Ben Philpot, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

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Dr. Ben Philpot is an associate director at UNC neuroscience center. He earned his Ph.D. in psychobiology from the University of Virginia in the lab of Dr. Peter Brunjes.  He performed a neuroscience postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Bear at Brown University and M.I.T., before coming to UNC in 2004.  He is currently a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and a member of the Neurobiology Curriculum and the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities.  He is the co-Director of a cross-disciplinary postdoctoral training grant for the CIDD.  He studies basic mechanisms of cortical plasticity during critical periods of brain development. His recent research has focused on identifying the synaptic basis and therapeutic approaches for treating monogenic neurodevelopmental disorders.


Matt Judson, Ph.D., Research Associate

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Dr. Matt Judson earned his Ph.D. under Dr. Pat Levitt at Vanderbilt University. He was the recipient of a postdoctoral NRSA from NINDS, and he is currently a NARSAD Young Investigator. The principal focus of his research in the Philpot lab is to determine the cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying Angelman syndrome-like phenotypes in model mice, with an emphasis on factors contributing to excitatory/inhibitory imbalance. He is also using complementary diffusion tensor imaging and electron microscopy approaches to investigate causes of microcephaly in Angelman syndrome mice. His general research interests include neurodevelopmental disorders and forebrain circuit development and function.


HM Lee, Ph.D., Research Associate

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Dr. HM Lee earned his PhD from Florida State University in 2010 and is a recipient of NARSAD from Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. He worked in Dr. Bryan Roth lab in Pharmacology department at UNC and joined this lab as a postdoctoral fellow in 2015. His work in Philpot lab focuses on identifying and characterizing small molecules that are capable of unsilencing dormant copy of MeCP2 using high-throughput and content screening. He also works on characterizing Topoisomerase inhibitors in Angelman syndrome mouse model.

 

 


Ralf Schmid, Ph.D., MSCR, Research Associate

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Dr. Ralf Schmid is a neuroscientist with extensive experience in basic and transnational research in academic and pharmaceutical settings. His research interest is to find novel therapeutic approaches for Rett Syndrome, a monogenetic, X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder. His research attempts to find a way to unsilence the transcriptionallly inactive allele of MeCP2 to allow re-expression of MeCP2, which should vastly improve disease symptoms, according to results obtained with mouse models. He is part of a team that is screening libraries of thousands of compounds from different academic and pharmaceutical collaborators in cell based assays to identify promising drug candidates for MeCP2 unsilencing.


Mike Sidorov, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

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Dr. Mike Sidorov earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at MIT in 2014. He is broadly interested in understanding how experience modifies synapses, cells, and circuits, and how these processes are disrupted in mouse models of human disease. As a graduate student, he studied how metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling regulates synaptic plasticity in mouse visual cortex, and tested the hypothesis that pharmacological inhibition of metabotropic glutamate receptors in adulthood may improve synaptic function and behavior in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome. He currently focuses on how experience modifies synapses and circuits in mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders, using in vivo and in vitro methods.


Bin Gu, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

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Dr. Bin Gu graduated from Duke University for his Ph.D. in 2015 and joined the Philpot lab. His broad research interests involve in exploring the mechanism of neurological disorders and translational studies leading to a treatment. His initial postdoctoral efforts were to examine seizure susceptibility and development in Angelman syndrome model mice and further dissect the cellular and circuit mechanisms to inform treatment strategies for the debilitating and intractable epilepsies commonly observed in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. He loves playing tennis and hanging out with his family and friends. Let’s go BLUE DEVILS.


Charles Shyng, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

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Dr. Charles Shyng earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology under Dr. Mark Sands at Washington University in St. Louis in 2016. He is currently a CIDD T32 Trainee under the co-mentorship of Drs. Ben Philpot and Steven Gray. His primary project in the Philpot lab is to develop an AAV gene therapy strategy for the treatment of Angelman Syndrome. Through the co-mentorship with the Gray lab, he is also working on the development of AAV vectors that have enhanced transduction of specific CNS cell types. His research interests revolve around the study and treatment of rare and orphan diseases and the development of combinatorial viral-based gene therapies.


 Sally Hyojin Kim, Graduate Student

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Sally Kim earned her B.S. in Biology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. She started as an undergraduate assistant in the Philpot lab and received Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship for her research in 2013. After graduation, she worked as a research technician for one year, focusing on experience-dependent structural plasticity in Angelman syndrome mouse model using in vivo two-photon microscopy. She joined Philpot lab for her thesis in 2016 and has worked intensively with in vivo multiphoton microscopy and the behavioral experiments. She is broadly interested in how different forms of learning and memory are closely linked to the organization of synaptic networks.


