Our Team

Working together to discover cures.” – Dr. Sally Temple




Christy Allen – Graduate Student (Biomedical Sciences Dept. , SUNY Albany)

Christina is a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences Department at SUNY Albany. She conducts research at NSCI on neuroprotective signaling molecules which could benefit neurons that are impaired in Parkinson’s Disease.



Apostolopoulou_NSCIMaria Apostolopoulou, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow

Maria graduated from RPI were she studied metastasis-mediating physical interactions between cancer cells and their surrounding environment. Her work at NSCI includes studying how mouse subventricular zone neural stem cells are affected during aging, and whether they can be rejuvenated.


Bjornsson_NSCIChris Bjornsson, Ph.D. – Research Scientist

Chris obtained his undergraduate degree in Genetics at the University of Manitoba and continued there to pursue his Ph.D. in Zoology studying the role of ion currents during insect oogenesis. His postdoctoral research at the Wadsworth Center focused on biological responses to intracortical neural prosthetic devices. Following his postdoc, Dr. Bjornsson took a position at RPI’s Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Study as the Director of the Microscopy Core, the Cell & Molecular Core, and the Stem Cell Core Facilities. His research at NSCI centers on the role of the choroid plexus in regulating neural stem cell dynamics in aging and disease.

Boles_NSCINathan Boles, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator

Ph.D. Interdepartmental Program in Cell and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine.

Nathan carried out his thesis work with Dr. Margaret A. Goodell studying the regulation of the hematopoietic stem cell. His work at NSCI explores the role of epigenetics in neural stem cell self-renewal and differentiation.


Borden_NSCI-2Sue Borden, B.A. – Research Technician

BA Biology: Russell Sage College, Biotechnology Certificate: HVCC

Sue has worked in neurobiology research labs at SUNYA, AMC and Cornell University, in clinical labs in Ithaca and the Albany area and as a teaching assistant in a local k-12 school. She recently joined the Retinal Stem Cell Consortium team as a research technician. Sue will be culturing and analyzing hRPE stem cells in preparation for clinical trials in the treatment of AMD.


Charniga_NSCI Carol Charniga, B.S. – Research Technician/Manager of Operations

Carol worked in cancer research labs in Pennsylvania and at Albany Medical Center before joining AMC’s Dept. of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience and the lab of Dr. Sally Temple.  Since the creation of the NSCI, Carol has been involved in all projects – developing CNS, spinal cord and eye – as well as being the safety officer and Lab Manager of Operations. Currently, most of her work day is spent in the eye group lab, involved in the macular degeneration program.


Davis_NSCIRichard Davis, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator/Director of Retinal Research

Richard J. Davis received his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied the consequences of chromosomal and gene rearrangements associated with the acquisition of tumor cell identity.  As a postdoc, he continued to explore his interest in cell fate at Baylor College of Medicine, by investigating retinal determination in the epithelial eye discs of Drosophila melanogaster and the retinal neuroepithelium of vertebrates. Columbia University was subsequent setting where he applied his postdoctoral experience in genetically manipulating cell fate in vivo to the goal of preventing retinal cell death in animal models of human retinal degeneration. There he helped lead a team of researchers to demonstrate the efficacy of gene therapy and stem cell-derived transplantation approaches to restore retinal function and preserve vision. He now brings this knowledge and experience to NSCI to help direct studies into the biology of retinal pigment epithelium-derived stem cells and help explore the utility of these cells in translational research and potential clinical therapies.

Goderie_NSCISusan K. Goderie, A.A.S., B.S. Research Technician/ Manager of Research

After attending Hudson Valley Community College and Plattsburg State University University Susan worked for the New York State Birth Defects Institute culturing lymphocytes for karyology.  Later she worked in the kidney transplantation lab at the Albany Medical Center. She worked with Harold Kimelberg studying astrocytic swelling in response to ischemic conditions until 1995 when she joined the lab of Sally Temple. She oversees the daily lab research; training of new faculty, staff, and students; supervising the technical staff as well as directly contributing to the spinal cord injury, stem cell niche, embryonic brain development and macular degeneration projects.


GordonPatrick Gordon, Ph.D –  Post Doctoral Fellow

Patrick received his Ph.D. from the University of Utah, where he studied retinal neurogenesis and focused on issues of lineage progression and competence. At NSCI, Patrick’s work examines the mechanisms that underlie asymmetric cell division in the cortex. Essential during development, this behavior also characterizes stem and progenitor cells across a wide range of biological contexts and is important for our understanding of homeostasis and regeneration.



Hirsch_NSCISarah Hirsch – Graduate Student (Biomedical Sciences Dept., SUNY Albany)

Sarah is a PhD candidate working in Dr. Christopher Fasano’s lab studying the transcriptional regulation underlying neural induction which is the first, fundamental step in neural development.



