mci

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Maryana Alegro, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Alegro joined the Grinberg Lab in 2015, aiming to research and develop advanced image processing techniques to improve the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases. She received her master of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of São Paulo Polytechnic School in 2009, where she focused on MRI brain tumor segmentation using machine learning. In 2014, she completed her doctorate degree at the University of São Paulo Polytechnic School, where her research focused on MRI and histology image registration. Dr. Alegro's research interests include color representation, for better segmentation and registration, and the use of advanced machine learning for image analysis.

Maria Mejia, HT (ASCP)

Staff Research Associate

Maria’s histology professional career illustrates a panorama of various neurology research experiences. Prior to joining UCSF, Maria obtained her bachelor's degree from Saint Mary's College (Kansas) and then worked for 18 years at a private institute performing a wide range of histology techniques on the visual system of the brain and the retina to increase the understanding of normal vision and eye disorders.

In 2006, Maria was recruited as the histology supervisor to work with Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz at UCSF to support the translational efforts of the laboratory. Maria’s part played an important role in performing the work necessary to initiate the clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease (PD). She came to the Grinberg Lab in 2013 where she manages the lab's histology protocols.

Natasha Z. Rabinowitz Steele, MPH

Program Manager

Natasha Rabinowitz Steele joined the MAC team in 2014 as the program manager of the Dementia Care Pathway program, led by Dr. Bruce Miller and Dr. Kate Rankin. This Quest Diagnostics-supported initiative translates best practices in screening, evaluating, and managing dementia and neurodegenerative disease into tools for primary care practitioners and their patients. As program manager, Natasha coordinates and integrates the ongoing diagnostic tool development and research of many different investigator led teams, including neuroimaging, neurobehavioral screening, genetics, economics, and rapidly progressive dementia.

Natasha earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College in Biology and a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the George Washington University. She’s particularly interested in working with patients and exploring how medicine and translational research can act synergistically to improve clinical outcomes, particularly in low-resource settings.

Outside of her academic interests, Natasha spends her free time painting or exploring the mountain ranges of the West Coast.

Kristi Lui

Clinical Research Coordinator

Kristi graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in biological sciences. During her time at Northwestern, Kristi volunteered at a local nursing home, Symphony of Evanston, with a focus on providing long term care in specialized memory care units.

After working with numerous patients in memory loss and dementia care, Kristi shifted her studies to a concentration of neurobiology and pursued research in the Laboratory of Human Neuroscience at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. Her research focused on the long term neurological effects in acute ischemic stroke patients from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

As of September 2015, Kristi joined the Memory and Aging Center as a research coordinator for the Care Ecosystem study. The study aims to learn more about the needs of both patients with dementia and their family, while improving the care of these patients and reducing health care costs in the future.

In her spare time, Kristi enjoys playing basketball, finding remote coffee shop corners in the Bay Area and hiking.

Austin Nguy

Lab Assistant

Austin is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley (class of 2016) where he is double majoring in molecular and cellular biology (biochemistry emphasis) and music (piano performance emphasis). In the Grinberg Lab he is responsible for image processing of stained brain tissue to include the photography and optimization of these images. He is also working to create and develop 3D reconstructions of brains sections in an effort to contribute to a holistic understanding of the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. He intends to pursue a medical career as a geriatrician or pediatrician.

Anna Milter

Content Producer

Anna graduated from UC Davis, where she majored in English and minored in Professional Writing. During her undergraduate career, Anna worked as a freelance content producer and managing editor for effect84 Development, a Bay Area based web and mobile application company. She also volunteered at the Memory and Aging Center while pursuing her bachelor’s degree, writing blogs and editing grant proposals. Anna holds specialized skills in technical communication and user experience documentation.

At the MAC, Anna works as a content producer. She supports a wide variety of projects, including the Care Ecosystem study and the Quest Diagnostics Neurobehavioral Screening program.

Marite Carrasco

Recruitment Coordinator

Marite graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in psychology and ethnic studies. While studying at San Jose State, Marite was involved with the Mental Health Ambassador program, where she worked alongside the Counseling and Psychological Center to help increase mental health literacy, provide multiculturally responsive services and reduce mental health stigma. Marite completed her honors thesis under Dr. Wei-Chien Lee investigating the alarmingly low college retention rates of first generation minority students.

Continuing to follow her passion to help underserved populations, Marite worked as a Health Educator at Stanford University in an effort to prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy behaviors for low-income Latino families with overweight children. Marite joined the Memory and Aging Center in May 2015 as a recruitment coordinator where she is leading enrollment efforts for the Care Ecosystem study. The study aims to learn more about the needs of both patients with dementia and their family, while improving the care of these patients and reducing costs in the future.

In her free time, Marite enjoys cooking, riding her bike and exploring what the Bay Area has to offer.

Hilary Heuer, PhD

Specialist

Dr. Heuer studies eye movements in aging and neurodegenerative disease as part of Dr. Adam Boxer's laboratory.

Isabel Sible

Clinical Research Coordinator

Isabel Sible graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015 with a degree in cognitive science. At Berkeley, she contributed to research on social and emotional changes that can occur in neurodegenerative diseases under the guidance of Dr. Robert Levenson. Additionally, she worked on a project in Dr. Robert Knight’s lab that focused on reconstructing music from intra-cranial recordings of the human brain.

Isabel joined the Memory and Aging Center in May of 2015. She is a clinical research coordinator to Drs. Bill Seeley and Virginia Sturm, examining how neurodegeneration of neural systems gives rise to changes in emotion and social functioning.

Join a Supportive Care Trial

Quality of Life Trials or Supportive Care Trials are research studies to evaluate improving the health, care or quality of life for people, typically without using study drugs or devices. UCSF's Memory and Aging Center (MAC) runs selected supportive trials for people with neurodegenerative disease. Your participation helps us evaluate these interventions. If one of our trials looks interesting to you, please talk with your doctor or contact the study team to see if it is appropriate for you.

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