Meet the Team

Staff of the Neurobiology of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Lab at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • Lindsey G. Andres-Beck, B.A.
    • Ph.D. student (2015-present)
    • Lindsey graduated from St. Olaf College in 2014 with a B.A. in biology. While in college, she worked with Shelly Dickinson, Ph.D., exploring the effect of methylphenidate on learning and memory. Before joining the Ph.D. Program: Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Track in 2015, she spent one year in the lab of Timothy J. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic studying directed cardiac differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells. Lindsey aspires to advance our knowledge in the field of neuropsychopharmacology and to contribute to the development of novel therapeutic methods. She investigates the molecular basis of alcoholism and psychiatric disorders through a pharmacology lens.
  • Sun Choi, B.S.
    • SPV-Senior Research Technologist (2005-present)
    • An expert in animal husbandry and biochemistry, Sun Choi joined our lab in 2005. Before coming to Mayo Clinic, Sun worked at the University of California, San Francisco, for several months. She completed her basic and advanced biology-related courses at San Francisco City College and College of Marin, California (2002-2005).

      Since Dr. Choi's laboratory uses many congenic mouse strains with different genetic backgrounds, careful breeding, genotyping and maintenance of our animal colonies is needed. Sun has developed a very organized and efficient animal maintenance system at Mayo utilizing a new identification method as well as multiple polymerase chain reaction (PCR) genotyping and recording systems. Sun manages the Mayo Rodent Behavior Facility and assists with several animal behavioral experiments carried out in the lab. In addition, she has an outstanding skill in Western blot experiments, contributing very reliable data. Her job also involves supervising the laboratory's allied health staff. Her goals entail providing animals and technical support for cutting-edge science.

  • Sa-Ik Hong, Ph.D.
    • Research Fellow (2016-present)
    • Dr. Sa-Ik Hong is a South Korean pharmacist interested in neuropsychiatric diseases. He graduated from Chungbuk National University with a Bachelor of Pharmacy in 2010. Then, he completed his Ph.D. degree in neuropharmacology (2016) at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea in the laboratory of Professor Choon-Gon Jang, Ph.D. While an undergraduate, he studied the anticonvulsion effects of natural products in mice and assisted to discover the novel therapeutic target to treat Alzheimer's disease.

      During his Ph.D. studies, he investigated the role of TRPA1 in cocaine reward and dependence using behavioral pharmacology and molecular biological in vivo and in vitro techniques. Additionally, he examined multifaceted changes including neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease), drug addiction, anxiety and depression, sleep disorders and substance use (cannabinoids, amphetamines, morphine, and cocaine). Having a comprehensive view and understanding of drug addiction, he taught in the pharmacy school during his Ph.D. training (2011-2014). He also studied the dependence liability of new psychoactive substances with South Korea FDA (2011-2016).

      Sa-Ik's strong interest and final goal is the development of the novel therapy to treat substance abuse, particularly alcohol use disorder. To broaden his research and fulfill his research goal, he aims to study neurobiological mechanisms in Dr. Choi's lab.

  • Yun-Fang Jia, Ph.D.
    • Research Fellow (2015-present)
    • Dr. Yun-Fang Jia graduated from Shaanxi Normal University with a Bachelor of Biological Science Degree in 2008. She continued her education in scientific research at Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and received her Ph.D. degree in neurobiology in early 2015. During her Ph.D. studies, Yun-Fang investigated the neural and molecular mechanism of brain-related disorders including drug addiction, anxiety and depression, and epilepsy using transgenic mice and pharmacological manner assays.

      In 2008, she joined the Institute of Neuroscience, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, to complete her theory courses for her Ph.D. degree, where she also learned technologies on biological chemistry and molecular biology. Yun-Fang found the close relationship among mitochondrial DNA, autophagy and melatonin, which plays an important role in opiate addiction. In a second project, she demonstrated that serotonin contributed to opiate addiction and anxiety and depression. In addition, she reported a novel role of TRPV1 in opiate addiction and epilepsy in another project.

      In Dr. Choi's laboratory, Yun-Fang aims to achieve more neuroscience-related discoveries that may contribute to the treatment and prevention strategies for addiction and bipolar disorders, which will lead her to become an independent scientist in the future.

  • Seungwoo Kang, Ph.D.
    • Research Associate (2017-present)
    • Dr. Kang is a neuroscientist whose overall career goal is to contribute to the public health field by elucidating the molecular mechanisms controlling pathological neuronal activity in psychiatric disorders, and applying them to the relevant disease therapeutics. Seungwoo completed his B.S. in life sciences and M.S. in neurobiology at Korea University. As a pharmacology graduate student at University of California, Irvine (UCI), Seungwoo pursued his Ph.D. investigating the mechanisms controlling neuronal activities through the modulation of ion channel complex, especially M-channel which is one of voltage-gated potassium channels associated with neuronal excitability. After earning his 2014, he joined Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences for his postdoctoral training and had been participating in projects identifying neuronal mechanisms of comorbidity between alcoholism and mental illnesses through mainly electrophysiological approaches and behavioral analysis.

