and how the breathing pattern is altered by sensory information.

David Friel, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Friel Laboratory is interested in how cells communicate and process information through the use of systems of interacting signaling molecules, especially ion channels, and transporters. Behind this interest is a desire to understand how the signaling mechanisms expressed in cells extract information from their environment to facilitate higher order function of cell assemblies. Specific research projects in which this general question has been explored include: 1) Cellular Ca2+ signaling in neurons, specifically addressing how Ca2+ channels and transporters at the cell surface and within the membranes of internal stores interact functionally to orchestrate Ca2+ signals in response to stimulation. 2) The impact of ataxia-producing mutations in the gene encoding P/Q type Ca2+ channels on membrane excitability, synaptic transmission, and circuit properties in the cerebellar cortex.

Andre Machado, MD, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Dr. Machado’s research interests are in the fields of central nervous system plasticity and its implications in stroke rehabilitation, chronic pain, and movement disorders. They have performed translational research studies aimed at the development of novel therapies for stroke rehabilitation, in work funded by a National Institutes of Health award. Dr. Machado’s clinical area of expertise is the neurosurgical management of patients with otherwise intractable pain syndromes and severe movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, and spasticity.

Cameron McIntyre, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Biomedical Engineering
The focus of the McIntyre laboratory is to couple results from functional imaging, neurophysiology and neuroanatomy with detailed computational models to enhance our understanding of the effects of DBS. The computer models are parameterized by innovative experimental work and subsequently used to develop new hypotheses, thereby creating a synergistic relationship of simulation and experimentation.

Lin Mei, MD, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
Nervous system activity is made possible by synapses, contacts formed either between neurons or between a neuron and a target cell. As such, synapses are fundamental units of neural circuitry and enable complex behaviors. Research in The Mei Lab has focused on mechanisms of synapse formation, neurotransmission, and synaptic plasticity. These studies contribute to a better understanding of these processes and the development of potential therapeutic strategies for psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, and depression and neurological disorders such as muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and epilepsy.‌

Satya Sahoo, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Population & Quantitative Health Sciences
Dr. Satya S. Sahoo’s research is focused on developing new data and metadata representation and analysis techniques for biomedical and healthcare research. Dr. Sahoo has led the development of four ontologies in multiple domains, including one for complex neurological disorders, such as epilepsy. Using the Epilepsy and Seizure Ontology (EpSO), his group is focused on the analysis of brain connectivity data for characterizing epilepsy seizure networks using novel computational approaches.

Ben W. Strowbridge, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Strowbridge Lab is interested in understanding how small groups of neurons in the central nervous system function together. At the cellular level, they study the ionic currents that influence a neuron's intrinsic properties. These currents determine the physiology of different classes of neurons such as bursting pyramidal cells and fast-spiking interneurons. They also study the function and plasticity of synaptic connections made between different neurons. The lab approaches these issues using electrophysiology, primarily whole cell patch clamp recordings, and optical imaging techniques in acute brain slices. At the systems level, they work to integrate our knowledge about the cellular properties of different types of neurons and their synaptic interconnections to produce models of activity in local microcircuits.

Qian Sun, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The long-term goal of The Sun Lab is to help understand the function of the hippocampal circuit, a brain area that is essential for encoding, storage, and retrieval of memory and is strongly linked to many neuropsychiatric disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, epilepsy, and Alzheimer's disease. The current research aims to address the cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying hippocampal information processing through the CA3 circuit. They are also interested in understanding the role of CA3 impairments in neuropsychiatric disorders. Their research contributes to a better understanding of hippocampal circuit function and helps identify novel strategies to relieve or repair behavioral deficits in neuropsychiatric disorders that involve the hippocampus.

Masashi Tabuchi, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
The Tabuchi lab's goal is to understand how neural coding impacts molecular/cellular signaling, plasticity, and behavior. They apply multidisciplinary approaches in Drosophila to understand how non-canonical (temporal or analog) neural codes represent persistent internal drives. Their research scope includes hierarchical interactions of gene expression, biophysical properties such as ionic currents, temporal structure of membrane potential dynamics including spiking patterns, functional synaptic connectivity of neural circuits, and behavior, with fundamental questions of what is the determining factor of processing performance in a neural circuit, what kind of molecular and cellular events can be attributed to, and how exactly do these events have a certain power in modulating the neuronal, synaptic, and behavioral states of the animals.

Dawn M Taylor, Ph.D.
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
The Taylor Lab focuses on restoring motor function after injury or disease. One major research thrust focuses on using technology to bypass damaged neurons and to restore movements by thought after paralysis. They use both invasive and non-invasive brain recording methods, and their muscle stimulation algorithms are designed to be easily customizable to each person’s unique post-injury limb. The second major research thrust is focused on understanding neural network dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease and how deep brain stimulation serves to renormalize motor processing. The resulting data are being used to guide the development of computational models of neural network function to optimize deep brain stimulation to renormalize brain function.

Murat Yildirim, PhD
(SOM) Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Neurosciences
Yildirim Lab investigates brain complexity through the lenses of engineering, optics, photonics, behavioral, and computational neuroscience to solve basic and translational neuroscience problems. We are creating cutting-edge, custom-made microscopes and computational techniques to perform large-scale fluorescent and label-free imaging, as well as perturbations of neural circuits that result in complex behavior in vivo and in vitro. We are developing diagnostic and therapeutic platforms for a variety of neurological disorders by developing these novel platforms.

