Program Staff

Karrie Molitor

Karrie Molitor

MnDRIVE Brain Conditions Program Manager
Department of Neuroscience, 6-145 Jackson Hall, 321 Church Street SE
(612) 626-3378

Karrie Molitor is the MnDRIVE Program Manager for the Discovery and Treatments for Brain Conditions. She manages the program's administrative operations and coordinates neuromodulation events, outreach activities, and fellowship opportunities. She is also the Administrative Manager for the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction and has been with the University of Minnesota Medical School's Department of Neuroscience since 2018. Before she came to UMN, she received her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Minot State University in North Dakota. She has experience as a pharmaceutical auditing specialist, a family advocacy program assistant for the United States Air Force, and a psychiatric residential treatment advisor for children and teenagers with chronic psychiatric and behavioral health issues.

Dwight Nelson

Dwight Nelson, Ph.D.

MnDRIVE Brain Conditions Senior Industry Synergy Fellow

Dr. Nelson is a Senior Fellow with the MnDRIVE Brain Conditions Team where he focuses on increasing and strengthening MnDRIVE relationships with business and industry. Dwight has broad experience in both corporate and academic research. With a PhD in neuroscience, he has worked as a scientist and leader in both the pharma and medical device industries, and has been a tenured university faculty with funding from NIH, NSF, and business and industry collaborations. Dwight’s most extensive industry experience was with Medtronic Neuro R+D, where he was a Chief Scientist in Global Research for multiple global business units, driving clinical and preclinical programs, patent strategies and submissions, and establishing novel research and therapy directions. He founded and led multiple teams of MD and PhD scientists and research programs for deep brain stimulation, brain sensing, peripheral nerve and pelvic health therapies, as well as spinal neuromodulation. Retiring from Medtronic in 2018, he established a successful neuroresearch consulting firm to provide scientific leadership for numerous global device and diagnostics start-ups and academic teams.  

Within MnDRIVE, Dr. Nelson is focused on industry and academic collaboration and synergies. He is facilitating effective clinical and preclinical research collaborations, creating a distinct deliverables-based research culture, and building a sustainable pipeline of Neuro research expertise, discoveries and commercialization at the University of Minnesota. These business synergy efforts include driving and significantly improving the scientific foundation of the Minnesota medical device ecosystem, better connecting UMN resources and opportunities to partners in start-ups and strategic industry leaders, and establishing more effective academic-industry collaboration. Ultimately these programs bring cutting-edge, data driven breakthroughs to future patients and the Minnesota biotechnology ecosystem.

Marina Bryants

Marina Bryants, CCRP

Clinical Research Coordinator, Deep Brain Stimulation Core
Department of Neurology, 12-135 Phillips-Wangensteen Building
(612) 624-3035

Marina Bryants began working in the Department of Neurology with Movement Disorder patients in deep brain stimulation clinical trials in 2019. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. She came to Neurology from the Department of Psychology, where she worked with adolescent twins, studying neurodevelopment.

Mo Chen

Mo Chen, Ph.D.

Technical Consultant, MnDRIVE Non-invasive Neuromodulation Laboratory
Department of Psychiatry, Room 247, 717 Delaware St. SE
(612) 624-5220

Dr. Chen's research interests focus on using different techniques, including non-invasive brain stimulation and neuroimaging, to investigate pathopysiology of neurological and psychiatric disorders e.g. Focal Dystonia and Stroke, and using non-invasive neuromodulation techniques as a treatment to improve performance of people with neurological or psychiatric disorders.

Mia Kellman

Mia Kellman

Research Professional, MnDRIVE Non-invasive Neuromodulation Laboratory
Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain

Mia Kellman joined the Non-invasive Neuromodulation Laboratories (NNL) as a Research Professional in June 2022. She provides equipment training and data collection assistance for study teams using the facilities. Mia has been working in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences since 2019 as a part of Dr. Christine Conelea's team within the Converging Approaches to Neurodevelopment (CAN) Lab. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2021, and is interested in non-invasive treatments, primarily for tic disorders, as well as for depression and traumatic brain injuries.

