Meet the Team

CURRENT

 

Katherine P. Rankin, Ph.D.

Dr. Kate Rankin is a professor in the UCSF Department of Neurology who specializes in the neuropsychological, neuroanatomic, and genetic underpinnings of human socioemotional behavior in healthy aging and neurodegenerative disease. In her work at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, Dr. Rankin developed a comprehensive battery of tests to measure socioemotional functioning in cognitively impaired patients that was adopted at the national level by NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Coordinating Centers to improve diagnostic accuracy in diseases like behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, semantic variant progressive aphasia, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal syndrome. Her research utilizes quantitative structural and functional brain image analysis to examine the neural substrates of empathy, theory of mind, personality, and the comprehension of social signals for sarcasm and deception.

Suzanne Shdo

Clinton Mielke

Cosmo originally trained in Astrophysics at the University of Arizona, working in radio astronomy and extrasolar planet detection. For his PhD work he studied the metabolic syndrome at ASU and the Mayo Clinic, studying the insulin signaling pathway in skeletal muscle. Cosmo specializes in the bioinformatics of protein biophysics and the characterization of genetic variants. In the Rankin lab, Cosmo uses his data science training to characterize the whole collection of neuroimaging data collected by the memory and aging center.

In his spare time, he does super secret-squirel superhero stuff from his remote volcano island laboratory. Among his side projects is Project Infinome, an open genomics experiment focusing on obesity research.

Gianina Toller

Gianina Toller is a postdoctoral fellow from Switzerland, now working with the Social Function team. Dr. Toller completed her PhD in 2015 at the Swiss Epilepsy Center and the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Her thesis investigated the functional and structural correlates of socioemotional dysfunction in patients with refractory mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, and in patients with a very rare genetic disorder called Urbach-Wiethe disease. Currently, she is working on a functional imaging project studying socioemotional functioning in patients with bvFTD.

Myrthe Rijpma

Myrthe Rijpma is a visiting scholar from the Netherlands. She obtained her bachelor degree in clinical- and neuropsychology in 2015, and is currently working on her master in neuropsychology at the University of Utrecht. Myrthe joined the Rankin lab in March 2017 because of her interest in understanding changes in neural networks in neurodegenerative diseases. Her goal is to acquire a better understanding on how the brain is made up, and eventually contribute to developing better treatment. For the future, Myrthe is planning on staying active within the neuropsychological research field, and hopes to do this in a patient-oriented way.

Winson Yang, MS

Winson Yang is a visiting student from Singapore. He graduated with a Master’s of Science in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He joined the Rankin Lab in November 2016 to learn about the neuroanatomical changes related to social function in neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and the neuroimaging methods used to examine this relationship. Winson hopes to pursue further studies in clinical neuropsychology in the future. In his spare time, Winson enjoys hiking, reading, photography, and playing the piano or the double bass.

Fadya Binyameen

Fadya Binyameen is a second-year junior at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. After graduating, she will attend medical school and is hoping to become a trauma surgeon. Fadya joined Rankin Lab in December 2016 as a visiting undergraduate and is interested in learning more about the basic functions of the brain and how neurodegenerative diseases affect those functions and what changes they make towards the every-day routines of people that have the disease. When she is not studying or going to class, Fadya enjoys volunteering, going to the beach, biking, finding new hiking trails in the Bay Area, watching movies, and dancing. 

 

Michelle Tran

Michelle Tran is a senior majoring in Molecular Toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating, she will attend medical school. She is hoping to become an orthopedic surgeon. Michelle joined Rankin Lab in January 2017 as an administrative assistant and is interested in learning more about correlation between aging and socio-emotional behavior. When she is not studying or going to class, Michelle loves hunting for new places to eat, capturing the perfect shot with her DSLR, and figure skating.

