Hassan A. Ali, PhD, MSM
Hassan is an Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and Medicine at the University of Miami (UM), and Director of the High Content Screening Core for Phenotypic Drug Discovery. He is a member of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the Katz Drug Discovery Center, and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Hassan received his graduate training at the American University of Beirut and the University of Miami. His primary interest is understanding the role of kinases in the proper functioning and maintenance of the central nervous system (CNS) and utilizing this knowledge to develop therapeutics that treat CNS injuries. In addition to this, Hassan leads drug discovery programs in the areas of nephrology and oncology. His lab is supported by federal, state, foundation, and industry sponsors. He serves as a reviewer for several federal and private funding agencies and is a member of the Neurological Science and Disorders Study Section (NIH/NINDS).
Research Associate I
Indigo Williams, BSc
Indigo is a proud Miami native with a B.Sc in Chemistry from Purdue University. She has previous experience preparing bioassays for high-throughput DESI-MS analysis to study cell receptor binding to opioids and enzyme kinetics. Her main research interests lie in medicinal chemistry and novel therapeutics for chronic illnesses. She plans on eventually continuing her education by joining an MD/PhD program.
Abdiel Josue Badillo-Martinez, BSc
Abdiel is a Graduate Student in the University of Miami’s Program in Biomedical Science —Neuroscience program. As a member of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Abdiel is experienced in histology, surgery, and behavioral analyses in animal models of CNS Injury. He was previously a member of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics in the National Institute of Health studying the role of Genetics in Neurodegenerative Diseases and Addiction. He is currently studying the mechanism of action of a small molecule kinase inhibitor that is capable of treating experimental spinal cord injury.
Post Doctoral Associate
Rachel Njeim, PharmD, PhD
Rachel Njeim is a Postdoctoral Associate training in drug discovery (jointly in the Ali and Fornoni Labs). Rachel holds a PharmD degree from the Lebanese American University and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the American University of Beirut (Dr. Ali's alma mater). Rachel’s graduate studies focused on elucidating the renoprotective role of mesenchymal stem cells in diabetic kidney disease, with a particular focus on NETosis. Rachel’s work has set new milestones in understanding the pathophysiology of diabetic kidney disease. Throughout her extensive training, Rachel has proposed a large body of therapeutic modalities in the quest for a definitive treatment for diabetic kidney disease.
Post Doctoral Associate
Bassel Awada, PhD
Bassel holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the American University of Beirut. His research as a graduate student centered around screening the secondary metabolites of Lebanese soil and marine-dwelling bacteria for their antimicrobial activities. This work marked the first discovery of a bioactive molecule from Lebanese soil against the neglected tropical pathogen Leishmania tropica. In the Ali Lab, Bassel works on early-stage drug discovery projects pertaining to indications in neurology, oncology, and nephrology.
Omar El-Wardany, MD, PhD
Omar is a practicing neurosurgeon and spine surgeon. He received his MD and PhD in Neurosurgery from Suez Canal University in Egypt. In addition to his 13-year clinical experience, Omar has extensive experience in preclinical research (and surgery) for peripheral and central nervous system injury. Omar is leading the efficacy testing studies for our spinal cord injury drug candidate.
Colin Kelley, BSc
Colin is an MD/MBA student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He received his B.S. from Duke University in Biology with minors in Finance and Chemistry. At Duke, his research was in the field of Canine Cognition specializing in Object Permanence of Adult Canines in the Hare Lab. After university, Colin completed a postbac fellowship at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. His research focused on early-stage therapeutic development combing cellular assay development, high throughput screening and gene editing. He has broad research and clinical interests in novel therapeutic development, high throughput screening platforms, and precision medicine.
Taylor Pohl, BSc
Taylor is a first year Graduate Student in the University of Miami’s Program in Biomedical Science. She received her B.Sc degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University. Taylor recently left Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where she focused on preclinical model development and therapeutic targeting strategies for neurodegenerative diseases. Taylor’s research interest is broadly neurodegenerative disease and novel pharmaceutical intervention strategies.
Research Associate I
Chloe Alegre, BSc
Chloe is a Research Associate in the ABL Group (Ali, Bixby, Lemmon). She is Miami native with a B.Sc in Biological Sciences from Florida International University. She is currently doing her M.Sc in Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida. Chloe has previous experience using automated systems to perform real time PCR test to detect SARS-CoV-2. As well as automated systems to perform CMIA to detect HIV-1 p24 antigen and antibodies to HIV-1/2. Her primary research is in the application of microorganisms in research.
Undergraduate Research Student
Mia is an undergraduate student at the University of Miami studying Neuroscience. She is a member of the Health Professions Mentoring and Minority Women in Medicine programs at UM and plans to attend medical school. Her primary research interest is discovering therapies to treat CNS injuries, neurodegenerative diseases, and other neurological disorders.
Cole Michael Foster
Cole is an undergraduate student at the University of Miami (Neuroscience major). He participates in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Authentic Research Lab and PRISM programs at UM and plans to attend medical school to become a neurosurgeon. His main research interests lie in the central nervous system, such as developing therapeutics to treat injuries resulting from physical trauma, demyelinating diseases, and other degenerative disorders. He is also interested in the field of neuro-oncology, researching treatments for cancers that affect the nervous system.
Haley is an undergraduate student at the University of Miami. She is majoring in biology with plans to attend medical school. At UM, she participates in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Authentic Research Lab program. She is interested in medical research pertaining to nephrology and oncology, including the development of medications to treat chronic diseases, such as Diabetic Kidney Disease. Some of her other interests include genetics and the role of senescent cells in aging.
Graduate Student (former member)
Marina Aboelsaad, BPharm
Marina is a Graduate Student at University of Miami, Master of Biomedical Science Program. Marina Holds a BPharm Degree from The British University in Egypt and plans to get a PhD in Neuroscience. She has previous research experience in Behavioral pharmacology. Marina is interested in medical research pertaining to the Central Nervous system, Pharmacotherapy and development of pharmacological interventions to treat Spinal cord injuries and Neurodegenerative disorders.
Medical Student (former member)
James Choi, BA
James is an MD/PhD candidate at the University for Miami’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). He received his B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University and thereafter worked as a Bioinformatics Analyst and Research Associate at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. His research combined wet lab benchwork and dry lab computational techniques to study cellular mechanisms of wound healing after spinal cord injury. In particular, he has experience in neuro-immune interface research, next-generation sequencing, and data analysis. He has broad clinical and research interests in neurological diseases/disorders and hopes to leverage cutting-edge computational techniques to study CNS pathophysiology and develop novel therapeutics.
Graduate Student (former member)
Andres Jose Florez, BSc
Andres is a student in UM's 5-year BSc/MSc Biomedical Engineering program. His thesis project in the Ali lab centers on developing image analysis and computational workflows for quantifying drug effects in rodent models of spinal cord injury (SCI). He has experience with biomedical research including wet lab benchwork, cell culture, and imaging. He is also learning to perform tissue clearing (brain, spinal cord) for 3D imaging with light sheet microscopy. After completing his MSc, Andres plans on pursuing a PhD in Bioengineering. His primary interest in is tissue engineering research, with specific interest in Spinal Cord Injury.