“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.
Suraiya obtained her Ph.D. from National Botanical Research Institute, India. Her first postdoctoral research was to understand the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms of gene expression regulation with an emphasis on Mediator complex in the laboratory of Prof. Randall Morse at Wadsworth Center, Albany. Her research in this lab focuses on understanding the function of Staufen2 (Stau2) in neural development and as an indicator of cell fate determinants, many of which include general transcription factors as well as understanding molecular mechanisms underlying asymmetric cell divisions.
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.
Chris 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.
Timothy Blenkinsop, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow
Tim has been studying the physiology of adult human RPE cultured from cadaver donors to determine whether they exhibit similar physiology to native RPE. If so, then we can use these cultures to study diseases of RPE in the dish using the diseased human cells. Moreover we can begin to consider the option of autologous transplant of normal healthy RPE cultures into patients with degenerated RPE in order to restore or preserve vision.
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.
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.
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.
Barbara Corneo, Ph.D. – Research Scientist
Dr. Corneo has been trained in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research through her experience as post-doc in Dr. Gordon Keller’s lab, where she acquired knowledge in hESC culture and differentiation into definitive endoderm, the germ layer that gives rise to pancreas and liver. She brought her experience to the Neural Stem Cell Institute in the effort to differentiate hESC and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) into cell lineages of the eye, for both cell therapy and eye disease modeling. Moreover, she has been generating iPSC from RPE (retinal pigment epithelium cells) and ocular fibroblasts isolated from adult human cadaver donor eyes, including donors affected by AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration).
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.
Chris Fasano, Ph.D.- Principal Investigator
Dr. Fasano received his Ph.D. from Albany Medical College in 2007 studying mouse neural stem cells. His work focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of neural stem cell self-renewal; the unique property of stem cells that allows them to make more of themselves. Dr. Fasano continued his stem cell studies during a post-doctoral fellowship under Lorenz Studer where he used human embryonic stem cells as a tool to study neural development. Dr. Fasano joined NSCI in 2010 as a principal investigator where his laboratory studies human nervous system development, using stem cells to model neural diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and Autism. More about Chris.
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.
Sarah is working in Dr. Christopher Fasano’s lab studying the transcriptional regulation underlying neural induction which is the first, fundamental step in neural development.
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, she is driven to speak about the groundbreaking research at NSCI.
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.
Michelle joined the NSCI as a research undergraduate intern in May 2013. She is currently working to complete herBSc(Hons) of Biochemistry at Queen’s University, Canada. She has chosen to include a one year COOP experience at NSCI and focuses on establishing a stem cell-based disease model for retinal diseases.
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.
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.
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.
Stephanie joined the Neural Stem Cell Institute in May 2013 as an undergraduate research intern. She is completing her final year of a BSCH in Biochemistry from Queen’s University in Canada, and is participating in a yearlong co-op program through her degree. Her research uses the neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells to determine possible environmental causes of autism.
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.
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.
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.
During her PhD work in Oregon State University she worked with Dr Robert Tanguay to study tissue regeneration in zebrafish. After graduation she did a brief postdoc to study the self renewal and differentiation mechanisms of spermatogonial stem cells in Weill Cornell medical College with Dr Marco Seandel. She joined Dr Sally Temple to study how the timing of different types of neuronal cell generation is orchestrated during development and aging and to understand the role of the stem cell niche regulates cortical function.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rachel obtained a B.S. in Biology and minor in Psychology from Siena College. In 2008, she began her career as a Research Technician in the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences at Albany Medical Center. In March 2010, she joined The Neural Stem Cell Institute where she continues her work as a Research Technician. Rachel is a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® through the Project Management Institute. She is also the Social Media Coordinator for NSCI. Follow her work and the events of NSCI on Facebook and Twitter.
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.
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).