Research Team

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

Angela M. Crist, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Dr. Crist is a molecular biologist with a background in developmental vascular biology. She received a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2019. Her dissertation work focused on finding a cure for a rare disease called hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. She is using her postdoctoral studies to explore neuroscience and gain clinical research experience by validating genes found by applying translational neuropathology to next generation sequencing. Dr. Crist's main project in the Translational Neuropathology Lab is identifying blood based biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease.

Samantha J. Davis
Research Program Coordinator

Samantha Davis is responsible for coordination of administrative and programmatic facets of Translational Neuropathology Lab operations. Davis received her bachelor of science in biological sciences from Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Arkansas. She previously studied the utilization of plant–based bioproduction systems in the development of enzyme replacement therapeutics for lysosomal storage diseases for BioStrategies-LC. Before joining Dr. Murray's research team, she investigated the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease for the Mayo Clinic.

Sydney A. Labuzan
Special Project Associate II

Sydney Labuzan focuses on utilizing immunohistochemistry and neuroimaging techniques to investigate the neuropathologically-defined Alzheimer's disease subtypes. Additionally, she is gaining proficiency at assessing Thal amyloid phase for cases identified as pathologically normal as well as those along the Alzheimer's disease spectrum.

She received her bachelor of arts in biology from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida in 2016. She completed a master's of science degree in biology at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, in 2019, working with David Waddell, Ph.D. Labuzan's project during that time focused on characterizing two novel genes, Ppme1 and 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 different molecular techniques such as cell culture, performing transfections, western blotting and qPCR.

Billie 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 ethno-racial 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 different 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 a number of scientific papers during her undergraduate internship. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom in 2018.

Christina M. Moloney, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Dr. Moloney is focusing her research on tau tangle maturity in Alzheimer's disease. Moloney received her bachelor of science degree in biotechnology and a minor in chemistry from Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, in 2014. She received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, concentrating in neuroscience from University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida in 2018. Moloney joined the Translational Neuropathology Lab at Mayo Clinic in 2019.

Kelly M. Hinkle 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 utilizing 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 clinicopathologic 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 across the world with the common mission of halting, and even preventing, the progression of these devastating disorders.

Ross received her bachelor of science degree 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 Melrose, Ph.D., of 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 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.

Octavio A. Santos, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Dr. Santos' research interests include cross-cultural neuropsychology, test development and cognitive aging and interventions. He is conducting research on the translation and cultural adaptation of an evidence-based intervention for Spanish speakers with mild cognitive impairment, funded by the Alzheimer's Association Research Fellowship to Promote Diversity (AARF-D) Program. He completed a bachelor's degree in psychology at the Universidad Pontificia Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia, and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has also completed a clinical psychology internship at the South Texas Veterans Administration in San Antonio, Texas, and a clinical neuropsychology postdoctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida.

Jessica F. Tranovich
Program Coordinator

As a program coordinator in for Dr. Murray's lab, Jessica Tranovich has supported all aspects of the lab including providing neuropathologic documentation for the research team. Currently her focus is on understanding neurodegenerative diseases by utilizing 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 NIH funded research grant titled Clinicopathologic and Neuroimaging Differences in Atypical Alzheimer's Disease Variants.

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