COLLABORATORS

Anneliese Radke, MS, MSW

Anneliese Radke has completed several projects while training at the Memory and Aging Center, including her dissertation with Dr. Rankin focused on validating a novel tablet-based affect naming measure in differentiating neurodegenerative disease. While at the MAC, Ms. Radke also collaborated with Nick Bott, examining the neuroanatomical correlates of altered sense of comprehension of humor in neurodegenerative disease. She also collaborated with Dr. Kate Possin, examining the sensitivity and specificity of the diagnostic criteria of bvFTD. Currently, Ms. Radke is completing her clinical neuropsychology internship at the Emory School of Medicine towards the completion of her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium. She will begin her postdoctoral fellowship at UC Davis this fall.

Georges Nassan, MD

Dr. Georges Naasan received his medical degree from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He completed an internship in medicine and a residency in neurology at Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals of Cleveland. He joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in 2011 where he is a Clinical Instructor and a Behavioral Neurology Fellow. Dr. Nassan is particularly interested in the psychotic manifestations of neurodegenerative diseases such as hallucinations and delusions. During his residency, he used functional MRI imaging techniques to study the anatomy of misidentification delusions such as the Capgras syndrome.

Kamalini Ranasinghe, MD, PhD

Dr. Kamalini Ranasinghe received her medical degree from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and earned her PhD in Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas, under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Kilgard. Dr. Ranasinghe is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSF Memory and Aging Center. Her research centers on the network dysfunction of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. While working with Dr.Rankin, she focused on clinical-neuropsychological characteristics of bvFTD and explored data-driven approaches to identify possible subtypes of bvFTD. Dr. Ranasinghe’s current work is aimed to identify spatial and temporal characteristics of network dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases.

Marc Sollberger

Marc is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University Center for Medicine of Aging Basel and the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland. He worked from 2009 till 2011 as a post-doctoral fellow in Kate Rankin’s lab investigating clinical and neural substrates of personality traits and self-awareness in neurodegenerative disease. After his return to Switzerland he continued collaborating with Kate Rankin. He currently aims to delineate the neural correlates of one’s self-monitoring ability in neurodegenerative disease.

Nicholas Bott

Nick Bott is a neuropsychology intern at the Palo Alto VA medical center where he assess cognitive and emotional symptoms in patients with traumatic brain injury through the polytrauma service and provides neuropsychology consultation for individuals with severe mental illness through inpatient psychiatry. Nick earned a B.A. in International Relations at Stanford University with a concentration in the psychology of religious and political violence. He has a masters of divinity and is currently completing his doctorate in clinical psychology at the PGSP-Stanford Consortium. Nick has completed clinical externships at the UCSF Memory and Aging, Epilepsy, and Surgical Movement Disorders Centers, and has actively collaborated with clinical research for the past 4 years. As a collaborator with the Rankin lab he is examining the neurological changes that can alter sense of humor in neurodegenerative disease. He is also interested in characterizing "normal" socio-emotional functioning in typically aging older adults.

Peter Pressman, MD

Dr. Pressman received his MD from Oregon Health & Science University, after which he completed an internship in internal medicine and residency in neurology through Northwestern University. Dr. Pressman joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in 2011 as a Clinical Instructor and Behavioral Neurology Fellow. Dr. Pressman is particularly interested in communication, emotion, and sensorimotor integration in neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia, early onset Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. He has been awarded a Clinical Research Training Fellowship by the American Brain Foundation to pursue research on the melody of speech in neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Pressman is also a freelance writer whose work can be read on neurology.about.com!

Shunichiro Shinagawa, MD, PhD

Shunichiro Shinagawa received his M.D. from the Jikei University School of Medicine in 1999. He joined Dr. Rankin’s lab in 2012 as a visiting scholar at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center. While working with Dr. Rankin, he studied neural correlates of neuropsychiatric symptoms and social cognition in neurodegenerative disease, especially bvFTD. Dr. Shinagawa is also very interested in the social impact of neurodegenerative disease. He is currently back in Japan, working as an assistant professor at the Jikei University School of Medicine.

