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Student Spotlight

The Medical Neuroscience Graduate Program, part of Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, at Indiana University School of Medicine offers students broad, interdisciplinary training in neuroscience with a strong foundation in core concepts, skills, methodologies and advanced comprehension of the scientific literature.

Here, we feature a few students among the more than 40 in the graduate program.

Dom Acri

Dom Acri

Admission Year: 2018

  • Learn more about Dom

    Advisor: Jungsu Kim, PhD

    Current Project: Identification of genetic modifiers of tau aggregation and propagation.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? At IU School of Medicine and the MedNeuro program, I've had the opportunity to merge my interest in computational biology and bioinformatics with the study of neuroscience. The projects and collaborators have set up a great training environment for learning new things and pursing diverse interests.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? MedNeuro professors and advisors are always open to new ideas and projects. I've learned from them how to take projects/tools that I am passionate about to create new opportunities here at Stark.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: 2019-2020 Paul and Carole Stark Medical Neuroscience Fellowship, Southern Regional Education Board: Doctoral Scholars Program

    Service and Leadership: IU School of Medicine Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

    Hobbies: Trail running, hiking, fantasy baseball

Sam Colin

Sam Colin

Admission Year: 2018

  • Learn more about Sam

    Advisor: Adrian Oblak, PhD, and Dave McKinzie, PhD

    Current Project: The Effects of Binge and Chronic Alcohol Use Paradigms on Tauopathy and Neuroinflammation

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? I had used animal models from the MODEL-AD Consortium in my previous lab, so I had IU School of Medicine on my radar for applications. I knew I wanted to do neurodegeneration research, and when I began interviewing, I found that Stark was highly collaborative and had a really strong focus on neurodegeneration!

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? I've learned that making mistakes is expected and no one will be mad at you for messing up sometimes; it's just part of becoming a scientist.

    Service and Leadership: Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization (MNGO) Student Development, University Teaching and Learning Community (UTLC), Preparing Future Faculty and Professionals (PFFP)

    Hobbies: I like to lift weights, play video games and explore new restaurants.

Greg Grecco

Admission Year: 2017-MD/PhD; 2019-MedNeuro

  • Learn more about Greg

    Advisor: Brady Atwood, PhD

    Current Project: My research examines the long-term impact of prenatal opioid exposure on reward-related behavior and the brain's reward circuitry in a mouse model.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? When interviewing for programs, the MedNeuro program at IU School of Medicine was unique for its focus on translational neuroscience research and its close relationship with clinicians. Additionally, the environment within Stark and other research facilities is highly collaborative allowing you to do multi-disciplinary work even as a trainee.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? I think my biggest adjustment as a graduate student was how to handle lots of failure and be patient with your project when things seem like they are not working. My mentors have always been supportive in this pursuit.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: 2020 - Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA), Individual F30 Fellowship (Source: NIAAA. Grant #: AA028687), Graduate and Professional Education Travel Grant, IUPUI; 2019-2020 - Stark Scholar Fellowship; 2019 - Trainee Professional Development Award, Society for Neuroscience; IU School of Medicine Dean’s Office Medical Student Travel Grant

    Hobbies:  I spend most of my free time fixing up my mid-century home with my wife or playing with our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Charlie.

Hendrik Greve

Hendrik Greve

Admission Year: 2015-MD/PhD; 2017-MedNeuro

  • Learn more about Hendrik

    Advisor: Michelle Block, PhD

    Current Project: My current project focuses on the impact of urban air pollution on Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, I am investigating the mechanisms of how inhaled air pollution is able to exacerbate Alzheimer's pathology through neuroinflammation, microglia, and the Lung-Brain Axis.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? I chose IU School of Medicine's MD/PhD and MedNeuro programs because of the camaraderie among the students, the focus on holistic trainee growth, and the excellent research training facilities/opportunities at Stark.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? I have learned that no project will ever be "complete" (there is always more to add to the story), and that knowing when to be finished with a project and letting it go is skill that is invaluable in science.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: Ohio Valley Society of Toxicology Poster Award; Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Subspecialty Section Travel Award; IU School of Medicine Graduate Student Travel Award; Stark Summer Science Symposium 2019 - Graduate Student Poster Award; Stark Summer Science Symposium 2020 -  Oral Presentation Award

    Service and Leadership: Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization - President (2020-2021); Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization - Vice President (2019-2020); Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic - Clinic Manager (2017-2020), Education Co-Chair (2017-2019); American Physician Scientist Association - Undergraduate Mentor (2017-2019)

    Hobbies:  Backpacking/hiking, running, woodworking, playing music

David Haggerty

David Haggerty

Admission Year: 2018

  • Learn more about David

    Advisor: Brady Atwood, PhD

    Current Project: I study how projections from the insular cortex to the dorsal striatum govern alcohol intake and action-selection.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? I am a Hoosier for life. I did my undergrad at IU, my masters at the medical school, and am going for the three-peat with my PhD in MedNeuro. The opportunities for collaborations across disciplines at IU are plenty and it is a fantastic place to train.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? Not what to think, but how to think. The professors and advisors in our program are thought leaders across many disciplines which always makes answers to knowledge questions easy to find. But, you also have a front row seat to observe how to solve problems nobody knows the answer to, design experiments that move the field forward, and do "good science." This is where I think I've learned the most during my time at IU.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: T32 awardee on the genetic mechanisms of alcoholism, Stark Fellow, IU Distinction award.

