Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.N.
Throughout her career, Dr. Eva Feldman, the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan, has made it her mission to use scientific discoveries to understand and cure human diseases.
In January 2008, Dr. Feldman was named the first Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, which was created to support fundamental research into a wide range of human diseases. Under her leadership, the Taubman Institute funds senior-level scientists in a diverse spectrum of diseases – adult and childhood cancer, ALS, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hearing loss.
In her own work, Dr. Feldman is on the forefront of applying stem cell research to human disease. Most notably she is the Principal Investigator of the first human clinical trial of intraspinal transplantation of stem cells in patients with ALS, which received FDA approval to proceed to Phase II this year.
In addition to running an active clinical practice at the University of Michigan, Dr. Feldman directs a team of 30 scientists who collaborate to understand and find new treatments for a wide variety of neurological diseases, including ALS, diabetic neuropathy, Alzheimer’s disease, and muscular dystrophies.
She has published over 275 original peer-reviewed articles, 59 book chapters and three books. Dr. Feldman has over 23 years of continuous NIH funding and is currently the Principal or Co-Investigator of five major National Institutes of Health research grants, three private foundation grants and one clinical trial focused on understanding and treating neurological disorders, with an emphasis on ALS and diabetic neuropathy. She is Past President of the American Neurological Association and the Peripheral Nerve Society.
Dr. Feldman has received many honors including the Early Distinguished Career Award and the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award from the University of Michigan, along with several scientific achievement awards in the field of diabetes. In 2010 she was elected to the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, and she has been listed in Best Doctors in America for more than 10 consecutive years.
Among Dr. Feldman’s greatest accomplishments is her training of both scientists and neurologists. Nine scientists have received their Ph.D. degrees under her, she has trained 40 postdoctoral fellows in her laboratory to become neuroscientists, and 36 neurologists have trained under her to specialize in the understanding and treatment of neuromuscular diseases, with an emphasis on ALS.
Norman D. Hogikyan, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Chief, Division of Laryngology, Rhinology, and General Otolaryngology
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Professor of Music, University of Michigan
Dr. Hogikyan’s clinical and academic interests are in the human voice, voice disorders and laryngeal (voice box) surgery. His basic science research is in the area of laryngeal paralysis and reinnervation, and his clinical research focuses on the measurement of voice-related quality of life and the treatment of voice disorders. Dr. Hogikyan graduated from the University of Michigan magna cum laude with highest distinction in Cellular and Molecular Biology. He went on to medical school at the University of Michigan and graduated cum laude with distinction in research. While in medical school, Dr. Hogikyan was awarded a prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute-National Institutes of Health Research Scholar fellowship to work at NIH in a molecular genetics laboratory. He went on to complete his residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, and a fellowship in Laryngology with Dr. Robert Bastian at Loyola University of Chicago. He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1995. Dr. Hogikyan and colleagues in Otolaryngology have a well-established collaboration with the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery. Areas of investigation include laryngeal paralysis and reinnervation, peripheral nerve grafting, bulbar manifestations of ALS, and use of stem cells and growth factors in neural regeneration.
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Neurology
Dr. Nicholas Boulis, neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Neurological Restoration, is a physician scientist whose research interests include biological neurorestoration and neuromodulation through the use of cell, protein, and gene delivery to the nervous system. Dr. Boulis graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with distinction in the intensive Biology and Philosophy majors. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School winning the Harold Lamport Biomedical Research Award. Dr. Boulis has developed a clinical program focusing on peripheral nerve regeneration, spasticity, pain and Parkinson’s Disease. He applies advanced microsurgical, radiosurgical, as well as ablative and neural augmentation approaches. He is currently working on strategies for gene based motor neuron protection for ALS, neural targeting of gene delivery, and gene-based neuromodulation. He collaborates with Nicholas Mazarakis, Ph.D., of Oxford Biomedica as well as Michael Imperiale, PhD. and Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Michigan in the field of ALS gene therapy. His work on neural targeting of biological therapies involves an active collaboration with Tom Brown, Ph.D., of Massachussetts General Hospital. Finally, his lab collaborates with Imad Najm, M.D., (CCF) on epilepsy neuromodulation,T Subramanian, M.D., (CCF), on Parkinson’s neuromodulation, and Michael Davis, Ph.D., (Emory), on anxiety neuromodulation. In the last year, Dr. Boulis has presented his work at the American Society for Gene Therapy, Society for Neuroscience, The Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and The American Association of Neurologic Surgeons. He is the author of 46 publications. For the past seven years, Dr. Boulis has independently organized and secured funding for an outreach/teaching mission to provide surgical therapy to patients in Guatemala requiring treatment for hydrocephalus and spina bifida. To date, “Project Shunt” has provided 186 free operations to impoverished Guatemalan children. Dr. Boulis is an integral member of the Center’s innovative neurosurgical team, equally skilled in clinical and laboratory settings.