People

Dena Dubal, M.D., Ph.DDena.Dubal@ucsf.edu
Associate Professor, Principal Investigator
David A. Coulter Endowed Chair in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease


Dr. Dena Dubal is a neurologist and neuroscientist passionate about biomedical discoveries to improve human health. Dr. Dubal received her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Her graduate research with Dr. Phyllis Wise focused on effects of hormones on stroke injury. Dr. Dubal completed a medical internship and neurology residency at UCSF, where she also served as chief resident. She then completed a basic research and clinical fellowship in aging and dementias with Drs. Lennart Mucke and Bruce Miller.

Dr. Dubal directs a team unraveling how pathways of longevity lead to brain resilience. Using synergistic approaches including the study of humans, mouse models of brain disease, and single cells – from the molecular to behavioral levels – her lab is investigating how mechanisms of resilience are paving paths to treatments for aging and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Her discoveries have been profiled in high-impact media such as NPR and the Economist – and are recognized as potential therapies for living longer and better. Awards and honors for her work include the Paul Beeson Career Development Award through the NIA and American Federation for Aging Research, the UCSF David A. Coulter Endowed Chair in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease, and the Grass Neuroscience Award.

picture JL Julio Leon, M.S., Ph.DJulio.Leon@ucsf.edu
Postdoctoral Fellow
Julio obtained his Masters and PhD degrees from the University of Kyushu in Japan where he trained in functional genomics, molecular biology, and biochemistry. His studies focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Julio invesitgated postmortern brains donated from patients with AD in “The Hisayama study” cohort. Moreover, he discovered that accumulation of 8-oxogunine, a common oxidative lesion in neurodegenerative disorders, induces mitochondrial dysfunction and impairs neuritogenesis in adult cortical neurons. Julio is unraveling the molecular basis by which klotho enhances cognition and induces neural resilience in aging and neurodegenerative diseases.

Outside the lab, Julio enjoys playing soccer (he loves soccer!), swimming, and hanging out with friends.

Samira Abdulai-Saiku, Ph.D Samira.Abdulai-Saiku@ucsf.edu
Postdoctoral Fellow
Samira obtained her Ph.D degree from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore where she studied neuroendocrinology and molecular biology. Her studies focused on understanding the mechanism of innate fear and anxiety in rats using Toxoplasma infection as a perturbation system. Samira discovered that the underlying regulatory mechanism of innate fear was different between males and females despite a similar phenotypic expression of fear response. Samira is currently interested in understanding the effect of the parent-of-origin of the active X chromosome on various measures of aging and cognition.

Aside research, Samira enjoys reading, movies and sports.

Cana Park, Ph.D Cana.Park@ucsf.edu
Postdoctoral Fellow
Cana received her PhD from the Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea where she focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia. She is exploring how Klotho enhances cognition and neural resilience.

Outside of the lab, she enjoys driving and swimming.

profile pic_emily davis Emily Davis, B.A. – Emily.Davis3@ucsf.edu
Graduate Student
Emily received her BA in the Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania where she spent time in the learning and memory lab of Dr. Ted Abel. Her honors thesis focused on the behavioral phenotypes of Fmr1 KO mice, a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome. In addition, she’s assisted in research determining the effects of sleep deprivation on the mTOR protein translation signaling pathway within the hippocampus. She looks forward to exploring the intersection of neurodegeneration, aging, and sexual dimorphism within the Dubal lab.

When not in the lab she enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as browsing Reddit, cuddling with dogs, and playing video games.

Dan Wang, M.D., M.S. – dan.wang@ucsf.edu
Research Associate
Dan received her MD in Pediatrics from China Medical University and MS in Clinical Laboratory Science from San Francisco State University. She worked at Ernest Gallo Clinic & Research Center at UCSF before joining the Dubal Lab. She is interested in the aging process and neurodegenerative diseases.

Outside of the lab, Dan enjoys sewing, hiking, and camping.

Arturo Image Arturo Moreno, B.A.Arturo.Moreno@ucsf.edu
Research Associate
Arturo received his B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley in May 2013. He is interested in the behavioral and biochemical aspects of aging and various neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Huntington’s disease. Inspired by his internship in the Dubal lab, Arturo attended the post-baccalaureate Health Careers Program at Harvard from 2014 to 2016 and studied in the lab of Dominic Walsh at Brigham and Women’s Hospital looking at toxic Amyloid-Beta species using electrophysiological techniques. After the completion of his study, Arturo returned to the Dubal lab as a Staff Research Associate. He hopes to go to medical school to be a physician-scientist working in Neurology.

During his free time he loves to play music, watch soccer, listen to podcasts, and bike around his native Bay Area.  

Chen Chenchen.chen2@.ucsf.edu
Research Associate
Chen recieved her bachelor degree in preventive medicine from school of medicine, Wuhan University of Science and Technology. Later she got her MS in public health from Beijing Institute of Medicine. Before she joined the Dubal lab, she worked in Center for Disease Control in Tai’an city of China.
She is interested in understanding ageing, sexual dimorphism and neurodegeneration from the view of animal behaviors and molecular biology, and hopes to learn more techniques. In her spare time, she likes cooking, shopping and playing with her lovely son.

Jennifer Yokoyama, Ph.D.jyokoyama@memory.ucsf.edu
Assistant Professor, Collaborator
Jennifer Yokoyama obtained her PhD in pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics from UCSF in December 2010. Jennifer is a postdoctoral scholar at the Memory and Aging Center, where she is investigating genetic risk for neurodegenerative disease. In July 2012, she received a Larry L Hillblom Fellowship. Jennifer is interested in the effect genotype can have on brain physiology, behavior and cognition in healthy adults, and how this may relate to increased vulnerability to disease processes in later stages of life. She is also particularly interested in understanding how these effects may differ across diverse ethnic populations.

IMG_1138 Kevin Changkevin.chang@vanderbilt.edu
Web Manager, Vanderbilt University
Kevin graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2018 where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. His research interests include the pathology of aging, sex differences in the brain, and neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer’s disease. In the future, Kevin hopes to attend medical school and ultimately pursue a career in neurology.

Outside of the lab, Kevin enjoys volunteering around the community, exploring San Francisco’s eateries, playing basketball, running, and video games.