Our lab is part of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our main focus is to apply genomic technologies to improve our understanding of why and how neurological diseases occur. Our lab is naturally sub-divided in two main types of approaches: an experimental branch led by Rita (for brief biographies see below) where wet-lab experiments are performed; and a bioinformatics/computational biology branch led by Jose that is mainly focused on performing data analyses.
Jose Miguel Bras, PhD
I’m a molecular geneticist whose research interests are primarily directed at how genetic variability acts on neurodegenerative diseases. My scientific carrier started with a B.Sc. from the Coimbra Polytechnic Institute, Portugal in 2002, followed by a M.S. degree from the Aveiro University, Portugal in 2005 and lastly a PhD (Hons) degree from the Coimbra University, Portugal in 2010. During my PhD I have worked under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Singleton and Dr. Catarina Oliveira at the Laboratory of Neurogenetics, NIA, NIH, USA studying the genetic basis of movement disorders. In 2010 I joined UCL as a postdoctoral research assistant in the Department of Molecular Neuroscience. I became a Principal Investigator in 2015 and in 2017 I became a Programme Leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL. In November 2018 I started as an Associate Professor at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Rita Louro Guerreiro, PhD
I received my B.Sc. in Biomedical Sciences in 2002, M.S. degree in Biomolecular Methods in 2005, and more recently (2010) PhD (Hons) from the Coimbra University in Portugal. My PhD work was supervised by Prof. John Hardy and Prof. Catarina Oliveira and was conducted at the Laboratory of Neurogenetics, NIA, NIH, USA. During this time I studied the genetics of dementia, mainly searching for new mutations and new genes underlying Alzheimer’s disease and Frontotemporal dementia. I started working in the Department of Molecular Neuroscience, IoN, UCL in 2010 as a postdoctoral research fellow. My current research interests include the analysis of genetic variability in several neurological diseases (mainly Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases) and more broadly, trying to understand how genetic variants affect the disease process at the molecular level. In 2015 I became a Principal Investigator at the Department of Molecular Neuroscience. In 2017 I became a Programme Leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL. In 2018 I started as an Associate Professor at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Tatiana Orme, BSc.
I received my B.Sc in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from the University of Bristol. During the summer of my second year I undertook work experience at the Guerreiro-Bras lab, in which I performed several experiments with the aim to understand the genetics of particular neurological diseases. I have returned to the lab as a PhD student at UCL, with a project researching the genetic etiology of familial dementia with Lewy bodies.
Susana Carmona, PhD
I received my B.Sc. in Laboratory Biomedical Sciences in 2008 from the Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco, my M.Sc. degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2011 and my PhD degree in Biomedical Sciences in 2017 from the University of Coimbra in Portugal. In 2010 I started working as a research technician in the Next-Gen Sequencing Unit of Biocant, in Portugal, where I sequenced and genotyped human and environmental samples. In 2012 I started my PhD under the supervision of Doctor Conceição Egas and Prof. Eduardo Silva at Biocant. During my PhD I studied the genetics of Primary Congenital Glaucoma, searching new genes and variants associated with the development of this disease. In 2017, I started working as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Molecular Neuroscience, IoN, UCL. My current research is focused on the genetics of neurological disorders, mainly of Alzheimer’s disease.
Joao Neto, PhD
I have a BSc (2008) and an MSc (2010) degree in Biochemistry from the Faculty of Sciences and the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences – University of Porto, where I studied migraine genetic susceptibility factors in the endothelin and synaptic vesicle pathways at UnIGENe/IBMC (Porto, Portugal). From 2012 to 2017 I was enrolled in the Graduate Program in Areas of Basic and Applied Biology (GABBA) at the University of Porto and worked at the Wheeler lab at the Center for Genomic Medicine/Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA, USA), where I was involved in projects focusing on the identification of factors influencing CAG repeat instability in <i>HTT</i> (the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease), through the use of large datasets, cell and animal models of the disorder. In 2018, I joined the GBLab as a postdoctoral researcher to expand my work toward other neurological disorders and their genetic components.
