Steinberg Lab Members

Gary K. Steinberg, MD, PhD

Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor of Neurosurgery and the Neurosciences and Professor, by courtesy, of Neurology

Dr. Gary Steinberg is the Chair of Neurosurgery, Director of the Stanford Moyamoya Center, and the founder and Co-Director of the Stanford Stroke Center. As a cerebrovascular and skull base neurosurgeon, he specializes in treating brain aneurysms, moyamoya disease, brain and spinal AVMs and other vascular malformations, carotid artery disease, meningiomas, skull base tumors, stroke, and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. 

Dr. Steinberg has practiced neurosurgery at Stanford for more than 28 years. He has pioneered microsurgical techniques to repair intracranial vascular malformations and certain aneurysms that were previously considered untreatable. He has also refined revascularization techniques for patients with cerebrovascular arterial occlusions, as well as moyamoya disease. He is leading novel clinical trials of stem cell therapy for stroke and spinal cord injury.

Lab Manager

Rani Agrawal

Rani has joined the Steinberg lab as Lab Manager. She received her MPhil in Analytical chemistry from Gwalior India and Masters in Biochemistry from CUNY. Rani has previously worked in understanding the role of beta adrenergic receptors in heart attack and hypertension in mouse model. Rani is looking forward to translating her knowledge from her previous cardiac lab to the brain, as well acting as the cerebellum in the lab bringing coordination and balance.

Senior Scientists

Tonya Bliss, PhD

Tonya received her BA from Oxford University, UK, and her PhD from the University Of Dundee, UK, where she studied p53, Ku and DNA repair. Following a brief post-doc in Cambridge, UK, she got her introduction to neuroscience in the lab of Dr Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University where she investigated the effects of stress and metabolism on neuron survival. As a senior scientist in the Steinberg lab she spearheads studies to understand and enhance the mechanisms of brain repair in rodent models of stroke with particular interest in stem cells, brain plasticity, and inflammation. 

Michelle Cheng, PhD

Michelle Cheng spearheads several projects that use optogenetic, imaging techniques and next generation sequencing to study post-stroke neural circuit dynamics and recovery mechanisms.  Her main interests are to study brain repair and recovery at both the neural circuit and molecular level, and to develop strategies to promote the recovery process. She received PhD in Pharmacology from UC Irvine.  Her PhD thesis focused on studying the role of a novel pair of gut peptides (Prokineticins) in the brain, including circadian rhythms and neurogenesis. During postdoc she further demonstrated Prokineticin 2 as a novel endangering mediator in stroke. Her postdoctoral work also includes developing neuroprotective gene therapy strategies for stroke, including the development of an insult-inducible gene therapy system that can be activated by hypoxia and reactive oxygen species. 

Postdoctoral Scholars

Ricardo De Azevedo Pereira, PhD

Ricardo Azevedo-Pereira has a BS in Biological Sciences from Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro and a Masters in Parasitology from Fundação Oswaldo Cruzwhere he studied immunology and protein purification of leishmanias protozoan. He received his PhD in Science (Physiology) and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro where he studied embryonic stem cells and human neural stem cells. In the Marinkovich lab at Stanford University he investigated the mechanisms of laminin 511 in hair follicle stem cells. His current work as a postdoctoral scholar in the Steinberg lab focuses on the mechanisms of recovery driven by neural stem cells therapy in stroke.

Masaki Ito, MD, PhD

Masaki Ito is a cerebrovascular neurosurgeon who received his MD at Tsukuba University, Japan and completed residency and fellowship training at Hokkaido University.  His PhD research was performed at Hokkaido University in bone marrow stromal cell transplantation for stroke recovery.  Dr. Ito’s current research concentrates on studying of neural circuits underlying post-stroke recovery using combination of opto/chemogenetic and cutting edge imaging techniques. From this research, he expects to confirm existing circuits involved in post-stroke recovery as well as uncover important circuits that have not previously explored.  He also studies about epigenetic aspects of Moyamoya disease, which is one of the rarest forms of occlusive cerebrovascular disorders

Marieke Cornelia Sophia Boshuizen, PhD

Marieke Boshuizen has a Masters in Biomedical Sciences from Leiden University, The Netherlands, and obtained her PhD at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she investigated the role of interferons in atherosclerosis. She joined the Steinberg lab in 2016 as a postdoctoral researcher and now concentrates on studying the role of neuroinflammation in stroke, with a specific focus on microglia and infiltrated monocytes/macrophages. Understanding the temporal and spatial dynamics of these immune cells following stroke may help to modulate them in such a way in order to improve stroke recovery. 