Alana Lieske

Alana Lieske

Lab Manager, MnDRIVE Non-invasive Neuromodulation Laboratory
Department of Psychiatry, Room 348, 717 Delaware St. SE
(612) 301-2460

Alana Lieske joined the Non-invasive Neuromodulation Laboratory supported by MnDRIVE Brain Conditions in 2018. She provides research support for clinical trials using non-invasive neurotechnologies, primarily assisting with data acquisition and analysis. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2017. Alana’s research interests center on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation in the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression and tic disorders) with a particular interest in pediatric populations.

Erin photo

Erin Lind, Ph.D.

Associate Director, MnDRIVE Optogenetics and Neuromodulation Core
3-432 McGuire Translational Research Facility (MTRF) and 4-118 Wallin Medical Biosciences Building (WMBB)
(612) 624-3075

Dr. Larson (Lind) is the Associate Director of the MnDRIVE Optogenetics and Neuromodulation Core. She provides research support for labs wanting to utilize optogenetic and chemogenetic approaches in their neuromodulation research including providing equipment access, technical assistance, teaching/training services, and assistance in grant development, experimental design, and regulatory procedures. She is also the Director for the Mouse Behavior Core in the Institute of Translational Neuroscience. Erin received both her B.S. (1999) and Ph.D. (2006) in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota and conducted her postdoc work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center prior to returning to MN in 2013. She has 20+ years of experience studying disease neurobiology across multiple levels (molecular, cellular, systems, behavior), particularly in relevance to addictive behavior. 

Julie Madsen

Julie Madsen, CCRP

Regulatory Specialist, Deep Brain Stimulation Core
Department of Neurology, 12-149 Phillips-Wangensteen Building
(612) 626-3525

Julie Madsen started as Regulatory Specialist for the Department  of Neurology in 2018. She initiates and maintains the department's deep brain stimulation (DBS) studies for FDA, IRB and related compliance. In addition, she advises and assists PIs in creating protocols and other study documents according to regulatory requirements, and is the main regulatory contact for study teams. She also assists and is a regulatory resource for DBS studies in other departments at the University of Minnesota. 


Eric Maurer, MHA

MnDRIVE Deep Brain Stimulation Core - Associate Director, Operations
Department of Neurology
(612) 626-2770

Eric Maurer started working on deep brain stimulation research in 2012. He joined the Department of Neurology in 2013 and enjoys supporting multidisciplinary research teams across the University of Minnesota.

Kelly Ryberg

Kelly Ryberg, M.A., CCRP

Research Project Manager, MnDRIVE Deep Brain Stimulation Core
Department of Neurology
(612) 626-3439

Kelly Ryberg joined the Department of Neurology in 2014. She received her B.A. from UMN and her M.A. from City University of New York's Hunter College. She manages research related to invasive neuromodulation and other movement disorders research, working with PIs across multiple departments. She previously worked in preclinical research and in PTSD research at the Bronx VA. 


Tay Netoff, Ph.D.

Tay Netoff
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
6-122 NHH
(612) 625-3618


Yoon-Hee Cha, M.D.

Yoon-Hee Cha
Neuromodulation Scholar, Associate Professor — Neurology
(612) 301-2738

Dr. Cha is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology with subspeciality training in neurotology. She joined the faculty of the department in July 2019 as a MnDRIVE Scholar to pursue research on the application of non-invasive brain stimulation methods on the modulation of motion perception, treatment of vertigo, and enhancement of gait and balance. She developed the first neuromodulation based clinical trials in a motion entrainment disorder called mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS) in which individuals who are exposed to passive oscillation, such as on a boat, develop a persistent oscillating vertigo as if they are still on the boat when they return to stable ground. The study of MdDS revealed the importance of brain regions not traditionally thought to be part of the vestibular system in the creation of motion perception. Understanding how motion entrainment can affect multiple resting state brain networks provided insights into why migraine, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction are frequently comorbid with vestibular disorders. Besides research on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation tools such as transcranial alternating current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation, Dr. Cha sees patients in the neurology clinic with a focus on chronic headache, vertigo, and gait dysfunction.

Scott Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.

Scott Cooper Photp
Neuromodulation Scholar, Assistant Professor — Neurology
PWB 12-154
(612) 626-9516

Dr. Cooper is a clinical neurologist specializing in movement disorders and a research physiologist specializing in control of voluntary movement. His long term goal is to combine the two roles fruitfully. He studies pathophysiology of the extrapyramidal motor system with a particular focus on basal ganglia and Parkinson's disease and on deep brain stimulation. His research is with human subjects and he collaborate extensively with bioengineers, neurosurgeons, and neuropsychologists.

