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.

 

Assistant Faculty and Fellows

Maryana Alegro, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow

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

Amber Nolan, MD, PhD - Neuropathology Fellow

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 - Atlantic Fellow

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

Jorge Llibre, MD - Atlantic Fellow

Jorge Llibre, MD

Jorge J Llibre is an Atlantic Fellow at the UCSF Global Brain Health Institute. He completed his medical training at the Medical University of Havana and trained as a neurologist at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in La Habana, Cuba, where he served as Chief Resident in Neurology. He has completed a Master Degree in Dementia and in Cerebrovascular Disorders. He created and runs the Cognitive and Behavior Research Unit at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery. His main focus of research is on neurodegenerative disease, in particular, the study of Dementia with a particular interest in BvFTD neuropathology and neuroimaging.

Email: jorge.llibre@gbhi.org

Maria Garcia Otaduy, PhD - Visiting Scholar

Jorge Llibre, MD

Dr. Maria Garcia Otaduy is a Visiting Scholar at Dr.Grinberg’s lab at UCSF. She obtained her Bachelor degree in Chemistry at the Eberhard Karls Universität in Tübingen, Germany, and her PhD in Physics at the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, working in the field of Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. In 1999 she joined as a Postdoctoral Fellow the Radiology Department of the Medical School of the University of São Paulo (USP), where she works until now as a Research Staff member, applying quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques (magnetization transfer, diffusion tractography, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy among others) to clinical research. The main focus of her research involves the study of brain structure and metabolism during healthy aging and disease. At USP she leads a research project using post mortem MRI to quantify iron deposition in the brain during aging, with histopathological validation. Her main focus at UCSF is to work at the correlation of post mortem MRI with histological measures. In particular she is interested in using structural information obtained by polarized light imaging (PLI) of fixed tissue and to optimize the locus ceruleus measurement by MRI, based on histological correlation.

Email: Maria.GarciaOtaduy@ucsf.edu

Panos Theofilas, PhD - Assistant Adjunct Professor

Panos Theofilas

Dr. Theofilas is an Assistant Adjunct Professor at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center. He obtained his Bachelor and Masters’ degrees in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and his doctorate at the University of Bonn, Germany, studying apoptosis signaling pathways, mitochondria dysfunction and excitotoxicity in animal models of epilepsy. In 2012, Dr. Theofilas joined Prof. Lea Grinberg’s lab at UCSF to study a network of subcortical nuclei of the isodentritic core in the human brainstem that shows the earliest neurofibrillary changes in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. He conducted integrative analyses of neuronal loss and tangle accumulation in the locus coeruleus and dorsal raphe nucleus using unbiased stereology with immunohistochemistry and advanced graphics computing for three-dimensional brainstem volume reconstructions. Dr. Theofilas is currently a PI in a study focusing on cell death pathways and their relationship to tau pathology in patients with AD and iPSC culture models. He is particularly interested in proteasome and apoptosis/ caspase-related pathways and how these correlate to tau post-translational modifications, tau aggregation, and neurotoxicity in AD.

Email: ptheofilas@memory.ucsf.edu

 

Laboratory Manager

Jessica Kudlacek

Jess Kudlacek received a BSc in Neuroscience from Brigham Young University. She worked as a neuropsychology research assistant for Dr. Shawn Gale using MRI imaging to study epilepsy and pattern separation in memory. She then transitioned to Dr. Jonathan Wisco's neurobiology research lab, where she led the lab's immunohistochemistry efforts and focused her research on the relationship between Alzheimer's Disease and diabetes. In addition, Jess worked at the MRI Research facility at BYU, and as the lab manager of the Wisco Lab. She joined the Grinberg Lab in Spring 2017 as the lab manager. She is responsible for coordination of tissue processing, managing projects, and overseeing the research activities of the lab. Jess plans to pursue a clinical research career studying neurodegenerative diseases.

Email: jessica.kudlacek@ucsf.edu

 

Staff Research Associates

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.

Email: patricia.castruita@ucsf.edu

Alexander Ehrenberg

Alexander Ehrenberg

Alex graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 with a B.A. 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, immunohistochemistry, and statistics. In these studies, he has focused heavily on the accumulation of pathologic tau in early AD stages. He also works to develop technologies such as wide-field microscopy and polarized light imaging. Additionally, Alex has taught and currently conducts zoological research under Dr. Alan Shabel at UC Berkeley where he studies dexterity, ethology, and nervous system evolution in the taxon Carnivora, with a particular focus on otters. He plans on pursuing a career in academic medicine researching brain evolution, neuroethology, development, and pathology as well as working with patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.

Email: aehrenberg@memory.ucsf.edu

 

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.

Email: dulce.ovando@ucsf.edu

Joseph Oh

Joseph Oh

Joseph graduated from UC Berkeley (’17) with honors in Molecular and Cell Biology/Neurobiology. He began his research career in UCSF's Weill Institute for Neurosciences in Summer 2014 as a research assistant for Dr. William Seeley's Selective Vulnerability Research Lab. In Seeley’s lab, Joseph assisted with human brain banking and neuropathology studies in Frontotemporal Dementia. He then joined Grinberg lab in Fall 2015, where he now studies the neurobiological basis of sleep. He is particularly interested in studying the selective vulnerability of neurons in brainstem and hypothalamic nuclei, which are involved in sleep homeostasis. Joseph intends to pursue a career in medicine and academic research. His goal is to utilize his education to tackle fundamental challenges in neuroscience.

Email: JunYeop.Oh@ucsf.edu

Laboratory Assistants

Eva Larsen

Eva

Eva is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley (‘20), where she is currently majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a concentration in neuroscience. In high school, Eva worked as a lab assistant at the Bankiewicz Lab for Translational Neuroscience Research. Eva joined the Grinberg lab in Summer 2017 as a work-study student and is going to be working as a lab assistant. She intends to pursue a career in the medical field.

Email: eva.larsen@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.

Email: cristina.armas@ucsf.edu

Lab Helper

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

Student Interns

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 neuroscience and neurodegenerative diseases. Mordechai intends to pursue a career in the medical field.

Kyra Neylan

Kyra

Kyra is an undergraduate student at Grinnell College in Iowa (’18), where she is majoring in Biology and minoring in Neuroscience. In the summer of 2015 she worked as a research assistant for Dr. Beth Cohen at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, studying PTSD and cardiovascular disease. In the summer of 2016, she joined the Grinberg Lab, where she is working with Dr. Grinberg to study neurodegenerative lesions and their influence on the clinical phenotype in Alzheimer’s Disease. She intends to pursue a career in medicine.

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.

Email: cathrine.petersen@ucsf.edu

Shruti Satrawada

Shruti

Shruti is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley ('21) where she is majoring in computer science and has a strong interest in neurobiology. She joined the Grinberg lab in Fall 2017 to assist in the building of computation tools to better understand neurodegenerative diseases.

Former Lab Members