Shamloo Lab Members

Mehrdad Shamloo, PhD

Professor (Research) of Neurosurgery and, by courtesy of Comparative Medicine and of Neurology

Director, Stanford Behavioral and Functional Neuroscience Laboratory (BFNL)


Mehrdad received his doctoral degree in 1999 from the Wallenberg Neuroscience Center of Lund University in Sweden. He was recruited to the San Francisco Bay Area the same year where he held several positions at biopharmaceutical companies, including Affymax and AGY Therapeutics, until 2008. During this time he was responsible for the discovery and development of novel neuroprotective and regenerative small molecule and peptide therapeutics for multiple diseases. As the program leader for neuroprotection and regeneration programs at AGY Therapeutics, his work enabled several patent applications, scientific publications, and an IND application and subsequent clinical trials. These years of experience in industry built on his extensive background in CNS drug discovery and preclinical development. 

In 2008, Mehrdad joined Stanford University to establish a new behavioral neuropharmacology center for the neuroscience institute. He also formed his own research laboratory to focus on understanding normal and pathological brain functions for neurological disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and autism. Efforts are currently directed towards a subset of genes and proteins involved in neuroprotective or neurodegenerative pathways, which are regulated in these disorders. Through these investigations, Mehrdad and his team hope to understand the processes leading to the functional and behavioral malfunction in these disorders and develop experimental therapeutics. The ultimate goal is to accelerate the translation of these experimental discoveries into novel therapeutic approaches, to improve the quality of life for patients with brain disorders.

Research Scientist

Yu-Wei Chen, PhD

My interest in behavioral neuroscience began when I was an undergraduate majored in Psychology at the National Taiwan University. I completed my Ph.D. training with Dr. Bartley Hoebel in Princeton University and his collaborator Dr. Sarah Leibowitz in the Rockefeller University, where I investigated the neural and peptide regulation of alcohol drinking. As a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, I explored the neural mechanisms of reward-related behaviors with Drs. Donna Calu and Yavin Shaham. I continued my postdoctoral training with Dr. Patricia Jensen at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Using novel mouse genetics models, my research has revealed a subpopulation of noradrenergic neurons that has a unique role in attenuating stress responses. In the Stanford Behavioral and Functional Neuroscience Laboratory, I will continue to focus on the noradrenergic system, specifically on how noradrenergic signaling interacts with peripheral immune systems to affect neurodegenerative disorders.

Andrew Evans, PhD

Andrew did his undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College, after which he worked as a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. James L. Goodson at UCSD, examining behavior and neural networks engaged following social encounters in wild-caught finches.  He went on to do a Ph.D with Dr. Christopher A. Lowry at the University of Bristol, UK, where he studied stress-related modulation of serotonergic systems and anxiety behavior, focusing on serotonin metabolism and functional specificity within subregions of the serotonergic midbrain raphe complex. He did his post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky at Stanford, where he developed projects in which he used functional neuroanatomy to begin to understand how a common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, manipulates host behavior, incorporating aspects of neuroimmunology into his neurobiological view. He is currently a Research Scientist in the laboratory of Dr. Mehrdad Shamloo, in the Stanford School of Medicine, leading projects to further explore interactions between the immune system and the central nervous system in the context of neurodegenerative disorders and cognition and behavior.  Andrew is interested in the role of microglia-neuron communication in neurodegenerative disease and the role of neurotransmitter systems, such as the locus coeruleus noradrenergic system, in regulation of neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration and behavior in the context of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Bitna Yi PharmD, PhD

My long-standing interest is in translational research to discover and develop novel therapeutics for CNS diseases. Having hand-on experience working as a pharmacist and research training as a molecular pharmacologist, understanding mechanisms underlying the disease and translating the laboratory findings into new therapeutic strategies are attractive area to me. Currently in Shamloo lab, I am working on many projects that focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Using a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach, I am testing several drug candidates in models of Alzheimer’s disease regarding their effects on both symptoms and pathology. I find my projects very exciting and I am really happy to be part of our team. Outside of lab, I enjoy traveling, hiking, cooking, reading, watching movies, drinking a good glass of wine, and so many other things.


