Faculty & Staff of Neuro-Oncology and Blood-Brain Barrier Program
Edward A. Neuwelt, MD
Edward A. Neuwelt, MD is a Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. He divides his time between clinical work, primarily in the area of neuro-oncology including both operative neurosurgery and chemotherapy, and directing his research laboratory.
Dr. Neuwelt attended Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois from 1965 –1968 and then received his MD, magna cum laude, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver,Colorado in 1972. For his postgraduate training, Dr. Neuwelt did a surgical internship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas,Texas, 1972 –1973, followed by a Neurosurgical Residency at the same institution from 1973 –1978. During this time, Dr. Neuwelt also completed two neuro-oncology and neurosurgery research fellowships, first at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH) (1974 –1976) and then Queen Square Hospital in London, England (1976). While at the NIH, Dr. Neuwelt also completed his military duty as a Clinical Associate (Lt. Commander) in the United States Public Health Service, Neurosurgery and Enzymology Sections in Baltimore, Maryland (July, 1974 - July, 1976). Dr. Neuwelt is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and is a fully trained neuro-oncologist.
In Texas, Dr. Neuwelt was Assistant Professor in both Surgery and Biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He was also Chief of the Neurosurgery Service at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, Texas from 1978 –1981. Dr. Neuwelt moved his laboratory to Portland Oregon in 1981, where he joined the faculty at Oregon Health & Science University, both in the Department of Neurology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He was Chief of the Neurosurgery Service at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon 1981 –1989, and he maintains an affiliation with the Portland VA Neurosurgery Service. Currently Dr. Neuwelt is a Professor in the departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery. He is a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program at OHSU, and also regularly teaches the neurology and neurosurgery house staff on topics related to brain tumors.
Activities and Organizations
Dr. Neuwelt is the principal investigator of two NIH R01 grants and one VA Merit Review grant (see Preclinical Research). He has been a regular member of the VA Merit Review Study Section on Neurobiology, and an NIH Study Section (NSP-A)that reviews program project and center grants. Dr. Neuwelt is a regular reviewer of neuroscience-related journals, including Neurosurgery, for which he was a member of the editorial board. He initiated and is director of ThinkFirst Oregon, a brain and spinal cord injury prevention program. He has eight approved patents, five of which have been licensed to Adherex, Inc. to investigate thiol agent chemoprotection. In collaboration with Dr. James Rosenbaum and Dr. Richard Rosenbaum, Dr. Neuwelt set up and directs a science class for high school students that introduces young people to laboratory research. With regard to the BBB Program, Dr. Neuwelt has overseen the expansion of the program to eight institutions across the US and internationally including Canada and Israel, as well as the annual Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) Consortium meeting funded by an R13 grant.
Prakash Ambady, MD
Dr. Ambady is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at OHSU. Working with Dr. Neuwelt and the BBBP since 2014, he provides patient care and is a co-investigator on multiple imaging studies and brain tumor clinical trials. His research focus is on immune modulatory therapies and validating imaging techniques for assessing response to therapies in brain tumors with emphasis on differentiating true progression from pseudoprogression. Dr. Ambady graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from Pondicherry University, Vinayaka Mission's Medical College in Karaikal, Pondicherry, India. He completed his Neurology Residency at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was a Chief Resident as well. He went on to finish a Clinical Fellowship in Neuro-Oncology at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, which included one year of training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Brain Cancer Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland. His work as a Neuro-Oncology Fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital focused on immunotherapy and the pattern of late relapses in primary central nervous system lymphoma. He is board certified in Neurology and certified in neuro-oncology by the United Council for Neurological Subspecialties (UCNS).
Leslie L. Muldoon, PhD, Director of Research Operations
Dr. Muldoon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology, with a joint appointment in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. She obtained a BS in Chemistry in 1982, and a PhD in Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences in 1986 from the University of Chicago, and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the OHSU Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy in 1990. She has led the BBBP Preclinical Laboratory since 1990. Dr. Muldoon has extensive background in tumor and cell biology, magnetic resonance imaging, and histological and immunological methods for assessing neurotoxicity and tumor volumetrics. She has played a central role in the analysis of chemoprotective agents against chemotherapy toxicity, and the development and imaging of brain tumor models. Dr. Muldoon directs all preclinical aspects of the program, including experimental protocol development, supervision of technicians and research fellows, and writing grant proposals and scientific manuscripts.
