Research Coordinator

Kelly Hitchner

Administrative Manager

Kelly completed her Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology at the University of California, San Diego in 2011. Kelly has four years of research experience at the Dorris Neuroscience Center at The Scripps Research Institute and the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at UCSF. She joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in 2013 and works with Dr. William Seeley to manage the Neurodegenerative Disease Brain Bank.

Priyanka Bhatt

Imaging Core Associate

Priyanka joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in June 2012. She is helping Dr. Adam Boxer on a pilot project of developing the Brainstem Atlas.

Brendan Cohn-Sheehy

Research Coordinator

Brendan Ian Cohn-Sheehy, an intended neurology MD/PhD, hails from Santa Monica, California.

Brendan received a BA degree in psychology with honors from UC Berkeley, for which he wrote a thesis regarding background music’s impact on concurrent learning. Concurrently, he conducted research as a lab manager under Art Shimamura, PhD, in fMRI investigations of human memory. Brendan has long been interested in neurodegeneration, working under Jeff Bronstein, MD, PhD, on a zebrafish model of Parkinson’s disease during high school.

Since July 2012, Brendan has worked with Gil Rabinovici, MD, coordinating and processing positron emission tomography (PET) studies of UCSF patients enrolled through the MAC. To this end, he is usually stationed within the lab of William Jagust, MD, at UC Berkeley, learning from other PET researchers while collaborating with staff and faculty at the MAC. With Dr. Rabinovici, Brendan aims to develop PET imaging of hypometabolism (via FDG) and beta-amyloid (via PiB) as a powerful tool for understanding and diagnosing frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Aside from medical goals, Brendan plays and composes for several musical instruments and writes poetry. He hopes to eventually explore music’s practical applications in standardized neurological therapy.

Chiara Corbetta-Rastelli

Research Coordinator

Chiara was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2012 with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. While studying at Berkeley, Chiara volunteered her time as a research assistant for Dr. Gil Rabinovici in the Jagust Lab at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. Chiara researched whether metabolic patterns on FDG-PET can help clinicians reliably predict the presence of amyloid pathology in corticobasal syndrome patients. Chiara plans to apply to medical school next year. Chiara joined Dr. Adam Boxer’s clinical trials team at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in August of 2012. Chiara is the primary study coordinator for a Phase II Alzheimer’s disease (AD) ACC-001 treatment trial and for a Phase II progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) davunetide treatment trial.

Pardis Esmaeili

Research Coordinator

Pardis Esmaeili graduated from San Francisco State with a bachelor of science degree in physiology and minor in sexuality studies. She has worked on a variety of research projects including looking at neurogenesis in tobacco hornworms in the lab of Dr. Christopher Moffitt, impact of lifestyle and life stress on telomere length in the labs of Dr. Elissa Epel and Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, and intervention programs for patients with diabetes under Principal Investigator Dr. Lawrence Fisher. In 2012, she joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center as a research coordinator for Dr. Valcour's HIV Over 60 Cohort study, looking at HIV associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) in older HIV-positive individuals. Pardis is interested in pursuing an academic career in neurocognition, conducting research on the impact of long term estrogen therapy on cognition and memory in male to female transgender individuals. Pardis looks forward to mentoring aspiring queer/LGBT scientists and researchers in the future.

Valcour Lab website

Alice Hua

Research Associate

Alice graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a BA degree in psychology. While at Cal, she volunteered at the Matthew Walker Sleep & Neuroimaging Lab and Gopnik Cognitive Development Lab, exploring the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive tasks as well as testing three-year-old's spatial cognition strategies. Alice later joined the Greater Good Science Center where she investigated and published digests on gratitude, mindfulness and empathy. Between classes and lab, she also choreographed hip hop dances, taught free workshops and organized sets to be showcased at the end of each semester.

As a research associate to Drs. Bill Seeley and Virginia Sturm, Alice joined the Memory and Aging Center in August 2012 to examine the social and emotional behavior and network organization of patients of neurodegenerative disease.

In her free time, Alice loves exploring the city and hopes to continue pursuing her passion for dance.

Kristie Wood

Research Coordinator

Kristie Wood graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in cognitive neuroscience. While studying at UC Berkeley, Kristie volunteered as a research associate in the D’Esposito Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, was president of the Cognitive Science Student Association and co-facilitated a course called “Adventures in Neuroscience.” Post-graduation, Kristie worked as a research associate at the Northern California Institute of Research and Education, developing cognitive training tools for veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Kristie joined the Memory and Aging Center in 2011 and currently coordinates both Cognitive and Behavioral Control in Frontotemporal Dementia as well as Domain Specific Tasks of Executive Function.

In her free time, Kristie likes to write fiction and poetry, meditate, paint and run outside.

Anna Khazenzon

Research Associate

Anna Khazenzon joined the Memory and Aging Center in July of 2012. She works with Dr. Suzee Lee on neuroimaging studies evaluating the role genetic risk factors play in atypical dementias. She received her BA degree in cognitive science from UC Berkeley in May of 2012. As an undergraduate, she worked in the Walker Lab of Sleep and Neuroimaging, investigating the role of reward in memory using fMRI, and in the Elias Lab of Animal Communication and Behavior, studying courtship plasticity in the male jumping spider. Aside from marveling at the workings of the brain, she enjoys playing minesweeper and eating her vegetables.

Nik Block

Research Coordinator

Nik Block coordinates the study Frontotemporal Dementia: Genes, Imaging and Emotions. This observational study aims to better characterize neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia with the goal of developing better diagnostic tools for the diseases.

Kendra Bechtel

Staff Research Associate

Kendra Bechtel graduated from Hampshire College in 2011 with a bachelor of arts degree in neuroscience, bioethics and health policy. She wrote her senior thesis on Huntington's disease and presymptomatic genetic testing and completed internships with Joshua Greene's Moral Cognition lab at Harvard University and in Gender and Genomics through the 5-college consortium in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Kendra joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center CJD Team in June 2012. Kendra is the research coordinator for Dr. Michael Geschwind’s clinical research on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other rapidly progressive dementias. The research aims to collect clinical information to better characterize CJD and the conditions often mistaken for CJD, leading to more accurate and faster diagnosis of this rare fatal disease. Her position entails coordinating patient visits, conducting neuropsychological testing, overseeing clinical specimen collection and data analysis.

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