Research Team

  1. Melissa E. Murray, Ph.D.

    • Principal Investigator
    • As principal investigator in the Translational Neuropathology Lab, Dr. Melissa Murray leads a team that is advancing research in brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, especially focusing on the vulnerability or resilience of affected individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Read Dr. Murray's research bio.

  2. Baayla D. Boon, M.D.

    • Research Fellow
    • Dr. Boon is a Ph.D. candidate at both Mayo Clinic's Department of Pathology as well as the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam at the Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands, under the supervision of Jeroen Hoozemans, Ph.D., and Femke Bouwman, M.D. While completing the final year of her Ph.D. program, she aims to understand the neuropathologic heterogeneity in Alzheimer's disease (AD) subtypes.

      During her Ph.D. studies, Dr. Boon set up a cohort of patients with AD who underwent in-situ brain 3 Tesla (3T) MRI after death with the aim of translating the neuropathologic findings to the clinic via MRI. While doing so, she and the team observed an underrecognized type of amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposit that seemed to have a different pathophysiology when compared with other aggregates. She worked on other projects involving the analysis of various deposits using different imaging techniques, including state-of-the-art 3D confocal laser scanning microscopy and label-free spectroscopy techniques such as Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Raman combined with laser-capture-microdissection-assisted proteomics. Using these techniques, Dr. Boon is gaining a deeper understanding of what is happening on a cellular level.

      The Dutch Alzheimer Association awarded a two-year fellowship to Dr. Boon to begin a collaboration with Dr. Melissa Murray's Translational Neuropathology Lab at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. The next question she hopes to answer is the clinical relevance of deposits by examining which types of patients with AD have certain specific deposits. Dr. Murray's lab is well suited for answering this question due to its expertise in the study of AD neuropathologic subtypes.

  3. Janisse N. Cabrera-Rodriguez

    • Research Program Coordinator
    • As a program coordinator in Dr. Murray's lab, Janisse Cabrera-Rodriguez will be supporting digital pathology efforts on multidisciplinary projects in neuroimaging and transcriptomics. In 2012, Cabrera-Rodriguez earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. In 2016, she received a master's degree in nursing from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in advanced nursing practice from Northern Kentucky University. Her previous research experience is related to public health, specifically in recruitment process and organ donation.

  4. Sydney A. Labuzan

    • Special Project Associate II
    • Sydney Labuzan focuses on using immunohistochemistry and neuroimaging techniques to investigate the neuropathologically defined Alzheimer's disease subtypes. Additionally, she is gaining proficiency at assessing Thal amyloid phase for people identified as pathologically normal as well as those along the Alzheimer's disease spectrum.

      In 2016, Labuzan received her Bachelor of Arts in biology from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. She completed a Master of Science in biology at the University of North Florida (UNF), Jacksonville, in 2019, working with David S. Waddell, Ph.D. During that time, Labuzan's project focused on characterizing two novel genes, protein phosphatase methylesterase-1 (PPME1) and dual-specificity protein phosphatase 4 (DUSP4), and their putative roles in skeletal muscle, culminating in a thesis entitled "Characterizing the Role of Neurogenic Atrophy-Induced Protein Phosphatases in Skeletal Muscle." During her time at UNF, she gained proficiency in a variety of molecular techniques such as cell culture, transfections, Western blotting and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).

  5. Sarah J. Lincoln

    • Principal Research Technologist
    • Sarah Lincoln has extensive research experience in genetics, animal modeling, and cell and molecular biology. Her work currently focuses on investigating possible interactors of the Alzheimer's disease protein tau in neurodegenerative diseases. Using next-generation sequencing and expression data, she models genetic variants and differential gene expression that could affect tau aggregation and pathogenesis of the disease. Lincoln enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with students, and with visiting postdoctoral fellows, neurologists and medical interns, teaching them the key aspects of molecular genetics and cell biology in a laboratory setting.

      Lincoln received her Bachelor of Science from the University of East Anglia and a postgraduate certificate in education from the University of Roehampton, both in the U.K. She moved to the U.S. in 1994 to work in the laboratory of Professor Karen E. Duff, Ph.D., at the University of South Florida, where she engineered the presenilin 2 (PSEN2) knockout mouse model. Then, in 1996, she began her career at Mayo Clinic, continuing her work on the genetics of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases in the laboratories of Dr. Karen Duff and John A. Hardy, Ph.D. She joined the laboratory of Professor Matthew J. Farrer, Ph.D., in 2000 and became part of the team that discovered mutations in familial Parkinson's disease gene leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) and alpha synuclein (SNCA) genetic multiplications. Lincoln went on to model these genetic discoveries in mouse models of parkinsonism. In 2010, she joined the Genetics of Alzheimer's Disease and Endophenotypes Laboratory of Nilufer Ertekin-Taner, M.D., Ph.D. In 2020, Lincoln transitioned to work under Dr. Murray in the Translational Neuropathology Lab.

