Mark Burns, PhD

Mark is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience. He received his B.S. (Physiology) from the University College Galway, Ireland in 1997, and studied the role of nitric oxide synthase in preclinical models of depression for his PhD in Pharmacology from the National University of Ireland, Galway (mentor: Brian E. Leonard). His postdoctoral research was conducted with Karen E. Duff at the Nathan S. Kline Institute / NYU until 2004, and focused on the role of cholesterol in Alzheimer's disease. He moved to work with Bill Rebeck at Georgetown University in 2004 to continue his work on cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease, and during that time began to work on TBI to study the production and relevance of AD proteins produced after brain injury. In 2009 he established the Laboratory for Brain Injury and Dementia.

Sonia Villapol, PhD

Sonia is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Dr. Villapol received her B.S. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Santiago of Compostela (USC) in Spain in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) in Spain in 2007 where she studied apoptotic mechanisms in neurons and glia after damage to the immature brain. She has performed postdoctoral studies in INSERM in Paris, France under the guidance of Dr. Charriaut-Marlangue, Dr. Baud and Dr. Gressens studying Neuroprotection after neonatal stroke. Her second postdoctoral fellowship was undertaken at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda with Dr. Symes in collaboration with Dr. Saavedra at the NIH (now at Georgetown University). She has extensive experience with animal models of neurodegeneration including stroke, traumatic brain injury, and neurotoxic insults.

Bevan Main, PhD

Bevan is a postdoctoral fellow, with a B.S. (Neuroscience and Pharmacology) and PhD (Pharmacology and Therapeutics) from the University of Melbourne, Australia in 2016. His graduate research was under the supervision of Dr. Peter Crack and Dr. Juliet Taylor where he studied the role of inflammation and interferons in the progression of Parkinson’s disease. He has experience with in vivo and in vitro models of PD and inflammation. Bevan’s fellowship is funded by the Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Grant in Neurorehabilitation.

Stephanie Sloley

Steph is a graduate student who joined the IPN in 2015 with a BS in Biopsychology from Tufts University. She has extensive research experience with psychopharmacology and spinal cord injury. Previously she worked at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis where she explored the potential of deep brain stimulation to treat TBI and SCI.


Previous PhD Students

  • Patricia Washington, Ph.D. (2008-2013) - Patty was the first Ph.D. graduate from the Laboratory for Brain Injury and Dementia, obtaining her Ph.D. in 2013 for her thesis titled Production, Accumulation and Clearance of Amyloid-Beta after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury. Patty was awarded a Neural Injury and Plasticity (NIP) fellowship while at Georgetown University, and was the recipient of numerous awards. She is currently performing postdoctoral research at Columbia University studying brain trauma.
  • Charisse Winston, PhD (2010-2015) - Charisse was awarded her PhD in 2015 for her thesis titled Neuronal remodeling and genetic vulnerability after mild traumatic brain injury. Charisse was awarded a Neural Injury and Plasticity (NIP) fellowship and an award to promote diversity in biomedical research while at Georgetown University. She is currently performing postdoctoral research at the University of California San Diego studying Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous Masters Students

  • Stephen Pupkin (2015) MS in Biochemistry
  • Leah Benton (2017) MS in Biochemistry
  • William Furlow (2017) MS in Biochemistry
  • Kershina George (2017) MS in Biochemistry
  • Bridget Moffet (2017) MS in Biochemistry

Previous Thesis Undergraduates

  • David Barton - Dave graduated with a B.S. in Human Science in 2013. His senior thesis, Traumatic Brain Injury: targeting blood-brain barrier breakdown via an apoE-dependent pathway was awarded the Excellence in Human Science Award from the Human Science Department. He recently graduated with an MD from Penn State.
  • Kathryn Stefos - Kathryn graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 2015. Her senior thesis was titled Exploring the association of apolipoprotein E with blood-brain-barrier permeability following traumatic brain injury. She is currently a medical student at U. Mass.
  • Aidan Neustadtl - Aidan graduated with a BS in biology in 2016. His senior thesis was titled Pharmacological inhibition of calcineurin reverses excitatory synapse loss in ApoE4 mice. He is currently a medical student at Georgetown University.

Previous Technicians

  • Maia Parsadanian (2011-2016)
  • Nicholas Morffy (2011-2012)
  • Lilit Vardanian (2004-2006)

Previous Rotating PhD Students:

The PhD students who rotate through the lab stay for an intensive 3 month period, and their work is often the catalyst for bigger projects down the road:

  • Misha Smirnov (2009)
  • Amanda DiBatitsta (2011)
  • Brittany Aguilar (2013)
  • Chinyere Agbaegbu (2014)
  • Evan Wicker (2016)
  • Nahdia Jones (2017)
  • Mondona McCann (2017)
  • Andrew Speidell (2017)
  • Laya Rajan (2017)
  • Holly Korthas (2017)

Current and Former Medical Students:

  • Nicole Lulevitch (2016)
  • Addison Jacobs (2016, 2017)
  • Arjun Pendharker (2010)

Current and former Undergraduate Interns:

Thank you to all of the interns that have worked in my lab over the years. They volunteer their time, and make a tremendous difference to our research:

  • Rachel Thompson (2008)
  • Deepa Chellappa (2011)
  • Tiffany Wilkins (2011)
  • Sabry Latifi (2011)
  • Andrew Alikhani (2012)
  • Kyle Jenkins (2014)
  • Jeevan Nijhar (2016)
  • William Mualem (2016 - 2017)
  • Luke Djavaherian (2017)
  • Alexa Williams (2017)
  • Cristofer Cardona (2016, 2017)
  • Loni Parrish (2017)