Denise Briggs, PhD

I earned my bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan where I majored in neuroscience and psychology. During my undergraduate studies, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in several high-profile laboratories, including the neurology laboratory of Drs. Marina Mata and David J. Fink, where I studied the role of Nogo-A in dorsal root ganglion cells following sciatic nerve injury. Upon graduation, I followed my interest in CNS trauma/pathology to the laboratory of Dr. Donald Kuhn, where I worked on in vitro models of blast-induced neuronal injury before entering the Translational Neuroscience Program at Wayne State University School of Medicine. My colleagues and I developed a novel mouse model of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (rmTBI) that allows for the administration of multiple, biomechanically relevant head impacts. This model served as the foundation for my graduate studies that focused on the cognitive, psychiatric, and neuropathological manifestations of rmTBI. My interest in acquired neuropathology evolved to include both heritable and aging-related diseases of the CNS. In pursuit of these interests, I joined the Stanford Behavioral and Functional Neuroscience Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow to work with Dr. Shamloo. My research projects aim to elucidate the role(s) of the noradrenergic system in the behavioral and neuropathological manifestations of Alzheimer’s disease and ischemic stroke. Using a variety of CNS disease models and validated neurobiological assessment tools, I hope to further our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the development of acquired and heritable neuropathologies.


Sezen Kislal, PhD

During my undergraduate studies in Biology at Hacettepe University in Turkey, I participated in ecological projects such as protecting Longerhead Sea Turtles and prolonging their conservation. After graduating, my focus turned to experimental psychology with special emphasis on context aversion learning which I explored during my Ph.D program in the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Pennsylvania State University under the guidance of Dr. David Blizard. I also had the opportunity to work in the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan where I worked on the genetics of bitter taste in mice. Thus, my background started in biology and extended into behavioral studies. In the Shamloo lab, I am developing an interest in translational neuroscience focusing on novel therapeutic approaches in experimental models of stroke.


Pooneh Memar Ardestani, MD, PhD

My interest in neuroscience goes back to first year of medical school. After getting my MD I did my PhD at National University of Singapore where I worked on localization and role of Sirt6 in the CNS. As an MD/PhD my interest has been finding novel treatments for neurological diseases. So, I started working at Shamloo Lab as a postdoctoral fellow trying to find new therapeutic approaches for Alzheimer’s disease.  My ultimate goal is to be a physician-scientist to merge my basic science knowledge and clinical experience to help people with neurological disorders.

Lab Manager

Nay Lui Saw

I am the lab manager for Shamloo Lab. I graduated from San Francisco State University with B.S. in Biology. After working in U.C.S.F. Department of Anesthesia, I became a part of Stanford community in 2007. My primary responsibility includes running the day-to-day general operations of the lab, as well as, assisting Professor Shamloo and other colleagues in achieving their research goals. My scope of scientific work involves conducting behavioral pharmacology experiment, colony management, and training collaborators. My area of expertise is in phenotyping transgenic rodent model and CNS diseases models such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Beside managing the lab and conducting classical experiments, I’m keenly interested in developing new protocols and behavioral paradigms to tackle current challenges facing the neuroscience community.

Medicinal Chemistry Advisor and Consultant

Michael J. Green

I was trained as an organic chemist at Sheffield University in the UK. My life's goal has been to use my knowledge and experience of chemical reactions to design and synthesize novel compounds for biological testing and, ultimately, to discover new drugs.  After two Post Docs, one at the University of Chicago and the other at Brookhaven National Labs, I joined Schering-Plough Research Institute in New Jersey where I worked for almost 25 years. In that time I contributed to the discovery of AclovateR, ClaritinR and XetiaR as well as quite a few other compounds that did not make it to the market place for various reasons. I then came to California to use my skills in small biotech companies, including Trega Biosciences and Celera Genomics. I also helped start a new company Virobay Inc. which is focused on viral diseases and neuropathic pain. For the past 8 years I have been a consultant in medicinal chemistry, helping start ups with their dreams of discovering new therapeutics. In this role I have been working with Professor Shamloo for the past 2 years with his project to identify new ways to treat Alzheimers Disease.

