Our Team

Astrocytes | Center for Neuroregeneration | Houston Methodist

Phil J Horner
Philip J Horner, PhD
Principal Investigator
Phil Horner received a PhD in physiology from Ohio State University in 1995. He did his postdoctoral 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.

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 postdoctoral 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, PHD
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW
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 CHABOUB PhD

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW

Lesley completed her PhD 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).

Leslie Rojas, BS
Research Assistant
Leslie Rojas began at the Center for Neuroregeneration in March 2017 as an Undergraduate Research Fellow and was later hired as a Research Assistant after graduation to manage our wet lab as well as assist Matt Hogan on his various projects. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Control and Instrumentation Engineering Technology from University of Houston-Downtown with Dr. Vassilios Tzouanas as her mentor. With her interests in both the engineering and healthcare fields, her senior project consisted of developing an affordable baby incubator as a possible solution to decrease infant mortality in developing countries. In her free time, Leslie enjoys going on food excursions, music shows and exploring Houston or surrounding cities for her daily dose of walking!

VISITING AND ROTATING RESEARCHERS:

Robert Scranton, MD 

Neurosurgeon, Neurological Surgery, Goodman Campbell Brain & Spine, Indianapolis, IN, USA
Sean Barber, MD

Junior Attending Complex Spine Fellow, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
Meng Huang, MD 

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA
Virendra Desai, MD

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA
Zain Boghani, MD

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA
William Steele, MD

Resident, Department of Neurosurgery, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA
Caio Quini, PhD

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Sao Paulo State Univeristy, Sao Paulo, BRA

Cassandra Baker

Undergraduate Research Fellow, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA
Amanda Altenhofen

Summer Intern 2016, 2017, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Pranav Gadangi

Summer Intern 2016, Texas A&m University, College Station, TX, USA
Roberto Alcazar Felix

MD/PhD Rotation Student 2016, Tecnologico De Monterrey, Monterrey, MEX
Jocelyn Nikita Campa

MD/PhD Rotation Student 2017, Tecnologico De Monterrey, Monterrey, MEX
Dixita Viswanath

MD/PhD Rotation Student 2016, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA
Jonny Cummock 

MD/PhD Rotation Student 2016, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA
Drew Levy

Undergraduate Research Fellow, Summer Intern 2017, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
John Boom

Summer Intern 2017, St. John's School, Houston, TX, USA

The Horner Lab MVPs:

Don Maris

Laboratory & Operations Manager, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Berit Powers, PhD

Assistant Director, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA, USA
Drew Sellers, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Denise Inman, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Northeast Ohio Medical University Foundation, Rootstown, OH, USA
Bryan White, PhD

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

Project Manager, PSI CRO UK Ltd, Oxford, GBR
Laura Horky, MD

Nuclear Medicine Physician, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA, USA
Wendi Lambert, PhD

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