Research Team

Stanley H. Appel, MD

Director, Peggy & Gary Edwards Endowed Chair
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, 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.

Aaron D. Thome, PhD

Assistant Research Member, Research Institute
Dr. Thome's research focuses on peripheral immune cells during the course of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Current trends in research focus primarily on microglia during the course of AD, justifiably, since they are the resident immune cell of the brain, are inflamed in late AD, and the genetics point to their dysfunction during disease.

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.

Douglas Casey, PhD
Research Assistant

Jing Hong Wang
Research Assistant

Shixiang Wen, BS
Research Assistant