The team.
 
Amar Sahay, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Principal Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute

Associate Member, BROAD Institute of Harvard and MIT
James and Audrey Foster MGH Research Scholar
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
BIO and Research Narrative

I'm a title

Amar’s scientific interests evolved from fundamental mechanisms underlying cell-fate specification and embryonic patterning (undergraduate @Bennington College) to signal transduction (Gap year research fellowship, Lab of Yosef Yarden, Weizmann Institute) to interrogating neural circuit formation (graduate student in the labs of Alex Kolodkin and David Ginty at Johns Hopkins).   Keen to probe how neural circuits relate to behavior in health and disease, Amar did postdoctoral work in Rene Hen’s lab at Columbia investigating the functions of adult-born dentate granule neurons in memory and this continues to be a central focus in the Sahay lab.

 

The Interview

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?

The joy and priviledge of contributing to our understanding of life.

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

Learning about Mendel and genes in eighth grade.

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

A chef or a writer of fiction to create culinary experiences and characters.

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

Sophisticated neural and genetic prosthetics and artificial organ systems will profoundly impact strategies to enhance brain and organ functions.  Think Singularity.

 
 
Ain Chung, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Fellow BIO

 
 
Jason Alipio, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Fellow BIO

Ain pic.jpg

PhD with Andre Fenton (NYU)

 

 

 

 

 

The Interview

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?

When I see significant experimental results fitting together, therefore the outcome explains a mechanism underlies a phenomenon logically. 

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

Intro to Neuroscience class in sophomore year.  

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

A watchmaker or a plastic surgeon. I enjoy putting sophisticated things together to make a fully functional and beautiful outcome.  

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.
I predict there will be an innovation in diagnostic technology by big data analysis. Everyone will know their life expectancy at birth, therefore, healthcare companies will support individual healthcare plans from birth. 

 

 

 
 

 
Yu-Tzu Shih, Ph.D., Postdoctoral fellow, Taiwan Ministry  Science & tech Fellow, 2021 MGH Tosteson Fellow

2021 Jason Headshot.jpg

 

US Marine Corps (Afghanistan)->2012-2016 GI Bill Cal State San Bernadino->R25 Meyerhoff Graduate Fellowship, F31 NIDA during PhD with Dr. Asaf Keller, Dept. Neuroscience at Univ of Maryland, Baltimore

 

The Interview

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?

Doing something I enjoy and am passionate about that contributes to improving the lives of others.

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

Observing the mental health of friends and loved ones deteriorate and a lack of effective treatment options for them.

 

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

SWAT team member in a large city. I think I would do well with the physical and mental demands.

 

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

I predict that individual tailored therapeutics will improve in parallel with genetic tools and the growth of data processing speed.

 

Yu-Tzu grew up in Taiwan and trained as a medical technologist in college. During those years, she spent a lot of time studying viruses and was intrigued by the link between viral infection in the brain and cognitive impairments.  Towards her doctorate, she focused on molecular mechanisms underlying dendritic spine formation and their contributions to cognition.

 

The Interview

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?

Trying my best to help people in need.

 

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

In third grade, I took care of a relative who was hospitalized and I realized that there are many ineffective therapies for human diseases.

 

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

Running a homestay or vacation rentals. I believe that staying away from stress for a while is good for our brain.

 

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

Personalized diagnosis and treatment will become widely accessible and feasible.  Because we are living longer than before, we will discover new age-related diseases that will challenge scientists.

 

 

 

 
 
Cinzia Vicidomini, Ph.D., Postdoctoral fellow, 2018 NARSAD YI Awardee, 2021 MGH Tosteson Fellow

 

The Interview

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?

The opportunity to use one characteristic of my personality, curiosity, to explore the unknown.

 

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

One of my favourite movies is Jurassic park. I discovered the power of DNA when a drop of blood from a jurassic mosquito gave life to an extinct species.

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

Travel journalist to explore many places all over the world.

