Former Lab Members

Seija Lehnardt, Prof. Dr.

Dr. Seija Lehnardt began her work as a Postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Vartanian at theHardvard Institute of Medicine, Boston, USA. She currently holds a W2 Professorship for “Neurodegeneration” at the Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology and Department of Neurology, Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Her work covers the field of neuroimmunology and neurodegeneration with the following major areas:

  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms of immune cell-mediated neuronal injury
  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms of cell-autonomous neuronal injury
  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms of CNS infections
  • Innate immune receptors in CNS development

Her lab can be found at:

Isaac Chiu, PhD

Isaac grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts, which is a quiet suburb of Boston. He worked in the Immunology laboratory of Dr. Jack Strominger as an undergraduate student at Harvard College, where he became interested in neuro-immune interactions. He went on to attend the PhD program in Immunology at Harvard Medical School, working in Dr. Mike Carroll’s lab on how microglia and T cells affect the neurodegenerative disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Isaac worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tom Maniatis’s lab on transcriptional analysis of microglia during spinal cord activation. To study the neurobiology of pain, Isaac worked in Dr. Clifford Woolf’s lab at Boston Children’s Hospital on the inflammatory mechanisms of neuronal activation during bacterial infection. Isaac’s personal interests include kayaking, hiking, and reading.

His lab can be found at:

Amyn Habib, MD

Dr. Amyn Habib received his medical degree from Dow Medical College in Pakistan.  He did a Neurology Residency at the University of Chicago.  He then did postdoctoral fellowships in the laboratories of Dr. Kari Stefansson and Dr. Tim Vartanian.  In the Vartanian laboratory, he worked on projects relating to EGFR signal transduction and pathways related to myelination.  He was an Instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and is currently an Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  His current research interests include signal transduction pathways that regulate cell proliferation and death in cancer, with a particular focus on glioblastoma.

Giovanni Passiatore, PhD

Giovanni earned his Masters in Biological Science and his Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the Universita’ di Siena in Italy working on the development of a library of monoclonal antibodies involved in the angiogenesis process. After graduation he moved to Temple University in Philadelphia where as Postdoctoral Fellow in Neuroscience he worked on the effect of HIV-1 infection on the CNS resulting HIV-1 associated dementia (HAD) and Neuro Oncology in the Central and Peripheral Nervous System. In 2010 he joined the Vartanian’s lab in the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College as Postdoctoral Associate in Neuroscience. He worked on understanding the association between neurodegenerative diseases, such as MS and ALS and the innate immune system in basic and clinical sciences. In 2012 he moved to the industry as Medical Science Liaison and currently he is Manager of Neurology for the Global Medical Training at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals where he serves as lead for neurology training within the Medical Affairs.

Andrea M. Viehöver, MD

Dr. Andrea M. Viehöver joined my research group in Prof. Fischbach’s lab in year 1995-1996 at Harvard Medical School, to complete experimental work for her german doctoral thesis. Her work involved axonal neuregulin signaling in Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes. The results were published in three papers. She studied medicine at the university of her hometown Cologne; later in Heidelberg and Munich. In 2001 she started her neurological training in Munich under Prof. Dr. Th. Brandt, and that same year she spent 6 months in the lab of Prof. Herrup in Cleveland, Ohio, working on cerebellar development. In 2003 she moved to Heidelberg and joined Prof. Wildemann´s neuroimmunological research group, working on regulatory T-cells in MS patients. Since finishing her residency in May 2000 at the Departement of Neurology under Prof. Dr. Dr. W. Hacke, she has also been seeing patients as a senior physician an the outpatients clinic of the neurological University, treating mostly patients with neuro- immunological diseases, mainly MS. In additon she is co-leader of the botulinumtoxin-group in the neurological departement. She is also coinvestigator in several clinical MS trials.

Dr. David Solomon,
Assistant Professor,
Department of Pathology, UCSF

David is a neuropathologist and cancer researcher at the University of California, San Francisco with clinical expertise in pathologic and molecular analysis of brain tumors.  He received a B.S. in Molecular Cell Biology from the College of William and Mary in 2002 and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 2012, where he completed thesis research in the lab of Dr. Todd Waldman identifying novel transforming pathways in the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme.  He then completed an Anatomic Pathology Residency and Neuropathology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.  David’s scientific accomplishments include discovery of frequent inactivating mutations of the cohesin complex gene STAG2 in glioblastoma, urothelial bladder cancer, and the bone cancer Ewing sarcoma.  His current research focuses on understanding the function of the cohesin complex during mammalian development and tumorigenesis and developing novel targeted therapies for the many cancers harboring cohesin gene mutations.

Jacob Sloane

Jacob Sloane is a graduate of Harvard University and Boston University Medical School. His PhD in pathology was performed in Carmela Abraham’s laboratory at Boston University. He completed an internship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a Neurology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. He finished his MS fellowship under the tutelage of Drs. Timothy Vartanian and Rip Kinkel. He recently started his own laboratory in 2009.

His lab can be found at:

Kareem Rashid Rumah

Kareem Rashid Rumah obtained his B.S. from Stanford University and his M.D., Ph.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College and Rockefeller University.  His Ph.D. focused on identifying the potential link between Clostridium perfringens epsilon toxin and Multiple Sclerosis first hypothesized by Timothy Murrell in 1986.  Rashid was the first to show that people with MS are more likely to harbor antibodies to epsilon toxin (10%) versus control subjects (1%).  Rashid was also able to identify PCR based evidence for an epsilon toxin producing type B strain in the feces of an individual with highly active MS.  These results were published in PLoS One in 2013.  Rashid hypothesized that the Myelin and Lymphocyte Protein (MAL) was the epsilon toxin receptor and along with Yinghua Ma, Myat Lin Oo and Jennifer Linden, he found that MAL was necessary for both cellular binding and toxicity of epsilon toxin.  This work was published in PLoS Pathogens in 2015.  Rashid is now a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Vincent Fischetti at Rockefeller University where he continues to work on understanding the epsilon toxin-MAL interaction, and the relationship between epsilon toxin and MS.