    Service and Leadership: Past president of the Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization.

    Hobbies:  I like to run.

Vaishnavi Jadhav

Vaishnavi Jadhav

Admission Year: 2015

  • Learn more about Vaishnavi

    Advisor: Bruce Lamb, PhD

    Current Project: Studying role of TREM2 in brain homeostasis and in tauopathy.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? IU School of Medicine has a very collaborative environment and ample of opportunities to conduct translational research. I am interested in pursuing a career in the field of neurodegeneration, and I felt MedNeuro is a great program to get trained in this field.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? I have learned how to conduct quality research and how to design scientific questions for your study by understanding it's importance in the field.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: NanoString travel award for Society for Neuroscience International conference, 2019; Keystone International Symposium travel scholarship, 2019; Medical Neuroscience department travel award for Society for Neuroscience International conference, 2017.

    Service and Leadership: Student seminar coordinator, Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization (MNGO), 2018-19. 

    Hobbies: I love to sketch, paint, play guitar. I like to cook and do Yoga to relax. I picked up on a new hobby of crocheting recently.

Lauren Price

Lauren Price

Admission Year: 2018

  • Learn more about Lauren

    Advisor: Andrew Saykin, PsyD

    Current Project: Investigation of Dysfunctional Myelin Repair in Alzheimer’s Disease.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? I wanted a program with a well-rounded curriculum and lots of different opportunities available. IU School of Medicine has amazing faculty, facilities, and resources to help graduate students both in and outside of the lab.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? How to ask the right questions.

    Service and Leadership: Student Development, Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization (MNGO), 2019-20); Treasurer, MNGO, 2020-21.

    Hobbies: Reading fiction, working out, playing with my puppy that I got during quarantine, Arthur.

Wes Stansberry

Wesley Stansberry

Admission Year: 2019

  • Learn more about Wesley

    Advisor: Brian Pierchala, PhD

    Current Project: Evaluating the effects of local translation on mechanisms of axon regeneration and muscle re-innervation in nerve injury ALS models.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? From a young age, a high prevalence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease within my family inspired my interest in understanding the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. IU School of Medicine's MedNeuro program had several labs researching all areas of neurodegeneration as well as the best facilities and program advisor support.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? The thing I have learned most so far is how to ask the right questions to explore my scientific interests as an independent researcher.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: 2020-2021 Paul and Carole Stark Scholar

    Service and Leadership: Graduate Student Peer Wellness Coach; Member, Indiana BioMedical Gateway Program (IBMG) Recruitment Committee; Member, IUPUI Graduate Student Library and Technology Resources Committee; Member, American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP); Member, Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) - Genetics and Bioinformatics Subdivisions.

    Hobbies:  Running outside, golfing, reading historical fiction, trying out new local breweries.

Andy Tsai

Andy Tsai

Admission Year: 2017

  • Learn more about Andy

    Advisors: Gary Landreth, PhD; Bruce Lamb, PhD

    Current Project: Impact of PLCG2 Alzheimer's disease risk variants on microglial biology and disease pathogenesis.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? Continuing my previous work in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), I am confident that training in the Medical Neuroscience Graduate Program at Stark Neurosciences Research Institute at IU School of Medicine will allow me to further study AD pathology, explore a novel therapeutic strategy for AD, encourage diverse learners by being a better role model to achieve my career goal of becoming an independent investigator in the field of AD. Also, I really want to work with both Drs. Gary Landreth and Bruce Lamb, who will offer knowledge and share perspectives to enhance my professional and personal.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? Drs. Gary Landreth and Bruce Lamb’s expertise in AD and their passion for research and training students. Learn how to have productive collaborations with other groups, including The Jackson Laboratory and Eli Lilly, who have expertise in novel mouse modeling and drug discovery, respectively. Also, learn how to maximize the theoretical and practical knowledge bases during my PhD training and this will instruct me on how to become an independent scientist and a better mentor. This is extremely important, as the future of research in AD and mentorship is moving toward multi-modality approaches.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: Zhao's Family Student Scholarship, Huayen Lotus Association (2012); President’s Award Scholarship, Tzu Chi University (2013); Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award, Tzu Chi University (2014); Translation Medicine Scholarship, Tzu Chi University and Academia Sinica (2016); Winner of Young Investigators Award (The First Prize), 7th Scientific Meeting of Asian Society for Vascular Biology (2016); The Robert K.S. Lim and Shih-Chun Wang Memorial Scholarship/Award (2017); Paul and Carole Stark Neurosciences Fellowship (2018 - 2019); 2020 IUPUI Elite 50; 2020 Cagiantas Scholar.

    Service and Leadership: Peer Mentor, The Indiana University-Purdue University Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (IPREP) (2017 - 2019); President, Taiwanese Student Association, IUPUI (2017 - 2020); Seminar Coordinator, Medical Neuroscience Program Student Organization, IUSM (2018 - 2020); Seminar Committee, Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, IUSM (2020); Peer Wellness Coaches, IBMG program, IUSM (2020).

    Hobbies: Swimming, hiking, reading, listening to music.