Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty

John Allen, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Pharmacology
  • Research Interest: Neuropharmacology; drug discovery and translational research for neurological and psychiatric disorders; biology; biochemistry and pharmacology of G protein-coupled receptors.  

Dennis Bente, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
  • Research Interest: Long-term behavioral and neuroinflammatory changes of encephalitic arboviruses in animal models

Jiyang Cai, PhD

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

Yan Chen, PhD

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

Jin Mo Chung, PhD

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

Luca Cicalese, MD

  • 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, PhD

  • 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, PhD

  • Professor, Anesthesiology
  • Research Interest: Experimental traumatic brain injury; cerebral vascular regulation.

Kelly T. Dineley, PhD

  • 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, MD, PhD

  • 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, PhD

  • Professor, Neuroscience, Cell Biology, & Anatomy
  • 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, MD, PhD

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

Thomas A. Green, PhD

  • Associate 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.

Praveena Gupta, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
  • Research Interest: High Energy Violet (HEV) light induced phototoxicity on the retina in a mouse model; Combined treatment using corneal crosslinking and topical osmolar agents in reducing corneal edema; Characterization of exosomes in age related macular degeneration.  

Owen P. Hamill, PhD

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

Jonathan D. Hommel, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • 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, PhD

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

Rakez Kayed, PhD

  • 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.

Balaji Krishnan, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Neurology
  • Research Interest: Understanding the synaptic changes in formation and retrieval of short-term and long-term associative memory mechanisms using behavior, biochemistry, molecular biology and electrophysiological approaches.

Jun-Ho La, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Neuroscience, Cell Biology, & Anatomy
  • Research Interest: Chronic  pain and  developing therapeutic tools to manage this debilitating condition, changes in synaptic strength that are  associated with  chronic pain, and primary afferent input contributes to the dynamic synaptic  plasticity

Fernanda Laezza, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Pharmacology & 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.

Tomoko Makishima, MD, PhD

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

Walter J. Meyer, III, MD, PhD

  • 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.

Maria Micci, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Anesthesiology
  • Research Interest: Development of novel therapies for the treatment of traumatic brain injury including, short-pulse laser therapy and stem cell transplantation; analysis of neurogenesis in the hippocampus in an animal model of traumatic brain injury and in human bioptic specimens of Alzheimer’s disease; development of non-invasive imaging techniques for monitoring viable cells grafted in the brain.

Massoud Motamedi, PhD

  • Professor, Neuroscience, Cell Biology, & Anatomy
  • Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Biomedical engineering, biophysics, imaging, monitoring and sensing.  Ocular imaging and therapy.  Nanotechnology.  Cancer diagnosis and therapy.  Cardiovascular research.  

Javier Navarro, PhD

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

Donald S. Prough, MD

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

Cristiana Rastellini, MD

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

Partha Sarkar, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Neurology
  • Research Interest: Toxic CUG RNA, chronic oxidative stress and mechanism of skeletal muscle wasting in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1); Polyglutamine expansions, mechanism of genome instability, neuronal dysfunction and neurodegeneration in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3).

Giulio Taglialatela, PhD

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

Shao-Jun Tang, PhD

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

Yogesh Wairkar, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Neurology
  • Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of synapse development, synapses and neurodegeneration.

Ping Wu, MD, PhD

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

Y. Whitney Yin, MD, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Pharmacology & Toxicology
  • Research Interest: Structural and biochemical basis for antiviral drug mitochondrial toxicity; mitochondrial DNA replication and repair; correlation of mitochondrial DNA polymerase mutation with clinical phenotypes; correlation of mitochondrial DNA polymerase mutation with clinical phenotypes.

Wenbo Zhang, PhD

  • 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, MD

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

James E. Blankenship, PhD

  • Professor Emeritus, Ashbel Smith Distinguished Professor, Neuroscience, Cell Biology, & Anatomy
  • Research Interest: Control of locomotion and neuroendocrine systems in Aplysia.

Richard E. Coggeshall, MD

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

Manning J. Correia, PhD

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

Ronita L. Cromwell, PhD

  • 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.

Kenneth M. Johnson, Jr., PhD

  • Professor, 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.

Neuroscience Graduate Program Contacts

Program Director:

Owen Hamill, PhD
2.202 BSB, Route 1069
Phone Number: (409) 772-5464

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

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

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