      Recently he joined Dr. Choi's lab at Mayo Clinic, where he will continue to dedicate his efforts for the elucidation of potential therapeutic targets of psychiatric disorders. His passion for studying neuroscience is not only from his curiosity about many core neurological questions that still remain unanswered, but also the applicability and importance of neuropharmacological research for public health. He enjoys having discussions with friends and co-workers because he believes that one of the best aspects of doing research is being able to share what he has learned with others.

  • Hyunjung Kim, M.S.
    • Research Technologist (2018-present)
    • Hyunjung Kim completed her B.S. in genetic engineering and M.S. in medicine at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea. She mainly studied immune cell migration, especially identification of cyclophilin A as a CD99 binding protein. After receiving her M.S., she worked as a researcher in Korean National Cancer Center and carried out several projects to study acute myeloid leukemia. She also worked as a research assistant at the Department of Pharmacology lab at Korea University and was involved in several projects identifying the mechanisms of psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression.

      Hyunjung can perform various molecular and cellular laboratory techniques including PCR, Western blot, flow cytometry, cell culture, in situ hybridization and immunostaining. In Dr. Choi's lab, she works with Dr. Shin and performs mouse husbandry, genotyping and rodent behaviors.

  • Daniel R. Lindberg, B.A., B.S.
    • M.D-Ph.D. student (2015-present)
    • Daniel Lindberg graduated in 2012 from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, with degrees in neuroscience (magna cum laude) and biology. Since graduating, Daniel has performed research at both the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany, as well as at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland. In Germany, Daniel's research focused on deciphering the significance of a new histone modification of H2B and understanding the role of this modification and its responsible enzyme for promoting genome stability and preventing cancer. At NIMH, Daniel helped to reveal changes in the expression of various microRNAs within the prefrontal cortex of people with schizophrenia.

      Daniel joined Mayo Clinic's Medical Scientist Training Program as an M.D-Ph.D. student in 2014 and began his Ph.D. in Dr. Choi's laboratory in late 2015. His primary research interest is in the bioenergetic and mitochondrial changes that occur in neurons and astrocytes as a result chronic alcohol consumption and other forms of addiction. Daniel aims to mesh the laboratory's interest in purinergic signaling with his personal interest in mitochondrial function and endocannabinoid signaling in order to reveal a novel mechanism controlling mitochondrial function and energy handling within the central nervous system. Additionally, he wishes to understand how dysfunction in these systems contributes to alcoholism and addiction.

  • Lee R. Peyton, B.S.
    • Ph.D. student (2018-present)
    • Lee graduated from the University of Arizona (UA) in 2015 with a B.S. in microbiology. While at UA, he developed a true passion for chemistry especially organic synthesis. Working under the supervision of a great mentor, Nooshin Hashemzadeh, Ph.D., he was able to develop a synthesis for a water-soluble antifungal. After graduation, he continued working in Dr. Hashemzadeh's lab and attended numerous American Chemical Society conferences.

      As a Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) student at Mayo Clinic (2016-2018), he became involved in several projects with Ph.D. graduate students and carried out the role of alcohol exposure in neurogenesis in Dr. Doo-Sup Choi's lab. In 2018, he joined the Ph.D. Program: Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Track. Based on his strong chemistry background, he is interested in investigating neurotransmitter levels depending on severity of ethanol intoxication, withdrawal and relapse. Also, he plans to examine a correlation between metabolites and behavioral changes in rodents, which will be helpful to identify biomarkers associated with alcohol use disorder.

  • Phillip A. Starski, B.S.
    • Ph.D. student (2015-present)
    • Phillip graduated from Central Michigan University (CMU) in 2013 with a dual major in Neuroscience and Psychology. While at CMU, he was awarded an internal grant to explore the utility of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells in a Huntington's disease mouse model under the supervision of his mentor Gary Dunbar, Ph.D. After graduation, he worked as a technician in the lab of William Stacey, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Michigan, where he was tasked with developing a novel model of ictogenesis by inciting a hippocampal seizure from synaptic noise created in the thalamus.

      In 2014, Phillip was recruited into PREP at Mayo Clinic. He began working with Isobel A. Scarisbrick, Ph.D., on myelin repair. He focused on identifying protease-activated receptor 1 as a key mediator of myelin repair through influencing the development of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. In 2015, he started the Ph.D. Program: Neuroscience Track at Mayo. He is interested in learning more about the molecular mechanisms in disorders related to the basal ganglia and hippocampus.

  • Katheryn Wininger, M.S.
    • Ph.D. student (2017-present)
    • Katheryn Wininger joined the lab in early 2016. She studied biology and chemistry in undergraduate, and received a B.S. from Bemidji State University in 2005. After temporarily working in industry as a technologist, she got a position as a clinical laboratory technologist at Mayo Clinic's Immunodermatology Laboratory. She became interested in psychology and neuroscience after taking an online course for continuing education.

      In 2012, she joined the Mayo Clinic Employee Master's Program for Neurobiology of Disease, completing her M.S. in 2017. She joined the Ph.D. program in 2017 and began volunteering in this lab in her spare time. While volunteering, she was able to work on a couple projects delving into the role of adenosine and the circadian rhythm in alcohol intake. From 2013 to 2015, she has studied the behavioral and the molecular mechanisms behind treatment-resistant depression in rodents in the Department of Psychiatry. Currently she is working on post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder.