Dr. Bess Frost
Dr. Bess Frost, Ph.D.
Dr. Bess Frost is an Associate Professor and the Bartell Zachry Distinguished Professor for Research in Neurodegenerative Disorders at the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies, the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer's & Neurodegenerative Diseases, and the Department of Cell Systems & Anatomy at the University of Texas Health San Antonio. Dr. Frost earned her Ph.D. from the University of California San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. Marc Diamond. As a graduate student, Bess pioneered work that ignited a now prominent area of research, which is that tau, a key pathological player in Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies, adopts prion-like characteristics that help explain its pathological spread through the brain and the diverse disease phenotypes of the human tauopathies. Dr. Frost performed her postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School in the laboratory of Dr. Mel Feany, where she identified lamin dysfunction and subsequent widespread relaxation of heterochromatic DNA as a novel mechanism whereby tau causes neuronal death in Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies. She was awarded the 2020 O'Donnell Award in Medicine from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, a 2021 Standout Achievement Award from CurePSP, and was a gold recipient of the Oskar Fischer Prize in 2022.
Dr. Farzaneh Atrian Afyani, Ph.D.
Dr. Atrian Afyani is an NIH Biology of Aging T32-funded postdoctoral fellow in the Frost lab. Dr. Atrian Afyani earned her undergraduate degree from Isfahan University, Iran, her Masters degree from Leicester University, United Kingdom, and her Ph.D. from Purdue University, where she investigated nuclear architecture in the context of cancer biology in the laboratory of Dr. Sophie Lelièvre. She is currently focused on the effects of pathogenic forms of tau on the functional properties of the nucleus.
Dr. Gabbe Zuniga, Ph.D.
Dr. Gabbe Zuniga is an M.D./Ph.D. student with our UT Health San Antonio MSTP. Gabbe graduated from UT Austin where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. John Pierce-Shimomura, where she investigated sigma-2-receptor targeted ligands as suppressors of neurodegeneration in a C. elegans model of Alzheimer's disease. During the Ph.D. portion of her M.D./Ph.D. program, Gabbe investigated mRNA surveillance mechanisms and translation in physiological brain aging and tauopathy. Gabbe earned her Ph.D. in 2022. She received support through a UTHSA Neuroscience T32 training grant, the TST-TL1 Translational Science Training Program, and the UTHSA Biology of Aging T32. Gabbe is now completing her final years of medical school.
Dr. Meghna Chinchankar, Ph.D.
Dr. Meghna Chinchankar is a postdoctoral fellow in the Frost lab. Dr. Chinchankar earned her Integrated M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology from the University of Pune, India, and her Ph.D. in the Biology of Aging discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program at UT Heath San Antonio. Her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Alfred Fisher focused on ER-associated proteostasis in a novel long-lived proteasomal mutant of C. elegans, for which she was awarded the Glenn Foundation Doctoral Student Fellowship by the Barshop Institute. She is currently
interested in studying the genetic and cell non-autonomous regulation of aging and
Paulino Ramirez, M.S., Ph.D. Candidate
Paulino Ramirez is a Ph.D. student in the Cell Biology, Genetics and Molecular Medicine Discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio. Paulino earned his undergraduate and Masters degrees from Texas A&M University where he worked on Drosophila viruses. Paul currently combines computational and wet-lab approaches to investigate transposable element activation in tauopathy. Paul has previously received funding through an R25 from NIGMS.
Claira Glaser, Ph.D. Candidate
Claira Glaser is a Ph.D. student in the Biology of Aging discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio. Claira earned her undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University where she worked to synthesize self-assembling peptides to create a new vaccine platform for HPV. Claira is currently investigating mechanosensing properties of neuronal nuclei in physiological and neurodegenerative settings. Claira is supported by our UTHSA Biology of Aging T32.
Morgan Thomas, Ph.D. Student
Morgan Thomas is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio. Morgan earned her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from Oberlin College in 2019, where she worked in a Neurodegeneration and Neurotoxicology lab, focusing on the gene-toxicant interaction between Huntington's disease and cadmium. Her research interests are Huntington's disease, neurodegeneration, protein aggregation, and protein trafficking. Morgan is currently working with a novel split-luciferase-based Drosophila model of huntingtin aggregation that she will use to identify novel mediators of huntingtin accumulation in the adult brain. She is currently supported by the UTHSA Neuroscience T32.
