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Lab Members

  • Carolina Cefaliello

    Carolina Cefaliello

    Research Specialist

    Carolina joined the Brown lab in 2016, moving from her home in the beautiful city of Naples, Italy, where she earned her masters and doctorate in Applied Biology (2006) from the University of Naples (Federico II). There, for over a decade, she has used rat/mice brain synaptosomes to investigate characterize synaptic protein synthesis and its implication in synaptic plasticity and long-term brain reprogramming in health and disease. During that period, she spent several summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole to study squid synaptosomes. Her research at the UMass Chan Medical School is primarily focused on the possible role of biological inorganic polyphosphates in ALS by developing a reliable method for the detection and the quantification of this polymer in ALS mouse models as well in ALS patients.

  • Cecile Christiansen, B.A,, M.Ed.

    Cecile Christiansen, B.A,, M.Ed.

    Research Lab Tech I

    Cecile studied Biology at Oberlin College in Ohio, earning a B.A. in 1965 and moved to Boston University for her Master's in System Development in 1976.  She joined Dr. Louis Engel's Huntington Lab at Mass General studying the role of steroids in tumor development.  After a career in computing with Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq, and Hewlett Packard, she joined Dr. Robert Brown's lab at Mass. General in 2002.  When he moved to UMass Medical School, she joined the group in the transition and has been with the lab ever since.  She works part time to place orders for Dr. Brown's lab as well as Dr. Bosco's and Dr. Hayward's.  She also reconciles lab expenses, maintains ordering records, and prepares management reports.

  • Meaghan Demers-Peel

    Meaghan Demers-Peel

    Research Associate

    Meaghan received her B.S. in neuroscience from St. Lawrence University in 2017. She worked in clinical research before joining the Brown Lab in 2021. She works mainly on research investigating Dysferlin.

  • James Gooding

    James Gooding

    Graduate Student

    James graduated from Michigan Technological University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Following his undergraduate studies, he was a member of the Section on Behavioral Neuroscience at the NIMH under Dr. Yogita Chudasama where he researched the behavioral consequences of septum and hippocampal neural connections as well as exploring early stages of neural plasticity in neonatal monkeys. He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Robert Brown at UMass Chan Medical School as a graduate student, where he will be investigating muscular dystrophies and applying the findings to developing a therapeutic.

  • Dr. Katharina Meijboom

    Dr. Katharina Meijboom

    Postdoctoral Associate

    Katharina received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Neuroscience at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. In 2014, she began her doctoral studies at the University of Oxford, UK, in the Matthew Wood Lab, where she studied disease mechanisms of and therapeutic approaches for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. After receiving her D.Phil. in 2019, Katharina joined the Mueller Lab at UMass Chan Medical School as a postdoc, where she worked on gene therapies for ALS/FTD and Neurofibromatosis 2. In 2020, she joined the Brown Lab at UMass Chan Medical School, where she continued to work on gene therapies for ALS/FTD. She has employed different strategies, such as gene editing and the use of artificial microRNAs, to eliminate or silence a toxic repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene.

  • Katherine Mocarski

    Katherine Mocarski

    PhD Student

    Katherine is a fourth year in the Brown lab studying neuroinflammation and manipulating a microglial chemoreceptor in the hSOD1-tgG93A mouse model and assessing behavioral and pathological improvements. She also uses single cell RNA sequencing technologies to investigate cell-type transcriptional states throughout disease progression.

  • Ozgun Uyan

    Ozgun Uyan

    PhD Student

    Ozgun Uyan graduated with a B.S. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the Izmir Institute of Technology, Izmir, Turkey in 2009. He then joined the graduate program of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Bo─čaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey where he earned a master’s degree. In that program, he focused on genetics of Turkish ALS patients, performing a genome-wide association study and exploring copy number variations. Since 2013, he has been a PhD candidate in Dr. Robert H. Brown’s laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. His doctoral studies have centered on understanding higher order chromatin organization in ALS patients harboring C9orf72 intronic expansion. His investigations have examined how chromatin structure and gene expression differ in motor neurons from ALS patients and controls, as compared to other cell types (fibroblasts, stem cells).  In parallel, he has also pursued projects that address aspects of suppression of ALS-causing genes.

  • Alexandra Weiss

    Alexandra Weiss

    Research Associate II

    Alexandra graduated from Boston University with a B.S. degree. She worked as an emergency and critical care nurse at Angell Animal Medical Center before transitioning to research. She began at Tufts Medical Center in the Center for Translational Cardiovascular Research where she utilized large animal models for testing therapeutics related to cardiovascular diseases. From there she moved over to the Molecular Cardiology Research Institute as a micro-surgeon in the Mouse Physiology Core. In 2009, she switched focus to Neurology and began working in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Brown at UMass Chan Medical School where she manages all in-vivo studies.

  • Nicholas Wightman

    Nicholas Wightman

    Research Associate II

    Nicholas studied biology at Assumption University in Worcester Massachusetts. He received his Bachelor’s degree in biology in 2009. In October 2009, Nicholas became a lab technician in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Brown at The University of Massachusetts Medical School. Now a Research Associate II, Nicholas remains in Dr. Brown’s laboratory performing research focusing on ALS, specifically mutations in the SOD1 and C9orf72 genes.

  • Huiya Yang

    Huiya Yang

    Graduate Student

    Huiya received her BS in Biological Sciences from Fudan University in 2017. She is interested in understanding the pathological mechanisms and applying gene therapy for neurological diseases.