A collage of the Picower fellows

Picower Fellows alumni

Below we list alumni of the Picower Fellows program and similar programs that preceded it.


Name Lab Bio
Elie Adam Mriganka Sur Adam uses experimental and mathematical methods to investigate the interaction between an external model of the world (delivered by sensory cues) and an internal model of the world (shaped by experience). The question he poses is "What are the neural mechanisms underlying the interaction?"
Chinnakkaruppan Adaikkan Li-Huei Tsai Adaikkan investigates the contribution of acetylcholine (ACh) neuromodulatory system in visual stimulation-induced gamma oscillations using a variety of methods, He has been exploring whether boosting ACh neurotransmission can improve the therapeutic potential of non-invasive visual gamma rhythm stimulation for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alexandre Albanese Kwanghun Chung Albanese has developed a protocol for whole-organoid imaging and implemented a new strategy to vascularize cerebral organoids grown from patient-derived stem cells. They have the potential to mimic disease on a case-to-case basis. He studies them in drug screening for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and Rett Syndrome.
Saba Baskoylu Steven Flavell Baskoylu uses the model C. elegans to study how repeated exposure to aversive cues over long time scales stably changes foraging behaviors, allowing animals to avoid injury and survive. By deciphering the mechanisms that underlie these long-lasting circuit changes, she hopes to reveal fundamental neural mechanisms that allow animals to stably integrate information about their environment and construct internal models of the external world.
Jamie Benoit Mriganka Sur

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Jamie earned a PhD from Yale before coming to MIT to join the Sur lab to focus on examining the effects of circular RNA at neuronal synapses and in vivo imaging of transplanted human stem cellderived neurons in the mouse visual cortex.

Sayak Bhattacharya Earl Miller Bhattacharya hypothesizes that spatially traveling waves of neural activity in the cortex organize neural oscillations in working memory tasks. He is studying various aspects of the nature of these waves to learn more about how they encode items retained in memory.
Timothy Brawn Matthew Wilson Brawn has worked with a variety of methods and animal models to study sleep-dependent memory consolidation. In the Wilson lab he studied optogenetic and calcium imaging techniques to explore how the hippocampus and cortex interact during sleep to create lasting memories.
Vincent Breton-Provencher Mriganka Sur

Vincent earned his PhD in neurobiology from Universite de Laval, Quebec, Canada. Among his research pursuits are understanding the active control of arousal states and the neuromodulation of neural microcircuits in the brain.

Gwendolyn Calhoon Kay Tye Gwendolyn earned her PhD from the University of Maryland. She joined the Tye lab, where she investigated emotional responses in the amygdala region of the brain.
Sourish Chakravarty Emery N. Brown Chakravarty earned his PhD at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In the Brown lab he worked to develop a Closed Loop Anesthesia Delivery (CLAD) system for real time computerized-control of anesthesia and to validate it in animal models.
Jemmie Cheng Li-Huei Tsai

Jemmie earned her PhD from New York University School of Medicine before coming to MIT and joining the Tsai lab, where she focused on cell-type specific epigenetic changes in Alzheimer’s disease. Her research interests also include neurodegeneration, neural function, chromatin, epigenetics, and inflammation.

Heejin Choi Kwanghun Chung

Heejin, who hails from South Korea, came to MIT to earn his PhD in mechanical engineering, where he developed novel optical imaging instruments. In the Chung lab, Heejin developed high throughput optical imaging systems for imaging mammalian brains at submicron resolution.

Héctor De Jesús-Cortés Mark Bear Originally from Puerto Rico, Héctor earned his PhD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas before coming to MIT to join the Bear lab. Here he worked toward his ultimate goal of improving neuropsychiatric disorders, with a specific focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to experience dependent changes in synaptic plasticity.
Chloe Delepine Mriganka Sur Employing 3D cerebral organoids derived from patients with Rett syndrome, Delepine is exploring the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal migration deficits during development. Through her research she aims to identify near early therapeutic strategies for the disorder.
Ming-fai Fong Mark Bear Following her undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering at MIT, Ming-fai earned her PhD in neuroscience from Emory University. She then joined the Bear lab where she is focused on investigating etiologies and treatments for sensory disabilities. She has identified a new method of “rebooting” the visual system to promote recovery from amblyopia in animal models.
Peter Finnie Mark Bear Finnie focuses on better understanding of how sensory experience shapes brain development across the lifespan. His goal has been to identify translationally-relevant biomarkers of genetically defined neurodevelopmental disorders for use in early diagnosis, patient stratification, and therapeutic development.
Maria Galazo Matt Wilson

Before doing her post-doctoral work at Mass General Hospital, Maria earned her PhD from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain. In the Wilson lab, Maria applied her expertise in the molecular mechanisms underlying the distinct subtypes of cortical output neurons.

