Scientific Review Committee

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:


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

Scott Brady was born in San Antonio, TX and lived in various cities from Heidelberg to Honolulu as he was growing up. He attended MIT as an undergraduate, receiving bachelor’s degrees in both Physics and Biology. He received his PhD in 1978 from the University of Southern California in Cell and Molecular Biology for work on the role of the cytoskeleton in axonal transport. From there, he joined the laboratory of Raymond Lasek at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH to continue his studies on both fast and slow axonal transport. In 1985, he became an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX where he remained until 2001. At that time, he became Professor and Head of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. During his time at CWRU, he began the practice of spending several months each summer doing research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA where he has been a summer investigator every year, since 1982. In the mid-1980’s, he worked with Dr Lasek and Dr. Robert D. Allen to develop the isolated axoplasm preparation for study of fast axonal transport. This led to his discovery in 1985 of a new family of molecular motors that was found to mediate anterograde fast axonal transport, the kinesins. These discoveries were recently recognized as milestones in the study of the cytoskeleton by Nature. He has continued his studies on the molecular mechanisms of axonal transport, including a strong interest in its regulation. These studies led to the demonstration that axonal transport plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease as well as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. He has also studied other aspects of the cellular and molecular biology of the axon, including specializations of the axonal cytoskeleton, myelin-axon interactions and the effects of chronic stress on neuronal function as part of an overall interest in how a neuron is built and maintained for decades. He is a fellow of the AAAS. a member of various editorial boards and the Editor in Chief of the Basic Neurochemistry textbook.


Ted Abel, Ph.D.
University of Iowa

Ted Abel is the Director of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. He was previously the Brush Family Professor of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania where he was 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. 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.

John Disterhoft, Ph.D.
Northwestern University

Dr. Disterhoft’s laboratory is studying the neurobiology of associative learning in the young and aging mammalian brain with in vivo and in vitro techniques using eyeblink conditioning, spatial learning and fear conditioning as behavioral model systems. Many of his ongoing experiments focus on the hippocampus, a paleocortical region involved in transferring information during learning from short- to long-term memory storage. Single-neuron ensemble recording in the conscious animal is used to localize and functionally characterize the cell types involved in laying down the "memory trace" in the hippocampus and associated regions. In parallel experiments, biophysical measurements are made from hippocampal brain slices taken from trained animals to define ionic mechanisms for the conditioning-specific alterations in postsynaptic intrinsic currents that have been observed. Synaptic alterations related to conditioning are also being explored in brain slices. Cellular and systems alterations in aging brain that may underlie learning deficits and agents which may be useful in enhancing learning rates in aging are being studied. Recent experiments are focusing on the manner that prefrontal and sensory system neocortical regions, and the caudate nucleus of the basal ganglia change during eyeblink conditioning. We are also using transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease along with behavioral and biophysical approaches to better understand the cellular and systems changes that occur as Alzheimer’s disease develops. The goal of these experiments is to use them to assist in developing better treatments for AD.

Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Rochester, University of Copenhagen

Steve Goldman is Professor of Neuroscience and Neurology at both the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health, and the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). At Copenhagen, he co-directs its Center for Basic and Translational Neuroscience and is a consultant neurologist at Rigshospitalet. At Rochester, he is the URMC Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, co-directs its Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and holds its Dean Zutes Chair in Biology of the Aging Brain. Goldman moved to Copenhagen in 2014 from Rochester, where he had been since 2003, serving as chairman of its neurology department from 2008-12. Prior to that, he was at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he was the Nathan Cummings Professor of Neurology. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he obtained his PhD with Fernando Nottebohm at the Rockefeller University in 1983, and his MD from Cornell in 1984. Goldman did his residency in neurology at New York Hospital-Cornell and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, before joining the Cornell faculty. Goldman is interested in cell genesis and regeneration in the adult brain, with a focus on the use of stem and progenitor cells in both modeling and treating demyelinating and neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis and Huntington Disease. He also has a strong interest in the conversion of resident stem cells into brain cancers; clinically, he is additionally board certified in neuro-oncology. Goldman has published over 200 papers in his field, most as first or senior author. He is a recipient of the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award of the NIH, and of the 2014 Novo Nordisk Foundation Laureate Award. He has been elected to the Academia Europeae, the Association of American Physicians, American Society for Clinical Investigation, and American Neurological Association, and has served on the FDA Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapy Advisory Committee. His work is supported by NINDS, NIMH, the NY Stem Cell Research Board, the Mathers and Adelson Medical Research Foundations, the ALS Association, and the CHDI Foundation, PML Consortium, National MS Society, and Lundbeck and Novo Nordisk Foundations.

Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D.
Rosalind Franklin

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.

Marina Picciotto
Yale University

Marina Picciotto is Charles B.G. Murphy Professor in Psychiatry and Deputy Chair for Basic Science at Yale University. She is also Professor in the departments of Neurobiology, Pharmacology and the Child Study Center. Her research focuses on defining molecular mechanisms underlying behaviors related to psychiatric illness, with a particular focus on the function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain. Her laboratory uses knockout, transgenic and shRNA strategies to identify the role of individual receptors and signaling molecules in behaviors related to depression, addiction, cognitive function, sensory processing and food intake. Dr. Picciotto received her B.S. from Stanford and her Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University where she worked with Dr. Paul Greengard. She conducted postdoctoral work with Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux at the Pasteur Institute before joining the faculty at Yale University. Dr. Picciotto is Treasurer of the Society for Neuroscience and serves as handling editor or on the editorial board of several journals. She is a fellow of AAAS and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences.

Nenad Sestan, M.D., Ph.D.
Yale University

Nenad Sestan is a Professor of Neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine and a member of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience. He obtained his M.D. from the University of Zagreb and his Ph.D. in neurobiology from Yale University. Nenad Sestan’s research has been concerned with molecular mechanisms involved in the formation of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, a part of the brain that is critical for cognition, perception and behavior. His laboratory has also studied how these developmental mechanisms have evolved and become compromised in human disorders. He is the recipient of several international awards and honors, including the Krieg Cortical Discoverer Award, NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award, and McDonnell Scholar Award, as well as Research Awards from the Simons Foundation, the March of Dimes Foundation, the Whitehall Foundation, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, and the Tourette Syndrome Association. He has also served as a key Principal Investigator for the BrainSpan and PsychENCODE consortia.