Kawola_NSCISuzanne Kawola, M.S.Ed. – Director of Communications 

Suzanne joined NSCI in the Spring of 2013.  She is a graduate of Boston University and The College of Saint Rose.  A writer and business owner, she has contributed to the Albany Times Union, Magazine Division since 2007.  With a background in education, Suzanne directs community outreach.



Kiehl_NSCIThomas Kiehl, Ph.D – Principal Investigator 

Dr. Kiehl started his career with an M.S. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After 10 years at GE Global Research, in their Computational Intelligence Lab, Tom returned to RPI full time to pursue a Ph.D. in Multidisciplinary Science with a focus on systems biology and biotechnology.  This was followed by a postdoc at Albany Medical College in Immunology.  A Computing Innovation Fellowship, awarded by the Computing Research Association, allowed Tom to spend two years at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering where he began work in computational neuroscience and RNA-seq analysis.  At NSCI Dr. Kiehl facilitates the integration of data analysis with bench work.  Tom is also pursuing applications of high-throughput in-vitro electrophysiological platforms for the study of development, spinal cord injury and neurological disease mechanisms. Learn more about the role of Computing@NSCI.

Lederman_NSCIPatty Lederman, B.S – Research Technician

Patty obtained a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the State University at Albany, NY. In 2001, she began her career as a Research Technician at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake, NY.  In December 2003, she joined Sally’s team where she continues to work as a Research Technician.



Le_NSCIShelia Le, B.S. – Research Technician

Sheila began her career as a Research Technician as a student at University of Massachusetts (Amherst), and continued to pursue her interests in the biological sciences upon graduation.  Her experience in this field includes work at Massachusetts General Hospital (Molecular Genetics) and David Axelrod Institute (Immunology).  In 2009, Sheila joined NSCI where she continues as a research technician working under Dr. Christopher Fasano on early human neural development.


Liu_NSCIMo Liu, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow

Mo obtained a Ph.D from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas. During graduate school Mo studied the signal pathways involved in inflammation-related liver cancer.  Mo joined Sally’s lab to study the mechanisms of cell specification and lineage progression of neural stem cells during development.



Lotz_NSCISteven Lotz, B.S. – Research Technician

After college, Steve worked for Taconic’s Surgical Modifications Department.  In 2001, he began a career as a Research Technician at the Albany Medical Center. Three years later, he joined AMC’s Immunolgy Core as the FACS operator.  In 2009 he began working at NeuraCell Bank, part of the Neural Stem Cell Institute, as the Sr. Flow Cytometry Applications Specialist.



Corneo_NSCINatalia Lowry, M.D., Ph.D. – Principal Investigator

Dr. Lowry received her MD from Russian State Medical University and her Ph.D. from Albany Medical College in 2000. Dr. Lowry has been trained in mouse neural stem cell research during a post-doctoral fellowship under Dr Sally Temple, and then joined NSCI in 2007 as a principal investigator with interest in using neural stem cells as a therapeutic tool to treat spinal cord injuries and other neurodegenerative diseases. Currently Dr Lowry combines her research work at NSCI with clinical education position at the Albany Medical Center.


IMG_6730 Philip Manos – Senior Scientist

Philip has over 8 years experience in the stem cell field. Philip started his career as a research technician/lab manager of the Harvard hESC core facility before working in the cellular engineering group at Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research. Philip assisted in the development of a novel reprogramming method using synthetic modified mRNAs, as well as, the establishment of new criteria for characterizing reprogramming events via live cell imaging. Philip has extensive experience in teaching and performing hESC/hiPSC techniques, establishing reprogramming platforms and developing high-throughput screening platforms including high-content image analysis. At NSCI, Philip is establishing the hiPSC reprogramming platform and leading hiPSC-based neurodegenerative disease modeling projects.

McIlroyKathryn Mcilroy

Kathryn has a M.Sc. in Physiology and Pharmacology from McMaster University in Ontario and began at NSCI in 2014 after completing her latest assignment with her own consulting firm. As a consultant she identified opportunities for out-licensing and go to market strategies for GE and their Life Sciences division based in the UK. Prior to her time with GE, Kathryn was responsible for leading the nonclinical efforts as part of the CTO office at Light Sciences, a startup company in Seattle Washington.  Kathryn joins NSCI as the program manager for the stem cell group for the Tau Consortium whose mission is to advance the research and treatments for progressive supranuclear palsy and other tau related neurodegenerative diseases.



Anne Messer, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator 

Anne Messer, PhD, is a senior scientist focused on development of novel therapeutics for degenerative diseases caused by misfolding proteins that trigger breakdowns in the functions of critical cells.  She pioneered the use of engineered antibody technologies for Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.  Her recent studies range from antibody engineering and nanobody selection to brain delivery using gene therapies. This biotechnology to harness immune processes now is being combined with stem cell studies, and expanded to cover a range of important age-related diseases, including Age-related Macular Degeneration.  More about Anne.

