Dr. Berretta is the director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC) and the Translational Neuroscience Laboratory at McLean Hospital, as well as an associate professor of psychiatry (neuroscience) at Harvard Medical School. She is responsible for the overall management of the HBTRC, from its mission and vision to its daily procedures. She works closely with leadership at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) NeuroBioBank (NBB) leadership, private foundations and investigators who are interested in requesting tissue from the HBTRC. She also participates in community education activities and family advocacy meetings. She is part of the HBTRC Consensus Diagnosis Team, which conducts thorough analyses of HBTRC donors to rebuild a full picture of their health conditions. Dr. Berretta's research focuses on the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders, with a particular emphasis on the role of the extracellular matrix in brain disorders and the neural circuits involved in regulating emotion and psychiatric symptoms. She strongly believes that research on brain disorders is not only essential to our knowledge of their pathology and advancement of new therapeutic approaches, but also to our understanding of people impacted by these disorders. Such understanding is critical to combat stigmatization and its socio-economical and legal implications.
Dr. Ruzicka is the associate medical director of the HBTRC and director of the Laboratory for Epigenomics in Human Psychopathology at McLean Hospital. He is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, associated scientist at the Broad Institute and a clinical fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is responsible for the clinical assessment of brain donors, directs the HBTRC Consensus Diagnosis Team in their efforts to gain an in-depth understanding of donors' diagnoses, and serves as a donation coordinator during off hours. Dr. Ruzicka specializes in the clinical treatment and basic investigation of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has longstanding expertise in studying human postmortem brain tissue.
Dr. Klengel is the associate scientific director of the HBTRC and director of the Translational Molecular Genomics Laboratory at McLean Hospital. He is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Together with Dr. Ruzicka, he is responsible for the clinical assessment of brain donors and serves as a donation coordinator during off hours. Together with Drs. Berretta and Ruzicka, he is also engaged in QC, technology development and implementation, and collaborations with partners inside McLean, the NeuroBioBank and beyond. Dr. Klengel specializes in translational research with a focus on stress- and trauma related disorders, epigenetics and transcriptomics.
Dr. Vatsavayi is a clinician-researcher at the HBTRC and McLean Hospital. He is also an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Together with Drs. Ruzicka and Klengel he is involved in clinical consensus review of brain donors. He is passionate about developing novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions to manage psychiatric disorders. Dr. Vatsavayi has expertise in deep phenotyping of complex neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative presentations.
Dr. Oakley is a neuropathologist at the HBTRC and an instructor in pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He is responsible for the neuropathological assessment of HBTRC brain donors and is part of the HBTRC Consensus Diagnosis Team. His research utilizes patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells for the study of tauopathies, a class of neurodegenerative disorders pathologically defined by the presence of tau protein aggregates in the brain.
Dr. Folorunso is the assistant director of HBTRC outreach and community engagement, a research fellow in the Translational Neuroscience Laboratory, and the McLean Mental Health Research Summer Program (MMHRSP) director at McLean Hospital. He is also an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is responsible for HBTRC K-12 neuroscience outreach activities, building relationships with local communities to communicate HBRTC-related research activities, and establishing programs to increase representation in mental health research and careers. Dr. Folorunso's research focuses on how changes during brain development caused by genetic or environmental factors lead to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
Kathleen (Kay) M. Sullivan -- Program Manager
As the HBTRC program manager, Ms. Sullivan is responsible for the oversight of all HBTRC activities, including acquisition and processing of tissues and clinical records, donor registrations, inventory and facility management, quality control management, and educational outreach. A critical component of her work is ensuring the HBTRC's compliance with NIH and HIPAA regulations, and monitoring all activities to protect the confidentiality of HBTRC donors and their families. Kay also plays a key role in managing tissue requests through the NIH NeuroBioBank portal, interacting with investigators and with her counterparts from the other NeuroBioBank tissue repositories. Kay is a strong supporter of brain donation awareness and participates actively in many HBTRC educational initiatives. In her free time, she enjoys taking road trips throughout the New England area.
