Research Coordinator

Sara Dunlop

Staff Research Associate

Sara received a bachelor's degree in physiology from San Francisco State University in 2013. As an undergraduate, Sara worked as a lab assistant in the university’s human anatomy lab, assisting in curriculum development and developing a standard protocol for rehydrating embalmed specimens in order to preserve dissections for future teaching.

Sara joined the Grinberg Lab in 2013 with a passion to pursue neurodegenerative research. Her work investigates the susceptibility of specific brainstem nuclei affected in Alzheimer's disease using a combination of immunohistochemistry, histology and unbiased stereological techniques. She plans to pursue a medical career with a focus in neuropathology.

Maria Mejia, HT (ASCP)

Staff Research Associate

Maria’s histology professional career illustrates a panorama of various neurology research experiences. Prior to joining UCSF, Maria obtained her bachelor's degree from Saint Mary's College (Kansas) and then worked for 18 years at a private institute performing a wide range of histology techniques on the visual system of the brain and the retina to increase the understanding of normal vision and eye disorders.

In 2006, Maria was recruited as the histology supervisor to work with Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz at UCSF to support the translational efforts of the laboratory. Maria’s part played an important role in performing the work necessary to initiate the clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease (PD). She came to the Grinberg Lab in 2013 where she manages the lab's histology protocols.

Natasha Z. Rabinowitz Steele, MPH

Program Manager

Natasha Rabinowitz Steele joined the MAC team in 2014 as the program manager of the Dementia Care Pathway program, led by Dr. Bruce Miller and Dr. Kate Rankin. This Quest Diagnostics-supported initiative translates best practices in screening, evaluating, and managing dementia and neurodegenerative disease into tools for primary care practitioners and their patients. As program manager, Natasha coordinates and integrates the ongoing diagnostic tool development and research of many different investigator led teams, including neuroimaging, neurobehavioral screening, genetics, economics, and rapidly progressive dementia.

Natasha earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College in Biology and a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the George Washington University. She’s particularly interested in working with patients and exploring how medicine and translational research can act synergistically to improve clinical outcomes, particularly in low-resource settings.

Outside of her academic interests, Natasha spends her free time painting or exploring the mountain ranges of the West Coast.

Kristi Lui

Clinical Research Coordinator

Kristi graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in biological sciences. During her time at Northwestern, Kristi volunteered at a local nursing home, Symphony of Evanston, with a focus on providing long term care in specialized memory care units.

After working with numerous patients in memory loss and dementia care, Kristi shifted her studies to a concentration of neurobiology and pursued research in the Laboratory of Human Neuroscience at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. Her research focused on the long term neurological effects in acute ischemic stroke patients from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

As of September 2015, Kristi joined the Memory and Aging Center as a research coordinator 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 health care costs in the future.

In her spare time, Kristi enjoys playing basketball, finding remote coffee shop corners in the Bay Area and hiking.

Julia Thackrey

Lab Assistant

Julia is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley (class of 2018) where she is double majoring in molecular and cellular biology (immunology and pathogenesis emphasis) and integrative biology (ecology, evolution, and organismal biology emphasis). In 2011, she worked with the Oncofertility Consortium at UC San Diego, researching methods of preserving fertility in cancer patients. From 2013 to 2014, she interned for Dr. Marjorie Patrick, of the University of San Diego, identifying, localizing, and quantifying ion transport mechanisms in the gills of tropical fish. There, Julia gained experience in microdissection, immunolocalization using confocal microscopy, and western blot techniques.

She joined the Grinberg Lab in Spring 2015 where she uses techniques from fluorescence microscopy, histology, and neuropathology to investigate the changes and mechanisms associated with early stage Alzheimer's disease. She intends to pursue a career in medical research in the field of neuroimmunology.

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.

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.

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