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Department of Neurology Research Focus

Our interdisciplinary team of investigators collaborated to tackle some of the most confounding and disabling medical conditions.

Our innovative discoveries are fueled by well-funded interdisciplinary collaborations. These partnerships accelerate the development of therapeutics and allow us to deepen our understanding of brain function and the processes that go awry in neurological diseases.

Meet our Basic Science Research Faculty

Meet our Clinical Research Faculty

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Down Syndrome, lncRNA function and chromosome regulation

Frontotemporal Dementia

Gene therapies for neurological diseases

In-vitro Systems to Model Human Genetics

Muscular Dystrophy, Fasciocapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy

Neuroimmune Interactions Laboratory

Neuroimmunology and Multiple sclerosis

  • Hemond Lab
  • Ionete Lab

Neurological Rehabilitation and Recovery

Stroke and Vascular Neurology

  • Henninger Lab
  • Silver Lab

Traumatic Brain Injury

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Meet our Research Community Team Members

  • Nicholas Wightman, Mgr. Research Operations

    Nicholas Wightman, Mgr. Research Operations, Brown Lab

    Nicholas Wightman has been a pillar of our laboratory research team since 2009 when he joined Brown Lab. This October will mark his 15th work anniversary with UMass Chan Medical School. Nicholas was born and raised in Worcester where he also earned a BA in Biology from Assumption College. He had been fascinated by science from a young age, and working with Dr. Brown has allowed him to learn about research and the science behind it.

    "When I started I knew nothing about working in an actual research lab. Thanks to the phenomenal team that Dr. Brown works with, I was able to learn and grow professionally. Now, I am one of the most senior members of the team and I am happy to share what I have learned with the next generation of scientists."

    When considering future career pursuits, Nicholas mentions he would like to obtain a master's or maybe even a PhD in the future.

    Nicholas has shared he finds working in research to be rewarding because there is always something new to learn. Every day presents new challenges and techniques to master. The most rewarding aspect of his day is being able to help others and make sure his team gets what they need to succeed.

    Thank you Nicholas Wightman for your dedication to our team. 

  • Karin Meijboom, DPhil

    Karin Meijboom, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher

    Brown Lab

    Karin, Katharina Meijboom, DPhil, is a postdoctoral researcher focusing on gene therapies for central nervous system diseases in the Brown Lab. She is from the Netherlands and joined UMass Chan in 2019 working at Mueller Lab in the Gene Therapy Center and collaborating with the Brown Lab before joining their team in 2020. 

    Karin received her doctorate from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, studying “Spinal Muscular Atrophy, disease mechanisms and therapeutic approaches”. She has an MSc. in Neuroscience and Cognition, and a BSc. in Cognitive and Neurobiological Psychology from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. She completed two internships, one at the University of Utrecht, investigating food addiction in rats, and a second, at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, investigating the role of exosomes in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. 

    Karin did not initially plan to work in research. Her initial plan included becoming a psychologist, which was thwarted in her first week into her bachelor's degree. After listening to seminar researchers, she identified her career path. Based on her interests in genetics and the brain, she chose the Neuroscience and Cognition master’s program. Before graduating from her doctoral studies, which included working with antisense oligonucleotides, she asked herself, ‘what do I want to do when I grow up?, she knew it had to do with AAV-mediated gene therapy and CRISPR/Cas9. The only issue, she did not have experience in these areas. Dr. Meijboom credits Dr. Mueller for taking a chance on her, which was the reason she joined UMass Chan, allowing her to work on her biggest passions. 

    Karin shared about her professional growth in her role and in Brown Lab, stating, “For the last year, I am realizing that I have grown in different ways. I am much more confident about what I do and what I know. While I was plagued by imposter syndrome during my doctoral studies and the beginning of my postdoc, I now know a lot about my field of study, and I also know I don’t need to be an expert at everything. Dr. Brown has given me the opportunity to apply for various grants, and I enjoy the grant process.” 

    Her research passions include AAV-mediated gene therapies for diseases of the central nervous system, and she would love to start her own group studying and developing gene therapies for different diseases. 

    If you see Karin Meijboom in the lab or around neurology, stop and say hello.  

  • Kirsten Berthoud, Clinical Research Coordinator

    Kristen Berthoud, Clinical Research Coordinator

    Kristen Berthoud, MS, Clinical Research Coordinator, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

    Kristen Berthoud, MS, joined the Neurology Department in the fall of 2023 supporting the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) program. She is a native Massachusettsian living between Topsfield and Harvard Massachusetts. 

    Kristen has had a love for research for many years which started as a reference librarian at Fidelity Investments. She switched her focus from finance to science with her love of biochemistry, physiology, and understanding how nutrition and medications work in the human body. Kristen has an MS from Maryland University of Integrative Health in clinical nutrition.

    Kristen earned research experience at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) as a clinical research coordinator and at Dana Farber as a regulatory coordinator. 

    Outside of research, Kristen teaches pilates, yoga, and group fitness.

  • Sheryl Kelley, Clinical Research Coordinator

    Sheryl Kelley, Clinical Research Coordinator

    Sheryl Kelley, MPH, Clinical Research Coordinator, Neuromuscular Research

    Sheryl Kelley, MPH, joined the Department of Neurology on January 16, 2024, supporting the Neuromuscular Division.

    Sheryl has worked in research for over 18 years which includes the role of director of data quality focusing on achieving the highest quality clinical trial efficacy data. She has also contributed to research as a clinical finance director. 

    She earned her masters in Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in Biostatistics from Boston University and a bachelor of science in Biology from Stonehill College. 

    "I feel a deep appreciation for the daily opportunity to contribute to a greater cause, toward easing human suffering." - Sheryl

    Sheryl finds interacting directly with patients to be extremely rewarding. Her recent research and clinical interests in aiding patients through research experience and education have been influenced by volunteer patient support in hospice care. 

    Outside of research, Sheryl has taught aerial yoga for many years and also enjoys hiking.