Lulu Schulz, M.S., Ph.D. Student
Lulu Schulz is a Ph.D. student in the Biology of Aging discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio. Lulu graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Rhodes College in May 2019 and performed undergraduate research in the analytical chemistry lab of Dr. Jon Russ. Before joining the Frost lab, she was involved in a Phase I clinical trial with Pharmaceutical Product Development, where she worked in their pharmacokinetic lab in Austin, Texas. Lulu went on to perform her masters thesis in the Frost lab, where she was the 2022 recipient of the Armand J. Guarino Award for Academic Excellence in Master’s Studies. Lulu is now continuing her research focus on the role of Arc capsids in tauopathy as a Ph.D. student in the Frost lab.
Morgan Lambert, Ph.D. Student
Morgan Lambert is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio. Morgan earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular biology with a minor in Neuroscience from the University of South Carolina. There she worked on detection of copper in the brain using carbon microfiber electrodes and studied kynureninic acid in the context of in brain development. Morgan is currently investigating retrotransposon-derived episomal DNA in the context of Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies.
Zach Uttke, M.D./Ph.D. Student
Zach Uttke is a first year M.D./Ph.D. student in the UTHSA MSTP program. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from UW-Milwaukee, Zach studied normal cognitive aging in Long-Evans rats at NIA in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Rapp. Zach worked as a Student Research Associate in the Frost lab prior to starting with our MSTP program. Zach is currently investigating novel mechanisms of retrotransposon activation in the aging Drosophila brain.
Maria Gamez, B.S.
Maria Gamez was a Research Associate in the Frost lab from 2015-2020 and recently resumed her role in the lab in 2023. Maria earned her Bachelor of Science degree in electronic engineering from the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico, and has over 25 years of experience working in the field of neurodegenerative disorders.
Jasmine De Mange, M.S.
Jasmine De Mange is a Research Associate in the Frost lab. Jasmine earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from California State University Channel Islands, and her master’s degree in Cell Systems and Anatomy from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UTHSA.
Marissa Marquez, B.S.
Marissa Marquez is a Research Assistant in the Frost lab. Marissa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the Frost lab, Marissa worked at UT Austin as a Women in Neuroscience WiNtern in the laboratory of Dr. Audrey Brumback.
Annie Flores, B.S.
Annie Flores is a Research Assistant in the Frost lab. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Pre-Health Professions certification from the University of Texas at Austin. At UT Austin, she worked in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the lab of Dr. Reuben Gonzales.
Lisa Davila, B.A.
Lisa Davila is a Research Coordinator in the Frost lab. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from St. Mary's University of San Antonio. She previously worked at the Mays Cancer Center in the Pharmacokinetics lab before joining the Frost lab. She is currently working on her MBA with a concentration in Data Analytics.
PREVIOUS LAB MEMBERS
Dr. Wenyan Sun, Ph.D.
Dr. Wenyan Sun was a BrightFocus Foundation-funded postdoctoral fellow in the Frost lab. Dr. Sun earned her Ph.D. in 2014 from the Institute of Mitochondrial Biology and Medicine at Xi'an Jiaotong University in China. She has previously focused on the role of mitochondrial homeostasis in the nervous system, particularly in regard to hypertension. During her time in the lab, Wenyan discovered that pathological forms of tau cause a toxic activation of transposable elements. Dr. Sun was the was the postdoctoral recipient of the Joe H. Ward, Jr. and Bettie B. Ward Award for Excellence in the Study of the Biology of Aging in 2018. She was supported by an individual postdoctoral fellowship from the BrightFocus Foundation. Wenyan is currently a Senior Research Associate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the laboratory of Dr. Xiangming Zha.
Dr. Rebekah Mahoney, Ph.D.