Alam Jahangir, PhD

My primary passion is designing and discovering small molecule based therapeutics with over 25 years of experience. During my MS (Brock University, Canada), I worked on chemical and biochemical transformation of steroids. Later for Ph.D., I joined Prof David MacLean’s group at Mc Master University (Canada) and designed lateral metalation based new synthetic methodology and demonstrated its effectiveness by synthesizing a number of alkaloids. For my first post-doctoral fellowship, I joined Syntex Corporation at Palo Alto and further advanced both ortho and lateral metalation techniques in the synthesis of complex alkaloids and heterocyclic systems. This convergent methodology since then has received wide acceptance in organic and medicinal chemistry. During my second post-doctoral at University of Tennessee (Knoxville) in Prof David Baker’s group, I worked on carbohydrate based anti-viral compounds.  In 1990, I joined Syntex and worked on various therapeutic areas including Cellcept. At Roche I lead programs mostly related to CNS and neurological diseases. I successfully progressed 3 NCEs to human clinical trials. I have also used my prodrug expertise in improving properties of several lead drug candidates. Since 2011, I am SPARK advisor at Stanford School of Medicine. For the last 4 years, I am working with Prof Shamloo in the discovery of noble compounds for the treatment of Alzheimer’s’ disease.

Life Science Research Assistants

Rachel Lam

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior Sciences at University of California, Davis. While I did not have much previous laboratory experience, Dr. Shamloo gave me the opportunity to learn and work in his research lab. Through my work and experience at this lab, I’ve developed a passion in scientific research, and a desire to continually expand my knowledge and skill set.  As a team member of both his research team and the behavioral core at SBFNL, I perform and analyze various experiments that aim to evaluate the effects of therapeutic drugs on impaired rodents. My responsibilities include performing various surgical procedures, colony management, and wet lab experiments. As the junior lab manager, my goal is to refine my managerial and administrative skills while expanding my knowledge in the aforementioned skills.  


Christine Xu

I completed my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, where I worked as an undergraduate researcher in a neurogenomics lab focusing on the computational analysis of next-generation sequencing data. After graduating in 2017, I joined the Shamloo lab as a research assistant working on projects led by Dr. Andrew Evans. I also interface with the BFNL core facility to assist with surgeries. My main responsibilities include running experiments, downstream analysis and quantification of data, performing stereotaxic surgeries, and assisting colony management. Out of the lab, I enjoy painting and participating in puzzle hunts. 


Maria Vashchenko

While studying Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at University of California, Davis, I became interested in scientific research and decided to pursue a laboratory internship on campus. During my senior year of college, I conducted a project on Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, an autoimmune liver disease, which I presented at the Undergraduate Research Conference. As a team member of the behavioral core at SBFNL, I perform and analyze various experiments that usually aim to access the effect of a certain genetic mutation or a drug on rodent behavior. My other responsibilities include assisting with animal colony management and some of the general laboratory procedures. Being very passionate about medicine, my long-term career goal is to become a medical doctor and incorporate the knowledge of neurological disorders and their underlying mechanisms into clinical treatment of patients.


Katrina Shao

I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Biological Oceanography. During my first two years of undergraduate studies, I assisted with research in the SBC-LTER and Moorea Coral Reef LTER labs. For my final two years in Santa Barbara, I was a research intern in the Hofmann Lab, where my primary focus was studying the Sea Star Wasting Disease. I also spent multiple summers in the Animal Health and Stress Physiology Lab at the National Institute of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Taiwan to conduct research for my senior thesis while contributing to other studies and research publications. During the last few years, I became interested in pharmacology while working as a veterinary assistant. That interest brought me to Shamloo Lab as a neuropharmacology and neurobehavioral research assistant. My current responsibilities include qRT-PCR, ELISA, data analysis, and colony management.

Undergraduate Researcher

Sarah Victoria Schurr

I am currently an undergrad pursuing a B.S. degree in neurobiology with the goal of matriculating into an MD-PhD or MD program. Long-term, I would like to remain active in investigating and implementing novel, patient-centered therapies for debilitating diseases. Since joining the Shamloo Lab in 2015, I have worked under the guidance of Postdoctoral Fellow Bitna Yi on projects studying the therapeutic potential of drug agonists for Alzheimer’s disease. I first became interested in Alzheimer’s treatment in high school. As my Girl Scout Gold Award project, I developed “Talk to Me” – a therapeutic toolkit, research booklet, and website (www.talktomegold.com) dedicated to increasing meaningful communication with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Beyond my involvement in lab, I am also a nationally certified Emergency Medical Technician and a Classroom Director for a local after school academic mentoring program called DreamCatchers.

Undergraduate Students

Aisha Balogun


Courtney Gao


Inbar Kodesh


Julien Segre


Swetha Shutthanandan