Zhijuan (June) Cao, MD, PhD

Zhijuan is a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Steinberg’s Lab. She received her MD from Yangzhou University and completed her residency training in Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital, China. Zhijuan studied innate immune signaling pathways in myocardial ischemia/reperfusion during her master degree training in Nanjing Medical University, China. She received her PhD in Cardiovascular Sciences from Baylor College of Medicine, TX. Her thesis work focused on studying a novel pharmacological cooling method for neurological protection in stroke. Her current studies focus on studying brain repair mechanisms during later phase of stroke by using optogenetic strategies. She aims to identify potential therapeutic targets for stroke treatments.


Arjun Pendharkar, MD

Arjun is a resident in neurosurgery at Stanford with clinical interests in cerebrovascular and skull base surgery. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Microbiology. At Cal Poly, Arjun worked in the lab of Dr. Michael Black where he studied Celiac Disease—cloning a novel strain of prophylactic Lactobacillus bacteria to cleave immunogenic gliadin peptides in the small intestine. Prior to attending medical school at Georgetown University, Arjun spent a year in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford in the labs of Dr. Raphael Guzman and Gary Steinberg studying intravascular neural stem cell therapy for stroke—specifically elucidating the biodistribution of transplanted cells via intra-arterial and intravenous injection. 


Arjun was recently awarded the NREF/AANS research fellowship as well as the Robert J Dempsey Cerebrovascular Research Award and will complete a postdoctoral fellowship in the Steinberg lab applying optogenetic tools towards studying mechanisms of injury in stroke.


Terrance Chiang

Terrance obtained his undergraduate degree in Molecular and cell biology from University of California, Berkeley with an emphasis on Immunology. He has worked at Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in the lab of Dr. Robert Messing working with Dr. Wenhai Chou on murine ischemia model and Purdue University with Dr. Richard van Rijn on alcohol and opioid use disorders in murine behavior models. Terrance joined the Steinberg lab in April 2017 and aims to clarify specific pathways that aid in stroke recovery.

Feng Du

Sean Harvey, BS

Sean Harvey received his BS in Mircrobiology from University of California, Santa Barbara. As an undergraduate, he worked at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute in the Craig Montell Lab studying the role of variant ionotropic glutamate receptors and diuretic hormones in regulating NaCl-taste feeding behaviors using a Drosophila model. In the Steinberg Lab, Sean seeks to uncover specific pathways that promote recovery after stroke using optogenetic techniques. 

Xibin Liang, PhD

Xibin Liang got his PhD from Shanghai University of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology in China and then his postdoctoral training in neuroscience and neurology from Beijing University, UCLA and Johns Hopkins University.  His previous work investigated the role of prostaglandin receptors in models of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s Disease and Stroke. He joined in Steinberg lab in 2014 where he is investigating the optimal parameters for successful transplantation of human neural stem cell (hNSC) in stroke models and the mechanism of the therapeutic effects of hNSCs in the stroke-injured brain.







Daniel Smerin 

Daniel received his B.S. in Biology from Stanford in 2015. As an undergraduate research assistant in the Heng Zhao lab, he focused on the neuroinflammatory response following stroke. His undergraduate research culminated in an honors thesis on the effects of plasmacytoid dendritic cell activation on stroke recovery. Within the Steinberg lab, Daniel primarily seeks to elucidate the mechanisms behind optogenetic-enhanced stroke recovery.

Jennifer Vu

Jennifer Vu received her B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology from University of California at Berkeley where she studied how stress response pathways and the accumulation of glucocorticoids in Zebra Finch birds affected the reproductive hormone axis. As a member of the Steinberg Lab, she is interested in exploring the recovery mechanisms driven by neural stem cell therapy.

Yulia Zatulovskaia, PhD

Yulia Zatulovskaia received her Master degree in Neuroscience and PhD in Biochemistry from St. Petersburg State University, Russia. During her graduate training she studied molecular mechanisms of mutant huntingtin aggregation in the model of Huntington disease. She performed her postgraduate work in the Research Institute of Experimental Medicine in St. Petersburg (Russia), where she focused on exploring the system of copper metabolism in rodents. Yulia joined the Steinberg lab in 2016 to investigate the neuroinflammatory response to stroke and stem cell transplantation.


Aulden Foltz