Nancy D. Doolittle, PhD, RN, Associate Director of Clinical Research
Dr. Doolittle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at OHSU. She obtained an MS in 1981, a PhD in 1990, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in 1991 in the Department of Physiological Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. She has been involved in the clinical care of neuroscience patients since 1974, and has been Associate Director of Clinical Research in the BBBP since 1995. Dr. Doolittle is the first author on several key publications for the BBB Program, including a multi-center assessment of BBB disruption chemotherapy, first evaluation of radiolabeled rituximab in primary CNS lymphoma, first large series report describing management and outcomes of patients with isolated brain relapse of systemic non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and the first clinical trial of sodium thiosulfate (STS) for hearing protection. Dr. Doolittle supervises clinical protocol implementation, including subject accrual, regulatory compliance, data management, analysis and reporting. She is the coordinator for the multi-site Blood-Brain Barrier Consortium. As such, Dr. Doolittle coordinates multi-site cooperative clinical trials as well as planning the annual Consortium clinical trials meeting in the fall and the international scientific BBB meeting in the spring.
Joao Prola Netto, MD
Dr. Prola Netto is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Radiology and Neurology. He joined the OHSU BBBP in August 2012 and he is the leading Radiologist in the group, providing radiological expertise and imaging analysis for preclinical and clinical projects, and working as co-investigator on several studies focused in imaging of brain tumors and other neurological diseases. His research focus is on noninvasive imaging tools to assess the diagnostic, prognostic and surveillance of brain, pituitary and spine tumors, with special interest in advanced neurological imaging like perfusion, diffusion and spectroscopy as well as advanced interventional neuroradiology techniques to increase chemotherapy delivery to brain tumors. He received an MD degree from Federal University of Health Sciences in Porto Alegre-Brazil in 2004, and finished his Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging residency at Federal University of Sao Paulo-Brazil in 2008. He then completed two Neuroradiology fellowships, one at University of Sao Paulo–Brazil in 2009 and the other at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland in 2012. Dr. Prola Netto has expertise in brain, spine and head & neck imaging.
Jessica James, FNP, MSN, AOCNP
Jessica received her BSN from the University of Portland and her Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from Washington State University. She joined the OHSU BBBP team in 2013, and prior to that she worked as an inpatient medical-surgical oncology nurse and in outpatient radiation oncology. She is excited to be a part of the BBBP team as an FNP and continue her career in oncology.
Kirsten Johansson, FNP, MSN
Kirsten received her BSN and MSN from the Columbia University of Nursing in New York, New York. She joined the OHSU BBBP in 2015 as a Nurse Practitioner, providing specialized care to our patients. Before OHSU, she worked in pain management, providing care to patients with chronic and complex pain.
Jenny Firkins, RN, BSN, CNRN
Jenny received her BSN from Linfield College and is currently pursuing her PhD in nursing at OHSU. She has an advanced nursing certification in Neurology and joined the BBBP in 2015 as the Research Nurse. Jenny assists with research related activities including advanced imaging with ferumoxytol, monitoring of the research patients, and maintenance of research related documents.
Tricia White, RN, BSN, OCN
Tricia received her BSN from OHSU. She has extensive oncology experience and is an Oncology Certified Nurse. She joined the BBBP as a clinical nurse coordinator in 2010. She assists in the angiography suite during chemotherapy procedures and assists with the care and monitoring of all patients.
Caroline Jezierski, RN, BSN, OCN
Caroline received her BSN from University of Michigan. She has extensive bedside nursing experience and is an Oncology Certified Nurse. She joined the BBBP as a clinical nurse coordinator in 2016. She assists in the angiography suite during chemotherapy procedures and assists with the care and monitoring of all patients.
Stephanie has been with OHSU since 1993 and joined the BBBP in 2004 as a clinical trial patient coordinator. She schedules patient tests, consultations, admissions, and manages communication with insurance companies.
Julie joined the BBBP in October 2014 as the front office administrative assistant. She schedules and manages the outpatient clinic and provides general administrative support.
Lisa Muir, MPA: HA, CCRP
Lisa has a BS in Molecular Biology from Portland State University and received her Master Degree in Public Health Administration in 2010. She is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional. Lisa has been with the BBBP for over 24 years, first as a laboratory technician and then for the past 16 years as the Program Administrator. She serves as grant, contract, and financial administrator for the NIH and VA grants and contracts that fund the BBBP preclinical and clinical research. She assists in development, submission and management of clinical research proposals. As a clinical study coordinator, Lisa assures adherence to protocols, assures compliance with IRB, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and FDA requirements, and monitors patients and patient tests for adverse events and outcomes.
