Scientific Review Committee

The Brain Research Foundation Scientific Review Committee was established to review our research grant applications. This committee is a combination of  researchers from several institutions throughout greater Chicago and nationwide. Their scientific expertise is invaluable when reviewing the Brain Research Foundation research grant proposals. Following is a brief description of each reviewer's research interests:


Sangram S. Sisodia, Ph.D.
The University of Chicago

Dr. Sangram Sisodia’s laboratory studies the molecular and cellular basis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common cause of senile dementia. AD affects neurons in the neocortex, hippocampus and basal forebrain. Affected brain regions contain abundant levels of senile plaques composed of ß amyloid, derived from amyloid precursor proteins (APP).  Early-onset, familial forms of AD (FAD) are caused by inheritance of genes encoding mutant variants of presenilin 1 (PS1), presenilin 2 (PS2), and APP. Research in his laboratory has focused on understanding the normal biology of  PS1 and PS2, and the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which mutant PS and APP cause AD. To explore these issues, his laboratory has employed cellular and biochemical approaches, as well as transgenic and gene-targeted mouse models.  The mouse models have offered important insights into disease pathogenesis and his laboratory has discovered critical genetic and environmental factors that influence these processes.


Ted Abel, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Ted Abel is the Brush Family Professor of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania where he is Co-Director of the Biological Basis of Behavior Program and directs an NIMH-funded predoctoral training program in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. He has received numerous awards, including the a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, a John Merck Scholars Award, the Daniel X. Freedman Award from NARSAD, and University of Pennsylvania Dean’s Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Research. His laboratory’s primary focus is on understanding the molecular and cellular basis of learning and memory and well as the role of sleep in memory storage. He has published widely in journals that include Nature, Neuron, Journal of Clinical Investigation and Journal of Neuroscience. He is a Fellow of ACNP, Editor-in-Chief of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, and an Associate Editor of Behavioral Neuroscience.  Dr. Abel has served on NSF and NIH grant review panels, and on the Scientific Review Council and the Board of Directors of Cure Autism Now. He is currently a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of NIMH and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Autism. A graduate of Swarthmore College, Dr. Abel received his Master of Philosophy in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Marshall Scholar and worked with Nobel Laureate R. Tim Hunt.  He received his doctorate from Harvard University, where he worked with Tom Maniatis studying transcriptional regulation.  He was a postdoctoral fellow with Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University studying the molecular mechanisms of memory storage. Dr. Abel’s research has been supported by grants from the NIH, DARPA, the Simons Foundation, DOD, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, HFSP, NARSAD, the Whitehall Foundation and the John Merck Fund.

Scott T. Brady, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago

The size and complex shapes of many neurons present unique challenges in delivering essential components to the right places in the right amounts. An efficient set of intracellular transport processes known as axonal transport are required to generate and maintain the functional architecture of neurons. Recent evidence suggests that many late onset neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as ALS, are the result of disruptions in this trafficking of proteins essential for neuronal function. Remarkably, these often involve changes in the regulation of motor proteins and targeting of cargoes carried by axonal transport. Based on these approaches, Dr. Scott Brady’s lab is identifying novel pathogenic mechanisms and new therapeutic targets by studying these changes in neuronal transport mechanisms.

Judy L. Cameron, Ph.D
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Judy Cameron, a renowned researcher of stress and resilience, has devoted her career to understanding how everyday life experiences, including stress exposure, and changes in diet and exercise affect brain function. Her research examines how an individual’s genetic predisposition interacts with exposure to different life events to lead to differences in the incidence of stress-related disease processes including the mental health problems of anxiety and depression, reproductive dysfunction and immune problems. She has tracked the developmental course of monkeys to uncover what makes some individuals more sensitive and others more resilient to stress—work that has profound implications for the development of prevention and early intervention programs for human physical and mental health. A major figure in the field of behavioral neuroscience, she continues to lead research that may one day enable clinicians to identify which individuals are most vulnerable to stress-sensitive diseases.

John F. Disterhoft, Ph.D.
Northwestern University

Dr. John Disterhoft is the Magerstadt Memorial Research Professor of Physiology at Northwestern University. Dr. Disterhoft studies the neurobiology of associative learning in the mammalian brain at the molecular, cellular and systems levels using both in vivo and in vitro techniques. His laboratory focuses on characterizing how neurons store new information during associative learning.  An important component of his research program is identifying mechanisms for altered learning in aging. He uses a combination of behavioral, biophysical and molecular biological approaches to address these questions. Although most of his experiments are done with animals, he also studies learning in humans using behavioral and imaging techniques. Disterhoft’s laboratory is in a unique position to translate the findings from animal research to humans to better understand learning in the young and aging brain.

Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D.
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D. is Professor and Vice-Chairman in the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.  He also serves as Director of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. His research focuses on understanding the regulation of neurogenesis in the adult and aging brain.  In particular, elucidating the key factors specifying progenitor cell fate and exploring ways to directly reprogram in vivo the fate endogenous neural progenitor cells.  His research is directed toward the development of new therapeutic strategies for brain repair.  Dr. Peterson is an Editorial Board member for seven scientific journals, a member of the American Federation for Aging Research National Scientific Advisory Council, and the External Commissioner for the Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale Italia (Concorsuale 06/D6-Neurologia).  He is also Past-Chairman of the NIH Study Section NCF (Neurogenesis and Cell Fate) and Past-President of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair.

John L.R. Rubenstein, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco

John Rubenstein, MD, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. He also serves as a Nina Ireland Distinguished Professor in Child Psychiatry at the Nina Ireland Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology. His research focuses on the regulatory genes that orchestrate development of the forebrain. In the mammalian embryo, the forebrain is the portion of the neural tube where primitive cells are organized to form the cerebral cortex, the basal ganglia and other components of the adult brain -- the structures of the human brain most involved in key functions such as speech, language, cognition and fine motor skills.
Rubenstein's lab has demonstrated the role of specific genes in regulating neuronal specification, differentiation, migration and axon growth during embryonic development and on through adult life. His work may help to explain some of the mechanisms underlying human neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.