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 Founder and Co-Director of the Stanford Stroke Center,  Director of the Stanford Moyamoya Center and former Chair of the Stanford University Department of Neurosurgery. As a cerebrovascular and skull base neurosurgeon at Stanford for more than 33 years, 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. He has pioneered microsurgical and radiosurgical 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.

Dr. Steinberg’s lab investigates pathomechanisms of cerebral ischemia and moyamoya disease, develops neuroprotective agents, and employs novel approaches such as stem cell transplantation and optogenetic stimulation to enhance post-stroke functional recovery. He has successfully translated this preclinical work into several stem cell clinical trials for stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, as well as leading numerous other clinical cerebrovascular trials.  


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. 

Research Scientists

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.

 

Postdoctoral Scholars

Hansen Chen, PhD

Hansen Chen investigates the interactions of the immune and nervous systems in ischemic stroke injuries, and focuses on identifying therapeutic targets for treating ischemic stroke. He received his Ph.D. in neuropharmacology from the University of Hong Kong. His Ph.D. thesis established peroxynitrite as an important molecular target for reducing hemorrhagic transformation in ischemic stroke with delayed tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) treatment. During his postdoctoral training in Hong Kong, he contributed to the development of sensitive fluorescent probes for detecting free radicals in ischemic brains, and identified several active compounds for minimizing hemorrhagic transformation in stroke. His current work will pursue novel therapeutic targets in the immune system for protecting against ischemic stroke injury.

Richard Kopchock III, PhD

Richard received his BSc in Neuroscience from Bowling Green State University in 2015 and his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Miami in 2021. In his graduate work, he used Ca2+ imaging and optogenetic approaches to study the role of acetylcholine signaling in model invertebrate neural circuits. Richard joined the Steinberg lab in 2021 and his current work focuses on using Ca2+ imaging to understand changes in brain activity following stroke and during stroke recovery.

Kikutaro Tokairin, MD, PhD

Kikutaro Tokairin received his MD and PhD from Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan. He is a board-certified neurosurgeon and interventional neuroradiologist in Japan. His clinical field and research interest are on acute ischemic/hemorrhagic stroke and moyamoya disease. In his PhD thesis work, he generated cranio-cervical region specific vascular smooth muscle cells from moyamoya disease patient derived iPS cells and performed functional and transcriptome analysis to compare them with endothelial cells. He joined Dr. Steinberg’s Lab in 2021 and his main project is to investigate the underlying mechanism of post-stroke recovery after optogenetic brain stimulation focusing on a specific neural circuit. He also continues to study the pathophysiology of moyamoya disease by using patient derived iPSCs.

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.

LSRAs

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.

Robert Diaz, PhD

Robert received his PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Judith Lengyel at UCLA.  Afterwards he has held various positions in biotech.  Most recently, he established iPSC generation, cell differentiation and CRISPR/CAS9 cell services at Applied StemCell Inc. in Milpitas CA.  Robert is looking forward towards contributing to the ongoing effort to qualify NR1 cells, a neural stem cell line developed in the Steinberg lab, as an Investigational New Drug (IND) to treat stroke patients.  

Chen Dong

Chen received her B.S degree in Zoology from Michigan State University and M.S degree in Biology from New York University. At NYU, she focused on how insulin pathway regulates longevity of ant Harpegnathos saltator. Chen joined the Steinberg lab in 2018 as a LSRP to focus on recovery of stem cell transplanted brain after stroke.

Feng Du

Anika Kim

Anika Kim received her BA in English and MS in Biology from Stanford University. After working in the Steinberg Lab during her freshman and sophomore year, she joined the lab again in 2019 to uncover specific pathways that promote recovery after stroke using optogenetic techniques.

Med Students

Seth Tigchelaar, PhD

Seth Tigchelaar received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. At UBC, Seth focused on the discovery of biomarkers for patients with spinal cord injury and helped develop a large animal model of spinal cord injury. Seth is now a medical student at Stanford and joined the Steinberg lab in 2019 to focus on recovery of stem cell-transplanted brain after stroke.