Our Team

Astrocytes | Center for Neuroregeneration | Houston Methodist

Phil J Horner
Philip J Horner, PhD
Principal Investigator
Phil Horner received a Ph.D. in physiology from Ohio State University in 1995. He did his post-doctoral training with Dr. Fred H. Gage and became a staff scientist in the Lab of Genetics at the Salk Institute in 1998. In 2001, Dr. Horner joined the faculty of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. He directed a laboratory at the UW South Lake Union Campus and was a member of the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. In 2015, Dr. Horner became the Scientific Director of the Center for Neuroregeneration and the Co-Director, Center for Regenerative and Restorative Neurosurgery at the Houston Methodist Research Institute. He also holds a faculty position at the Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. Dr. Horner’s research focuses on the role of glial and neural progenitor cells in the regeneration of the injured and aging nervous system. During his free time, he likes to smoke salmon, cook paella and play with his Australian Shepherd.

Sid Gunamalai, ms
Research Manager
Sid Gunamalai graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering in India and decided to further his education with a Master’s Degree before beginning his scientific career at the Baylor College of Medicine in 2011 before joining the Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2012. He has been working with various different animal models using mice and rats, performing various surgical techniques, breeding, blood draws, and organ collection. He also manages the laboratory and trains users on multiple techniques. His expertise includes various cell culture assays, extensive molecular biology techniques, genetics, cloning, immunohistochemistry and protein engineering. Outside of work, he is always ready to go on hikes, fishing trips and camping or play cricket. In his spare time, he also loves to build computers, furniture, paint and play video games.

Matthew Hogan | Center for Neuroregeneration | Houston Methodist
Matthew Hogan, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Matt Hogan's research focuses is on semi-high throughput methods for optogenetic interrogation of neurons. He hopes to elucidate the role, if any, of neurons in spinal regeneration. Prior to joining Dr. Horner’s lab, Matt completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Houston under the mentorship of Dr. Ravi K Birla. He participated in the development of multiple engineered cardiac tissue models including heart muscle, ventricle and whole heart models. He also deployed several novel bioreactors for the conditioning and maintenance of in vitro tissue mimetic cultures. Matt enjoys woodworking, guitar, coding, cooking and sports. Most weekends we find him tinkering in his workshop at home or being forcibly cultured by his more sophisticated significant other.

Bethany Kondiles
Graduate Student
Bethany is a graduate student enrolled at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she is co-mentored by Dr. Horner[Houston Methodist] and Dr. Perlmutter[UW, Seattle]. She is a visiting fellow at HMRI to pursue her work in spinal cord injury. She is interested in the ways neural activity influences white matter remodeling following spinal cord injury. Prior to graduate school, she conducted research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Brain Injury Program, which inspired her to pursue her graduate studies in traumatic neural injuries. She hopes to pursue a career in academic research and translational research, with the goal of improving outcomes for patients who have suffered traumatic injuries. When not in lab, she enjoys partner acrobatics, rock climbing, and skiing.

Zonia Barbosa
Zonia Barbosa, MD 
Postdoctoral Fellow
Zonia Barbosa completed her medical education in Bogota, Colombia. She graduated from the San Martin University and moved to New York City in 2013 to expand her horizons and continue her professional medical training. She joined the Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2015 as a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of Regenerative Medicine, where she worked with animals and learned different laboratory techniques. She joined the Center of Neuroregeneration in 2016 and she is working in spinal cord injury and regeneration in animal models. Zonia likes handicrafts and is always trying different techniques including encaustic photography, knitting and hand lettering, and she enjoys her free time exploring nature with her French bulldog.

Cinzia Stigliano | Center for Neuroregeneration | Houston Methodist
Cinzia Stigliano, PhD 
Postdoctoral Fellow
Cinzia works on the delivery of therapeutic agents with nanoparticles to spinal cord injury in mouse and rat models. She completed her PhD in Biotechnology at University of Bari, Italy and she has worked as post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Nanomedicine before she decided to apply her nanomedicine expertise in neuroregeneration. Cinzia loves travel and have fun with yoga and spinning classes in the free time.

Tae Hoon Lee | Center for Neuroregeneration | Houston Methodist
Tae Hoon Lee, PhD
Research Associate
Tae Hoon is developing a Maloney viral packaging system for neuroregeneration after spinal cord injury. He majored in biochemistry and earned his PhD from Yonsei University, South Korea. He has broad experience with multiple publications in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, immunology, and translational imaging.