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Rodica Pop-Busui, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes at the University of Michigan. She is actively involved in both basic-translational and clinical research in diabetes and diabetes complications, with a focus on diabetic autonomic and peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Pop-Busui’s basic research project concerned with the role of Cycooxygenase-2 activation and oxidative stress in peripheral nerve dysfunction in diabetes is funded the National Institutes of Health. She is principal investigator in multiple clinical trials funded by National Institutes of Health, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Industry. Dr. Pop-Busui is a recipient of a Fulbright Award in 1995, American Diabetes Association Endocrinology Fellow of Excellence Award in 2001 and of the University of Michigan Clinical Science Scholar Award in 2005. She serves as member of the Council for Clinical Research of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and of the Peer Review Committees of the American Heart Association. Dr. Pop-Busui received her M.D. and Ph.D. summa cum laude at the University of Timisoara in Romania. After completing internal medicine training and obtaining board certification in Internal Medicine in Romania, she completed postgraduate training in diabetes at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield UK and a Fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Michigan and joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in July 2005. She has authored peer-reviewed articles and book chapters related to diabetes, diabetic autonomic and peripheral neuropathy and diabetes complications.
Laboratory Director / Research Assistant Investigator
Stephen I. Lentz, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes of the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Lentz is also the Laboratory Director of the Morphology and Image Analysis Core in the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center. He actively collaborates with Dr. Feldman’s laboratory in their studies of diabetic neuropathy. Current research uses high resolution confocal microscopy to examine the effects of high glucose on mitochondrial dynamics and biogenesis in sensory neurons. Dr. Lentz received his Ph.D. in the Cellular and Clinical Neurobiology from Wayne State University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, investigating the effects of growth factors on peripheral nerve outgrowth. He came to the University of Michigan in 1998 and has served as the Laboratory Director of the Morphology Core since 2001. He has authored or co-authored 16 peer-reviewed research articles.
Brian Callaghan, M.D.
Fovette E. Dush Professor
Assistant Professor Department of Neurology
UMHS ALS Clinic Associate Director of Research
Brian Callaghan, M.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Neuromuscular Division within the Department of Neurology. Dr. Callaghan completed his M.D. and neurology residency at the University of Pennsylvania. He performed his clinical fellowship at the University of Michigan. His current research efforts are focused on determining the optimal evaluation of peripheral neuropathy. Projects include a survey of physicians and a medical claims database project to understand current clinical practice. Another main research interest includes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Ongoing projects include an epigenetic analysis to discover modifications of the DNA that may explain why patients develop ALS, an exposure survey to look into which environmental chemicals may predispose patients to this disease, and a stem cell project delving into the cellular biology of neurons and glia derived from patient with this devastating condition.
Stacey Sakowski Jacoby, Ph.D.
Deputy Managing Director, A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute
Stacey Sakowski Jacoby, Ph.D., joined the Taubman Institute as the Deputy Managing Director in 2011. Her role includes supporting the operation of the organization and managing scientific programs and communications of the Taubman Institute and the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery.
Dr. Sakowski received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology & Genetics from Wayne State University in 2006, where her graduate research training focused on the biochemical characterization and analysis of post-translational modifications of proteins involved in serotonin biosynthesis. She joined the laboratory of Dr. Eva Feldman at the University of Michigan in 2006 as a postdoctoral research fellow, and then advanced to Research Investigator in 2011. In the Feldman laboratory, her research was focused on understanding the mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and examining the neuroprotective mechanisms of growth factor therapies using primary cellular models of ALS. She also developed and utilized zebrafish models of ALS to examine and investigate disease onset and progression. Dr. Sakowski is the author/co-author of 20 manuscripts.
Claudia Figueroa-Romero, Ph.D.
