Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty Listings

Jose M. Barral, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Departments of Neuroscience & Cell Biology, Biochemistry& Molecular Biology and Sealy Center for Structural Biology & Molecular Biophysics
  • Research Interest: Protein folding mechanisms in health and disease.

Krishna M. Bhat, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: 1) Adult brain development, function and disease,
    2) Axon guidance and synaptic connections, and 3) Self-renewal and asymmetric division of neural precursor stem cells in the CNS.

Jiyang Cai, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Opthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Research Interest: Mechanisms of aging and age-related degeneration in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).

Yan Chen, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Research Interest: Molecular pathways in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration; mTOR signaling.

Premkumar Christadoss, M.D. 

  • Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
  • Research Interest: Cellular and molecular immunopathogenesis of neuromuscular disease (myasthenia gravis).

Jin Mo Chung, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Somatosensory system; mechanisms of neuropathic pain; cell signaling and reactive oxygen species.

Luca Cicalese, M.D.

  • Professor, Surgery
  • Research Interest: Tolerance induction; preservation and ischemia reperfusion injury;
    liver and intestinal transplantation; stem cell and organ regeneration; hepatocellular carcinoma; cellular transplantation.

    .

Kathryn A. Cunningham, Ph.D.

  • Professor and Vice Chair, Pharmacology and Toxicology;
    Director, Center for Addiction Research
  • Research Interest: Drug abuse and addiction biology; eating disorders and obesity; neuropsychopharmacology; translational research and drug discovery in psychiatry; mechanisms of action of psychostimulants; circuitry/regulation of serotonin systems.

Douglas DeWitt, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Anesthesiology, Director, Charles R. Allen Research Laboratories
  • Research Interest: Experimental traumatic brain injury; cerebral vascular regulation.

Kelly T. Dineley, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Neurology
  • Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of cognitive (hippocampal) dysfunction in early versus late Alzheimer's disease; nicotine addiction with specific emphasis on nicotine-context associations and the molecular mechanisms underlying their extinction.

Perenlei Enkhbaatar, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Professor, Anesthesiology
  • Research Interest: Pathophysiology of acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome secondary to skin burn, smoke inhalation and sepsis. Focus on the interrelation of the coagulapathy and inflammation, microthrombosis, neutrophil biology, nitric oxide and reactive nitrogen species.

Rinat Esenaliev, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology and Anesthesiology and Scientist, Center for Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Novel diagnostic imaging modality; nanoparticle-based therapy of tumors; real-time noninvasive optoacoustic/photoacoustic monitoring of tissue; noninvasive continuous monitoring of blood oxygenation; noninvasive measurement and monitoring of total hemoglobin concentration; noninvasive monitoring of blood glucose concentration.

Benjamin B. Gelman, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Professor, Pathology
  • Research Interest: Mononuclear phagocytes in the nervous system; AIDS.

Thomas A. Green, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms underlying addiction- and depression-related behavior; role of environment in altering these molecular targets in brain reward regions subsequent to stress or cocaine exposure; genomic strategies to identify new molecular targets mediating these phenotypes and construct novel viral vectors to manipulate these proteins in vivo and alter subsequent behavior related to addiction or depression.

Owen P. Hamill, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Membrane channel regulation of tumor cell migration and invasiveness.

Jonathan D. Hommel, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Center for Addiction Research
  • Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of food addiction, neuropeptide control of eating behavior, drug discovery, obesity. Techniques: gene therapy, neuronal tracing, animal models of food craving and food reward.

Li-Yen Mae Huang, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Mechanisms of receptor sensitization after injury; opioid receptor gene transfer.

Claire E. Hulsebosch, Ph.D.

  • Director of Mission Connect, Vice-Chair and Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Central nervous system trauma; neurotrophins; stem cell transplants and mechanisms of central pain.

Kenneth M. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D.

  • Professor and Graduate Program Director, Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Research Interest: Mechanisms of neurodegeneration and neuroprotection; animal models of schizophrenia and drug abuse; evaluation of novel chemicals for therapy in schizophrenia, depression, narcolepsy, and drug abuse.

Rakez Kayed, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Neurology
  • Research Interest: Neurodegenerative diseases associated with amyloid, such as Alzheimer`s (AD), Parkinson's (PD), Type II diabetes, amyloidosis and others; cellular mechanism of tau/amyloid oligomer formation and toxicity; role of cell membrane and receptors in amyloid pathogenesis; tau oligomers and their role in AD and related tauopathies; imunotherapy for the treatment of AD and PD; development of methods for early diagnostics of neurodegenerative diseases; screening for drug like molecules that interfere with different amyloid species.

