The brain undergoes changes as we age, changing our skills, knowledge, memory, and many other aspects of our normal function. Aging is also the primary risk factor of chronic neurodegeneration and a strong modifier of the effects of acute brain injuries. Our faculty work to understand the changes that occur in the brain with aging and to combat diseases like neurodegeneration in order to allow for quality of our entire lives.

Division Director

G. William Rebeck

APOE and AD. The Rebeck lab focuses on the effects of APOE genotype in cognitive impairment with aging. Recent work has focused on cognitive impairment induced by chemotherapy and metabolic disturbances. Rebeck Lab website

Participating Faculty

Casey Brown

Emotional and social aspects of aging. The Brown Laboratory investigates how interpersonal emotional processes influence healthy aging, and how these processes go awry in dyads where one individual has a neurodegenerative disease. Brown website

Mark Burns

Traumatic brain injury. The Burns lab investigates how traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly repetitive mild TBI, causes dementia and neurodegeneration, including how factors such as aging and APOE status interact with TBI to exacerbate amyloid/tau pathology. blood brain barrier repair, and sleep. Burns Lab website

Isaac Cervantes-Sandoval

Learning, memory and forgetting. The Cervantes’ lab is trying to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of active forgetting and how they are affected by aging. Cervantes-Sandoval Lab website

Kathy Conant

Brain debris clearance and neuronal remodeling with aging. The Conant lab examines monoamin≥ e reuptake inhibitors’ effects on cognitive reserve in animal models, identifying mechanistic connections between depression and neurodegeneration. Conant Lab website

Rhonda Dzakpasu

In vitro models of neural networks. The Dzakpasu lab investigates network-wide in vitro neuronal activity and synchronization parameters using a microelectrode array system in co-cultures of hippocampal neurons with genetically modified astrocytes to determine aging-related patterns. Dzakpasu Lab website

Rebekah Evans

Functionally dissecting brain cells and circuits.The Evans lab investigates how brain circuits are functionally altered by behavioral factors (such as nicotine use and exercise) in healthy and Parkinsonian mouse models. Evans Lab website (new window)

Sarah Flowers

Detecting and treating Alzheimer’s at the very early stages. Flowers Lab website

Patrick Forcelli

Neural circuitry underlying seizure. The Forcelli lab examines the propagation, complex behaviors, and the treatment of seizures in perinatal and adult animal models using a combination of lesions, focal pharmacological, electrical, and state of the art pharmacogenetic and optogenetic methods. Forcelli Lab website

Rhonda Friedman

Language impairment in Primary Progressive Aphasia. The Friedman lab tests experimental treatment protocols for persons with acquired language disorders from stroke, head injury, or dementia.  Friedman Lab website

Nady Golestaneh

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The Golestaneh lab are defining the underlying mechanism of AMD using adult stem cells, establishing new animal models of AMD for drug development, testing novel drugs in vivo, and investigating how aging can induce retinal degeneration. Golestaneh Lab website

Brent Harris

Pathological characteristics of neurodegenerative disease. The Harris lab focus on role of glia in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, including proliferation and senescence of astrocytes in culture, animal models of disease, and in human tissues (with particular focus on ALS). Harris Lab website

Jeff Huang

Glia-neuron interactions in myelination. The Huang lab focuses on mechanisms of oligodendrocyte regulation and myelin regeneration, and its relevance to neuroinflammatory disorders of aging, examining effects of CNS development, homeostasis, and regeneration. Huang Lab website

Xiong Jiang

Functional brain imaging as biomarkers for neurodegeneration. Research in the Jiang lab focuses on developing advanced MRI techniques to detect and quantify neural injury at early stages of neurodegenerative diseases, including in HIV-infected older adults and in AD. Jiang Lab website

Ken Kellar

Nicotine treatment for cognitive impairment in AD. The Kellar lab examine the pharmacology and regulation of nicotinic cholinergic receptors and the neurotransmission pathways stimulating the release of norepinephrine, dopamine and acetylcholine. Kellar Lab website

Kathy Maguire-Zeiss

Glial activation in neurodegeneration. The Maguire-Zeiss laboratory studies molecular mechanisms involved in neurodegenerative disorders with an emphasis on immune responses in the brain. Research focuses on brain disorders that are typified by protein misfolding and inflammation. Maguire-Zeiss Lab website

Italo Mocchetti

Cross-talk of HIV and AD neuropathogenesis. The Mocchetti lab investigate commonalities between HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases in the loss of synaptic connectivity, with a focus on neurotropic factors. Mocchetti Lab website

Charlie Moussa

Clinical therapeutics to promote autophagy in proteinopathies. The Moussa lab evaluates potential therapeutic drugs for neurodegenerative diseases in pre-clinical models and current clinical trials, including cellular, biochemical and pathological mechanisms that underlie neurodegeneration. Moussa Lab website

Dan Pak

APP processing and dendritic spine plasticity. The Pak lab examines the normal physiological roles of AD-related genes related to synaptic function and plasticity and how these pathways are regulated during aging and pathogenesis. Pak Lab website

Scott Turner

Biomarkers and clinical trials in AD and HIV-related dementias. The Memory Disorders Program works on development and validation of novel biomarkers for prodromal AD, MCI, and AD; drug discovery for the treatment and prevention of MCI and AD; and interaction of geriatric HIV with AD. Turner Lab website

Peter Turkeltaub

Stroke in language and cognition. The Turkeltaub lab define the brain’s organization for language and other cognitive faculties, how this organization changes in the context of developmental or aging-related disorders, and mechanisms to enhance recovery. Turkeltaub Lab website

Michael Ullman

Language and memory in aging and neurodegeneration. The Ullman lab studies how the declarative/procedural model of language and other cognitive abilities are affected in the aging brain. Ullman Lab website

Stefano Vicini

Hippocampal balance of excitatory and inhibitory processes. The Vicini lab focuses on hippocampal network activities using electrophysiological, anatomical, and pharmacological techniques, examining synaptic plasticity based on post-synaptic receptors during development and aging. Vicini Lab website

TingTing Wang

Molecular mechanisms of homeostatic plasticity. Using the model of Drosophila melanogaster, the Wang lab identify pathways that underlie the homeostatic control of the nervous system and studies how it is impaired is in neurological, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Wang Lab website


Memory Disorders Program. Our mission is to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by conducting innovative research, educating and training healthcare professionals and the public on research advances, and offering state-of-the-art clinical care.

Movement Disorders Clinic. As the District of Columbia’s only designated Center of Excellence by the National Parkinson Foundation, our team of neurologists, neurosurgeons and therapists provide thorough evaluations, accurate diagnoses and effective treatment options for patients with Parkinson’s disease and related movement disorders. Therapeutic research protocols include dietary control of Parkinsonism, and the role of sweeteners and other foods in the control of Parkinsonism.

Georgetown Brain Bank. The Georgetown Brain Bank provides an integrated educational, clinical, and experimental resource to the Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Health neuroscience community and our patients and their families. We provide detailed neuropathological evaluation as well as stewardship of tissue/biofluid procurement, storage, and distribution.