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.

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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.

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Jiyang Cai, Ph.D.

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

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Yan Chen, Ph.D.

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

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Premkumar Christadoss, M.D. 

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

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Jin Mo Chung, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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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.

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Douglas DeWitt, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Owen P. Hamill, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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Li-Yen Mae Huang, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Danxia Liu, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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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.

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Javier Navarro, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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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.

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Donald S. Prough, M.D.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Shao-Jun Tang, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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Cheryl S. Watson, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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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.

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James E. Blankenship, Ph.D.

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

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Darren F. Boehning, Ph.D.

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

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Richard E. Coggeshall, M.D.

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

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Manning J. Correia, Ph.D.

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

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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.

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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