Our Team

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


Nathan Boles, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator

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

Dr. Boles 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. More about Nathan.


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.


David Butler, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator

Dr. Butler’s long-term goal is to develop novel intracellular antibody (intrabody) therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders caused by misfolded proteins. He has a broad background in degenerative diseases associated with aging. As a postdoc in the Messer lab, which pioneered the use of intracellular antibodies in the brain, David developed bifunctional intra-cellular antibodies. David’s bifunctional antibodies were able to prevent mutant Huntingtin and Synuclein from misfolding while directing them to the proteasome for degradation. He is currently utilizing induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) disease modeling to develop novel bifunctional intrabody reagents for tauopathies such as FTD and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Butler is also an Adjunct Professor in the Biomedical Sciences Department, School of Public Health, SUNY Albany. More about David.


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 Neural Stem Cell Institute, 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 workday is spent in the eye group lab, involved in the macular degeneration program.


 Rebecca Chowdhury, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Chowdhury obtained her Ph.D. from Iowa State University, studying intrinsic factors that control cell fate decisions in the developing retina. She is currently studying the role of Stau2, an RNA-binding protein (RBP) involved in neuronal development and maturation. She is using human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cortical neurons and a genetically modified mouse model in her studies.  More about Rebecca.


Lianna D’Brant  M.S. – Research Technician

Lianna D’Brant received her Masters in Physics at the University of Albany while researching under Dr. Annalisa Scimemi and Dr. Alexander Khmaladze. In Dr. Scimemi’s lab, she studied synaptic function in the striatum and hippocampus using confocal laser microscopy and quantitative phase imaging. Meanwhile, in Dr. Khmaladze lab she studied the cellular morphological changes in cultured C6 rat glioma cells induced by methamphetamine. Lianna is pursuing her interest in neuroscience joining Dr. Butler’s lab in developing therapeutic intracellular antibodies for neurodegenerative diseases associated with protein misfolding, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease. These antibodies are being evaluated in patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells in ‘disease in a dish’ models of neurodegeneration.


Liz Fisher, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Fisher obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, UT, studying the role of astrocyte glutamate metabolism following stroke. She then boldly made the decision to leave the warmth of south Texas for upstate New York in October 2017. As a post-doctoral fellow at the Neural Stem Cell Institute, Liz continues to study the roles of non-neuronal cells following injury. She is currently investigating how modulating immune cell populations using biodegradable microbeads can influence recovery following spinal cord injury.  More about Liz.


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

After attending Hudson Valley Community College and Plattsburg State 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 Dr. Harold Kimelberg studying astrocytic swelling in response to ischemic conditions until 1995 when she joined the lab of Dr. 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.


Shona Joy, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Joy holds two masters degree in Stem Cell Technology and Biotechnology and a Ph.D. in Stem Cells Neuroscience from Cardiff University, UK. She is interested in using pluripotent stem cells to generate models for neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease and Progressive supranuclear palsy) to facilitate regenerative medicine and drug discovery.  She uses the stable induced pluripotent stem cell lines she generates to investigate the signaling pathways involved in reprogramming these cells.  More about Shona.


Kiehl_NSCI Thomas Kiehl, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator 

Dr. Kiehl started his career with an M.S. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After 11 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@NSCIMore about Tom.



Steven 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 Immunology 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 a clinical education position at



Anne Messer, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator 

Anne Messer, Ph.D., is a senior scientist focused on the development of novel therapeutics for degenerative diseases caused by misfolded 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.


Khadijah Onanuga, Ph.D., PMP – Director of Research Programs

Dr. Onanuga received her Ph.D. in Nanoscale Engineering with a specialty in Nanobiotechnology from the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. As the Director of Research Programs at NSCI, Dr. Onanuga oversees the research programs at the institute which include: the Age-Related Macular Degeneration Program of the Retinal Stem Cell Consortium, its IND application process for a cell-based therapy,  the Stem Cell Group of the Tau Consortium- a group dedicated to using stem cell technology for research and drug discovery that targets neurodegenerative diseases, and other programs.


Natasha Rugenstein, A.S. – Research Technician

Tasha attended Hudson Valley Community College, NY, receiving an A.S. degree in biological sciences and the Biotechnology Certificate. She joined the Neural Stem Cell Institute in 2017, and currently works on the histology of study samples in on-going projects while continuing her education in biology.



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 Ph.D. in 1982. He then studied medicine at the University of Miami Medical School and completed his residency in Ophthalmology at the Albany Medical Center. Dr. Stern did a fellowship in vitreo-retinal specialty at Mt. Sinai Medical School, NYC. More about Dr. Stern.


Nicholas St. John- Research Technician

Nicholas received his M.S. in Nanoscale Engineering from SUNY Polytechnic Institute and previously completed his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a focus in micro-nano devices from Western New England University. His work as a research technician for NeuraCell is focused on generating and maintaining iPSC-derived organoids, performing quality control of other iPSC-derived cell lines, and the production, characterization, and purification of IPSC-derived retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.  Additionally, he brings the expertise of molecular biology, engineering and product development, and cGMP experience to the NeuraCell team.


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 the Scientific Director of NSCI, Dr. Temple oversees the research mission from basic to translational projects.  She is also responsible for the staff, budget, and 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.


Nicole Trudeau, B.S. – Research Technician

Nicole developed her passion for research science in Dr. Stanley K. Sessions lab at Hartwick College studying herpetology with a focus in amphibian limb deformities and salamander genetics. She further explored her interests in Dr. Ralph Saporito’s lab studying poison frogs with a focus in poison gland morphology and development. After some time in industry focusing on protein electrophoresis and western blotting, she is excited to join Dr. David Butler’s lab to assist in the development of novel intracellular antibody therapeutics for synucleinopathies such as Parkinson’s Disease caused by misfolded synuclein protein.


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.



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

Dr. Zhao earned her MD from the Anhui University of Chinese Medicine and completed her training as an ophthalmologist in the first affiliated hospital of Jinan University, China. She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Arizona State University in 2017. Her current research involves live cell imaging to compare neural stem cell (NSC) activity changes in the subventricular zone between young and aged mice. She is also working to identify the choroid plexus-secreted environment factors that alter mouse and human NSC activities with aging. More about Xiuli.


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 recording of data transactions into the financial accounting system and retaining the documentation for those records. Jake also supports the IT department as a first responder on the help desk and assists with the maintenance of the Institute’s computer network.

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 Research Oversight committee (ISCRO).