Betsy Salazar's research focuses on the use of noninvasive electrical stimulation to promote remyelination and motor recovery following spinal cord injury. She completed her doctoral training at the University of Houston in 2015, where her research mainly focused on the electrophysiological characteristics of the rodent heart including whole heart models, ex-vivo, as well as bioengineered cardiac constructs. Upon completion of her PhD, Dr. Salazar began postdoctoral training at the Houston Methodist Research Institute under the guidance of Dr. Alvaro Munoz and Dr. Timothy B. Boone. There, she investigated the electromyographic characterization of the lower urinary tract in intact and spinal cord injury rodent models. Currently, she utilizes her time on the use of noninvasive electrical stimulation to promote remyelination and recovery following a spinal cord injury in rodent models. In her spare time, Betsy enjoys reading, drawing, traveling, and spending time with her fiancée and wonderful puppy.



Lesley completed her Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in 2016 where she studied astrocyte development. She identified novel genes expressed in astrocytes through a temporal profiling screen, and went on to study their functions in development and disease, especially Multiple Sclerosis and Hypoxic injury patients. She joined The Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2017 where she is interested in studying the biology of the myelin sheath in health and regeneration after injuries. She has experience in genetics, cellular and molecular biology and several injury models. She loves traveling and reading books when she has time for it. But lately, in her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 babies (2 human babies and 1 furry baby).



Avery is a native Texan. She began her work at the Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2017 focusing on breeding and colony management. Avery earned her degree in Microbiology from the University of Texas at San Antonio where her studies focused on microorganisms and medicinal plant biochemistry. In addition to pursuing her interest in research, Avery does scientific and medical editing in the subjects of biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology. Avery is also a dedicated mother to one young daughter and spends her time exploring with her when she’s not in the lab.

Tatiana Wolfe
Tatiana Wolfe, PhD

Tatiana is a medical physicist working on the development of new imaging techniques and processes to undermine soft-tissue features non-invasively. She is focusing on magnetic signatures of myelin in the central nervous system (CNS) under Dr. Philip Horner’s mentorship. She has experience in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and clinical radiation physics. Imaging reconstruction and signal decomposition are her areas of interest. Tatiana also has experience with biological assays at the basic science level, preclinical level and, more recently, has initiated studies in human subjects. Her favorite hobbies are cooking, reading and writing. Currently, she has a new book under pre-edition themed on the pleasure of cooking healthy, which blends bold recipes from the Brazilian, Portuguese and American cuisines. Tatiana is a very nurturing mother and wife, and she likes to spend the weekends outdoors with her husband and two kids.


Robert scranton, MD

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery

Houston Methodist Hospital

SEAN Barber, MD

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery

Houston Methodist Hospital


Resident, Department of Neurosurgery

Houston Methodist Hospital


Resident, Department of Neurosurgery

Houston Methodist Hospital

ZAIN Boghani, MD

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery

Houston Methodist Hospital

William Steele, MD

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery

Houston Methodist Hospital

Caio quini

Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow

São Paulo State University, Brazil

amanda altenhofen

Summer Intern 2016, 2017

Baylor University

Pranav gadangi

Summer Intern 2016

Texas A&M University

roberto alcázar félix

MD/PhD Rotation Student 2016

Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico


MD/PhD Rotation Student 2017

Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico

DIxita viswanath

MD/PhD Rotation Student 2016

Texas A&M University

jonny cummock

MD/PhD Rotation Student 2016

Texas A&M University

drew levy

Summer Intern 2017

Duke University


Summer Intern 2017

St. John's School, Houston


The Horner Lab MVPs:


Laboratory & Operations Manager,
University of Washington, Seattle and
Houston Methodist Research Institute


Senior Scientist,
Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA, USA


Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering,
University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

denise inman

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Northeast Ohio Medical University Foundation, Rootstown, OH, USA


Senior Lecturer, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences,
University of Washington Bothell, WA, USA


Clinical Trial Lead, PSI CRO UK Ltd,
Oxford, United Kingdom


Nuclear Medicine Physician,
Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA, USA


Senior Staff Scientist, Vanderbilt Eye Institute, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA