Schuele Lab

Birgitt Schuele , MD
Associate Professor, Program Director of Gene Discovery and Stem Cell Modeling

Dr. Schuele is an Associate Professor and Director of Gene Discovery and Stem Cell Modeling at the Parkinson’s Institute. 

Dr. Schuele heads the neurogenetics program, which includes clinical genetic studies of families and sporadic cases with parkinsonism. These patient-derived DNA and tissue samples are the core and basis for gene discovery, functional phenotype analysis, and biomarker studies.

Since 2008, she has built a stem cell program developing novel “disease in-a-dish” models of Parkinson’s disease using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells. Stem cell-derived neurons are representing a new human cellular model for studying disease mechanisms, the effects of environmental toxicants, and for developing new strategies of innovative drug discovery. 

Current Interests: Neurodegenerative and movement disorders (Parkinson’s disease, parkinsonism, dystonia), neurogenetics, genetics, transcriptional regulation, epigenetics, imprinting, nuclear reprogramming, induced pluripotent stem cells, stem cell pathology, aging, mitochondrial bioenergetics

Personal Research Goals: I would like to make a difference in the lives of patients with Parkinson’s disease. I won’t give up working towards the causes of and better treatments for Parkinson’s disease

Education 2001 MD, Medical University Luebeck, Germany
2001 Dr. med. Medical University Goettingen, Germany
Curriculum Vitae

Fun Facts: Always look on the bright side of life, although sometimes it is in the shadows! I am training to run 26.2 miles this year.

Adrian Flierl, PhD
Staff Scientist

Dr. Flierl earned his PhD in Cell Biology and MS in Neurogenetics from the University of Würzburg, Germany. He is currently working on neuronal stem-cell models representative for both genetic and unknown forms of the disease.  His work focuses on biological pathways in neuronal stem cells that are essential for the development and maintenance of healthy adult neurons. In context of the disease, he specifically studies the role of genetic predisposition or factors of unknown etiology on neuronal cell growth, differentiation, aging and degeneration.

Prior to his research at the Parkinson’s Institute, he worked on the regulation of metabolism and bioenergetics in adult stem cell models of cardiovascular disease and on the development of systemic viral and non-viral gene therapy treatment strategies.

Current Interests: Molecular, cell and systems biology of neuronal development and degeneration, in vitro diagnostics, identification of novel drug targets, gene therapy

Personal Research Goals: Discover and investigate new pathways and mechanisms that will allow for earlier and more specific diagnosis of the disease, therefore improving the possibilities to halt or reverse Parkinson’s disease progression.

Education PhD in Cell Biology, University of Würzburg, Germany
MS in Neurogenetics, University of Würzburg, Germany

Fun Facts: I believe in the power of chocolate.

Kelsey Lee

Kelsey received her BS in Environmental Toxicology from the University of California, Davis. Currently, she is helping complete a study seeking to identify potential biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease. Before coming to the Parkinson’s Institute, she studied the relationships between Parkinson’s disease, genes, and environmental exposures.

Current Interests: Family history in Parkinson’s patients, effects of environmental exposures on disease development

Personal research goals: Identify unique genetic characteristics in patients with a history of Parkinson’s disease

Education BS in Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis

Andrew Nguyen

Andrew is an intern from the SCILL (Stem Cell Internship Laboratory-based Learning) Program at San Jose State University. He received B.S. in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Riverside and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Biotechnology at SJSU.
Current Interests: The immunization and gene regulation of alpha-synuclein as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Personal Research Goals: To contribute profound research findings that will one day be utilized in personalized treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Education: Master’s in Biotechnology, San Jose State University, (2017)
BS in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Riverside

Jimmy Saetern

Jimmy earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. During his undergraduate years, he worked under Dr. Seth Rubin to study cyclin dependent kinases and its regulation of the cell cycle. In 2010, Jimmy joined Edison Pharmaceuticals and focused on advancing parabenzoquinones as therapy for mitochondrial dysfunctional patients. His wide expertise ranges from tissue culture and assay development/optimization to database management and web design.

Personal Research Goals: To interrogate the multiple underlying causes of Parkinson’s disease to further the development of science, in hopes to better improve the lives for those with the disease.

Education: BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Ruchika Srivastava

Ruchika is a Research Volunteer. She earned her Master’s in Biotechnology from Bangalore University, India. Prior to joining PI, she used to work on Mammalian cell culture at Biocon in India.

Current Interests: Cell culture, stem cells as a cure for diseases.

Education: MS in Biotechnology, Bangalore University, India
BS in Microbiology, Bangalore University, India

Faria Zafar
Research Assistant II

Faria is a Research Assistant II that earned her Master in Molecular Biology from San Jose State University. She is currently working on generating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patient-specific fibroblasts.

Current Interests: Generation of dopaminergic neurons and oligodendrocytes to study disease mechanisms

Personal Research Goals: To develop more relevant and predictive drug screening and toxicology studies for clinical trail in Parkinson’s disease.

Education MA in Molecular Biology, San Jose State University,(EDG 2014)
  BS in Molecular & Cell Biology. University of California, Berkeley

Fun Facts: My passion is cooking and reading books.

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