Lab Members

Faculty, Post Doctoral Fellows, Graduate Students


MIN SHI, PhD, Research Assistant Professor. Trained as a biochemist and molecular biologist, Dr. Shi has a broad background and specific expertise in protein engineering, gene expression regulation, and signal transduction in disease settings. At the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Shi has expanded his research to include proteomics-based discovery and targeted validation of candidate proteins in in vitro models. He has also led or critically involved in projects to apply the proteomic discovered and other important proteins as biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease.


TESSANDRA STEWART, PhD, Acting Instructor. Dr. Stewart’s research is focused on the role of glial cells in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Glial cells, particularly astrocytes and microglia, play a key role in maintaining the tightly regulated homeostasis of the brain that is necessary for optimal neuronal activity. In the diseased or injured brain, these glial functions are disrupted, which may cause or exacerbate dysfunction of neurons. Moreover, through their participation in maintaining the blood-brain barrier, and response to injury-related changes in blood-brain barrier permeability, glia play a role in the communication of the brain with the periphery in health and disease. Such communication, including that mediated by the transport of extracellular vesicles, may be a vital step in the transmission of aggregation-prone neurodegeneration-related proteins, which is an important step in the progression of such diseases. Understanding how these changes determine the interacting protective and detrimental effects on neuronal survival, and ultimately brain function, is vital in the search for treatments that will prevent or slow neurodegeneration.


JING ZHANG, MD, PhD, Founding PI (retired) 


ABDULLAH QASSAB, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow 


CHEN TIAN, MD, PhD candidate, Visiting Scholar


Staff and Undergraduate Students


CATHERINE PAN, Senior Research Scientist. Catherine joined the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2002. Since then, she’s worked in key research areas of human biology, from gene manipulation and imaging analysis, to animal behavioral assessment. Her recent research has expanded to include proteomics-based discovery work and targeted validation of candidate proteins in in vitro models. She is currently involved in projects that identify important proteins as biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson disease.


PATRICK ARO, M.S. Biophysics and Physiology, Research Scientist, Laboratory Manager Patrick received his MS degree from Stony Brook University where he had worked on projects examining molecular immunology, developed potential anti-cancer formulations, and managed training laboratories for Secondary School STEM Educators. Currently he is involved in proteomic, mass spectrometry, and immuno-assay based approaches to identifying biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases. His work also encompasses novel methods in drug delivery for CNS disorders. Outside of the lab, Patrick volunteers at the Seattle Aquarium and at Farestart, a not for profit organization providing culinary training for those challenged by poverty and housing insecurity.


DAVID SOLTYS.  Info coming soon


MCKAILA LEYTZE, M.S. Neuropathology, Research Scientist.  Mckaila Leytze joined the Stewart/Shi lab in December 2019. Mckaila is originally from Seattle, Washington and completed her Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Neuroscience at Western Washington University in Bellingham. During her time as an undergrad she worked in Dr. Kelly Jantzen's research lab within the psychology department conducting studies on motor sequence planning and human cognition utilizing tools such as EEG and trans-magnetic stimulation (TMS). She also conducted research within the biology department under Dr. Lina Dahlberg studying the role the endoplasmic reticulum degradation system (ERAD) in neurodegenerative protein aggregate diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Mckaila then went on to complete her Master's of Science degree in Neuropathology at the University of Sheffield in England. Her master's thesis focused on the pathological overlap of neurodegenerative diseases ALS and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Within the Stewart/Shi lab, Mckaila is primary focused on using immunoprecipitation to isolate brain-derived extracellular vesicles from plasma. In her free time Mckaila likes to enjoy the outdoors via mountain biking, skiing and hiking.


ERIC THORLAND, Undergraduate Researcher.  Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (2020), University of Washington, Seattle


VIGNESH JANARDHANAM, Undergraduate Researcher. Vignesh is a junior from St. Louis, MO. pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Chemistry. Vignesh joined the lab in September 2019.


SOPHIA SKLOSS, Undergraduate Researcher. Sophia Skloss is a current undergraduate student in the class of 2022 at the University of Washington. She is pursuing a degree in general biology and hopes to continue her education by attending graduate school and work in the field of research.


ATHARVA BHALERAO, Undergraduate Researcher Atharva is an international undergraduate student studying Microbiology at the University of Washington, Seattle. His interests are in Life Sciences Research with a particular emphasis in virology and chronic diseases.


Past Lab Members


KAYLA BORDEN, B.S. Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Microbiology, Seattle Genetics