Tal Shany-Ur, PhD

Tal was a postdoctoral fellow at Dr. Rankin's lab from 2009 to 2012. During her graduate studies in Neuropsychology, she trained at a pediatric rehabilitation center and studied the relationship between brain injuries and social behavior under the mentorship of Professor Simone Shamay-Tsoory. She then advanced her research and clinical training during a three-year fellowship with Professor Rankin, studying the mechanisms and brain regions underlying comprehension of social interpersonal information and self-awareness. She was involved in designing new measures of social information comprehension and assessed hundreds of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Since returning to Israel, she has been working as a psychologist at a rehabilitation center for patients with brain injuries, and continues to collaborate with Professor Rankin thanks to Skype. She will join the Department of Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem later this year.

 

 

... And the rest of the Memory and Aging Center!

 

 

ALUMNI

Akitoshi Takeda

Akitoshi Takeda is a visiting scholar from Japan, specializing in behavioral neurology. He graduated from Osaka City University Medical School M.D and trained in neurology at Osaka City University Hospital. Akitoshi joined the Rankin Lab in October 2015. His main interest is social function in bvFTD patients and the neural network of social cognition.

Angelica Vargas Rodriguez

Angelica is currently a third year student at UC Berkeley studying psychology. She joined the Rankin Lab as a research assistant in Fall of 2015 to gain invaluable first hand experience in research. Angelica aspires to a doctorate in clinical psychology or cognitive science. In her free time, Angelica enjoys drawing and traveling.

Aruna Singh

Aruna Singh studies Molecular Cell Biology as an undergraduate at the University of San Francisco. Her interests consist of frontotemporal and corticobasal neurodegenerative disease as well as the affects of degenerative decline on cognitive function.

Since Aruna’s time at the lab, she has completed a public health and community medicine program in India and London, where she learned about many of the health challenges facing India, such as low rates of immunization, sanitation and waste management, and unsafe drinking water. Aruna now works as a medical scribe for the Seton Medical Center ER, and hopes to attend medical school in the near future.

Benazir Sardar

Benazir Sardar graduated from Willamette University with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Studio Art. A summer internship at a geriatric home spurred her interest in memory and neurodegenerative disease. Benazir joined the Rankin Lab in March 2015, to continue broadening her understanding of dementia and its physiological and psychological effects. At the lab, she took on a broad range of duties, including study recruitment and scheduling, patient testing, data entry, and website management. In the future, Benazir is interested in becoming a geriatric care manager.

Carolyn Chadwick

CC is a junior at Connecticut College, studying Behavioral Neuroscience and Anthropology. She joined the Rankin Lab as a visiting scholar during the summer to gain experience in clinical research. She worked with the Rankin Lab to organize patient data, prepare manuscript figures, and shadow patient testing. In the future, CC hopes to continue conducting research in neuroscience, in a clinically geared setting.

Edward Rong

Edward Rong is a senior majoring in Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Edward spent a summer with the Rankin lab working on a variety of projects, such as a literature review on mPFC, a clinic backlog project, as well as digitization of questionnaires with Qualtrics. He liked to attend talks and symposiums from the MAC while not working. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Neuropsychology.

Florence Yuan

Florence is a senior at UC Berkeley, double majoring in Integrative Biology and Psychology and minoring in Music. She joined the Rankin Lab as a research assistant in October 2015. Florence plans to pursue a career in medicine and is excited to expand her understanding of adult neurological disorders! In her spare time, she enjoys making paper crafts, figuring out puzzles, and exploring the beautiful Bay Area.

Jayinee Basu

Jayinee Basu is a writer and Post-Baccalaureate student in the Health Professions Program at U.C. Berkeley Extension. She graduated from U.C. San Diego with B.A.’s in Political Science and Literature/Writing, as well as a minor in Studio Art. At the Rankin Lab, she created a process model document for new clinicians at the Memory and Aging Center and aided research in neural network functions and frontotemporal dementia. She currently works at the Swanson Lab (NCIRE) helping to identify interventions that can prevent cell death in stroke and other neurological disorders. Jayinee is also the author of a book of poems entitled Asuras (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2015).

