Our Team

With our diverse background and our expertise in genetics and statistics, our team is well positioned to lead the way in stroke studies. Learn more about who we are.

  • Owen A. Ross, Ph.D.
  • Principal Investigator

    A native of Northern Ireland, Dr. Ross joined the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Florida in 2005. Dr. Ross' initial work helped elucidate the role of LRRK2 genetics in Parkinson's disease. Specifically, his work helped identify the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease, which is the LRRK2 G2019S genetic mutation, and the first common functional risk factors for the disease, LRRK2 R1628P and G2385R.

    Dr. Ross also has played an important role in discerning the genetic factors that determine individual risk of rare forms of parkinsonism, including Lewy body dementia and multiple system atrophy.

    In addition to leading the Stroke and Vascular Disease Lab, Dr. Ross is a professor of neuroscience at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a Mayo Clinic Team Science Award recipient and has published hundreds of research articles about stroke, vascular disease, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Read more about Dr. Ross.

  • Alexandra I. Beasley, M.S.
  • Principal Research Technologist

    Alexandra graduated from the University of North Florida in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree and in 2017 with a Master of Science degree in biomedical diagnostics. She joined Mayo Clinic's Department of Neuroscience in 2006, with a focus on Parkinson's disease research. She became the manager of Dr. Ross's lab in 2010. Alexandra oversees projects and manages the day-to-day operation of laboratory activities, including the design of research studies and experiments.

    Alexandra has continued to learn about and develop new techniques and data analysis skills to advance in the rapidly evolving field of genetics. She has mentored many visiting clinical research fellows, fellows in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, undergraduate students and various research volunteers.

  • Elizabeth (Beth) A. Christopher, M.B.A.
  • Research Program Coordinator

    Beth graduated from the University of North Florida in 2004 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing and in 2011 with a Master of Business Administration degree. She joined Mayo Clinic's Department of Neuroscience in 2012 to oversee sample collection and management for a lab focusing on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia. She joined Dr. Ross' lab in 2021.

  • Michael G. Heckman, M.S.
  • Principal Biostatistician

    Michael received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics with a statistics emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2001. He received a Master of Science degree in statistics with a biostatistics emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003. Michael has worked in the Division of Clinical Trials and Biostatistics within the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at Mayo Clinic since 2003. Michael also is an assistant professor of biostatistics at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Michael's main research interest is the statistical analysis of genetic association data.

  • Yingxue Ren, Ph.D.
  • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics

    Dr. Ren's research interests center on method development for the analysis of complex diseases. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in bioinformatics from Soochow University in China in 2007, a Master of Science degree in genetics from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2009, and a Ph.D. degree in genetics and genomics from Florida State University in 2015. Dr. Ren joined Mayo Clinic in 2015 as a bioinformatician. Read more about Dr. Ren.