Research Team

Stanley H. Appel, MD

Director
Peggy & Gary Edwards Endowed Chair in ALS Research

Research in Dr. Appel’s laboratory is focused on developing new insights into neurodegenerative diseases with primary emphasis on ALS. Appel is Director of the MDA/ALS Research and Clinical Center at the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute, and past Director of a National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

David Beers, PhD

Associate Research Member
Houston Methodist Research Institute

Dr. Beer's research interests include the underlying mechanisms of neuroinflammation that contributes to neuron death in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and their relevant neuroprotective therapeutic targets. Current research efforts aim to understand the roles of microglia/monocytes and T lymphocytes on immune-mediated injury and repair in ALS and AD. Dr. Beers is investigating the neuroprotective potential of regulatory T lymphocytes as new cellular therapeutic options for ALS patients.

Weihua Zhao, PhD

Assistant Professor in Neurology and Neuroscience
Weill Cornell Medical College
Dr. Zhao is interested in the underlying mechanisms of neuroinflammation on motor neuron death and relevant therapeutic targets. Current research efforts aim to understand the roles of microglia/monocytes and T-cells on immune-mediated injury and repair in ALS. Dr. Zhao is investigating the neuroprotective potential of regulatory immune cells as new therapeutic options for ALS. Gene mutations on SOD1, TDP-43, and C9ORF72 have been linked to ALS.

Jason R. Thonhoff, MD, PhD
Instructor, Department of Neurology
Dr. Thonhoff's research focuses on the role of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in ALS. The loss of Treg function is associated with acceleration of disease progression in ALS. Dr. Thonhoff is exploring the mechanisms through which Treg function is lost in ALS and potential therapies aimed to enhance the neuroprotective function of Tregs. He is also investigating the use of autologous Treg infusions as a therapy for patients with ALS. In addition, he is involved in several clinical trials investigating novel treatments for patients with Myasthenia Gravis, Myotonic Dystrophy and CIDP.

Aaron D. Thome, PhD
Post-Doctoral Edwards Fellow
Dr. Thome has a background in neuroinflammation with regards to neurodegenerative disorders. He trained in genetics, neuroscience, and neuroimmunology while attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) prior to his postdoctoral appointment at Houston Methodist Neurological Institute. His current research involves elucidating the neuroinflammatory mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disease, specifically as it pertains to Alzheimer disease. The goal of the research is to examine inflammation in the central nervous system and in the periphery in hopes of finding signatures that define stage and rate of progression while also providing insight into novel therapeutic interventions to halt Alzheimer disease progression.

Douglas Casey, PhD
Research Assistant

Jing Hong Wang
Research Assistant

Shixiang Wen, BS
Research Assistant