Jee Kim

Jee Kim majored in Neurobiology (MCB) at UC Berkeley. In Dr. Rankin's lab, she studied neuroanatomic changes that can cause altered personality and social behavior in dementia by running VBM batch preprocessing of images with SPM pipeline, organizing image files within OpenNX cloud system, creating computer-based neuropsychiatric questionnaires with Qualtrics, and assisting with other duties within the lab. She is currently at Stanford, studying Parkinson’s disease.

Laura Bouvet

Laura Bouvet is a visiting neuropsychologist from France. She studied at the University of Savoy in France where she obtained her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology. She joined the Rankin Lab in Fall 2014 in order to better understand the neurological changes related to social function. She is interested in learning more about the effects of dementia on social behavior and personality. In her spare time, Laura enjoys hiking, running, yoga, reading, and teaching French to bilingual children.

Lorena Ferguson

Lorena is a senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in cognitive science with an emphasis in neuroscience. She's passionate about understanding Alzheimer's Disease, and hopes to continue studying it in the future. In her free time, she loves reading, hiking, cooking, and watching copious amounts of Netflix.

Lucia Lopez

Lucia Lopez received her BA in Psychology from San Francisco State University. Her interests consist of the behavioral and physiological aspect of psychology as well as the connection between the mind and behavior. She joined the Rankin lab in July 2014 as a research assistant and has been working on a Psychosis project with Dr. Rankin alongside additional projects such as data entry and the transcription of video data. In her spare time, Lucia enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, trying cultural cuisines, and watching films.

Marie Altendahl

Marie is fourth-year student studying Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. She joined Dr. Rankin’s lab as an administrative assistant in May 2016 to learn about neurodegenerative diseases. Marie plans to attend medical school and pursue a future career in medicine. In her spare time, Marie loves to run, play cards, and eat ice cream.

Meghali Singhal

Meghali Singhal is now finishing up her junior year of college at UC Berkeley. She is currently part of Global Brigades and will be traveling to deliver primary healthcare to underprivileged communities in Honduras. She is also an editor for Morning Sign Out, a biomedical blog that works toward spreading basic medical knowledge to larger audiences.

Naomi Krieger

Naomi is a senior at Connecticut College, studying Psychology and French. She joined the Rankin Lab as a research intern in June 2015 to better understand neurodegenerative diseases. She worked primarily on the Social Function Study by administering tests, managing appointments, and entering data. Naomi has since been working on her thesis, studying substance use as a disordered eating behavior. In her spare time, she loves to hike, run, and read at coffee shops.

 

Kelly Gola

Kelly joined Dr. Rankin’s lab in 2014. She is completing her PhD in developmental psychology at UC Santa Cruz where she has studied dyadic personality dynamics and the cognitive, socio-emotional, and neural underpinnings of everyday storytelling. While working with Dr. Rankin, she has examined intrinsic connectivity networks involvement in social cognition, emotional self-expression in neurodegenerative disease patients, and the neural correlates of neuropsychiatric symptoms in neurodegenerative disease. Her current work aims to understand cerebellar involvement in neuropsychiatric symptoms and social functioning in neurodegenerative disease populations.

Amanda Jocson

Amanda is currently a third year undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco majoring in Biology and minoring in Health Studies. She joined Rankin Lab as a visiting student intern to gain more insight on neurodegenerative diseases. She plans to pursue a career in the medical field.

Brian Rezende

Brian Rezende is a second-year student studying Biology with a double minor in Neuroscience and Chemistry at the University of San Francisco. He joined the Rankin Lab in December 2016 as a visiting undergraduate scholar, passionate about learning more about neurodegenerative diseases and examining the changes in behavior. Brian plans to attend medical school in the near future in hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon and being able to help others who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases. In his spare time, Brian enjoys playing volleyball, learning how to program, reading, running, travelling, and expanding his palette through trying different foods.