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Cristina Armas

Lab Technician

Cristina came to the Grinberg Lab in the fall of 2014 from the City College of San Francisco Bridge to Biosciences Internship Program. She is an undergraduate with a minor background in psychology. She is currently pursuing a degree in neuroscience that accompanies a tremendous interest in neuropathology, genetics, and holistic research. In the Grinberg Lab she assists with carrying out the histology protocols.

Austin Nguy

Lab Assistant

Austin is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley (class of 2016) where he is double majoring in molecular and cellular biology (biochemistry emphasis) and music (piano performance emphasis). In the Grinberg Lab he is responsible for image processing of stained brain tissue to include the photography and optimization of these images. He is also working to create and develop 3D reconstructions of brains sections in an effort to contribute to a holistic understanding of the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. He intends to pursue a medical career as a geriatrician or pediatrician.

Ana Sias

Research Assistant

Ana graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Richard Ivry's Cognition and Action Lab studying motor inhibition during response preparation. Ana joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in 2014 and assists Dr. Suzee Lee in neuroimaging analyses of patients with atypical dementias.

Alexandra Nelson, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Nelson is the Richard and Shirley Cahill Endowed Chair in Parkinson's Disease Research at UCSF. She is both a neuroscientist and behavioral neurologist, and is particularly interested in understanding neurodegenerative movement disorders. After undergraduate work at Stanford University, she received her medical and doctorate degrees in neuroscience at UC San Diego, where she studied cerebellar motor learning. She completed her Neurology residency and postdoctoral fellowship training at UC San Francisco and the Gladstone Institutes, where she studied basal ganglia circuits involved in Parkinson's Disease and dystonia. She joined the faculty at UCSF in 2014, establishing her laboratory in the Sandler Neurosciences Center. At the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, she provides care for patients and families with disorders of movement and cognition, such as Huntington's disease, spinocerebellar ataxia, and atypical parkinsonism and is part of the clinical and research team at the Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

Dr. Nelson's laboratory studies the cells and circuits involved in movement disorders, using a combination of mouse models of disease, electrophysiology, and neural stimulation techniques, including optogenetics. She hopes that this work will help distinguish brain regions, cells, and patterns of brain activity that promote normal movement from those that produce pathological movement, allowing more focused development of new treatments for movement disorders.

Alexander Ehrenberg

Lab Assistant

Alex is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley (class of 2017) where he is double majoring in integrative biology (evolution, ecology, and organismal biology division) and molecular and cellular biology (developmental genetics division). He started at UCSF in Spring 2012 working under Dr. Pierre-Antoine Gourraud in the Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Research Lab. There, he developed skills in computational biology, informatics, and statistics.

In Fall 2013, he moved to the Grinberg Lab at the Memory and Aging Center where he now studies the early pathology of Alzheimer's disease using techniques within unbiased stereology, neuropathology, computer modeling, and statistics. He also works to develop technologies such as wide-field microscopy and polarized light imaging. Alex also conducts research under Dr. Alan Shabel at UC Berkeley where he is studying brain evolution in the taxa carnivora within the Natural History Museums. He plans on pursuing a career in academia researching brain evolution, development, and disease.

June Jung, PhD

Clinical Research Coordinator

June is a clinical research coordinator on Dr. Adam Boxer’s clinical trials team and manages progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) drug trials. She graduated from the University of Florida with a doctorate degree in neuroscience, where she studied steroid based gamma-secretase modulators (GSMs) as prophylactic approaches for AD in preclinical and translational research settings.

Michael Schaffer

Director of Technology

Michael holds a BSE in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. With over 30 years of software development, technology strategy and management experience, Michael Schaffer has led teams at companies large and small in the design and implementation of a wide variety of technology-based projects. As an independent consultant, Michael has advised a number of clients in system architecture and in organizational design; he also performs technical due diligence for private equity and similar investment funds.

Michael is currently serving as the Director of Technology at the Memory and Aging Center at UCSF; he leads a small team in the development of technology solutions to support the research and clinical care of the center, including workflows for automated digital image processing and DNA / protein analytics, and the development of tablet-based cognitive testing tools.

From 2001 to 2009, Michael served as the VP of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer of Alibris, Inc., the leading independent marketplace for used and new media products (books, movies and music). At Alibris, Michael was responsible for all software design and development activities, and 24x7 technical operations; he led multiple platform migration projects, including moves to a new accounting system, a new inventory system, and a new web site application platform.

For the past eight years, Michael has taught a Professional Skills Workshop class to second-year master’s students at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Graduate School of Information.

Esther Rah

Care Team Navigator

Esther graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Sociology in 2013. During her undergraduate career, Esther volunteered as a research assistant for the Ron Dahl Youth Development lab studying adolescent risk taking behavior and as a crisis hotline counselor for Bay Area Women Against Rape. Before joining the MAC, Esther worked at the San Francisco VA Medical Center as the IRB coordinator for the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases. She was also a study coordinator for the Department of Defense Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative under Dr. Michael Weiner.

At the Memory and Aging Center, Esther is a Care Team Navigator for the Care Ecosystem study. The study aims to learn more about the needs of both patients with dementia and their families, while improving patient care and reducing care costs.

Outside of work, Esther enjoys biking, reading and finding the best coffee and baked goods in the Bay Area.

Marite Carrasco

Recruitment Coordinator

Marite graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in psychology and ethnic studies. While studying at San Jose State, Marite was involved with the Mental Health Ambassador program, where she worked alongside the Counseling and Psychological Center to help increase mental health literacy, provide multiculturally responsive services and reduce mental health stigma. Marite completed her honors thesis under Dr. Wei-Chien Lee investigating the alarmingly low college retention rates of first generation minority students.

Continuing to follow her passion to help underserved populations, Marite worked as a Health Educator at Stanford University in an effort to prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy behaviors for low-income Latino families with overweight children. Marite joined the Memory and Aging Center in May 2015 as a recruitment coordinator where she is leading enrollment efforts for the Care Ecosystem study. The study aims to learn more about the needs of both patients with dementia and their family, while improving the care of these patients and reducing costs in the future.

In her free time, Marite enjoys cooking, riding her bike and exploring what the Bay Area has to offer.

Hilary Heuer, PhD


Dr. Heuer studies eye movements in aging and neurodegenerative disease as part of Dr. Adam Boxer's laboratory.

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