aging

healthy, normal aging

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.

Kelly Gola

Lab Specialist

Kelly joined Dr. Rankin’s lab in 2014. She is completing her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at UC Santa Cruz where she has studied dyadic personality dynamics and the cognitive, socio-emotional, and neural underpinnings of everyday storytelling. While working with Dr. Rankin, she has examined intrinsic connectivity networks involvement in social cognition, emotional self-expression in neurodegenerative disease, and neuropsychiatric symptoms in neurodegenerative disease. Her current work aims to understand cerebellar involvement in social functioning and neuropsychiatric symptoms in neurodegenerative disease populations.

Jessica Foley, PhD, ABPP-CN

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jessica M. Foley is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology who has served within the Memory and Aging Center of the UCSF Department of Neurology since 2014. Dr. Foley was awarded a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 2002, followed by PhD and PsyD degrees from Nova Southeastern University (2007) with a specialization in clinical neuropsychology. She completed predoctoral internship training specializing in neuropsychology at Brown Medical School Department of Psychiatry and postdoctoral fellowship training in neuropsychology at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neurosciences and Human Behavior. She previously (2009–2014) served as Neuropsychologist and Instructor of Psychiatry within the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry and the Boston VA Medical Center, where she functioned as the senior neuropsychologist within the Brockton division (specialized in the assessment of medically complex older adults). She also served as faculty within the Boston Consortium in Clinical Psychology and Training Leader for neuropsychology training within the geropsychology internship and fellowship programs.

Dr. Foley currently functions as an attending neuropsychologist within the Memory and Aging Center, in which capacity she serves a multidisciplinary team and performs neuropsychological evaluations for patients presenting with suspicion of neurodegenerative illness. She also performs comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations of adults with a variety of known or suspected neurologic illnesses through the Department of Neurology Adult Outpatient Neuropsychology Clinic. Dr. Foley also serves as a faculty mentor for neuropsychology students in training, supporting clinical and research skills among developing scientist-practitioners in clinical neuropsychology.

Dr. Foley’s primary research interest concerns preclinical detection of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions by exploring genetic, metabolic, and cognitive factors that predict brain white matter deterioration. An additional interest entails understanding factors that moderate cognitive and white matter changes in older adults with HIV-infection.

Erik Johnson, MD, PhD

Clinical Instructor/Behavioral Neurology Fellow

Dr. Johnson is a Behavioral Neurology Fellow and a Scientist at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease.

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.

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