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a terminal disease involving the progressive death of motor neurons. Most ALS cases are sporadic (non-genetic links known) and despite extensive research, the causes of the disease are unknown. I am interested in studying how life-long environmental exposures may play a role in the development of late-onset diseases, such as ALS. Specifically, how external (occupational/home) and internal (the bacteria in our guts) environmental factors may trigger alterations in epigenetic mechanisms (turning of genes on or off, without altering the genetic code), which in turn may lead to the onset and progression of ALS.”Lucy Hinder, Ph.D.
“Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a common and debilitating complication of diabetes that triggers pain and loss of sensation in the limbs. Substantial nerve damage occurs in many patients prior to noticeable symptoms and no treatments are currently available; therefore, there is a critical need to identify diagnostic biomarkers and treatment strategies that impact the underlying disease. My long-term goal is to develop mechanism-based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches that impact peripheral neuropathy before the onset of disease in order to significantly improve the quality of life of diabetic patients.”
Mamta Jaiswal, Ph.D.
“Our research efforts are focused on translational and clinical research designed to understand the mechanisms of diabetic complications, particularly of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the limbs) and cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (nerve damage that affects such functions as heart rate, blood pressure and digestion), and to understand their role in the development of cardiovascular complications in both adults and youth with diabetes. We have ongoing clinical trials using interventions for prevention of diabetes complications, including glucose control, risk factors control, and disease-modifying medicines to better understand the disease processes that can be reversed to prevent or delay these complications.”
Bhumsoo Kim, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
“Recently, numerous studies proved the strong connection between metabolic syndrome (MetS), such as diabetes and obesity, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). My main research goal is to understand the link between MetS and AD. Due to increased consumption of high-calorie diet, sedentary lifestyle and extended life expectancy, the number of people age 65 and older with AD is expected to reach almost 14 million in the United States by 2050 if there is no medical breakthrough. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the mechanisms of AD and develop effective therapeutics to curb this major health concerns in our society. By using cell culture and animal experimental models, I am trying to understand how obesity and diabetes affect the specific proteins involved in the development and progression of AD. I am especially interested in the contribution of the insulin resistance, which is the key component of the metabolic syndrome.”
Lisa McGinley, Ph.D.
“Dr. Feldman has shown that stem cell therapies improve outcomes in models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and is now conducting an FDA-approved clinical trial in ALS patients. The long-term objective of my research is to develop a similar breakthrough treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Preliminary studies in a model of early-onset AD show that delivery of our unique line of human neural stem cells directly to the brain improves memory and learning deficits and reduces the buildup of amyloid plaques. We are now performing comprehensive testing in additional models that display many of the characteristics found in human AD, to determine exactly how these stem cells impact disease processes and cognition. My other research interests include developing imaging-based biomarkers as efficacy indicators and novel methods to track stem cells in real-time after transplantation to the brain.”
Benjamin Murdock, Ph.D.
“My research focuses on the immune system and its role in the destruction of the nervous system. My primary project involves the immune system and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), particularly the role of natural killer cells and CD4 T cells in controlling disease progression. Natural killer cells protect the body from infection and cancer, but also kill dying cells. Previous research has found that the molecule that protects the body from its own natural killer cells is missing on motor neurons during ALS, and we have recently found that the number of natural killer cells increases dramatically as ALS progresses. Conversely, we have found that CD4 T cells, the master control cells of the immune system, begin to disappear from the blood during ALS and that this disappearance correlates with rapid disease progression. Previous studies in mice have found that removing these cells dramatically accelerates the rate of disease. My research therefore attempts to slow disease progression by interfering with natural killer cell function or by enhancing CD4 T cells.”
Phillipe O’Brien, Ph.D.
“A common animal model used in diabetes and obesity research is the high-fat fed mouse where mice are given diet in which 42-60% of the calories are derived from fat. Research has shown that female mice are more resistant than males to developing diabetic-like features when fed a high-fat diet. For example, insulin resistance, a hallmark of diabetes occurs in females but not in males fed a high-fat diet. This protection is attributed to the way females accumulate fat and because estrogen exhibit anti-diabetic properties. Interestingly, we recently demonstrated that in spite of those protections, female mice develop peripheral neuropathy, a common diabetic complication of nerve damage in the extremities, to the same degree as high-fat male mice. These findings suggest, contrary to other reports, that insulin resistance is not the primary driver of peripheral neuropathy and that other factors are involved. We are currently investigating potential connections between diabetes and nerve damage with particular emphasis on how abnormal fat levels in blood (known as dyslipidemia) is involved in disease development and progression.”
Ximena Paez-Colasante, Ph.D.