IMG_6827 Justine Miller, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Justine received her PhD from the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences where she developed a strategy to induce age-related phenotypes in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived dopamine neurons to improve in vitro modeling of the late-onset degenerative aspects of Parkinson’s disease. Her work at NSCI includes applying the induced aging strategy to stem cell models of age-related macular degeneration and studying the role of pigment in retinal pigment epithelium.




Janmeet  S. Saini, M.Sc. – Graduate Student (Biomedical Sciences Dept., SUNY Albany)

Janmeet has a M.Sc. in Human Genetics from Guru Nanak Dev University, India.  He is currently a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience at SUNY Albany. His Master’s thesis was on molecular and population genetics.  At NSCI, he is part of the eye group team and is exploring a disease in a dish model for Age related Macular Degeneration. Furthermore, Janmeet is working on the plasticity of Retinal pigment epithelium cells.


Stern_NSCIJeffrey Stern, M.D., Ph.D. – Principal Investigator/ Director of Translational Research/ Co-Founder

Dr. Stern was trained as a biophysicist in vision research at Brandeis University, MA and Rockefeller University, NY, receiving his PhD in 1982. He then studied medicine at Miami University Medical School and Ophthalmology at Albany Medical School and completed a fellowship in vitreo-retinal specialty at Mt. Sinai Medical School, NYC.



Temple_NSCISally Temple, Ph.D. – Scientific Director/ Principal Investigator/ Co-Founder

Dr. Sally Temple is the co-Founder and Scientific Director of the Neural Stem Cell Institute located in Rensselaer, NY. A native of York, England, Dr. Temple leads a team of 30 researchers focused on using neural stem cells to develop therapies for eye, brain and spinal cord disorders.  In 2008, she was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship Award for her contribution and future potential in the neural stem cell field.  As scientific director of NSCI, Dr. Temple oversees the research mission from basic to translational projects.  She is also responsible for the staff, the budget and for developing the overall strategic plan for the institute. Dr. Temple is a member of the board of directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and of the medical advisory boards of the NY Stem Cell Foundation and the Genetics Policy Institute.  Her numerous articles have been published in such journals as Nature, Cell Stem Cell, Neuron, and Cell. More about Sally.

WangJ_NSCIJenny Yue Wang, M.D. – Research Technician

Jenny obtained an MD in China and worked in the University of California before joining Dr. Sally Temple’s lab. Her research interest and experiences include but are not limited to: neural stem cell fate choice, cell culture and in vivo experiments on mice.



WangQ_NSCIQingjie Wang, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow

Qingjie Wang obtained his B.S. from Nankai University, Tianjin, China in 2003. After working in Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences for two years, he joined Dr. Sally Temple’s lab at Albany Medical College to pursue Ph.D. training. His thesis focused on the role of HSPG in cortical neurogenesis.  After successfully defending his Ph.D. thesis, he worked at the Regenerative Research Foundation as a research associate. His current project aims to reprogram human Retina pigment epithelial cells towards neural retina lineage including photoreceptor.



WarnerLeneea Warner,  SUNYA Student 
Leneea is a Masters student in the Biomedical Science Department at SUNY, Albany. Her work at NSCI includes evaluating the effects of environmental toxins on neural induction.





Zhao_NSCIChristine Zhao, M.D., Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow

Christine obtained her M.D. in China and received her Ph.D. degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where she carried out her thesis work with Prof. Douglas Swank and studied the effects of various myosin heavy chain isoforms on stretch activation and power generation of Drosophila muscles. She joined NSCI in August, 2013 to study the potential stem cell replacement therapy for retinal diseases.  She is currently focusing on subretinal injection of human or cow retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells in mouse eyes.


ZuloagaKristen Zuloaga, Ph.D. -Principal Investigator

Kristen obtained her PhD in biomedical sciences in 2011.  Her graduate work focused on the effects of sex hormones on cerebrovascular inflammation.  Next, as a postdoc at Oregon Health and Science University under the mentorship of Dr. Nabil Alkayed, she examined how sex differences in cerebrovascular function influence stroke outcome and contribute to vascular dementia.  Her current research at NSCI focuses on sex differences in neurogenesis during normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease.


Admin_NSCICindy Butler – Executive Assistant

Cindy is the “go to” person at our organization.  She has many years of experience handling the administrative tasks associated with running a research laboratory.  Perhaps it is her previous experience in childcare that enables her to remain pleasant in even the most difficult situations.

Jake Parks – Bookkeeper

Jake is responsible for the day-to-day recording of financial transactions through invoices, journal entries and reconciliations. She verifies, maintains, and organizes the financial records. Jake also assists and supports the IT department and administrative division as needed.

Tom Irwin – Administrative Director

Tom received his MBA from Bernard Baruch College – City University of New York.  He has worked in the academic medical environment for 30 plus years mostly in research administration at Cornell Medical College, NYC and Albany Medical College, Albany, NY.  He has also served as an administrative reviewer for the NIH, IACUC institutional official, has been an institutional biosafety committee member and is currently an ex-officio member of the RPI institutional stem cell oversight committee (ISCRO).