Team Bios

As principal investigator in the Neuropathology and Microscopy Lab, Dr. Dickson leads a dedicated team that is focused on unraveling the causes for a variety of neurological diseases.

Michael DeTure, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

For over two decades, Dr. DeTure has investigated tau aggregation in Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. His expertise and experience elucidating the role of tau filament assembly in these neurodegenerative diseases has led to many significant contributions in the field. His research is focused on characterizing and preventing tau aggregation and accumulation in tauopathies, such as Alzheimer's disease and certain frontotemporal dementias.

During the majority of his career, Dr. DeTure has concentrated on examining the in vitro filament assembly properties of tau and developing cell culture and animal models of neurofibrillary tangle formation and cell death. He has extensive experience purifying tau proteins and assembling them under a variety of paradigms such as tau can form filaments at nanomolar concentrations as are likely encountered in the neuron, and then assaying the formation of these filaments by thioflavin S binding, circular dichroism, light scattering, ultracentrifugation and quantitative electron microscopy.

Additionally, Dr. DeTure has considerable experience in the biochemical purification of sarkosyl-insoluble tau oligomers and filaments from cell culture and animal models, such as those he helped develop using inducible expression systems. In fact, these experiments were the first to actually demonstrate that tau filaments can form in cell cultures, and the rTG4510 animal model he helped characterize develops some of the most robust neurofibrillary pathology from full-length tau. These insights are in addition to his efforts characterizing the effects human MAPT mutations have on tau function in nearly a dozen familial tauopathies discovered here at Mayo Clinic and understanding the disease-specific strains they form during pathogenesis.

Nikhil B. Ghayal

  • Special Project Associate II

Nikhil received his bachelor of science with honors in biomedical sciences from the University of North Florida. Prior to receiving his degree, Nikhil participated in a six-month observation under Dr. Dickson where he learned about the process of brain banking, neuropathology and novel research topics in neuroscience. Nikhil's training goals are focused on the neuropathology of neurodegenerative diseases and investigating disease subtypes within frontotemporal lobar degeneration, namely corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration FTLD-FUS (fused in sarcoma). Additionally, Nikhil is gaining experience in the neuropathology of vascular and demyelinating diseases. He hopes to use this new knowledge as he goes through his medical school application process to eventually become a neuropathologist and principal investigator.

Peizhou Jiang, Ph.D., M.S.

  • Associate Consultant I and Assistant Professor

Dr. Jiang is a molecular and cellular biologist with 14 years of research experience specializing in Parkinson's disease and related disorders. Dr. Jiang's previous research is mainly focused on deciphering mechanisms underlying α-synuclein aggregation and Lewy body formation in brains of patients with Parkinson's disease; his work is also involved in neurodegeneration and Alzheimer's disease.

After receiving his Ph.D. degree in China in 2003, Dr. Jiang was recruited as a research fellow at Mayo Clinic, starting his neuroscience research career. In 2014, Dr. Jiang joined Dr. Dickson's lab., where he is now a key member, focusing on identifying the mechanisms underlying the formation of Lewy pathology in human brains; he is also an electron microscopy specialist in charge of sample preparation and examination for cell cultures, animal and human brains.

Naomi Kouri, Ph.D.

  • Research Fellow

Dr. Kouri received her bachelor of science in chemistry at the University of North Florida. She then went on to receive her Ph.D. from the Mayo Graduate School in 2014 under the mentorship of Dr. Dickson. Her research is focused on the genetics and neuropathology of neurodegenerative disorders, with a special interest in tauopathies including progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal degeneration (CBD).

Shanu F. Roemer, M.D., M.S., FEBN

  • Research Associate

Dr. Roemer is a European board-certified neurology consultant and an expert in neuropathology and neuroimmunology. She received her medical degree at the University of Copenhagen. Her neuropathology training included mentorships with Christine Stadelmann-Nessler, M.D., and Wolfgang Brück, M.D., in the Department of Neuropathology, University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany, followed by a postdoctoral position under the co-mentorship of the late Dr. Bernd W. Scheithauer, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.

While practicing as a consultant neurologist in Copenhagen, Dr. Roemer chaired the multiple sclerosis division, acted as an advisory committee member in neuroinflammation and neuro-oncology and served as a national clinical investigator targeting neuroinflammatory disorders. She further held a position as clinical associate professor on the faculty of health and medical sciences at the University of Copenhagen supervising and mentoring medical students during their clinical rotations while serving as a primary committee member on medical theses and medical licensing examinations.

Since joining the Dickson lab as a full-time clinician-scientist in translational neuropathology, Dr. Roemer's primary focus is investigating clinicopathological correlations and red-flags, the role of the innate and adaptive immune response in neurodegenerative diseases and neuropathological characterization of autoimmune movement disorders. She collaborates with Melissa E. Murray, Ph.D., on projects related to 4R tauopathies and α-synuclein and is a teaching assistant in her neuroanatomy course. Under the direct supervision of Dr. Dickson, she strives to achieve in-depth neuropathological training in the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases.

Past and ongoing projects include atrophy and microglial responses in frontotemporal dementias, immunology of multiple system atrophy, clinicopathological correlates of Lewy body diseases and mimics, paraneoplastic movement disorders, and the role of complement membrane attack complex and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65) in neurodegeneration.

Hiroaki Sekiya, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Sekiya received his medical degree at Kobe University School of Medicine in Japan. After clinical training in neurology at various hospitals, he joined the Japanese Society of Neurology and became a board-certified neurologist.

During graduate school, Dr. Sekiya investigated the pathogenesis of alpha-synucleinopathy. His interest is focused especially on synuclein oligomers, the early aggregate species of alpha-synuclein. He examined the comprehensive distribution of synuclein oligomers in human synucleinopathy brain tissue and found widespread and abundant synuclein oligomers in the cerebral cortices of patients with multiple system atrophy.

While part of Dr. Dickson's team, he hopes to pursue clinicopathological research on synuclein oligomers in Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia and multiple system atrophy.