Collaborators with the Nursing Neuroscience Lab

Michael Decker

Principal Investigators

‌Michael Decker, PhD, Diplomate, ABSM, RN, RRT

  • PhD, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. Dissertation: Wakefulness and Sleep: Intrinsic modulators of the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus
  • BSN, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, 1995

Michael Decker, PhD, Laboratory Director, is an Associate Professor of Nursing, Physiology, and Biophysics. He is a basic and clinical scientist with extensive experience characterizing central nervous system dysfunction in humans, and developing experimental models to define mechanisms underlying those dysfunctions, which inform development of novel interventions and treatments to reduce the burden of neural dysfunction. Before returning to Case Western Reserve University where he received his doctoral training in systems neuroscience, Dr. Decker held an appointment in the Department of Neurology at Emory University with a joint appointment within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chronic Viral Diseases branch (2001-2010). Dr. Decker’s Emory laboratory focused upon defining neurochemical sequelae and neuropathology contributing to executive dysfunction following perinatally-occurring hypoxic insults. Within the CDC his research focused on large population-based studies in which he characterized biochemical and electrophysiological correlates of hypothalamic-pituitary-axis (HPA) dysfunction.

Work in his laboratory employs in-vivo and in-vitro characterization of cortical network activity with high-density electroencephalography, assessment of neural function with neurochemical assays including immunohistochemistry and in-vivo microdialysis, and characterization of neuroanatomical structure at the cellular level (using electron microscopy) to the whole organ level (using magnetic resonance imaging-MRI). Concurrent efforts focus on defining physiologic and genetic mechanisms conferring resiliency to clinical and environmental insults, and identifying biomarkers that provide insight into potential causes of medically-unexplainable fatigue. Translational studies include development and testing of new electroceutical biotechnology and preclinical evaluation of pharmaceutical compounds. Dr. Decker’s clinical licensures include Nursing, Respiratory Care and credentialing as a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Full Publications List >

Elizabeth G. Damato

Elizabeth G. Damato, PhD, RN, CPNP

  • PhD, Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
  • MSN, Pediatric Primary Care and Perinatal Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • BSN, Nursing, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Dr. Damato is Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, where she co-directs the Neuroscience Laboratory. Her research program has progressed from studies of family stresses, depression, and sleep to a research program focused upon the role of inflammatory mediators with disease onset and progression. She has recently completed training in neurobiology and neuroanatomy at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and is acquiring new skills in neuroimmunohistochemistry and electroencephalography. Her research interests include the effects of premature birth on neurodevelopment, the effects of neurostimulation on autonomic nervous system response, integrating high-density electroencephalography with functional magnetic resonance imaging, the effects of sleep loss on gene expression and executive functioning, and safe infant sleep practices. Dr. Damato is an experienced clinician and is licensed as a nurse practitioner in the state of Ohio.

Sarah Givens

Pre-doctoral Legacy Fellow

Neuroscience Laboratory Coordinator

‌Sarah Givens, RN, BSN, PhD student

BSN, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, 2012
Sarah is a registered nurse and a third year PhD student.  Her research focuses on signs of neuroinflammation, sleep quality, and their impact on cognitive functioning.  In the lab, she has worked with electrochemilluminesence and the measurement of inflammatory cytokines in the humans, as well as learning the techniques of polysomnography.  She plans to incorporate these bench skills into her dissertation work.  Sarah currently works as an inpatient psychiatric nurse, which furthers her understanding of cognitive functioning and its mediators.

Jessica Chan

Student Research Assistants

Jessica Chan

Jessica is a junior undergraduate biology student at Case Western Reserve University. As a high school student she worked in a developmental biology lab, where she investigated heart development in zebrafish and developed her interest in molecular and developmental biology research. In the past year, she has assisted in projects in the Department of Genetics, where she acquired skills in performing PCR, assays, and genotyping. She has also completed a course on neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of sleep, where she gained insight in the clinical presentation as well as the mechanisms behind common sleep disorders. Currently, her research interest is in the effect of sleep deprivation on adolescent and child development.

Jane Lu

‌Jane Lu

Jane is a senior undergraduate nursing student at Case Western Reserve University. As a high school student, she assisted in a biology lab in China and developed an interest in research. Her current research interests are factors affecting insomnia and risks associated with the impact of sleep loss upon cognitive function, especially pertaining to nurses working rotating shifts.

Sara Mithani

Sara Mithani

Sara is a senior undergraduate nursing student. She has been involved in research since the fall of 2012 and has presented her research at the Midwest Nursing Research Society Conference in 2014. She was awarded the SOURCE grant from CWRU undergraduate research program to carry out inter-professional research, where she gained skills in collecting and measuring inflammatory biomarkers. She is becoming proficient in polysomnography and is gaining insight into how sleep affects cognitive and behavioral function.

Case Western Reserve University Collaborators

GSNA Board President

Kingman Strohl, MD

GSNA Board President

Cynthia M. Beall, PhD

Neuro People

Reena Mahra, MD

GSNA Board President

Abdus Sattar, PhD


Clemens Burda, PhD

GSNA Board President

Anna Samia, PhD


Roberto Galan, PhD


Steven Lewis, PhD


Nicola Lai, PhD


Chris Flask, PhD

Emory University Collaborators


Andrew Escayg, PhD


David Rye, MD, PhD


Donald Bliwise, PhD


Michael K. Scullin, PhD


Glenda Keating, PhD

International Collaborators


Georg Dorffner, MSc, PhD


Sergio Tufik, MD


Monica L. Andersen, PhD

Anda Baharav, MD

Anda Baharav, MD

Nikolaus Netzer, MD, PhD

Nikolaus Netzer, MD, PhD

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Collaborators

Toni Whistler

‌Toni Whistler, PhD, Director Strengthening Laboratory Capacity Program Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Alumni Collaborators

Karra Jones

Karra Jones (Muller), MD, PhD