People

Lea Grinberg, MD, PhD - Principal Investigator

Lea Grinberg, MD, PhD

Dr. Grinberg is a neuropathologist specializing in brain aging and associated disorders. She received her MD and PhD degrees in São Paulo, Brazil. In 2003, along with colleagues from several disciplines, she founded a brain bank in São Paulo which has developed into an extremely prolific and highly regarded institution. Her PhD work was focused on the neuropathology of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. From 2007 to 2009, Dr. Grinberg acquired expertise in neuroanatomy and the use of state-of-the-art methods for tridimensional brain reconstruction at the University of Würzburg, Germany. This knowledge is being utilized in several projects, including a R01 funded study in which the overarching goal is to provide an integrated picture of brainstem vulnerability in AD and FTLD-TDP and to incorporate this understanding into their etiopathogenesis, testing the hypothesis that selected brainstem nuclei are interdependently and consistently involved in very early stages of AD and FTLD-TDP. Currently, Dr. Grinberg is an Associate Professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. In 2009, she was the recipient of the UNESCO-L'Oréal Award "For Women in Science" and in 2010 of the John Douglas French Alzheimer Foundation "Distinguished Research Scholar Award." She has also been chairwoman of the HUPO Brain Proteome Project since 2013.

 

Postdoctoral Fellows/Specialists

Maryana Alegro, PhD

Maryana

Dr. Alegro joined the Grinberg lab in 2015, where she uses her knowledge in image and signal processing for building computational tools to help improve the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases. She also works in building and testing prototype imaging equipment for the lab. Her major experience is in MRI and histological image processing and, more recently, polarized light imaging. Dr. Alegro received her MSc in electrical engineering from the University of São Paulo Polytechnic School in 2009, where she focused on MRI brain tumor segmentation using machine learning. In 2014 she completed her PhD at the University of São Paulo Polytechnic School, her research focused on MRI and histology image registration. Dr. Alegro also has a long experience as enterprise software developer, having worked on the development of several medical systems for the Brazilian government.

Email: maryana.alegro@ucsf.edu

Panos Theofilas, PhD

Panos Theofilas

Dr. Theofilas began his position in the research group of Dr. Grinberg at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center in 2012. His research focus is on neuropathological changes and susceptibility of subcortical brain regions in the earliest stages of AD. His projects utilizes the great availability of elderly controls from the brain bank of the Brazilian Aging Study Group as well as UCSF's Neurodegenerative Disease Brain Bank to characterize the susceptibility of brainstem nuclei in AD. Dr. Theofilas' research methodology includes the analysis of different components of whole human brain circuitries by combining unbiased stereology, immunohistochemistry, biochemical assays and making use of advanced 3D computer graphics for histological volume reconstructions. His academic background includes a B.Sc. in Zoology and M.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh. He completed his doctorate degree at Bonn University, Germany on programmed cell death signaling pathways in animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy where he acquired expertise in stereotaxic brain surgery and molecular biology techniques.

Email: ptheofilas@memory.ucsf.edu

 

Fellows/Visiting Scholars

Amber Nolan, MD, PhD

Amber Nolan

Dr. Amber Nolan is a Neuropathology Fellow at UCSF. She has a background in computational neuroscience studying cortical circuits involved in epilepsy from her MD/PhD training at the University of Chicago prior to residency. During her clinical training, Dr. Nolan has developed a keen interest in how injury and aging disrupt brain function at the cellular, molecular and circuit levels. She wishes to expand her training in the neuropathology of neurodegenerative disease to build a career investigating network dysfunction in traumatic brain injury. She joined the Grinberg lab in 2016 to investigate the pathologic heterogeneity of Alzheimer’s disease and it’s relationship to clinical presentation to further her basic training in neurodegenerative disease.

Email: Amber.Nolan2@ucsf.edu

Elisa De Paula Franca Resende, MD

Elisa Resende, MD

Elisa is an Atlantic Fellow at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at UCSF. She joined the UCSF community in 2016 after completing a Master’s Degree in Health Sciences 2015. She is a trained neurologist with advanced training in behavioral and movement disorders and received her medical degree and residency at the the Federal University of Minas Gerais General Hospital, in Brazil. She is currently working with the Grinberg laboratory investigating the heterogeneity of Alzheimer’s disease and TDP-43 distribution.

Email: Elisa.DePaulaFrancaResende@ucsf.edu

 

Laboratory Manager

Sara Dunlop

Sara Dunlop

Sara Dunlop received a BSc in physiology from San Francisco State University in 2013 where she gained extensive human anatomical experience as a teaching assistant in the Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate program; assisting in curriculum development and teaching dissections. She joined the Grinberg lab in 2013 with a an interest in neuropathology. Her current research investigates the susceptibility of the Dorsal Raphe nucleus in Alzheimer’s disease using a combination of histological, immunohistochemistry, and unbiased stereology techniques. Her role in the lab is multifaceted, coordinating research projects, tissue processing, and mentorship of undergraduate and summer volunteers. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree in neuroscience with a concentration in translational research.

Email: sdunlop@memory.ucsf.edu

 

Staff Research Associates

Maria Mejia, H.T. (ASCP)

Maria Mejia

Maria’s histology professional career illustrates a panorama of various neurology research experiences. Prior to joining UCSF, Maria obtained her BS from Saint Mary's College (Kansas) and then worked for 18 years at a private institute performing a wide range of histology techniques on the visual system of the brain and the retina to increase the understanding of normal vision and eye disorders. In 2006, Maria was recruited as the histology supervisor to work with Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz at UCSF to support the translational efforts of the laboratory. Maria’s part played an important role in performing the work necessary to initiate the clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease (PD). She came to the Grinberg lab in 2013 where she manages the lab's histology protocols.

