About

Staff

Dr. Sabina Berretta

Sabina Berretta, MD -- Director

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. Brad Ruzicka

W. Brad Ruzicka, MD, PhD -- Associate Medical Director

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. Torsten Klengel

Torsten Klengel, MD, PhD -- Associate Scientific Director

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. Anil Vatsavayi

Anil Vatsavayi, MD, MPH -- Clinician

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. Derek Oakley

Derek Oakley, MD, PhD -- Neuropathologist

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.

Ms. Kay Sullivan

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.

Dr. Dave Ennulat

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.

Ms. Myrtha Constant

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.

Mr. Darren Chernicky

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.

Ms. Aya Zeabi

Aya Zeabi -- Clinical Liaison

Ms. Zeabi is an HBTRC clinical liaison who communicates with prospective brain donors and their families, coordinates brain donations, registers brain donors, and analyzes health records and other clinical material. One of her main responsibilities is maintaining the HBTRC Registry, which involves discussing registration with prospective donors and their families, as well as processing necessary documentation. Aya serves as a liaison with the Brain Donor Project, an initiative that seeks to increase brain donations for research by connecting potential donors with a brain bank in the NIH NeuroBioBank network. Leveraging her extensive health science background, Aya is a key contributor to the preparation of data and clinical information shared with the NIH and requested by investigators. She interacts with researchers across the US and the world to understand their scientific research needs and provide suitable clinical data. She is also a member of the HBTRC Consensus Diagnosis Team and is a passionate supporter of health-related and scientific research. On her days off, you will often find Aya reading or bike riding by a body of water with friends or family and visiting national and state parks.

Ms. Yuliya Leuchanka

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.

Ms. Lorelle Sang

Lorelle Sang -- Research Assistant II On-Call

Ms. Sang is a tissue coordinator at the HBTRC. Lorelle has experience in clinical research pertaining to the fields of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience. She has been able to apply this experience while coordinating brain donations, working closely with donor’s families as well as investigators requesting tissue for research on brain disorders. Ms. Sang is also a lifelong musician and when she’s not at the HBTRC she can be found practicing or having impromptu performances for her friends.

Mr. Michael Chatigny

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.

Ms. Kiely French

Kiely French -- Tissue Coordinator

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.


Former Staff


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:

Past Members of the On-Call Laboratory Team:

Mass General Brigham

McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School Affiliate

Basic Neuroscience at McLean Hospital

Harvard Medical School Affiliate