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Clinical Team

  • Catherine Douthwright

    Catherine Douthwright, PhD, CCRP

    Program Director

    Catherine received her B.S in Biochemistry from SUNY Geneseo in 2008.  She then joined the Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology graduate program at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and received her doctorate in Biomedical Research.  She conducted her thesis work in the lab of Dr. Daryl Bosco, studying various proteins involved in the pathogenesis of ALS. After receiving her PhD in 2014, she joined Dr. Robert Brown’s clinical research team where she now oversees the operation of numerous research studies and clinical trials for patients with ALS and other neuromuscular diseases.

  • Medhi Ghasemi

    Medhi Ghasemi, MD, MPH

    Associate Program Director and Assistant Professor

    Mehdi Ghasemi is a physician-scientist with 15+ years of experience in basic and clinical research in the fields of neurology, neuromuscular medicine, and neuropharmacology. He earned his medical degree (MD) from Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS, 2008) during which he received two scholarship awards for conducting basic research on peripheral non-adrenergic non-cholinergic neurotransmission and smooth muscle function at University College London as a visiting scientist (2006 and 2007). After one year working as a senior researcher in the neuropharmacology lab at TUMS and principal investigator for the clinical trial of ketamine on patients with major depressive disorders (2008-2009), he joined Drs. Ted and Valina Dawson laboratory at the Institute for Cell Engineering (Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University) to conduct basic research studies on the nitrergic neurotransmission in the central nervous system function and synaptic plasticity (2009-2014). He also served as the neuroscience clinical research program director at the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness in Maryland, where he conducted a clinical trial on patients with memory impairment (2012-2014). He then joined University of Massachusetts (UMass) Chan Medical Center in 2014 to complete his neurology residency (2018) followed by clinical fellowship training in neuromuscular disorders at two Harvard-affiliated hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, in 2019. Ever since, he has been serving as the associate program director and assistant professor of neurology at UMass Chan Medical School, received his master’s degree in public health (MPH) from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2021), and has awarded several grants including Clinical Research Training Scholarship in ALS (funded by The ALS Association and American Brain Foundation, in collaboration with the American Academy of Neurology), Joseph P. Healey Award (funded by UMass Chan Medical School), and NIH-funded Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy fellowship trainee to actively conduct or participate in the multiple clinical and translational studies on neuromuscular disorders especially amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and muscular dystrophies in addition to be involved in several clinical trials in this field with close work and collaboration with Dr. Robert Brown’s research team. The goal of these studies is mainly to help find the most efficient therapeutic approaches for patients who suffer from serious neuromuscular diseases such as ALS and muscular dystrophies.

  • Margaret Owegi

    Margaret Owegi, D.O.

    Assistant Professor of Neurology

    Dr. Owegi is a neuromuscular disorders specialist. She completed her neurology residency and neuromuscular disease fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has clinical interests in ALS, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, myopathy and peripheral neuropathy. She has served as a co-investigator and site investigator in several ALS clinical trials.

  • Jeff Gao

    Jeff Gao

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Jeff graduated with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2019. During his undergraduate studies he was a student researcher in the Peter Chien Lab, where he studied bacterial protein degradation mechanisms. He also worked as a cancer research intern in the Kun-Ping Lu Lab at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he investigated the efficacy of novel PIN1 inhibitors as translational therapies to treat triple negative breast cancer and acute promyelocytic leukemia. Jeff joined the Brown neuromuscular clinical research team in May 2020 as a research coordinator working on multiple cutting edge interventional and observational clinical research studies with ALS and FSHD. Ultimately, he sees a path forward to use his experiences in basic and clinical research to pursue a career in medicine. Outside of work, Jeff enjoys cooking, spending time with family, and going on hikes.

  • Diane McKenna-Yasek

    Diane McKenna-Yasek

    Post-retiree research nurse

    Diane received her RN in 1975, followed by a BS in Nursing from Salve Regina University. She worked for 10 years as a neuro critical care nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital prior to joining Dr. Browns team.  She then was the neuromuscular research nurse for many years working with both muscular dystrophy and ALS patients both in the clinical setting as well as coordination of many clinical treatment trials inclusive of drug and gene therapies. She has recently retired from a more active role in ongoing trials but continues to work to streamline the DNA and tissue and data bank resources within the Brown lab.