Fernanda Laezza, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Research Interest: Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying modulation of ion channels in relationship to intrinsic excitability, synaptic transmission and plasticity; regulation of intrinsic excitability and synaptic transmission by intracellular fibroblast growth factors (iFGFs); ataxias and neurodegenerative diseases.

Danxia Liu, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Neurology
  • Research Interest: Reactive species and oxidative damage in Neuronal degeneration and death in CNS; proteomics.

Tomoko Makishima, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology
  • Research Interest: Genetic hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction; apoptosis in the inner ear.

Walter J. Meyer, M.D.

  • Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Research Interest: Relationship between psychologic and psychiatric problems and physical illness; management of pain and anxiety in the burn survivor.

Javier Navarro, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of G protein-coupled receptors; X-ray crystallography.

Carol Nilsson, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology; CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research
  • Research Interest: Intracellular signaling pathways in gliablastoma (GBM) and glioma cancer stem cells (gCSCs); mass spectrometry imaging of brain tumors; molecular responses of GBM and gCSCs to radiation and chemotherapy.

J. Regino Perez-Polo, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Senior Scientist, Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine; Shriners Hospital for Children
  • Research Interest: Responses to acute and chronic trauma to central nervous system.

Donald S. Prough, M.D.

  • Professor and Chair, Anesthesiology
  • Research Interest: Response to traumatic brain injury; zinc neurotoxicity.

David K. Rassin, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Pediatrics; Associate Dean, Office of Continuing Education
  • Research Interest: Nutrition and neurochemistry of amino acids during early development of term and preterm infants.

Cristiana Rastellini, M.D.

  • Professor, Surgery
  • Research Interest: Organ/cellular preservation; mechanisms of acute and chronic rejection; tolerance induction; pancreatic islet transplantation; beta cell proliferation.

Giulio Taglialatela, Ph.D.

  • Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Neurology
  • Director, Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerataive Diseases
  • Research Interest: Neurodegeneration and apoptosis in the aged CNS and Alzheimer's disease.

Shao-Jun Tang, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: HIV-associated neurological disorders (NeuroAIDS).

Yogesh Wairkar, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, and Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.
  • Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of synapse development, synapses and neurodegeneration.

Cheryl S. Watson, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Research Interest: Mechanisms of steroid actions.

Ping Wu, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Human stem cell biology; stem cell therapy and gene therapy for neurological disorders.

Wenbo Zhang, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Research Interest: Mechanisms of ischemic retinopathy: retinal neuronal injury, retinal vascular leakage and degeneration, and retinal pathological antiogenesis.

Emeritus & Off-Campus Faculty

Tetsuo Ashizawa, M.D.

  • Professor, Neurology
  • Research Interest: Clinical neurogenetics and neurodegenerative disorders with genome instability.

James E. Blankenship, Ph.D.

  • Professor Emeritus, Ashbel Smith Distinguished Professor
  • Research Interest: Control of locomotion and neuroendocrine systems in Aplysia.

Darren F. Boehning, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Apoptotic regulatory mechanisms; molecular pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.

Richard E. Coggeshall, M.D.

  • Professor Emeritus, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Spinal cord regeneration.

Manning J. Correia, Ph.D.

  • Professor Emeritus, Otolaryngology
  • Research Interest: Ion Channels, channelopathy, and hair cells.

Ronita L. Cromwell, Ph.D.

  • Senior Research Scientist, Universities Space Research Association, Project Scientist for the NASA Flight Analogs Project
  • Research Interest: Flight Analogs Project examines ground-based analogs that simulate the affects of spaceflight and ncludes the ongoing bed rest studies at UTMB.

William D. Willis, Jr, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Professor Emeritus, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
  • Research Interest: Spinal cord mechanisms of pain and analgesia.

Neuroscience Graduate Program Contacts:

Program Director:
Shao-Jun Tang, Ph.D.
2.104D MRB, Route 1069
Phone Number: (409) 772-1190

Associate Program Director:
Yogi Wairkar, Ph.D.
10.138 MRB, Route 1045
Phone Number: (409) 772-8212

NOD Track Director:
Rakez Kayed, Ph.D.
10.138C MRB, Route 1045
Phone Number: (409) 772-0138

Program Coordinator:
Aurora Galvan
120-E BSB, Route 0625
Phone Number: (409) 772-2124