  6. Billie J. Matchett

    • Special Project Associate II
    • Billie Matchett is focused on identifying the biochemical differences in the Alzheimer's disease protein tau between different disease subtypes and ethnoracial groups. In addition, using neuroimaging technologies, she works on assessing the burden of another Alzheimer's disease-associated protein, TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43), in different clinical cohorts. Her research goal is to help the laboratory find a blood-based biomarker for Alzheimer's disease.

      Matchett has been a research intern in Dr. Murray's lab, working in the field of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). During that time, she gained expertise in a variety of techniques, including DNA and protein extraction from brain tissue, sequencing of known disease-associated genes, and whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and RNA sequencing (RNAseq) analysis. Matchett obtained experience in neuroimaging analysis under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Murray, which, in addition to her other research ventures, gained her co-authorship on several scientific papers during her undergraduate internship. In 2018, she received her Bachelor of Science in microbiology from the University of Leeds, U.K.

  7. Christina M. Moloney, Ph.D.

    • Research Fellow
    • Dr. Moloney is focusing her research on tau tangle maturity in Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Moloney received her Bachelor of Science in biotechnology with a minor in chemistry from Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, in 2014. In 2018, she received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, concentrating in neuroscience, from University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Moloney joined the Translational Neuropathology Lab at Mayo Clinic in 2019.

  8. Kelly M. Ross, M.S.

    • Senior Research Technologist
    • Kelly Ross has research expertise in cell biology and molecular genetics, with a focus on neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease, related dementias and Parkinson's disease. She performs studies using human brain tissues donated by patients and their families to the Mayo Clinic brain bank. Her goal is to elucidate what goes wrong with specific genes and proteins involved in the disease process and identify clinicopathological subtypes of disease that may improve therapeutic strategies for individuals in a targeted way. Ross extracts DNA and RNA from brain tissues to run on expression arrays, generating large data sets to identify novel genes that may modulate disease progression. These approaches also provide data that can be shared with colleagues and collaborators around the world with the common mission of halting, and even preventing, the progression of these devastating disorders.

      Ross received her Bachelor of Science in 2002 from the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida. She joined Mayo Clinic in August 2005. Her research focus was on characterizing the most clinically relevant Parkinson's disease gene-protein leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) using cell culture model systems and developing novel antibodies. As her research progressed, Kelly performed behavioral studies on various LRRK2 mouse models (developed by Heather L. Melrose, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida). In 2011, she received a master's degree in biomedical sciences from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Her thesis is titled "Characterization of Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2-Associated Parkinson's Disease Using In Vivo Models."

      Ross joined the Neuropathology and Microscopy Lab, led by Dennis W. Dickson, M.D., to study how neuropathological changes in the microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) lead to Alzheimer's disease. In 2017, she began investigating the heterogeneity of Alzheimer's disease with Dr. Murray to understand the molecular mechanisms that cause selective hippocampal vulnerability.

  9. Sabrina B. Rothberg, M.P.H.

    • Research Program Coordinator
    • As a Research Program Coordinator in Dr. Murray's lab, Sabrina Rothberg is responsible for logistics of project flow and coordinating research administrative functions within the department. Rothberg received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007. Following this, she completed a postbaccalaureate in the Mammary Biology and Tumorigenesis Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute. Her research focused on murine mammary tumorigenesis. She then completed her Master of Public Health from the Tulane University School of Public Health in New Orleans, LA. Most recently, Rothberg served as a Research Project Coordinator in the Department of Regenerative Medicine at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. She joined the Mayo team in March 2021.

  10. Alexa L. Tamurian

    • Special Project Associate II
    • Currently, Alexa Tamurian focuses on using immunohistochemistry and digital pathology techniques to investigate neurodegenerative diseases in Dr. Murray's lab. In 2017, she received her Bachelor of Science in biology from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida. While there, she was granted a research lab internship and received credit for her courses while working diligently at the ACME Technical, LLC, facility. Tamurian was involved in the development and evaluation of a new wound healing and treatment wash for use in veterinary and pet treatment markets. The product clinically demonstrated potential for the treatment of minor skin wounds and abrasions in small animals. During her time at ACME Technical, she gained proficiency in a variety of analytical approaches and brought a scientific curiosity to the project. Tamurian's extensive research, both in and outside of the lab, played a vital part in achieving co-authorship on the patent for the product through Synergy Labs.

      In 2019, Tamurian began her clinical career at Mayo Clinic working as a GI technician. During that time, she gained proficiency in taking biopsies and several GI-related procedures that require medical imaging. After becoming familiar with working in a clinical setting, she aspires to collaborate in a research lab as a career goal.

  11. Jessica F. Tranovich

    • Senior Program Coordinator
    • As a program coordinator in Dr. Murray's lab, Jessica Tranovich has supported all aspects of the lab including providing neuropathological documentation for the research team. Currently her focus is on understanding neurodegenerative diseases by using the Aperio digital analysis program. She also extracts patient clinical and neuropathology data to understand trends within the patient population. She has a significant role in Dr. Murray's National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research grant titled Clinicopathologic and Neuroimaging Differences in Alzheimer's Disease Variants.

      In 2016, Tranovich started her career at Mayo Clinic helping families navigate the donation process for the Mayo Clinic brain bank. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2017.