Jeremy S. Dasen, Principal Investigator

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Jeremy has had long-standing interest in the genetic and developmental programs involved in the assembly of neural circuits. He did his PhD work with Geoff Rosenfeld at UCSD, where he studied the gene regulatory networks involved in cell fate specification in the neuroendocrine system. As a postdoc with Tom Jessell at Columbia University, he studied the role of Hox transcription factors in generating neuronal diversity within the vertebrate spinal cord. His laboratory is interested in how genetic programs contribute the assembly and function of neural circuits that control movement.

Jeremy joined the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology at the NYU School of Medicine in 2006 and was promoted to Professor in 2019. He is the Program Director for the NYU Neuroscience T32 Training Program in Integrative Approaches to Explore Cellular Interactions in Neural Circuits. He is also the course director for the Advanced Topics in Molecular Neurobiology Course, required for all entering molecular-track NYU Neuroscience students, as well as the Assembly and Function of Neural Circuits course, designed for advanced students with an interest in molecular approaches to study neural circuits. Jeremy also participates in teaching and recruitment for the Medical Sciences Training Program (MSTP), Developmental Genetics Program, and Stem Cell Biology Program.

Jeremy was a recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in Biomedical Sciences, Sloan Research Fellowship, McKnight Scholar Award, and was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist.

Sara J. Fenstermacher, Postdoctoral Fellow

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Sara Fenstermacher received her B.A. from Bucknell University and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University. Working with Dr. Rosalind Segal, she studied how neurotrophins promote axon viability through regulation of mRNA localization and translation in axons. She then started a postdoc with Dr. Tom Jessell at Columbia University before moving to NYU to continue her research with Dr. Jeremy Dasen. Sara is interested in the development and function of neural circuits that coordinate movement. Her current work seeks to understand how the serotonergic system modulates spinal cord circuits to allow for flexible motor control. Sara is a recipient of the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from NINDS and was previously a Junior Fellow in the Simons Foundation Society of Fellows.

 

Outside of the lab she enjoys yoga and cycling, attending music and arts performances, and watching sports.

 

Read more about Sara's work here.

Alex Adams,
Postdoctoral Fellow

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Kristen D'Elia,
Postdoctoral Fellow

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Kristen graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Certificate in Neuroscience from Providence College. As an undergraduate, she received three research grants to work in labs at Providence College, The University of Vermont, and Brown University, studying neural differentiation, neural migration, and axon guidance. As a graduate student, Kristen is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of motor neuron subtype specification. She is identifying transcription factors that define functionally distinct (fast versus slow) motor neurons in the zebrafish spinal cord. Co-mentored by Jeremy Dasen and David Schoppik, Kristen was a recipient of an NIH F31 Predoctoral NRSA, and two T32s, for her work on this project.

 

In her spare time, Kristen enjoys engaging in science communication through teaching, outreach, and is the editor of the graduate school newsletter.

Alexander Miller,

Graduate Student

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Alex is a native of Oregon where he completed his undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at University of Oregon. During his undergraduate, Alex earned departmental honors from his work identifying genes necessary for elongation in C. elegans.

Alex’s current work investigates the role of chromatin modifications in neurogenesis. Chromatin modifications – mediated through the activity of Polycomb group proteins – have been implicated in a range of biological processes, from sex-determination to cancer progression. Alex is interested how these PcG-mediated chromatin modifications are involved in the differentiation of motor neurons. What are the mechanisms behind gene regulation and maintenance of developmental genes? When are these PcG-proteins necessary for their regulatory role during neurodevelopment? How do PcG-protein interactions change during motor neuron differentiation? To address these questions, Alex is utilizing chick, mouse, and cell culture models to test the necessity and functionality of PcG-proteins at various stages of neurogenesis. 

 

Outside of lab, he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, playing music, and practicing mandarin Chinese. 

Rusy Lee,
Masters Student

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Hanna Hameedy,
Research Associate

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Annie Vonasek,

Research Associate/Lab Manager

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Annie joined the Dasen lab following her graduation from William & Mary, where she earned her BS in Neuroscience with a minor in Biochemistry. During her time in undergrad, Annie studied respiratory and motor systems under Dr. Christopher Del Negro, and was awarded honors from the Applied Sciences Department for her thesis work quantifying gene knockdown in the mesencephalon of mice. Her research interests lie in the development and functioning of motor systems at molecular, circuit, and behavioral levels. In the Dasen lab, she studies serotonergic systems in the caudal raphe nuclei under Dr. Sara Fenstermacher.

 

Outside of the lab, Annie enjoys participating in neuroscience outreach programming in the city, playing ultimate frisbee, and exploring the great outdoors. After her time at NYU, she plans to attend graduate school to further her education in the neuroscience field. 

Lab Alumni 

Alessandro De Camilli

Research Assistant

2007-2009

Next Steps: Yale Medical School

Julia LaCombe

Postdoctoral Fellow

2008-2011

Next Steps: Research Scientist, IRCM

Jonathan Grinstein

Research Assistant

2009-2011

Next Steps: UCSD PhD Program

Olivia Hanley

Graduate Student

2009-2015

Next Steps: Postdoctoral Fellow,

University of Zurich

Catarina Catela

Postdoctoral Fellow

2011-2016

Next Steps: Assistant Professor, 

University of Chicago

Myungin Baek

Postdoctoral Fellow

2011-2018

Next Steps: Assistant Professor, 

Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology

Lab Website

Sarah Pfennig

Research Associate

2019-2022

Next Steps:  Science Teacher, Long Island

Molly Golden

Graduate Student

2008-2013

Next Steps: Consultant, ISA

Rocio Rivera 

Postdoctoral Fellow

2008-2011

Next Steps: Scientist, L'Oreal

Heekyung Jung

Graduate Student

2009-2015

Next Steps: Postdoctoral Fellow,

Stanford University

Pola Philipidou

Postdoctoral Fellow

2009-2015

Next Steps: Assistant Professor,

Case Western University

Lab Website

David Lee

Research Assistant

2013-2016

Next Steps: Consultant

Helen Kim

Research Assistant

2016-2018

Next Steps:  Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

Ayana Sawai 

Graduate Student, Postdoctoral Fellow 

2010-2022

Next Steps: Post Doctoral Fellow, Center for Human Genetics and Genomics, NYU Grossman School of Medicine