Tori Turpin -- Research Project Manager
Ms. Turpin is the Research Project Manager at the HBTRC. Her role involves overseeing daily operations of the brain bank while ensuring privacy and compliance throughout the donation process. Tori is excited to tackle procedural improvement by implementing innovative solutions and to expand the scope of educational outreach at the HBTRC. She is passionate about diversity and inclusivity and aims to foster initiatives that reflect these principles in brain donation. In her spare time, Tori snowboards in the winter, relaxes on the beach in the summer, and travels spontaneously regardless of season.
David J. Ennulat, PhD -- Database Manager
Dr. Ennulat is the HBTRC database manager, research IT specialist and technical liaison. He is responsible for the administration of the HBTRC database and is involved in all technical aspects of the HBTRC's daily operations, providing guidance, testing, documentation and training to ensure compliance with IT security requirements. A key aspect of Dr. Ennulat's work is preparing and uploading regular data transfers between the HBTRC and the NIH NeuroBioBank.
Myrtha Constant -- Histologist
Ms. Constant is the HBTRC histologist. She has extensive experience in histology in both clinical and research laboratories. In her role, Myrtha manages the HBTRC Histology Laboratory and oversees all aspects of histological and immunostaining procedures needed for neuropathology. She works closely with Dr. Oakley to generate histological slides for neuropathology reports and also contributes to the preparation of tissue requests for investigators.
Darren Chernicky -- Clinical Liaison
Mr. Chernicky is an HBTRC clinical liaison who works with prospective brain donors and their families to address inquiries about registration and brain donation. A skilled member of the Donation Coordination Team, Darren serves as a donation coordinator both during and after typical office hours. Darren also maintains close relationships with donors' families, working with them to obtain health records and information on each donor's background through family questionnaires and eventually providing a copy of their loved one's neuropathology report. Darren plays an active role in administrative aspects of the HBTRC and is a member of the HBTRC Consensus Diagnosis Team. Outside work, his interests include swimming in the Atlantic as long as the New England weather allows and hiking in the forest even when the weather doesn't allow.
Yuliya Leuchanka -- Clinical Liaison
Ms. Leuchanka is a clinical liaison at the HBTRC. Yuliya regularly speaks with prospective brain donors and their families regarding registration, consent, and inquiries related to the process of brain donation. With a background in accounting, she contributes to handling many administrative components of the brain bank operations. She also addresses many requests from investigators and provides clinical information on donors to enrich researchers’ studies. Yuliya loves travelling and dreams about climbing to Machu Picchu, swimming through the Amazon rainforest, and cuddling with kangaroos in Australia. Meanwhile she practices yoga and takes care of the roses in her backyard garden.
Caroline Raizel -- Clinician Liaison
Ms. Raizel is a clinician liaison for the HBTRC who works with potential brain donors and their families to answer questions regarding registration and brain Additionally, it maintains regular contact with donors' families, working with them to get health records and background data on each donation through family questionnaires, and eventually giving them a copy of their loved one's neuropathology report. When not working, Ms. Raizel likes to take her dog for long walks and paint.
Catalina Tabit -- Clinical Liaison
Ms. Tabit is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina where she studied psychology and minored in business administration and Spanish. Catalina is interested in the ways that psychiatric disorders affect the brain and has hopes of becoming more involved with research in the future. In her free time, she love hiking with her dog, trying new restaurants with friends, and traveling.
Michael Chatigny -- Tissue Coordinator
Mr. Chatigny is a tissue coordinator at HBTRC. Mikey comes from a background working with children diagnosed with an array of psychological disorders. Much of his experience has been working within a clinical setting, aiding children in regulating their emotions and learning to live and cope with the challenges they may face having these disorders. He hopes that the past clinical experience he has will aid him in his experience working with donors and their families to ensure the process is as empathetic as possible. Mr. Chatigny is eager to dive into this new chapter aiding the team in their research. On his off days, he can often be found getting lost in the mountains to hike or snowboard or have his nose in a book somewhere.
Allison MacKenzie -- Tissue Coordinator
Ms. MacKenzie is a Tissue Coordinator for the HBTRC. Allie is a mortuary science student with a passion for pathology. She also works in a funeral home and as an Emergency Medical Technician. Allie hopes to apply this experience to her work with HBTRC by providing insight and knowledge on the subjects, as well as support and empathy when working with donor's families. She looks forward to learning more about neuroscience and anatomy, and hopes to one day assist in tissue procurement. In her free time she enjoys drawing, reading, or spending time with her dogs.