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

I am pretty sure that genome editing technology will revolutionize the treatment of different human diseases.Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

 

 

 

 

Travis D. Goode, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Fellow. 2020 NARSAD Young Investigator BIO

Goode.JPG

Raised in Tennessee, Travis earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee. As an undergrad, he had humble beginnings as a research assistant in the behavioral neuroscience laboratory of Dr. Matthew Cooper. Subsequently, he completed his doctorate in neuroscience in the emotion and memory systems laboratory of Dr. Stephen Maren at Texas A&M University. Travis’ primary scientific interests are in the neurobiological bases of aversively motivated memories, and in the meaningful translation of animal research.

 

The Interview

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?
I am grateful to be able to learn something new every day, all the while helping society by contributing to humanity’s knowledge of the workings of the brain.

 

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

Like many families, my family experienced the hardships of addiction. In turn, I am passionate about alleviating the burdens of mental illness. I see neuroscience research as an important tool in combating these issues.

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

While I enjoy the lab, I'm an avid guitar player; I'd love to play in a touring rock band.

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

What used to be the stuff of science-fiction is increasingly just real science! In the next two decades, I would not be surprised if we see considerable advancements in pharmacotherapeutic interventions for at least some psychiatric illnesses. I believe this will occur in part through the advent and innovative use of neuroscientific tools. Rather than bathe the entire brain in treatment, I believe we will be better able to target problem sites and mechanisms that are at the heart of the disorder. Accordingly, a fundamental understanding of the psychological, biological, and genetic factors that contribute to such illnesses is critical!

 

 

 
 
Michael Kritzer-Cheren, M.D. Ph.D Instructor Psychiatry MGH, T32 Translational Neuroscience for Clinicians, 2021 Dupont Warren Fellowship and Livingston Award BIO

Mike Instructor Photo.jpeg

Mike received his medical and graduate degrees from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. His graduate work in Molecular Pharmacology studied the integration of signaling cascades upon an AKAP scaffold protein at the nuclear membrane. He then completed Psychiatry residency at Duke University and a clinical fellowship in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is currently an Instructor at MGH in the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuropsychiatry, with clinical service in Neuropsychiatry, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and the Acute Psychiatric Service. He is also a Research Fellow in my laboratory through the Psychiatry Department’s Translational Neuroscience Training for Clinicians T32 investigating neurocircuit-based mechanisms of the lateral septum’s role in motivated behavior.

 

The Interview

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?

Neuroscientists have developed remarkable tools for understanding brain processes. The notion that mechanisms of mental phenomena is understandable, and that psychiatric disorders can be treated more precisely, is the next frontier in medicine. I am privileged to be able to help in this endeavor. 

 

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

I have been interested in the discovery process and the practical applications of my findings since undergrad. As a neuropsychiatrist, there is much more to understand about how the brain creates the mind and how these processes go awry. There is still a lot to learn about how to optimize treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders. I am grateful for medical and technological advancements. I’m looking forward to new and exciting possibilities.

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

Hard to know exactly. I am already straddling two careers by being a clinician and scientist. I like design and architecture, so perhaps I’d be renovating and “flipping" houses. 

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

I see the expanded use of circuit-based noninvasive brain stimulation beyond the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Over time, we will hone targets and protocols for improved delivery of brain stimulation to treat a broad array of neuropsychiatric disorders.

 

 

Liam Evans (Lab tech, BS Psychology Bates College) 2022-2024

Liam Evans.jpg

Liam is from Sauquoit, New York and attended Bates College where he earned his Bachelor's degree in

Psychology. At Bates, Liam worked in the lab of Dr. Andrew Kennedy where they investigated epigenetic

factors of memory and memory loss. Additionally, Liam competed as a decathlete on the Bates track team.

Q 1.  What excites you about being a scientist?

Truthfully, it’s the joy of exploration and discovery that comes along with science. Being able to develop an

idea about something, explore the science behind it, and actually test if your idea is correct. Whether right

or wrong, something is always learned.

 

Q 2.  What inspired you to go into science?

I have always had an interest in the unknown. In 8th grade biology that manifested as wanting to be an

astronaut. As I learned more about the unknown aspects of brain function in college, I have become

increasingly interested in neuroscience.

Q 3.  In another life what other vocation would you choose and why?

Perhaps carpentry. I enjoy working with my hands and seeing a finished product come together into

something functional yet beautiful.

Q 4.  Make one prediction of how science will change health or living in the next 20 years.