Email: mmejia@memory.ucsf.edu

 

Research Assistants

Alexander Ehrenberg

Alexander Ehrenberg

Alex is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley ('17) where he is double majoring in integrative biology (evolution, ecology, and organismal biology division) and molecular and cellular biology (developmental genetics division). He started at UCSF in Spring 2012 working under Dr. Pierre-Antoine Gourraud in the Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Research Lab. There, he developed skills in computational biology, informatics, and statistics. In Fall 2013, he moved to the Grinberg lab at the Memory and Aging Center where he now studies the early pathology of AD using techniques within unbiased stereology, neuropathology, computer modeling, and statistics. He also works to develop technologies such as wide-field microscopy and polarized light imaging. Additionally, Alex teaches and conducts zoological research under Dr. Alan Shabel at UC Berkeley where he is studying dexterity and nervous system evolution in the taxa Carnivora, with a particular focus on otters. He plans on pursuing a career in academic medicine researching brain evolution, development, and pathology as well as working with patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.

Email: aehrenberg@memory.ucsf.edu

 

 

Laboratory Technicians

Cristina Armas

Cristina Armas

Cristina came to Grinberg Lab in the fall of 2014 from the City College of San Francisco Bridge to Biosciences Internship Program. She is an undergraduate with a minor background in psychology. She is currently pursuing a degree in neuroscience that accompanies a tremendous interest in neuropathology, genetics, and holistic research. In the Grinberg Lab she assists with carrying out the histology protocols.

Dulce Ovando Morales

Dulce

Dulce received her BSc in Physiology with a minor in Chemistry from San Francisco State University in 2016. Prior to joining the Grinberg lab in 2017, Dulce worked with various non-profit organizations that focused on increasing access to free medical care in San Francisco and rural communities around the globe by setting up temporary mobile clinics and developing essential infrastructure. In the lab, Dulce works on various projects investigating the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases using immunohistochemistry and histological methods on post-mortem human brain tissue. Dulce intends to pursue a medical career and become a clinical pathologist.

 

Interns/Volunteers

Patricia (Ale) Castruita

Ale

Ale is an undergraduate at San Francisco State University (SFSU), class of 2017. Prior to joining our research team she gained experience in cancer biology in the Health Equity Research Laboratory at SFSU under the mentorship of Dr. Leticia Marquez-Magaña, where she investigated genetic correlations between African ancestry and the incidence of triple negative breast cancer. Ale is an SF BUILD scholar, an NIH-funded program in partnership with UCSF and SFSU aimed at increasing diversity in biomedical research. In January 2016, she joined the Grinberg Laboratory with the intent to gain exposure to neurodegenerative disease research with a specific interest in genetic factors influencing pathology.

Yuheng (Jonathan) Chen

Yuheng (Jonathan) Chen

Jonathan is an undergraduate student at Foothill College where he is majoring in biological sciences with an interest in biochemistry. He was first exposure to research was through UCSF's Diversity Scholar Program in the summer of 2015. Through this program, he received training in neuroscience lab techniques, computational science, and entrepreneurship. He joined the Grinberg Lab in fall 2015 where he provides wet laboratory support. His goal is to pursue a medical career as a clinician in neurology.

Rana Eser

Rana Eser

Rana is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley ('18) where she is majoring in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience. As a high school student she worked at the UC Davis Center for Regenerative Cures and the UC Davis Genomics Center, practicing stem cell culture. Rana joined the Grinberg lab in Fall 2014 where she now studies the pathology of tauopathies, focusing on brain regions that control sleep regulation. In 2016 she received the Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program Summer Award for her work in the Grinberg Lab. Rana intends to pursue a career in the medical field as well as continue studying the brain.

Mordechai (Mordy) Hecht

Joseph Oh

Mordechai Hecht is an undergraduate student at San Francisco State University (‘18) where he is currently majoring in Biology with a concentration in physiology. Mordechai developed an interest in the brain and neuroscience through taking a course in cellular neuroscience and joined the Grinberg lab in 2017 to learn more about the neuroscience and neurodegenerative diseases. Mordechai intends to pursue a career in the medical field.

Joseph Oh

Joseph Oh

Joseph is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley (’17) where he is majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology (neurobiology emphasis). He started at UCSF in Summer 2014 as a research assistant for Dr. William Seeley in the Selective Vulnerability Research Lab, where he assisted with human brain banking and neuropathology studies for FTD. In Fall 2015, Joseph moved to the Grinberg lab where he now assists in studying the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

Cathrine Petersen

Cathrine Petersen

Cathrine is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley ('19) where she is double majoring in molecular and cellular biology (neurobiology emphasis) and statistics. She joined the Grinberg lab in Fall 2016 where she assists in studying the neuropathological changes underlying clinical heterogeneity in Alzheimer disease. Cathrine intends to pursue a career in medical research in the field of neurobiology.

 

Administration

Wing Hung (Wenda) Lee

Wenda

Wenda joined the Grinberg lab in March 2015 to support the group's efforts in researching brain aging and associated disorders. Prior to moving to the United States in 2014, Wenda worked as an executive assistant in a private company in Hong Kong for 19 years, assisting in the overall management and operation of the company. In the Grinberg lab, Wenda supports and manages the administrative needs. She intends to continue working in the field of medical research, particularly in the specialty of brain disease.

Email: WingHung.Lee@ucsf.edu

Former Lab Members