Phyllis Oduor -- Tissue Coordinator
Ms. Oduor is a tissue coordinator at the HBTRC. She is passionate about Neuroscience and aspires to deepen her understanding of NeuroAnatomy through her experience at the Brain Bank. Combining her profound interest in healthcare research and medicine, Phyllis is committed to leveraging her role as a TC to promote Neuroscience research and raise awareness about its clinical significance. She is also looking forward to delving into the intricacies of brain donation and its far-reaching implications in scientific advancement. Ultimately, Phyllis hopes to contribute to the advancement of Neuroscience research, particularly in underserved regions. In her free time, Phyllis enjoys dancing, spending time with friends, or listening to Afrobeats.
Kiely French -- After-hours Dissectionist
Ms. French splits her time between Harvard Brain and Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC) and the Translational Neuroscience Lab, where she works as a tissue coordinator and research assistant respectively. Kiely has previous biological research looking at the impact of trauma on children’s inflammatory response, which has now fueled her interest in understanding how trauma impacts neurology. Working at HBTRC has greatly aided her understanding of neuroanatomy, which has been incredibly useful to better understand her work in the lab. Ms. French looks forward to continuing her work with HBTRC and becoming more involved with the clinical side of donation. In her free time, Ms. French enjoys collecting sea shells, drawing, and playing rugby.
Matt Esposito -- Histologist Assistant
Mr. Esposito is a Histologist Assistant for the HBTRC.
- Dr. Francine M. Benes, MD, PhD -- Director
- Dr. T. Wilson Woo, MD, PhD -- Medical Director
- Dr. John C. Hedreen, MD -- Neuropathologist
- Daniel Mordes, MD, PhD -- Neuropathologist
- Jade S. Desmarais -- Tissue Coordinator
- Lou Fernandes -- Tissue Coordinator
- Jose Gonzalez -- Tissue Coordinator
- Jorge Tejada -- Tissue Coordinator
- Christian Weiser -- Tissue Coordinator
- Tameka Moore -- Tissue Coordinator
- Iris Lopez -- Clinical Liaison
- Carla Luna -- Clinical Liaison
- Joseph Manzo -- Clinical Liaison
- Syed Bukhari -- Tissue Coordinator
- Allie Dubois -- Tissue Coordinator
- Heather Strelevitz -- Clinical Liaison
- Simon Esbit -- Clinical Liaison
- Allison Rodgers -- Tissue Coordinator
- Tina Zheng -- Tissue Coordinator
- Yassmine Raoui -- Laboratory Assistant
- Aya Zeabi -- Clinical Liaison
- Lorelle Sang -- Tissue Coordinator
On-Call Laboratory Team
Each brain donation is promptly received and processed immediately at its arrival at the HBTRC. We do this, to protect the integrity of the precious specimens entrusted to us. A team of dedicated staff is on call 24 hours a day, year-round. Once alerted about an incoming brain donation off hours, they will arrive at the HBTRC laboratories ahead of the delivery to prepare to receive the brain. This highly dedicated team includes the HBTRC staff members and several McLean Hospital researchers.
The On-Call Laboratory Team includes:
- Darren Chernicky
- Neda Morakabati
- Jonathan Vogelgsang
- Daisy Dan
- Kiely French
- Caroline Raizel
- Tori Turpin
- Yuliya Leuchanka
Past Members of the On-Call Laboratory Team:
- Katina Athanas
- Syed Bukhari
- Gabriele Chelini
- Jade S. Desmarais
- Allie Dubois
- Jessica Eisold
- Benaias Esayeas
- Simon Esbit
- Lou Fernandes
- Jose Gonzalez
- Fadi Hamati
- Ryan A. Healy
- Rupinderjit Kaur
- Tania Lintz
- Iris Lopez
- Sarah Mauney
- Tameka Moore
- Allison Rodgers
- Lorelle A. Sang
- Heather Strelevitz
- Elisa Taylor-Yeremeeva
- Jorge Tejada
- Daniel Tso
- Christian Weiser
- Sarah Withey
- Aya Zeabi
- Tina Zheng