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. At any given time about 30,000 people in the U.S. are living with ALS. Early diagnosis is difficult and no treatments are available; thus, diagnostic tools and effective therapies for ALS are critically needed. Numerous studies in the field support the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms (changes to gene activity not caused by changes in the DNA sequence). One epigenetic mechanism is microRNAs, the short molecules that regulate gene expression. microRNAs are altered in ALS and may lead to disease. My projects examine the causes of microRNA alterations, including the role of an associated protein known to be either mutated or abnormal in ALS patients as well. By uncovering some of the causes of ALS, including epigenetic players, we may identify potential molecules that can be used for earlier diagnosis as well as serve as therapeutic targets.”
Meeyoung Park, Ph.D.
Meeyoung Park obtained her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS in 2013. Under the supervision of Dr. Xue-Wen Chen , her dissertation focused on identifying genetic disease factors on age-related macular degeneration using single nucleotide polymorphism dataset in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). She also evaluated the trustworthiness of big data from online healthcare information working with Dr. Bo Luo on a bioinformatics/healthcare informatics project. Dr. Park joined the Feldman laboratory in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow. She is currently applying her solid background in programming, bioinformatics, statistical learning, text mining, and information retrieval to analyze high-throughput and medical image data to identify disease markers in neurological disorders such as diabetic neuropathy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Amy Rumora, Ph.D.
Amy Rumora received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Vermont in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Kelm. Her thesis focused on the molecular characterization of a single-stranded DNA-binding repressor of myofibroblast differentiation called purine-rich element binding protein B (Purb). In 2014, Amy joined the Feldman lab as a postdoctoral fellow to study mitochondrial dysfunction associated with diabetic neuropathy. She is currently evaluating the effect of hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia on mitochondrial bioenergetics and mitochondrial trafficking. She is also studying the involvement of inter-organellar communication in hyperglycemic and hyperlipidemic neuronal cells. She aims to use her background in molecular biology and biochemistry to identify underlying molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial dysfunction that contribute to diabetic neuropathy.
Research Associate II
Carey Backus received her BA in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley in 1991. She joined Dr. Eva Feldman’s laboratory in 2001 from UCSF to assist in ongoing research on neuronal dysfunction in diabetes and ALS. Carey cultures primary sensory, motor and cortical neurons to use as in vitro disease model systems. Recently she has begun working with human embryonic stem cells and is focusing on how to differentiate them into motor neurons, which could then be used as a potential therapy for a rat model of ALS.
Lisa Baiz serves as an assistant directly to Dr. Feldman. She has worked for Dr. Feldman for more than 18 years— beginning with chores in the Feldman Lab when she was still a high school student. Ms. Baiz now assists with administrative duties, event planning and organization for both the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery and the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.
Judith Bentley is executive assistant to Dr. Feldman, responsible for grant and manuscript submissions, as well as daily correspondence and administrative activities for the Taubman Institute and the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery laboratory. She also assists Dr. Feldman in her work on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Center for the Study of Complications in Diabetes. Ms. Bentley received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Eastern Michigan University.
Research Lab Tech Senior
John Hayes received a B.A. degree from Oakland University in 1999. He joined the laboratory in the spring of 2000 to assist in ongoing research within the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Center for the Complications in Diabetes. Mr. Hayes performs immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, nerve conduction studies, analgesia testing and animal dissections. Mr. Hayes also works with the Animal Models of Diabetic Complications Consortium characterizing diabetic neuropathy in mice.
Clinical Research Coordinator Health
Crystal received her B.S. degree in Molecular Biology from Michigan Technological University in 1998. She has been at the University of Michigan since 2002 and joined the Feldman lab to help start up Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) work. She will be working closely with other research investigators studying various stem cell lines in order to study the mechanisms behind neuron disease and degeneration of ALS. She is also actively involved in the clinical aspect of the laboratory, and also responsible for building and maintaining the largest ALS patient sample biorepository.
Dave Spratt joined the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery as Communications Director in early 2014. Prior to joining the Institute, Dave served as Communications Director for the American Neurological Association during Dr. Feldman’s two-year presidency of that organization. A veteran journalist, Dave was an editor at the Detroit News from 1998-2008 and at the Lansing State Journal from 1992-98. Since 2008 Dave has been involved with the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources, an organization that provides professional development for journalists who cover natural resources and the environment.
Dave received a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. through Eastern Michigan University.