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Dr. Alicia Guemez-Gamboa earned her BS in Biology and her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. She then completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego and at The Rockefeller University. Her research aimed to understand how neural circuits assemble during development and disease by uncovering fundamental means of neural differentiation, synaptic formation, cell death and their functional interaction. Dr. Guemez-Gamboa is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Neuroscience at the Feinberg School of Medicine in Northwestern University. Dr. Guemez-Gamboa’s laboratory is focused on investigating the molecular and cellular pathways that orchestrates neural   

Alicia Guemez-Gamboa, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.

circuit assembly dysfunction leads to neurodevelopmental disorders. We aim to uncover the mechanisms by which cell-surface recognition molecules and somatic mosaicism determine cellular identity to ensure proper neuronal connectivity by coupling human genetics, next generation sequencing, and disease modeling using animal and stem cells. Particularly, we use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients as well as CRISPR edited iPSC to generate neural progenitors, neurons, and forebrain organoids predisposed to neurodevelopmental disorders. Characterization of these models helps elucidating the mechanisms of disease of a variety of brain connectivity defects and lays the groundwork for the development of new therapeutic approaches and personalized medicine.


Dr. Fongang received his PhD in Computational Physics and was trained as Bioinformatician at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He has expertise in Genomics/transcriptomics profiling, Biostatistics, and big data analysis. Dr. Fongang has served as lead Bioinformatician in several projects including the genomics of somites formation in vertebrates, the genomics and proteomics of burn healing, involving thousands of burn patients recruited around the country and in Mexico. Dr. Fongang current research focuses on developing and applying multi-omics approaches to delineating the basis of neurodegenerative diseases. This involves collecting new data across Texas or using collaborative data obtained through big consortia like the Cohorts for

Bernard Fongang, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology, UT Health San Antonio.

Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE), the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), and the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed). He firmly believes that a comprehensive understanding of the clinical stage leading to the onset of dementia requires interpretation of molecular intricacy and variations at multiple levels, including the genome, transcriptome, proteome, epigenome, metabolome, and exposome. His projects aim to determine and characterize the molecular mechanisms and features associated with the development of dementia.


Dr. Ida Fonkoue is a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy Division, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She received her medical degree from the University of Yaoundé, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Yaoundé/Cameroon, and a PhD in Integrative Physiology at Michigan Technological University in Houghton/Michigan. Dr. Fonkoue went on to complete her postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Fonkoue's academic training and research experience have provided her with an excellent background in both clinical medicine and basic integrative physiology. While she practiced as a physician in Cameroon, she currently works as a translational researcher.

Ida Fonkoue, MD. PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Minnesota.

Specifically, she is establishing a scientific niche focused on distinct neurocirculatory and hormonal mechanisms linking trauma and cardiovascular disease risk in women. Dr. Fonkoue recently received an NIH K01 funding to study “Autonomic and Vascular Mechanisms of Cardiovascular Risk in Women with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”. Her current research aims to determine if PTSD in women causes vascular, neural, and hormonal changes linked to an increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. She has previously published data highlighting the autonomic dysregulation present in PTSD patients. In her free time, Dr. Fonkoue enjoys spending time with her family, dancing and being outdoors.


Andrea Gomez (Laguna Pueblo/Chicana) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a member of the Executive committee at the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics. Gomez received her Ph.D. in Developmental Genetics from New York University and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Her work is devoted to understanding the instructive cues that sculpt patterns of brain activity. Her efforts led to the discovery of RNA-based programs that are critical for synaptic organization and plasticity. The Gomez lab uses state-of-the-art techniques to decode the brain's modular 

Andrea Gomez, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, Helen Wills University of California, Berkeley.

nature, including molecular biology, electrophysiology, and functional imaging. The robust and widespread neural plasticity induced by psychedelics motivates the Gomez lab to decode the synaptic mechanisms that underlie cognitive flexibility. Gomez started her lab at UC Berkeley in 2020 and has received several awards, including the European Molecular Biology Organization Advanced Fellowship, a Rennie Fund Fellow, a C.J. Herrick Early-Career Investigator, a Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Young Investigator, and a Rose Hill Innovator Award.


Dr. Hamid’s lab investigates brain mechanisms for flexible behavioral control and learning, with a focus on the neurotransmitter dopamine and cortico-basal ganglia pathways for reward learning and motivational arousal. He is specifically trained to study the critical gaps in our understanding of this circuit at multiple levels of analysis, and my research combines approaches across multiple disciplines. The lab uses sophisticated rodent behaviors and in vivo methods for measuring and manipulating neural activity. Arif continues to receive training in formalizing computational theories that integrate my experimental findings into multilevel neurocomputational models. Dr. Amid has reported novel empirical findings that have significantly (re)shaped 

Arif A. Hamid, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota.

formalizations of dopamine’s functions within Reinforcement Learning frameworks, providing complementary advances in our theoretical and mechanistic understanding of reward learning. For example, Arif doctoral thesis (Hamid et. al., 2016. Nature Neuroscience) described a multiplex coding strategy used by striatal dopamine dynamics to simultaneously regulate learning and motivational processes, and our findings reconcile previous theoretical rifts in the role of dopamine in adaptive behaviors. During Arif postdoctoral training, he discovered complex, wave-like activation patterns in dopamine release across the dorsal striatum (Hamid et. al., 2021. Cell). We argued that these dopamine waves are a brain mechanism for spatiotemporal reward credit assignment. As an independent investigator, Arif research group will continue to leverage the extensive training in experimental, behavioral, quantitative, and theoretical approaches to understand how dopamine optimizes online behavioral control and learning.


Mercedes Paredes is associate professor in the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, and Biomedical Sciences graduate programs at UCSF. A native of Los Angeles, CA, she received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and then joined the UCSF MSTP (Medical Scientist Training Program). She subsequently did residency in neurology at UCSF postdoctoral training with the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Her lab focuses on identifying features of neuronal progenitor proliferation and migration that are unique to the gyrated brain, such as in humans, with an emphasis on the perinatal period. She is also a practicing neurologist that serves epilepsy patients with

Mercedes Paredes, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Weill Institute, University of California San Francisco

neurodevelopmental disorders and holds a passion for mentoring UIM (or underrepresented in medicine) in careers in medicine, STEM, and neurology.


Dr. A. Catalina Vélez-Ortega obtained a biomedical engineering degree from a joint program between the Antioquia School of Engineering (now, EIA University) and the Institute of Health Sciences (now, CES University) in Colombia, followed by a master’s degree in biology (with emphasis in immunology and primary immunodeficiences) from the University of Antioquia, also in Colombia. For five years she worked in clinical and basic research environments studying several immunopathological disorders. Dr. Vélez-Ortega later transitioned to the field of hearing and deafness where she could actively blend her engineering background with her molecular and cellular biology expertise. In 2014, she received a Ph.D. in physiology from the 

Catalina Velez-Ortega, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

University of Kentucky where she also completed her postdoctoral training and is now an assistant professor. Her laboratory is currently exploring endogenous mechanisms of protection against noise-induced hearing loss as well as the molecular machinery involved in the activity-driven plasticity of the actin cytoskeleton within the sensory organelles (stereocilia) of the auditory hair cells.

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