Bram Kuijer, M.S., Lab Manager

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Bram Kuijer earned his A.B. in Physics from Dartmouth College and worked as a process engineer at Corning. After taking a few Pharmacology courses out of interest, he returned to school and earned his Biology/Biochemistry degree from UNC at Greensboro and recently graduated with M.S. in Pharmaceutical Research. Bram works with all members of the lab as the point of contact for various departments and companies. His major research work in Philpot lab has been focused on investigating small molecules that can unsilence dormant copies of Mecp2. Bram is planning to earn a Ph.D. in Materials Science with a concentration in Nanomaterials in Drug Development.

 


Marie Rougie, M.S., Research Technician

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Marie Rougie earned her Master degree in Pharmacology from University of Strasbourg in France in 2007. She previously gained a lot of experiences in using microscopy and maintaining mouse colonies. She joined Philpot lab as a research technician in 2015. Her work focuses on molecular aspects of research such as immunohistochemistry and western blot. Also, she has been working on the IMPG2 project. Outside of the lab, she enjoys rock climbing.

 

 


Ellen Clark, Research Technician

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Ellen recently graduated from Rollins College with a major in Biology, a focus in pre-medicine, as well as a minor in studio art. During her undergraduate schooling, she had the opportunity to conduct research encompassing PCR optimizations of mouse cell lines involved with a range of cancers. After graduating, she strove to heighten her experience in translational research, particularly regarding neurology. She works closely with Dr. HM Lee, in hopes to discover drugs that would serve as a potential treatment of either Rett Syndrome or Angelman syndrome. Additionally, she is pursuing medical school, in which she aims to attend within the next couple of years.


Mason Riley, Graduate Student

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Mason earned his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016 with a major in Biology and minors in chemistry and Spanish. He worked in a genetics lab previously, but became interested in researching neuroscience for his Ph.D. He joined the Philpot lab in May 2017. His project focuses on discovering the substrates disrupted in Angelman Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder, in the hopes that these disrupted proteins can be targeted pharmacologically.

 

 

 


Samantha Chery, Post-Baccalaureate scholar

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Samantha Chery received her B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in Mathematics from Georgia State University in 2016. As an undergraduate in the lab of Dr. Angela Mabb she examined the behavioral consequences of Arc ubiquitination on learning and memory. Sam is now a Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program scholar working in the lab of Dr. Ben Philpot where she is studying the pathophysiology of Angelman syndrome. Specifically, she is working to identify substrates for the E3 ubiquitin ligase, UBE3A, whose loss causes Angelman syndrome. She is interested in research ranging from behavior to molecular mechanisms in learning and memory, pain and neurodevelopment. When she is not in the lab, Sam enjoys hiking, volunteering and tutoring adults in Mathematics.


Marissa Rice, Undergraduate student

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Marissa Rice is an undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill in her senior year, majoring in biology. After participating in aBiotechnology and Medical Research Academy while attending high school, she started working in the research lab of Dr. Miller at UNC in her freshman year. Her research in Dr. Philpot’s lab  focuses on  Rett syndrome. She is generating molecular tools under supervision of Dr. Ralf Schmid for this project. The goal of the Rett syndrome project is to re-activate of dormant wildtype MeCP2 as a therapeutic approach. Marissa is also experienced in biochemical methods, tissues culture and microscopy. She plans to apply for biomedical graduate programs after graduation.

 


Lab Alumni

Rebekah Nash, M.D./Ph.D. – Fellowship at Department of Psychiatry at UNC
Alexander Kloth, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor at Augustana University
Courtney Thaxton, Ph.D. – Biocurator, Berg Lab at UNC
Kelly Jones, Ph.D. – Medical Writer at Quintiles
Angela Mabb, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor at Georgia State University
Janet Berrios, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow in Brad Lowell lab at Harvard
Portia Kunz, Ph.D. – Faculty Instructor at Ragsdale High School
Rylan Larsen, Ph.D. – Scientist I at Allen Institute for Brain Science
Mike Wallace, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow in Sabatini lab at Harvard
Hsien-Sung Huang, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor at National Taiwan University
Koji Yashiro, Ph.D. – Alliance Manager at Bayer, Japan
Rebekah Corlew, Ph.D. – Project Director, Mass Media Fellowship at AAAS
Maile Henson, Ph.D. – Research Development Associate at Duke University
Thorfinn Riday, Ph.D. – Postdoc in Agulhon lab at Paris Descartes University
Adam Roberts, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor at California State University-Fullerton