Dr. Rebekah Mahoney was a postdoctoral fellow in the Frost lab and a trainee of the UTHSA NIGMS-funded SABER-IRACDA program. Dr. Mahoney served as the President of the President of the UT Health Postdoc Association. As a postdoctoral fellow, Rebekah focused on the effects of pathogenic forms of tau on nuclear calcium. Rebekah was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX before moving to Florida. She is now a 6th grade science teacher at Doctors Inlet Elementary School.
Dr. Garrett Cornelison, Ph.D.
Dr. Garrett Cornelison was a postdoctoral fellow in the Frost lab who was supported by the NIA-funded T32 Biology of Aging training grant. As a postdoctoral fellow, Garrett investigated the effects of pathological forms of tau on RNA export. Garrett started as Research Scientist in Discovery/R&D at Molecular Templates and is now the Director of Preclinical Pharmacology in Austin, TX.
Dr. Adrian Beckmann, Ph.D.
Dr. Adrian Beckmann was a Ph.D. student in the Cell Biology, Genetics and Molecular Medicine discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at University of Texas Health San Antonio and a postdoctoral fellow in the Frost lab. Adrian was a predoctoral trainee of the Biology of Aging T32 training grant and was subsequently awarded an F31 from NINDS. Adrian's interest in stem cell biology led him to investigate how neurons maintain a terminally differentiated state throughout adult life. Adrian was the recipient of the Joe H. Ward, Jr. and Bettie B. Ward Award for Excellence in the Study of the Biology of Aging in 2018. Adrian is now an Institute Research Investigator at MD Anderson in Houston, TX.
Dr. Simon Levy, Ph.D.
Simon Levy was a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio. Simon earned his undergraduate and Masters degrees from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland, and performed research in the laboratory of Dr. Ole Isacson’s at Harvard Medical School prior to joining the Frost laboratory. Simon was the President of the UTHSA Graduate Student Association. As a graduate student, Simon developed a Drosophila system for in vivo detection of tau-tau interaction. Simon is now a Regulatory Scientist with RQM+ in San Diego, CA.
Dr. Elizabeth Ochoa, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Ochoa Thomas was a Ph.D. student in the Cell Biology, Genetics and Molecular Medicine Discipline of the Integrated BioMedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio. Elizabeth earned her undergraduate degree from Seattle University, where she worked on organometallic triple decker complexes in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Watson. During her time in the Frost lab, Elizabeth discovered that tau-induced activation of retrotransposons causes formation of neuroinflammatory double stranded RNAs. Elizabeth has received support from an NIGMS R25 and was the 2022 winner of the Ward Award in the Biology of Aging. She is now a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Carie Boychuk at UT Health San Antonio.
Dr. Camille Ravel-Godreuil, Ph.D.
Dr. Camille Ravel-Godreuil was a postdoctoral fellow in the Frost lab. Dr. Ravel-Godreuil earned her undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences and her Master’s degree in neuroscience from Paris Descartes University, France. She then earned her Ph.D. in 2020 from PSL University, where she worked with Dr. Alain Prochiantz in the College de France. During this time, Dr. Ravel-Godreuil investigated epigenetic alterations in dopaminergic neurons in the context of Parkinson disease. She investigated the involvement of transposable elements and virus-like particles in neurodegeneration and tauopathies. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at Texas Biomedical Institute.
Elias Gonzalez, M.S.
Elias Gonzalez was a Research Assistant-Senior in the Frost lab from 2019-2022. Elias earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from St. Mary's University of San Antonio, and his master's degree in biomedical science from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He will be starting at Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine in Provo, Utah in Fall 2023.
Ali Stark, M.D./Ph.D. Student
Ali Stark is a first year M.D./Ph.D. student in the UTHSA MSTP program. Ali earned bachelor’s degrees in Neuroscience, Genomics & Molecular Genetics, and Spanish from Michigan State University, where she performed undergraduate research into the role of SGK1-mediated drug reward behavior in mice. Ali then worked as a postbaccalaureate at the National Institute on Aging, where she investigated genetic causes of neurodegenerative disorders in the laboratory of Dr. Bryan Traynor. Ali is currently investigating retrotransposon-derived double stranded RNA in the context of Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies.