Scientific Review Committee

The Brain Research Foundation Scientific Review Committee was established to review our research grant applications. This committee is a combination of  researchers from several institutions throughout greater Chicago and nationwide. Their scientific expertise is invaluable when reviewing the Brain Research Foundation research grant proposals. Following is a brief description of each reviewer’s research interests:


Sangram S. Sisodia, Ph.D.
University of Chicago

Dr. Sisodia received his B.A. from the College of Wooster and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Georgia. He joined The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1985, where he rose to the rank of Professor of Pathology and Neuroscience. He then moved to The University of Chicago in 1998 to assume the Chairmanship in the Department of Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Physiology. Dr. Sisodia serves on the Editorial Boards of eight journals, including Cell and Neuron. He has served in an advisory capacity for several federal and non-federal agencies, including the Alzheimer’s Association, the NIH Neurological Sciences Study Section, the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institutes on Aging etc. Dr. Sisodia is the recipient of several awards including: the American Academy of Neurology’s Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer's Disease Research (1997); the Metropolitan Life Foundation Award for Medical Research (1998); induction into The Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2007) and many more.


Ted Abel, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Ted Abel is the Brush Family Professor of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania where he is Co-Director of the Biological Basis of Behavior Program and directs an NIMH-funded predoctoral training program in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. He has received numerous awards, including the a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, a John Merck Scholars Award, the Daniel X. Freedman Award from NARSAD, and University of Pennsylvania Dean’s Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Research. His laboratory’s primary focus is on understanding the molecular and cellular basis of learning and memory and well as the role of sleep in memory storage. He has published widely in journals that include Nature, Neuron, Journal of Clinical Investigation and Journal of Neuroscience. He is a Fellow of ACNP, Editor-in-Chief of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, and an Associate Editor of Behavioral Neuroscience. A graduate of Swarthmore College, Dr. Abel received his Master of Philosophy in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Marshall Scholar and worked with Nobel Laureate R. Tim Hunt. He received his doctorate from Harvard University, where he worked with Tom Maniatis studying transcriptional regulation. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University studying the molecular mechanisms of memory storage.

Scott T. Brady, Ph.D.
University of Ilinois Chicago

Scott Brady was born in San Antonio, TX and lived in various cities from Heidelberg to Honolulu as he was growing up. He attended MIT as an undergraduate, receiving bachelor’s degrees in both Physics and Biology. He received his PhD in 1978 from the University of Southern California in Cell and Molecular Biology for work on the role of the cytoskeleton in axonal transport. From there, he joined the laboratory of Raymond Lasek at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH to continue his studies on both fast and slow axonal transport. In 1985, he became an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX where he remained until 2001. At that time, he became Professor and Head of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. During his time at CWRU, he began the practice of spending several months each summer doing research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA where he has been a summer investigator every year, since 1982. In the mid-1980’s, he worked with Dr Lasek and Dr. Robert D. Allen to develop the isolated axoplasm preparation for study of fast axonal transport. This led to his discovery in 1985 of a new family of molecular motors that was found to mediate anterograde fast axonal transport, the kinesins. These discoveries were recently recognized as milestones in the study of the cytoskeleton by Nature. He has continued his studies on the molecular mechanisms of axonal transport, including a strong interest in its regulation. These studies led to the demonstration that axonal transport plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease as well as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. He has also studied other aspects of the cellular and molecular biology of the axon, including specializations of the axonal cytoskeleton, myelin-axon interactions and the effects of chronic stress on neuronal function as part of an overall interest in how a neuron is built and maintained for decades. He is a fellow of the AAAS. a member of various editorial boards and the Editor in Chief of the Basic Neurochemistry textbook.

John Disterhoft, Ph.D.
Northwestern University

Dr. Disterhoft’s laboratory is studying the neurobiology of associative learning in the young and aging mammalian brain with in vivo and in vitro techniques using eyeblink conditioning, spatial learning and fear conditioning as behavioral model systems. Many of his ongoing experiments focus on the hippocampus, a paleocortical region involved in transferring information during learning from short- to long-term memory storage. Single-neuron ensemble recording in the conscious animal is used to localize and functionally characterize the cell types involved in laying down the "memory trace" in the hippocampus and associated regions. In parallel experiments, biophysical measurements are made from hippocampal brain slices taken from trained animals to define ionic mechanisms for the conditioning-specific alterations in postsynaptic intrinsic currents that have been observed. Synaptic alterations related to conditioning are also being explored in brain slices. Cellular and systems alterations in aging brain that may underlie learning deficits and agents which may be useful in enhancing learning rates in aging are being studied. Recent experiments are focusing on the manner that prefrontal and sensory system neocortical regions, and the caudate nucleus of the basal ganglia change during eyeblink conditioning. We are also using transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease along with behavioral and biophysical approaches to better understand the cellular and systems changes that occur as Alzheimer’s disease develops. The goal of these experiments is to use them to assist in developing better treatments for AD.

Ole Isacson, Ph.D.
Harvard University

Dr. Ole Isacson is Professor of Neurology (Neuroscience) at Harvard Medical School and founding Director of the Neuroregeneration Research Institute and the Neuroregeneration Laboratory at McLean Hospital, an NIH Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence Awardee and currently leads the extramural NIH iPS cell consortium for Parkinson’s disease. His work is focused on the understanding and treatments of neurodegenerative disease, with particular emphasis on distinguishing critical mechanisms and treatments of neuronal vulnerability at the onset of disease, or new restorative treatments using stem cells after symptoms. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center and Principal Faculty of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Since 1990, Prof. Isacson’s laboratory at Harvard has grown to an internationally recognized academic research center for Parkinson's disease and related disorders. He is a member of the Executive Scientific Advisory Board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Dr. Isacson has received several international prizes, research awards and lectureships. Prof. Isacson was elected fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2013. He is author or co-author of over 300 scientific research articles and 3 books in his field. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience.

Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D.
Rosalind Franklin

Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D. is Professor and Vice-Chairman in the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. He also serves as Director of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. His research focuses on understanding the regulation of neurogenesis in the adult and aging brain. In particular, elucidating the key factors specifying progenitor cell fate and exploring ways to directly reprogram in vivo the fate endogenous neural progenitor cells. His research is directed toward the development of new therapeutic strategies for brain repair. Dr. Peterson is an Editorial Board member for seven scientific journals, a member of the American Federation for Aging Research National Scientific Advisory Council, and the External Commissioner for the Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale Italia (Concorsuale 06/D6-Neurologia). He is also Past-Chairman of the NIH Study Section NCF (Neurogenesis and Cell Fate) and Past-President of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair.

Marina Picciotto
Yale University

Marina Picciotto is Charles B.G. Murphy Professor in Psychiatry and Deputy Chair for Basic Science at Yale University. She is also Professor in the departments of Neurobiology, Pharmacology and the Child Study Center. Her research focuses on defining molecular mechanisms underlying behaviors related to psychiatric illness, with a particular focus on the function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain. Her laboratory uses knockout, transgenic and shRNA strategies to identify the role of individual receptors and signaling molecules in behaviors related to depression, addiction, cognitive function, sensory processing and food intake. Dr. Picciotto received her B.S. from Stanford and her Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University where she worked with Dr. Paul Greengard. She conducted postdoctoral work with Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux at the Pasteur Institute before joining the faculty at Yale University. Dr. Picciotto is Treasurer of the Society for Neuroscience and serves as handling editor or on the editorial board of several journals. She is a fellow of AAAS and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences.

Nenad Sestan, MD, PhD
Yale University