Amy Huddleston, MPA: HA, CCRP
Amy has a BA in International Studies and Spanish and received her Master Degree in Public Health Administration from Portland State University in 2010. She is a Research Associate and a Certified Clinical Research Professional. Before completing her master's, Amy was the Patient Care Coordinator for 4 years. Since 2014, she has been the Clinical Manager as well as one of the Clinical Study Coordinators within the program. She assists in the development, submission and management of clinical research proposals, assures adherence to protocols, compliance with IRB, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and FDA requirements, and monitors patients and patient tests for adverse events and outcomes.
Emily Youngers, BS
Emily has a BS in Biology from Portland State University and is currently working towards obtaining a Master Degree in Epidemiology at OHSU. She has been with the BBBP for over 10 years, and is currently the program's Research Coordinator. Emily assists with manuscript preparation and submission, various research projects, and in the planning and development of the Annual Blood-Brain Barrier Conference.
Heather has been at OHSU since 2004 and joined the BBBP in December 2015 as an Administrative Coordinator. She assists with various office duties, helps to coordinate the Annual Blood-Brain Barrier Conference, and manages Dr. Neuwelt's extensive travel schedule.
Ying-Jen (Jeffrey) Wu, PhD
Dr. Wu has a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (1990) from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, and his MS (1994) and PhD (1999) from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. After Post-docs at Louisiana State University and OHSU Molecular Medicine, Dr. Wu joined the BBBP in 2003 as a Research Associate. He has expertise in Cellular and Molecular biology, pharmacology and pharmacodynamics, and tumor biology. His current research projects include chemo-enhancement with acetaminophen in vitro and in vivo, and localization of Q-dot labeled cells in leptomeningeal and hematogenous metastasis tumor models.
Michael A. Pagel, BA
Michael received a BA in biology from Kalamazoo College in 1975. He joined Dr. Neuwelt in his first laboratory in Dallas in 1979, and then moved to Oregon when Dr. Neuwelt established the OHSU BBBP in 1981. Michael is an expert in the osmotic BBB disruption technique and has used this technique to assess delivery of chemotherapy, antibodies, and nanoparticles to the brain in multiple animal models. His current projects include evaluating the impact of chemoprotective thiols on chemotherapy toxicity and efficacy, delivery of radiolabeled agents across the BBB in hematogenous brain metastasis models, and assessing the efficacy of novel monoclonal antibody-based therapeutics in multiple animal brain tumor models.
DreeAnna Morris, BS Ch
DreeAnna joined the BBBP in 2013 after receiving a BS in chemistry from Portland State University. She manages cell culture and immunohistochemistry for the lab and is also involved in fluorescence microscopy and animal brain tumor studies. Her research projects include new treatment methods for glioblastoma and CNS lymphoma, evaluating the effect of hypoxia on invading glioblastoma cells, and natural history studies of lymphoma, medulloblastoma, and brain metastases. Additionally, DreeAnna works closely with the Partnership for Scientific Inquiry high school science class during the school year and facilitates the training and project management for the interns employed in the preclinical lab each summer.
Josh Robertson, BS
Josh graduated from Purdue University with a BS in biology in 2007 and has been at OHSU since. He joined the BBBP in 2012. Josh has extensive in vivo tumor model development experience and has been the preclinical MR technician since 2014 using OHSU's 11.7T Bruker scanner. He manages the preclinical IACUC protocol and assures compliance and adherence. Current projects include delayed ferumoxytol imaging, CSF and cell trafficking to lymph nodes, and immune cell labeling using ferumoxytol.
Elizabeth Clarke, PhD, MPH
Dr. Clarke completed her PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry with a focus on human immunology at the University of California, Irvine in 2014, and her MPH in Environmental Health with a focus on cancer epidemiology at Boston University in 2009. She joined the BBBP in early 2016 to apply her training towards her long-standing interest in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Dr. Clarke has expertise in innate and adaptive immunity, phagocyte biology, the complement system, autoimmunity and cancer epidemiology/biostatistics. She also has consulting experience in the field of oncology. Dr. Clarke is investigating the functional role that novel antibody-drug conjugates may playas a potential treatment for Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma, a type of B cell lymphoma that has metastasized to the brain.
Daniel Schwartz, BA, CCRP
Daniel has worked in the advanced research MRI field at OHSU for 12 years and shares an appointment in the Advanced Imaging Research Center at OHSU. He joined the BBBP in 2014. He specializes in tailored image post-processing and experiment design on all imaging platforms at OHSU, including the standard 3T MRI, the ultra-high field 7T MRI, and the 12T small bore animal magnet. His interests include CNS neurodegenerative disease, including vascular disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and dementia, and characterizing CNS neoplasm heterogeneity through the use of advanced techniques at ultra-high field. Daniel works closely with OHSU and PVAMC neurosurgeons and radiologists to identify clinically relevant questions that may be resolved with new imaging techniques that are not yet readily available in the clinic.
David Cahana, BAS
David has a BAS with a focus on genetic engineering from Quest University, Canada (2015). He joined the BBBP in 2015 and is involved with projects that include tumor characterization and treatment, thiol chemoprotection, and patient quality of life after platinum based chemotherapy treatment.
Heather McConnell, BS
Heather is a PhD student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program and is also working towards her Master's degree in Clinical Research. She received her BS in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior from the University of California, Davis and joined the BBBP in 2012. Prior to coming to OHSU, she worked in a lab researching traumatic brain injury and also as an emergency veterinary nurse. Heather is currently studying the timing and cellular mechanisms underlying the trafficking of ferumoxytol, an iron oxide nanoparticle contrast agent, to the brain during neuroinflammation using high-resolution MRI.
Cymon Kersch, MS
Cymon is an MD/PhD student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology and then completed her MS at Texas A&M University in Entomology studying the mosquito species that transmit the pathogens for Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever. Cymon did a rotation with the OHSU BBBP in the summer of 2013 and came back to join the team in October 2014. Her current research focuses on understanding the dual role of adhesion and growth factor receptors in the ability of metastatic breast cancer cells to grow in the brain microenvironment.
Zachary Urdang, BS
Zachary is an MD/PhD student in the School of Medicine and Neuroscience Graduate Program. He received his BS in 2010 from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the BBBP, Zachary studied cochlear aminoglycoside trafficking at the Oregon Hearing Research Center at OHSU. Currently, his research focuses on characterizing cochlear inflammation and blood-labyrinth barrier malfunction during systemic inflammatory states. His research has the potential to better understand the mechanisms of drug induced hearing loss and help ameliorate this therapeutic side-effect from what is otherwise effective and inexpensive therapy.
Csanad Varallyay, MD, PhD
Dr. Varallyay obtained his Medical Degree and PhD from Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. After 3 years of neuroimaging research with the BBBP, followed by 3 years of neuroradiology training in Wurzburg, Germany, Dr. Varallyay returned to Portland to join the radiology residency program while continuing clinical research with the BBBP. His expertise includes MR imaging of the CNS using ferumoxytol as a contrast agent.
Laszlo Szidonya, MD, PhD
Dr. Szidonya joined the BBBP as a Research Instructor in 2016. His main interest involves the application of ferumoxytol in CNS imaging. Dr. Szidonya received his MD from Semmelweis University, Budapest in 2001. He studied the signaling characteristics of the AT1 angiotensin receptor, receiving his PhD in 2008. He started a residency in Radiology at Semmelweis University in 2007, completing his specialization in 2012. From 2009 to 2016, he had been working at the Heart and Vascular Center of Semmelweis University, focusing on neuroradiology.
Gerda Toth, MD
Dr. Toth finished her MD in 2005 at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary. She has a certification in general and vascular surgery. She worked as an assistant lecturer at Semmelweis University Heart and Vascular Center and started her PhD in 2014 in vascular research. Dr. Toth joined the BBBP in 2016, where her current research includes ferumoxytol-enhanced MR imaging in vascular diseases.
Dominic Siler, MD, PhD
Dr. Siler joined the BBBP as a neuro-oncology fellow in 2016. He obtained his MD and PhD degrees from OHSU from 2007-2016. Dr. Siler's research focuses on understanding the subarachnoid space and its associated diseases. His work in subarachnoid hemorrhage was supported by an NIH F30 grant and utilized several in vivo imaging modalities including optical coherence tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Currently, his research with the BBBP focuses on identifying new ways to diagnose and treat leptomeningeal carcinomatosis.