Faculty

Gary Dunbar, Ph.D.

Dr. Dunbar’s recent research is focused on testing the efficacy of stem cell transplants and pharmacological treatments for neuropathological and behavioral deficits in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Dr. Dunbar’s research has been supported by awards from both private and public agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. >>View profile

Richard Backs, Ph.D.

Dr. Backs defines his research focus as the psychophysiology of attention in human performance. It emphasizes the applied aspects of attention theory, and his recent studies have examined autonomic (electrocardiographic, impedance cardiographic, and pulmonary) and central (EEG and event-related potential) measures concurrently during focused and divided attention tasks in the laboratory and in the driving simulator. Dr. Backs has adopted a cognitive/energetic perspective to account for how cognition is affected by emotion and environmental and task stressors. He also investigates aging affects on the psychophysiology of attention, especially during driving. >>View profile

Jamie Johansen, Ph.D.

Jamie Johansen is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Foundation Sciences Discipline in the College of Medicine.  The Johansen laboratory has two main research goals.  1) Identify therapeutic targets in skeletal muscles of Kennedy’s Disease mice.  Using multiple disease models, her lab explores common mechanisms between models that may offer an opportunity for the development of a therapeutic.  2) Determine the function of leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), the most common hereditary cause of Parkinson’s Disease.  Using mouse models expressing or lacking the LRRK2 gene, we are examining the normal and mutant functions of LRRK2 proteins. >>View profile

Mark Reilly, Ph.D.

Dr. Reilly’s research interests involve the experimental analysis of human and nonhuman behavior, operant/respondent conditioning, behavioral pharmacology and substance abuse. His research interests are eclectic but strive to elucidate basic principles of behavior. He has conducted research on schedules of reinforcement, behavioral variability, drug discrimination, drug tolerance and conditioned reinforcement. His current research focuses on three areas; the motivational properties of response effort or work, the contributions of classical and operant conditioning to impulsivity, and the environmental factors that establish alcohol as a reinforcer. Mathematical modeling of the behavior and its controlling variables is inherent to his research program. >>View profile

Julien Rossignol, Ph.D.

Julien Rossignol received bachelor of science degrees in cellular biology and biochemistry from the University of Nantes, France. He received a master's degree in molecular biology and biophysics from the University of Orleans, France and a Ph. D. in neuroscience from the University of Nantes, France. His graduate work involved studies on the therapeutic effect of adult stem cell transplantations in Huntington's disease rat model. Following post-doctoral fellowships at INSERM U643 in Nantes, France and in the Neuroscience Program and the Department of Psychology at Central Michigan University where he continued his work with stem cells as a potential cure for neurodegenerative diseases. As a faculty member in the College of Medicine Rossignol is conducting his research in the Field Neurosciences Institute Laboratory for Restorative Neurology.

Dr. Rossignol's present laboratory research is to determine the best adult stem cell candidate to transplant in the brain to treat neurodegenerative diseases. His group studied specifically mesenchymal stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Previous work has shown that mesenchymal stem cells slowed the deficits in a transgenic rat model of Huntington's disease but failed to create new neurons. Induced pluripotent stem cells have the ability to become neurons and may prove to have greater therapeutic utility. >>View profile

Michael Sandstrom, Ph.D.

Dr. Sandstrom uses techniques of single-unit neurophysiological recording and microdialysis to explore contributions of neurotransmitters to central nervous system function. He currently explores neurophysiological mechanisms underlying behavioral disruptions in a transgenic mouse model of Huntington’s disease. Dr. Sandstrom focuses research primarily on awake and freely moving animal models. >>View profile

Reid Skeel, Ph.D.

Dr. Skeel’s clinical and research interests focus on neurophysiological assessment. His clinical efforts center on providing functional application of neuropsychological assessement. His research interests are focused on examining variables that affect the ecological validity of neuropsychological tests. Examples of specific projects being conducted in his lab include examining the relationship between cognitive functioning and medication adherence, the impact of anxiety on neuropsychological performance, exploring how newer measures of executive functioning and decision making are related to behavior, cognitive effects of CABG surgery, and detection of sub-optimal effort during testing. >>View profile

Michelle Steinhilb, Ph.D.

Dr. Steinhilb’s graduate studies focused on the cellular trafficking and metabolism of the Alzheimer’s disease Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) using cell culture models. She continued to study neurodegenerative disease during her postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she used the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a genetic model system. Her research interests include molecular genetics, cellular and molecular biology, and neurodegeneration. >>View profile

Ksenia Ustinova, Ph.D

Dr. Ustinova’s lab covers motor control and learning, rehabilitation of patients with neurological diseases including stroke, spinocerebellar ataxia, and Parkinson’s disease. The mechanisms of motor control and learning and their disruption in patients with different neurological diseases; the recovery and compensation of sensorimotor functions after neurological injury with the use of new rehabilitation techniques including virtual reality and biofeedback. >>View profile

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