Dipanwita Ghose Weifeng Xu

Dipanwita earned a Ms.C. in neuroscience from Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, Kamataka, India before coming the U.S. to complete his PhD in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. His research interests include drug addiction, depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders.

Rebecca Gillani Elly Nedivi Rebecca was a neurology resident at Mass General Hospital and had earned her PhD and MD from Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine before coming to MIT and joining the Nedivi lab. Here, she advanced her goal to become a physician-scientist, with a particular focus to study methods to modify neural plasticity in multiple sclerosis.
Kyung-Seok Han Weifeng Xu

Kyung-Seok comes to MIT from South Korea, where he earned his PhD from the University of Science and Technology. At MIT, in the Xu lab, Kyung-Seok focused his research interests on how astrocytes affect synaptic plasticity in the learning and memory as well as addiction.

Suresh Jetti Troy Littleton Jetti is investigates cell-type specific mechanisms of physiological diversity in synaptic release properties and plasticity using fly motor circuits . He is using a multidisciplinary combination of in vivo whole-cell patch-clamp physiology, optical quantal imaging, RNA sequencing, super-resolution STED nanoscopy, and neurogenetics.
Ni Ji Steven Flavell

Ni earned her PhD from MIT and completed postdoctoral work at Harvard, where she gained experience in developing tools for imaging large populations of neurons. This work proved invaluable to the Flavell lab, where Ni applyed this expertise to study the control of behavioral states by neuromodulation.

Robert Komorowski Mark Bear

Robert earned his PhD in neuroscience from Boston University before coming to the Picower Institute as a postdoctoral fellow. He is now a research scientist at Biogen, where he is working to develop translatable assays in mouse models of neurodegenerative disorders using analyses of EEG activity in awake animals.

Jeongtae Kwon Gloria Choi Jeongtae investigates how innate social behavior is suppressed under conditions in which such behaviors could be disadvantageous. His research goal is to uncover the anatomical, functional and neuromodulatory mechanisms by which innate social behaviors are regulated in a context-dependent manner.
Hyeseung Lee Myriam Heiman Lee has been using Huntington’s disease models to study cell-type specific molecular mechanisms that contribute to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases as well as to normal aging. She explores the contribution of striatal Foxo1 to Medium Spiny Neurons (MSNs) aging and response to mutant huntingtin, potentially yielding therapeutic targets.
Keji Li Mriganka Sur

Keji graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, China before coming to the U.S. to earn a PhD in psychology with a neuroscience focus from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and then onto MIT and the Picower Institute. Keji’s interest is to understand how cortical and sub-cortical circuits modify and regulate sensory information and how these processes could be used as novel therapeutic strategies for Rett syndrome.

Avi Libster Kay Tye Avi earned his PhD and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Hebrew University in Jerusalem before joining the Tye lab. At the Picower Institute he worked to develop a strategy for inducing long-term persistent reduction of anxiety by optogenetically manipulating specific neuronal populations.
Mikael Lundqvist Earl Miller With a PhD in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University in Sweden, Mikael studies working memory by combining computational modelling and analysis of population activity recorded in vivo. The goal is to understand the format of the working memory representations and the mechanisms that govern their volitional control
Ian McLachlan Steven Flavell The broad goal of McLachlan's research is to understand how motivational states are represented in the nervous system, and how these states impinge on neural circuitry to modify behavioral outputs. Working in the model of C. elegans worms, McLachlan is exploring how neural activity changes between fed and fasted animals,  identifying the molecular mechanisms that couple fed or fasted metabolic states to neuronal activity and behavior.
Mark Morrissey Susumu Tonegawa Morrissey pursued his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, earning his PhD in 2015. In the Tonegawa lab he studied how and if cells encoding the same experience communicate in  two different episodic memory regions: the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex. He also sought to understand how systems consolidation alters their activity during recall and how this affects their interaction.
Teruhiro Okuyama Susumu Tonegawa

After earning his PhD from the University of Tokyo in Japan, Teruhiro came to MIT and joined the Tonegawa lab to focus on deciphering the physiological properties of memories.

Mette Rathje Elly Nedivi

Mette comes to MIT from Denmark, where she earned her PhD from the University of Copenhagen. Her expertise in molecular and cell cultures has made her an invaluable member of the Nedivi lab, where she conducted research in relation to synaptic plasticity and mental health, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Omar Costilla Reyes Earl Miller The interest Reyes has in neuroscience lies in building large scale models from neural recordings to extract meaningful patterns from neural data to gain insights into cognitive processes such as working memory and cognition: how they originate, evolve over time and its relationship to oscillations in the brain.
Chad Sauvola Troy LIttleton Sauvola is working to characterize the protein tomosyn, which has a key role in mediating plasticity in neurons that release neurotransmitters upon connection with synapses on other cells ("presynaptic" plasticity). Tomosyn interfaces with the machinery within presynaptic cells to affect vesicle fusion, a process that enables neurotransmitter release.
Gabe Schamberg Emery N. Brown Schamberg is working on developing control signals for a closed loop anesthesia delivery (CLAD) system that will provide real-time control and delivery of anesthesia for patients in the operating room. In this work he is leveraging years of research aimed at understanding signals produced by the human brain under anesthesia and recent work in control models for anesthetic delivery in animal models.
Shirley Weiss Sharabi Troy Littleton

Shirley earned her PhD in medical neurobiology from the Hadassah Medical School, at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. In the Littleton lab, she applied her detailed research skills in molecular biology techniques, electron microscopy, protein expression and purification, and more.

Reut Shema Myriam Heiman

Reut came to MIT from Israel, where he earned his M. Sc. and PhD in neurobiology from the Weizmann Institute of Science. She completed post-doctoral work there before coming to the U.S. and Cambridge, Mass, where she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her research focus is on psychiatric diseases.

Emily Stephen Emery N. Brown Emily earned her PhD in computational neuroscience at Boston University. In the Brown lab she has been using statistical modeling and source localization techniques to study brain rhythms under anesthesia. The results will be used to test current theories and inform future models of the mechanisms of general anesthesia and their differences across subject populations.
David Stoppel Mark Bear Stoppel studies the molecular mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorders. He is currently investigating a unique Fragile X syndrome phenotype with the expectation that better understanding of the causes of the phenotype will lead to novel therapeutic strategies that overcome the limitations of what have been attempted to date.
Prasad Tammineni Elly Nedivi Prasad's research interests involved understanding the mechanistic details underpinning synaptic and neuronal remodeling and how these pathways go awry in pathophysiological conditions. Specifically he examined whether Bipolar Disorder (BD) related genetic variations in candidate plasticity gene 2 (CPG 2) attenuated glutamatergic transmission.
Aurore Thomazeau Mark Bear Thomazeau earned her PhD from the University of Bordeaux investigating dysfunction of synaptic transmission and plasticity in the prefrontal cortex of rodent models of Down Syndrome.  In the Bear lab, she investigated how hippocampal spines change their structure during long-term depression induced by activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors or NMDA receptors and how this plasticity is altered in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome. 
Ji Wang Kwanghun Chung To enable a crucial step in the Chung lab’s efforts to create a comprehensive 3D map of the entire human brain, Wang is engineering a vibratome that is capable of slicing a whole brain into uniform slabs several millimeters thick, which allows for tissue processing and imaging (and later image reconstruction). The sectioning achieves minimal tissue deformation.
Mary Wertz Myriam Heiman

Mary earned her PhD from Harvard University, where she focused on her long-held interest in neurodegenerative disease, and conducted extensive research in cellular and molecular neurobiology with expertise in primary neuronal culture. In the Heiman lab, sheapplyed this knowledge toward better understanding of Huntington’s disease.

Man-Ho Wong Weifeng Xu After graduate training at University of Göttingen in Germany, Man-Ho came to MIT to study how synaptic changes at the circuit level regulate brain functions. In his research he is used the reward circuitry in the nucleus accumbens as a model to study how synaptic transmission can be altered by early life experience, how this changes the circuitry and how that, in turn, leads to the change in reward-motivated behaviors associated with several mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.
Liu Yang Gloria Choi The goal of Yang's research is to uncover how behavioral patterns are changed by cytokines in the course of sickness and the neurological mechanisms underlying these behavioral changes.