Nadia Dehghani, BSc
I received a B.Sc. in Neuroscience from UCL. I spent the summer of my first year with the Roxana Carare Research Group at Southampton University. During the summer of my second year, I was a Medical Affairs Intern at Celgene UK & Ireland. In 2018, I joined the GBLab as a PhD student at UCL, with a project researching the genetic etiology of familial forms of various types of dementia.
Alumni and past lab members
We have been extremely lucky to have had such amazing people working with us over the past few years.
Ping Wu, PhD
I obtained a Medical Degree in China and subsequently a Master degree in Molecular Pharmacology at Southampton University in UK. After working for a few years as a clinical data scientist at the Institute of Cancer Research/Royal Marsden Hospital, I moved into genomics territory and completed a PhD in Bioinformatics at the Institute of Cancer Research, in 2014. The research focus during my PhD was to define genomics-based biomarkers to predict clinical outcomes for blood cancer patients via integrating various types of genomics data. Following PhD completion I spent two years researching brain tumours at Cancer Section of UCL Institute of Child Heath, I joined the GBLab at the UCL Institute of Neurology in 2017, and my current research focuses on using genetic information, longitudinal data and bioinformatics/biostatistical algorithms to identify asymptomatic older individuals at elevated risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases.
Lee Darwent, MSc.
I received my B.Sc.(Hons) in Genetics in 2009, and obtained my M.Sc. degree in Genetics from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2011. During this time I worked on a number of projects mainly focussing on the identification of wildlife in forensic investigations and pedigree analysis of a number of species. I moved to the UK in 2012 and began work at The Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge in the Cancer Genome research group. Here I worked as a research assistant in embryonic stem cell cloning and genotyping. In 2013 I began work as a research technician in the Department of Molecular Neuroscience, IoN, UCL in a team studying genetic variability in a number of neurological diseases.
Celia Rodrigues, MSc.
I graduated in Biology (Hons) and I received my Msc degree in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology from the Lisbon University, Portugal, in 2010. Later that year I started to work at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Oeiras, Portugal, as a laboratory technician in the Population and Conservation Genetics group of Lounès Chikhi. In this group we were using molecular tools, including NGS, to study the genetic diversity of the Bornean elephant and of several lemur species. I also had the opportunity to join the field work in Madagascar for 5 months. At the start of 2014 I came to the UK and I worked as a research scientist at Royal Holloway, University of London, where I characterized bacterial strains. In 2015 I joined the GBLab at the UCL Institute of Neurology as a laboratory technician. Here I hope to help the group get more data on the genetic diversity of neurological diseases.
Adam El Saghir, BSc.
I graduated from the B.Psy in 2015 at the University of Malta. Seeking a more science based career I then applied for the MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at the Institute of Neurology, UCL which I am currently reading for. I will be carrying out my research project at the Guerreiro-Bras lab under the supervision of Dr. Jose Tomas Bras. This will involve making use of PCR to sequence several genes in order to establish a causative mutation for a family displaying symptoms of Sneddon syndrome. In the future I would like to return to UCL as a PhD student to carry out research on neurodegeneration, or apply for medicine in the hopes of one day becoming a Neurologist.
Gamze Guven, MSc.
I received my B.Sc. in Biology in 2004 and M.Sc. degree in Medical Genetics from Istanbul University in 2008. I am still working on my PhD project supervised by Prof. Dr. Nihan Unaltuna at the Institute of Experimental Medicine, Istanbul University, Turkey. I have been working at this Institute since 2009 as a research fellow. My research interests focus on identifying genetic risk factors related with dementia and understanding the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and Frontotemporal dementia. I have been working as part of the team developing collaborative research projects between Istanbul University and the ION.
Benjamin Wing, BSc.
My scientific career began by receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Brigham Young University Hawaii in 2014. From there, I pursued a Master of Science degree from University College London in Clinical Neuroscience. That experience led me to the Guerreiro-Bras Lab for my MSc Research Project. There I worked on exome sequencing analysis to locate a potential disease-causing gene for Hereditary Diffuse Leukoencephalopathy with Spheroids (HDLS). I am currently in the process of applying to medical school with hopes of one day specializing in Pediatric Neurology.
– Patrick Holton, BSc. student
– Jade Lau, BSc student
– Suraya Khodr, BSc. student
– Razan Jawdat, BSc. student
– Nicole Gurunlian, Laboratory technician
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