Peng Zhang, PhD
(SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences
Fascinated by the complexity and diversity of synapses, The Zhang Lab strives to understand the molecular codes behind them. The obvious candidates for establishing such codes are a group of synaptic organizing proteins that mediate specific synaptic recognition and differentiation between two neurons. The diversity of proteins is expanded by different isoforms created by alternative mRNA splicing. Yet how post-translational modifications upon the synaptic organizing proteins contribute to the complexity remains largely unexplored. The Zhang Lab recently discovered an evolutionarily conserved glycosylation (heparan sulfate polysaccharides) on the core synaptic organizing protein neurexin. Then they defined the functional requirement of this glycan for the normal synaptic structure and function. Now, the lab aims to elucidate how glycans increase the complexity of molecular codes governing synaptic specificity and diversity.

    Sensory Neuroscience

    Kumar Alagramam, PhD
    (SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Otolaryngology
    The long-term goal of The Alagramam Lab is to understand the genetic program associated with hair cell development and function in the inner ear. Dr. Alagramam’s extensive work led to the discovery of protocadherin 15 (Pcdh15) and its association with deafness in mice and humans in 2001. From 2002-06, he reported on the identification of mouse mutants carrying different alleles of Pcdh15, and the detailed analysis of hair cells from these alleles demonstrated that mutation in Pcdh15 affects hair bundle morphology and polarity. The current focus of Dr. Alagramam's lab is to understand the precise role of Pcdh15 in hair bundle morphogenesis and mechanotransduction.

    Martin L. Basch, PhD
    (SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Otolaryngology
    The Basch Lab uses the mouse embryo as a model system to understand how the inner ear forms. They study how the different cell types in the cochlea interact with each other during embryonic development. Their goal is to apply the lessons learned from normal development towards regenerative therapies in cases of congenital deafness and age-related hearing loss.

    Brian McDermott, PhD
    (SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Otolaryngology
    The McDermott group’s goals are to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of hair-cell development and operation and to determine how these mechanisms relate to human hearing and deafness. They are primarily interested in how some genes relate to three aspects of the hair cell: hair-bundle morphogenesis and operation, hair-cell innervation, and ribbon synapse formation and function. In addition to zebrafish genetics, the McDermott group integrates imaging, physiological, transgenic, and behavioral approaches to study hair-cell development and operation.

    Paul Park, PhD
    (SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
    The Park Laboratory focuses on the biology of the retina and structure-function studies of rhodopsin and other G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) using cutting-edge biochemical, biophysical and genetic technologies. One of the major focuses of the laboratory is on answering long-standing fundamental questions about the structure and function of rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is the dim light receptor in rod photoreceptor cells of the retina that initiates vision upon photon capture. Mutations in the rhodopsin gene account for about 15% of all retinal degenerative diseases. Mutations in rhodopsin can lead to retinitis pigmentosa and congenital night blindness. Retinitis pigmentosa is the most common inherited retinal degenerative disease and affects about 1.5 million people worldwide. More than 100 point mutations have been discovered in the rhodopsin gene that is associated with night blindness or vision loss. The mechanistic basis for how rhodopsin causes these diseased states is currently unclear. Research in the laboratory will help us better understand the mechanistic basis of mutations in rhodopsin that cause inherited vision disorders and thereby provide critical insights for the discovery and implementation of targeted therapeutic strategies to combat these types of disorders.

    Neal S. Peachey, Ph.D.
    (SOM) Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute Department of Ophthalmic Research
    The Peachey lab studies X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS), a prevalent early-onset retinal disorder, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which impacts central vision with a prevalence that increases with age. The lab has been working with three mouse models that carry disease-causing mutations in the gene Retinoschisin (RS1) to study XLRS. Prior genetic studies on AMD have focused on European populations. Recognizing that the prevalence and presentation of AMD varies across different ethnic populations, the lab is also working with the VA Million Veteran Program to determine whether the genetic underpinnings of AMD may differ across different ethnic groups.

    Irina Pikuleva, PhD
    (SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
    Cholesterol is essential for life in mammals. However, if chronically in excess, it becomes a risk factor for cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases and possibly age-related macular degeneration (for details, click here. The focus of The Pikuleva Laboratory is on the four cytochrome P450 enzymes 7A1, 27A1, 46A1, and 11A1 that are necessary for cholesterol elimination from different organs.

    Ruben Stepanyan, PhD
    (SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Otolaryngology
    The goal of Ruben Stepanyan's lab research is to study hair cell mechanosensitivity and calcium homeostasis in normal and pathological conditions.  Mechanosensitivity of hair cells is necessary for our hearing while calcium is an essential modulator of mechano-electrical transduction. During excessively loud sounds and noise a substantial amount of calcium ions enter hair cells through mechanotransduction channels.  Therefore, it is important for hair cells to be able to buffer and extrude excessive Ca2; compromised calcium balance is a significant factor leading to hair cell death.

    Patricia R. Taylor, PhD
    (SOM) Case Western Reserve University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
    The Taylor Lab research focuses on the role of IL-17 in diabetic retinopathy and is the first study to characterize IL-17-producing neutrophils in diabetes. IL-17-producing neutrophils are a major focus in this study because they are the only cell in the immune system that has an autocrine IL-17 function that increases the production of pro-inflammatory chemokines, proteinases, and reactive oxygen species, which play a role in diabetic retinopathy.