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Dena Dubal, M.D.,
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.

Samira Abdulai-Saiku, Ph.D
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
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.

Phillip Muza, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Fellow
Phillip received his PhD from University College London in England (UK), where he was investigating the genetic mechanisms of cognitive impairment in Down Syndrome (DS) using mouse models. Here, Phillip observed that 37 out of ~240 genes triplicated in DS are causative for spatial memory impairments and sex-specific alterations in interneuron cell distribution within the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

Phillip is now interested in the anti-aging factor Klotho and its role in promoting resilience to aging and neurodegenerative diseases.

Cayce Shaw,
PhD Candidate
Cayce received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Santa Cruz where she worked in the Biomolecular Engineering lab of Dr. Nader Pourmand. Using bioinformatics, she determined that the mutant Huntingtin protein affects Alzheimer’s markers in human models of Huntington’s disease. She is excited to explore the epigenetics of the X-chromosome during cognitive aging and neurodegeneration.

Following her NCAA soccer career, Cayce continues to play with the local San Francisco Nighthawks FC WPSL team. She also enjoys watching the premier league and coaching youth soccer.

Francesca Marino,
PhD Student
Francesca received her B.A. in Neuroscience from Boston University where she used electrophysiology to study learning and memory in Dr. Howard Eichenbaum’s lab. She then moved to Edmund Hollis’ lab at Burke Neurological Institute to evaluate the role of corticospinal neurons in motor learning and spinal cord injury. Using 2 photon calcium imaging, she found that corticospinal neurons are necessary for the performance of a skilled isometric pull task. Currently, she is interested in understanding the role of the X-chromosome in cognitive aging and neurodegenerative disease.

Outside of the lab, Francesca enjoys hiking, playing board games, video games, and reading.

Dan Wang, M.D., M.S. –
Research Associate, Lab Manager
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.

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,
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.