Our Team

Principal Investigator

Vassilis E. Koliatsos, MD MBA

Dr. Koliatsos, Professor of Pathology (Neuropathology), Neurology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is the head of the Laboratory. Dr. Koliatsos trained in systems neuroscience with Mahlon DeLong and cellular and molecular neuropathology with Don Price. His main interest is mechanisms of neural injury and repair relevant to human disease. He has previously characterized a number of neurotrophic factors for key populations of neurons in the brain and spinal cord and initiated experimental therapies of spinal cord diseases with stem cells and their progenies. In recent years, Dr. Koliatsos has turned to the problem of traumatic brain injury, both as morbidity in and of itself and as model for neurodegenerative disorders, for example Alzheimer’s disease.  He serves on the faculty of the Ph.D. graduate program of Pathobiology of Disease and leads the TBI Research Center in the Department of Pathology.  A clinical neuropsychiatrist, he also sees patients with TBI and degenerative dementias. Dr. Koliatsos has received a Leadership and Excellence in Alzheimer’s disease Award and the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from NIH and a 2018 Discovery Award from Johns Hopkins University.

Lab Manager/Assistant

Jiwon Ryu, PhD

Dr. Ryu, with PhD background in Microbiology/Immunology, is the laboratory manager and leads efforts in molecular biology and protein work. She is broadly trained in a wide variety of methodologies, with emphasis on the manipulation and differentiation of ES and IPS cells. Her current research emphasis is in vitro assays of genetic and pharmacological tools to protect human and rodent axons from Wallerian-type degeneration.

Post-Doctoral Research Fellows

Thanasis Alexandris, MD

Dr. Alexandris, postdoctoral research fellow with background in Neuropathology, explores ways to block the mixed lineage (DLK/LZK) cascade along with SARM1 signaling in models of traumatic axonal injury in vitro and in vivo. Well published in the field of neurodegenerative disease/Lewy body dementias, he is also interested in exploring parallels between traumatic axonopathy and axonal and other pathology in human synucleopathies.

Research Assistant

Mohamed Lehar, MD

Dr. Lehar is associate staff in the Koliatsos Lab specializing in ultrastructural work that is essential in our axonal studies. Among several other positions he holds at johns Hopkins, he is the Chief Electron Microscopist and Histologist in the Center for Hearing and Balance of the Department of Otolaryngology-HNS, also Manager for Histology Lab and the Microsurgery Training Lab for residents in Otolaryngology-HNS. Besides working at traumatic/degenerative axonopathies in our lab, he is also involved in retina research in the Wilmer Eye Institute and research on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and HIV-associated neuromuscular diseases in the Department of Neurology.

Research Specialists

Zahra Alam, BS

Zahra is a recent college graduate from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a degree in Biology and Psychology. She is responsible for the perfusion, preparation and processing of tissues for various histological and immunohistological techniques as well as for EM microscopy, that enables our high resolution studies of Wallerian degeneration in the CNS after TBI.

Payton Flores, BS

Payton is a recent graduate in Integrated Science, Business, and Technology at Lasalle University. During undergraduate research she has developed various laboratory skills, mainly histological techniques such as microtomy and sectioning, hand processing of tissues, and staining. She is currently working on a project in collaboration with the Army on a pig brain model of TBI and behind helmet blunt trauma.

Youngrim Lee, MS

Youngrim Lee is a recent graduate for a master’s degree in Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University. During undergraduate research, she has developed various laboratory skills, mainly immunohistochemistry, animal tissue preparation, cryostat sectioning, and light and confocal microscopy. Her passion for neuropathology, specifically axonal degeneration, has led her to join Dr. Koliatso’s lab. Her main focus of research is the assessment of axonal pathology in the visual system and corticospinal tract of IA-TBI injured animals by a variety of means including stereology and silver impregnation.

James McKenney, BA

James is the latest member to join the laboratory, a recent graduate from Boston University with a degree in Neuroscience. During his undergraduate research he studied stress granule pathologies in neurodegenerative diseases, and neural sensor technology for rodent experiments. He has a deep passion for traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative disease research. In the Koliatsos lab he is responsible for our mouse colonies and he is also working on microscopy, image analysis and in vitro assays. In his free time he is a rescue scuba diver.

Undergraduate Students

Yiqing (Melody) Wang

Melody is an undergraduate student reading molecular and cellular biology and behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University. She has worked with Dr. Alexandris in developing knockout cell lines, as well as in biochemical investigations of Wallerian degeneration related pathways. She is currently working on the analysis and quantification of axons based of super-resolution and electron microscope methods. Another project that she enjoys working on is her manga.