I believe that significant advancements in our understanding and utilization of genetics and epigenetics will

lead the way for more targeted therapeutics of neuropsychiatric illnesses.

Alumni (and where they are now...)

 

Sally Levinson, B.S, Lab manager 2011-2013.  (2013-Ph.D. program in Neuroscience NYU, Wenbiao Gan lab)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Boldridge, A.B, Harvard University, Undergraduate honors thesis 2014. (PhD program UC Berkeley)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomer Langberg, B.S, Lab Manager 2013-2015. (2015-2020 Ph.D program UC Berkeley, Neuroscience, MCB Program, Fulbright Scholar, Post doc Tel Aviv University)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shannen Kim A.B (Class 2015, 2014 HSCI-HIP Intern, B.S. Highest Honors Neurobiology, Sept 2017 UCSF Medical School)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duong "Izzy" Chu, B.S, Lab Manager 2015-2016. (2017 Queen's University Medical school, Ontario, Canada)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexia Zagouras A.B (Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, 2015 HSCI HIP Intern, 2016 Hoopes Prize, 2017 Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen McAvoy PhD (Postdoctoral Fellow, Sahay lab, 2012-2017).  Scientist, Arvinas Biotech)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara Raam PhD (PiN Graduate student, Sahay lab, 2012-2017).  2018-Postdoctoral Fellow, Weizhe Hong lab, UCLA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Taeho Kim, B.S.  (Lab Tech 2016-2018). 2018-BBS Graduate program, Harvard Medical School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alec Reed (2016-2018, Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, 2017 HSCI-HIP Intern, Outstanding Honors thesis Awardee) 2022 Class of Harvard Medical School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victor Steininger MSc (2018-2019, Harvard-Bertarelli EPFL Fellow) Entrepreneur

Haley Zanga (Lab tech 2018-2020) 2022: Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nannan Guo, PhD (Postdoc, Instructor, Sahay lab, 2012-2020).  Tenure Track Assistant Professor, SMU, Guangzhou, China

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antoine Besnard PhD (Postdoc, Instructor, Sahay lab, 2012-2020).  Permanent Position, INSERM, IGF, Montpelier, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samara Miller PhD (Postdoc, Sahay lab, 2018-2021).  Postdoc Peyman Golshani Lab, UCLA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hannah Twarkowski PhD (Postdoc, Sahay lab, 2017-2022).  DFG Transition Grant 

Bill Meara (Lab tech, Sahay lab, June 2022-Jan 2022). Tevard Bio.

Debolina Ghosh (Class of 2021, Summa Cum Laude Neurobiology, Harvard University)

Case Western Reserve Medical School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Coleman (Class of 2021 Harvard University, SCRB major) . City Council Member San Franscisco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Min Jae Kim (Summer 2019, Fall 2019). JHU.  Barry Goldwater recipient March 2021.

Hugo Vega-Ramirez M.S  (2012-2018)

Charlotte Herber M.S, HSCI 2016 Summer HIP Intern, 2017 summer fellow, M.D/Ph.D program @Stanford 2018)

Christine Xu (2015) Harvard undergraduate research, HDRB.

Pakanat Decharatanachart, HSCI 2015 Summer HIP Intern (Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University

Somya Jain, Summer 2015 Intern, (Senior, Dougherty Valley High School, Class of 2016, 2016 UC Berkeley)

Wendy Feng, HSCI intern 2014, Summer fellow 2015 (Columbia University, Undergrad Research in Kellendonk lab)

Sreyan Chowdhury, B.S., HSCI intern 2012, summer fellow 2013. (Ph.D. program, Columbia University)

Craig Russo, B.S., HSCI intern 2013, summer fellow 2014, (9/2014-15, Lab tech, Woolf lab, HMS, 2016-Entrepreneur)

Paoyan Lin, Medical student, Research Intern, Sept 2012-January 2013, Summer 2013 (Karolinksa Institute Medical School)

Genelle Rankin, Research Intern, Jan-Feb 2012, 2013 (Bennington College), 2015-Lab Tech, PhD Progam PiN Harvard 2017)

Jennifer Gatchel, M.D., Ph.D., Summer 2012, MGH-McLean Psychiatry residency Program.

 

 

 

Samara Miller.png
BillHeadshot.JPG
James Coleman.PNG