Joseph Castellano, Ph.D.

Role: Principal Investigator

As a graduate student in David Holtzman's group at Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Joseph Castellano studied how the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease influences metabolism of the pathogenic amyloid beta peptide from brain interstitial fluid. He used in vivo microdialysis to show in behaving mice that clearance of this peptide is impeded by the presence of APOE4 whereas clearance in the context of more protective forms is faster. During his postdoctoral training in Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray's group at Stanford University, he became engrossed in characterizing factors in the periphery that reverse features of brain aging, finding that systemic umbilical cord plasma treatment revitalizes hippocampal function in aged mice. The Castellano laboratory focuses on characterizing the activity of blood-borne proteins like TIMP2 that mediate long-range effects on circuits in the brain in the context of Alzheimer's disease.



Ana Catarina Ferreira, Ph.D.

Role: Postdoctoral Scholar

Catarina received her PhD in Health Sciences in 2017 from the School of Medicine at the University of Minho in Portugal. During this time, she focused on the identification of novel mechanisms that regulate different forms of neural plasticity, specifically the generation of new neural cells in the adult brain and the implications of this plasticity in the overall maintenance of brain homeostasis and behavior. Catarina demonstrated that the iron-traffic protein lipocalin-2 (LCN2) is required to control quiescent and active states of adult neural stem cells for proper adult cell genesis, ultimately regulating cognitive function. As a postdoc in the Castellano lab, Catarina is focused on understanding how activity of the youth-associated blood-born factor TIMP2 shapes brain circuits linked to learning and memory and understanding this action in the context of Alzheimer’s disease. Outside the lab, Catarina enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and traveling.

Danielle Schwartz

Role: Associate Researcher

Danielle received her B.S. in Biology in 2016 from the Honor's College at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. During this time and following graduation, she worked in Dr. Peter Kalivas's lab investigating pathophysiology and behavior in rodent models of drug addiction at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). While at MUSC, Danielle also conducted clinical trials investigating cessation methods for tobacco use disorder as a Project Coordinator for Dr. Erin McClure. Outside of the lab, Danielle enjoys surfing, traveling, and spending time with friends and her cat, Taco.

Yihang Wang

Role: Masters student

Yihang received her B.S. in biology in 2018 from Wuhan University in China. During her undergraduate years, her study focused on conducting mouse surgeries to identify the neurocircuits associated with the hippocampus using different types of virus vectors. Her bachelor thesis is around identifying the monosynaptic input of the excitatory neurons of the amygdala on a whole-brain basis. As a new masters student here at Mount Sinai, her interest is to take what she learned before and direct it in a way that’s more focused on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Apart from scientific research, she also enjoys exploring New York’s numerous museums and Broadway shows and reading a good book with her cat Dulcinea purring on the lap.

Annie Phan

Role: Research Intern

Annie received her B.A. in Biology and Psychology from University of California, Berkeley, and she is currently a Master’s student at Columbia University. During her undergraduate career, she worked in Dr. Alison Harvey’s clinical sleep lab studying sleep deprivation and circadian tendency towards eveningness and their impact on cognition, with an emphasis on memory. She also worked in Dr. Lucia Jacobs’ lab studying the role of olfaction in spatial memory. Annie hopes to further her interest in learning and memory in the context of Alzheimer’s disease in the Castellano lab. Outside of school and lab, she enjoys hiking, kickboxing, and reading, and she is an avid traveler who hopes to visit all 7 continents.

Lab Alumni

Ambar Kleinbort, Barnard College/Columbia University

Role: Undergraduate Research Intern

Lab Member: May 2018 - September 2018