Meet the Team

Anna Carrano, Ph.D.

  • Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Carrano utilizes her deep understanding of brain molecular biology in health and disease to study the role of cerebrospinal fluid in the invasiveness and proliferation of glioblastoma.

During her postdoctoral training at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Carrano's main focus was to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms by which neuroinflammation and inflammatory mediators affect presence of Alzheimer's disease hallmarks in the brain, such as amyloid-beta and tau aggregates, utilizing transgenic mouse models and somatic brain transgenesis by delivery of adeno-associated virus particles.

Dr. Carrano graduated from the University of Milan and received her master's degree in medical biotechnology and molecular medicine. She then moved to the Netherlands, where she obtained her doctorate in neuroscience from the Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam Rotterdam at the Vrije University Medical Center in Amsterdam. Her doctoral research revolved around the identification and characterization of pathological pathways crucial for Alzheimer's disease development and blood‐brain barrier alterations.

Natanael Zarco, Ph.D.

  • Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Zarco's research interests are focused on understanding the molecular mechanism by which cancer stem cells promote tumor growth and on developing efficient gene therapy strategies. His expertise is in cell cycle, cellular quiescence, apoptosis, and molecular biology of cancer and gene therapy.

Dr. Zarco obtained his doctorate in cellular and molecular neurobiology from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) in Mexico City. During his doctoral research, he worked in two main aspects of growth arrest specific 1 (GAS1) expression and regulation. The first main aspect was focused on the characterization of GAS1 expression and distribution in the central nervous system; the second centered on GAS1 transcriptional regulation and its molecular mechanisms of action.

Montserrat A. Lara Velazquez, M.D.

  • Graduate Student

Dr. Lara Velazquez is interested in the effects of cerebrospinal fluid on the malignancy of glioblastoma cells. More specifically, she is focused on investigating the role that molecules in cerebrospinal fluid can have in the regulation of glioblastoma cell dispersal and the molecular pathways by which glioblastoma cells can respond to boost cell migration.

Dr. Lara Velazquez is completing the doctoral portion of the M.D.-Ph.D. track in the Plan of Combined Studies in Medicine (PECEM) program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has a special interest in brain sciences, and is inspired to learn about tumor biology from the molecular basis of tumor formation to migration and invasion mechanisms for cancer metastasis. She is mentored by Dr. Guerrero Cazares and Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D.

Emily S. Norton

  • Graduate Student

Emily Norton is a graduate student in the Neurobiology of Disease Ph.D. program at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She is studying the origin of brain tumor stem cells and how the interaction with neurogenic factors contained within the subventricular zone and the cerebrospinal fluid contribute to glioblastoma growth, invasiveness and malignancy.

Emily received her Bachelor of Science in physiology and neurobiology from the University of Connecticut in 2017. There, she studied changes in human ventricle system health associated with aging and disease as well as neural stem cell differentiation and ependymal cell generation in embryonic and postnatal development. She is motivated to use her understanding of these processes to clarify the effects of the neurogenic niche on glioblastoma biology and prognosis.

Jordan S. Phillipps

  • Undergraduate Intern

Jordan Phillipps is a student intern in the Basic Research Internship in Neuroscience and Cancer coordinated by Mayo Clinic and the University of North Florida and an undergraduate at the University of North Florida. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology with a concentration in biomedical sciences.

Jordan aspires to be a neurosurgeon with an M.D.-Ph.D. focus. His research interests reside in the field of neuro-oncology, particularly topics relating to the blood-brain barrier and glioblastoma. He has a strong passion for neuroscience and is eager to learn about the mechanisms by which brain tumor cells originate, migrate and interact with neural progenitor cells.

Lauren A. Whaley

  • Undergraduate Intern

Lauren Whaley, a student at the University of North Florida, is in her senior year of attaining a Bachelor of Science in biology. She is also a student intern in the Basic Research Internship in Neuroscience and Cancer led by Mayo Clinic in conjunction with the University of North Florida.

Lauren's primary research interests at the University of North Florida are rooted in the proliferation and migration patterns in neural regeneration. She is also eager to explore the impact of glioblastoma on molecular mechanisms involved in neurogenesis. Lauren intends to pursue a career in the medical field with a concentration in pathological studies where she can directly apply her research interests. She is currently focusing on determining proteome changes in neural stem cells in response to nearby glioblastoma.

Danielle M. Devine

  • Research Administrative Assistant

As research administrative assistant in the Department of Neurosurgery, Danielle Devine is responsible for handling all administrative aspects of the Neurogenesis and Brain Tumors Lab and miscellaneous other requests to keep the research lab running at its full potential at all times. Danielle has more than 10 years of experience in the health care industry, mainly at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida, where she has coordinated and facilitated successful collaborations with a wide range of directors, researchers, patients and clinical colleagues. She has a background in nursing (associate degree) and will be pursuing her Bachelor of Science in nursing (B.S.N.) in the near future. In the meantime, she enjoys spending all of her free time with her family, especially her son, Rhett.