Christine Conelea, Ph.D.

Christine Conelea
Neuromodulation Researcher, Associate Professor — Psychiatry
2-009 Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain

Dr. Conelea is a clinical psychologist and Co-Director of the Converging Approaches to Neurodevelopment (CAN) Lab, which aims to improve understanding and care of neurodevelopmental disorders, including Tourette Syndrome/tic disorders, OCD, autism, and ADHD. She is particularly interested in combining neuromodulation with cognitive and behavioral therapies to improve therapeutic outcomes for youth with Tourette Syndrome and OCD. As Director of the Neuromodulation Program at the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, she supports UMN investigators interested in pediatric neuromodulation. Her hope is to facilitate and advance clinical neuromodulation research that will ultimately improve the well-being of youth with neurological disorders and mental illness.

Kathryn Cullen, M.D.

Katie Cullen
Neuromodulation Researcher, Associate Professor — Psychiatry
F268 West Building
(612) 273-9762

Dr. Cullen is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division at the University of Minnesota. She completed all of her medical and research training at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Cullen leads an NIH-funded research team examining the neurodevelopmental underpinnings of depression, self-injury and suicide risk in adolescents and young adults, and investigating interventions aimed at promoting healthy trajectories in these youth.

David Darrow, M.D., MPH

David Darrow
Neuromodulation Scholar, Assistant Professor — Neurosurgery
(612) 624-6666

Dr. Darrow is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, specializing in functional and pain neurosurgery. He treats diseases of the central nervous system including epilepsy, movement disorders, trigeminal neuralgia/facial pain, chronic pain, and psychiatric diseases. Dr. Darrow completed his neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota where he worked on developing novel neuromodulation techniques and applications including focused ultrasound, spinal cord stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation. Dr. Darrow is co-PI of the Herman-Darrow Human Neuroscience Lab with a mission of understanding and treating disorders of the nervous system with neuromodulation. The Herman-Darrow Lab links together circuit-level electrophysiology with behavior. By pairing neuromodulation with a quantitative understanding of the pathological circuits of the brain, the lab hopes to help patients improve symptoms and quality of life. Dr. Darrow is the PI for the E-STAND trial, where neuromodulation is used to restore function after Spinal Cord Injury. In collaboration with many other investigators, the team is testing neuromodulation to restore volitional movement and autonomic function using algorithmic, personalized approaches through remote data collection.

Emad Ebbini, Ph.D.

Emad Ebbini Photo
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Electrical and Computer Engineering
Kenneth H. Keller Hall Room 6-163 200 Union Street Se, EE/CSci
(612) 625-1852

Dr. Ebbini's lab is investigating image-guided transcranial application of focused ultrasound (tFUS) to neuromodulation. They have developed a unique paradigm for tFUS utilizing our dual-mode ultrasound array (DMUA) prototypes. DMUAs are capable of subtherapeutic or therapeutic of tFUS while providing real-time monitoring and localization of its interactions with brain tissue. Our DMUA prototypes have been shown to detect and localize both mechanical and thermal tFUS-tissue interactions with brain tissues in a rat model in vivo.

Stephen Engel, Ph.D.

Stephen Engel
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Psychology
N218 Elliott Hall
(612) 625-5571

Dr. Engel's lab studies neuroplasticity in the human visual system. He uses environmental manipulations, including augmented reality, to try to modulate function of the visual brain.

Geoffrey Ghose, Ph.D.

Geoffrey Ghose
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Neuroscience, Psychology & Radiology
Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, CMRR, 2841A, 2021 6th Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 625-8362

Dr. Ghose's lab studies the neurophysiological basis of cognitive factors such as attention and learning which are critical to behavioral performance. They employ neuromodulation and stimulation to understand, probe, and hopefully augment or mimic the effects of these factors. They also use a variety of techniques including multi-electrode recordings, optical imaging, fMRI, computation, and psychophysics to characterize these factors, and their neural bases, in both behaving animals and humans. 

Noam Harel, Ph.D.

Noam Harel
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Radiology/CMRR
1-211D CMRR
(612) 625-8399

Dr. Harel's current research focuses on the development and integration of 7T MRI and high-field neuroimaging data into deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgical navigation in particular and brain surgery in general. They are developing new structural/anatomical imaging which are combined with post processing image analysis schemes for the creation of a 3-dimensional anatomical model of the brain. This 3D model created by the 7T images allows us to literally ‘see’ the individual shape, size, and orientation of the brain target area for deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy.

Alexander Herman, M.D., Ph.D.

Alex Herman
Neuromodulation Researcher, Assistant Professor — Psychiatry
(612) 625-1194

Dr. Herman is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a member of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. Dr. Herman's human neuroscience lab studies neural mechanisms of decision-making that are impaired in addiction and amendable to treatment with neuromodulation. His lab combines invasive and non-invasive methods including intracranial electrophysiology, direct brain stimulation, magnetoencephalography, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Advanced computational methods are utilized to find underlyning connections between brain activity, stimulation and behavior. Clinically, Dr. Herman is developing a speciality practice in refractory mood and anxiety co-morbid with addiction and chronic pain disorders.

Luke Johnson, Ph.D.

Luke Johnson
Neuromodulation Researcher, Assistant Professor — Neurology & Associate Director, Neuromodulation Research Center
Lions Research Building/McGuire Translational Research Facility
(612) 626-6157

Dr. Johnson’s research addresses critical questions regarding the pathophysiology underlying movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and mechanisms of action of therapeutics such as deep brain stimulation (DBS). He is leveraging this understanding to improve existing treatment options and develop new therapeutic strategies to alleviate motor and non-motor symptoms of PD (e.g. sleep dysfunction). 

Matthew D. Johnson, Ph.D.

Matt Johnson
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Biomedical Engineering
6-134 NHH

Dr. Johnson's lab is primarily interested in developing and refining neural interface technologies to improve the quality of life for people with movement disorders. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is one such technology, which over the past twenty years has helped numerous patients with Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, and essential tremor reclaim control over their motor function. The therapy involves placing small electrodes in regions of the brain that exhibit pathological activity, which contributes to the movement disorder, and then stimulating those regions with continuous pulses of electricity. His lab focuses on understanding how the brain responds and adapts to such stimulation-based therapies from a combination of computational and experimental perspectives. The knowledge gained from these studies in turn provides us with a framework to develop, evaluate, and translate new approaches for improving patient outcome.

Suhasa Kodandaramaiah, Ph.D.

Neuromodulation Researcher, Assistant Professor — Mechanical Engineering
303 Mechanical Engineering, Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 626-1307

Dr. Kodandaramaiah's research group is focused on engineering neurotechnologies that help better understand how computations that occur in the brain drive behavior. A critical challenge for modern neuroscience is to study neuronal computations across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Traditionally, technologies used to observe activities at one level do not scale to the next level without loss of signal fidelity or information. HIs laboratory is combining expertise in robotics, precision engineering, optics and microfabrication for engineering technologies that seek to bridge these experimental scales.  


Juergen Konczak, Ph.D.

Juergen Konczak photo
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Kinesiology
400 Cooke Hall, 1900 University Ave S E
(612) 624-4370

Dr. Konczak's research focuses on somatosensory dysfunction that is linked to motor dysfunction in neurological diseases. His lab is actively engaged in research on using vibro-tactile stimulation of the skin and muscles as a non-invasive form of neuromodulation to treat focal dystonia. His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Catherine Kotz, Ph.D.

Catherine Kotz
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Integrative Biology & Physiology
CCRB 3-144, 2231 6th Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 301-7687

Dr. Kotz's team uses neuromodulation techniques to understand the role of the neurohormone orexin in energy balance. Her laboratory first developed the idea that orexin drives spontaneous physical activity (SPA) and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT); that it interacts with other neurotransmitters and brain sites in a network fashion; and that it has relevance to obesity: higher orexin signaling is associated with greater SPA and NEAT, the lean state and obesity resistance. Recently they have shown that orexin stimulation - either by direct receptor stimulation with orexin A injections in rats, or by DREADD [Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs] stimulation of orexin neurons in mice, prevents diet-induced adiposity and weight gain. This, coupled with our use of optogenetics to understand effects of acute simulation and inhibition of orexin neurons, and the recent development of the CAV2-Cre virus, which transfers Cre recombinase retrogradely between neurons, allows us to begin the study of orexin thermogenic pathways relevant to obesity.   

Esther Krook-Magnuson, Ph.D.

Esther Krook-Magnuson
Neuromodulation Scholar, Associate Professor — Neuroscience
4-155 Jackson Hall
(612) 301-2650

Neuronal networks, diversity, and specificity of function are important to both physiological processes and neurological disorders, including epilepsy. Dr. Krook-Magnuson's laboratory seeks to improve our understanding of how cells interact within a network, how networks interact with each other, and the physiological roles of neuronal populations. In this regard, key questions remain in epilepsy research, including what are the principal networks, conditions, and cell types involved in initiating, sustaining, propagating, terminating, and potentially suppressing, seizures. By improving our understanding of these, we improve the prospects of someday reaching the goal of no seizures, no side effects, for all epilepsy patients. Her lab uses rodent models of neurological disorders, including temporal lobe epilepsy, and techniques including electrophysiology, optogenetics, immunocytochemistry, transgenic animals, and behavioral experiments to address these fundamental questions.

Vipin Kumar, Ph.D.

Vipin Kumar photo
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor & Head — Computer Science & Engineering
Kenneth H. Keller Hall Room 5-225C 200 Union Street SE
(612) 624-8023

Dr. Kumar is currently William Norris Professor and Head of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota. He's current research interests include data mining, high-performance computing, and their applications in Neuroscience, Climate/Ecosystems and Biomedical domains. In the context of human neuroscience, the focus is on functional connectivity and its dynamics in healthy, disease, and post-treatment conditions. Functional connectivity analysis techniques developed in his group are highly suited for assessing the effectiveness of neuromodulation in treating mental disorders.

Hubert Lim, Ph.D.

Hubert Lim
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery
6-132 Hasselmo Hall 312 Church St SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 626-4565

Dr. Lim's lab goal is to push the development and translation of neural interfaces and medical technologies from scientific concept into clinical application with close collaboration with clinicians and industry. Initial medical applications focus on treating hearing loss, tinnitus and pain. They utilize a range of invasive and noninvasive technologies and approaches including electrical stimulation, ultrasound imaging and stimulation, EEG, and invasive neural recordings in animals and humans to rapidly push technology into the clinical and consumer realm.

Kelvin Lim, M.D.

Kelvin Lim
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Room 516 717 Del
(612) 626-6772

Dr. Lim’s research interest is in the use of neuroimaging approaches to identify circuit abnormalities in brain disorders such as schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury and addiction and then to use these circuits as treatment targets for noninvasive neuromodulation interventions. He is currently conducting studies that combine transcranial direct current stimulation neuromodulation with cognitive training to improve cognition in subjects with schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury, and addiction.

Angus W. MacDonald, III, Ph.D.

Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Psychology
N218 Elliott Hall, 75 E River Rd
(612) 624-3813

Dr. MacDonald III's laboratory examines cognitive control, working memory, and executive functioning and decision making. They are using neuroimaging to decode brain regions involved in these processes, and transcranial stimulation to examine and promote plasticity in these processes. This work extends into psychopathology, such as understanding how brain stimulation can promote cognitive remediation in people with schizophrenia or predicting decisions related to addiction risk.

Colum MacKinnon, Ph.D.

Colum MacKinnon Photo
Neuromodulation Researcher, Associate Professor - Neurology
Institute of Translational Neuroscience, 717 Delaware St., SE. Minneapolis, MN, 55455
(612) 625-8938

Dr. MacKinnon's Movement Disorders Laboratory's mission is to gain a greater understanding of the mechanisms causing movement problems in people with neurological disorders and to translate this knowledge to the development of novel therapies and interventions to improve movement function, mobility, and quality of life. They use a variety of non-invasive neurophysiological techniques (high-resolution EEG, TMS, tDCS, startle) to probe the cortical, subcortical, and spinal mechanisms contributing to movement impairment. They also collaborate with Center of Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), to use brain imaging methods to examine the changes in brain anatomy and connectivity associated with movement disorders. Their present research focus is to examine the mechanisms contributing to the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease and to advance the basic understanding and therapeutic efficacy of deep brain stimulation technology.

Robert McGovern III, M.D.

Robert McGovern
Neuromodulation Scholar, Assistant Professor — Neurosurgery
D429 Mayo
(612) 624-6666

Dr. McGovern is a functional/stereotactical neurosurgeon who specializes in treating patients with movement disorders and epilepsy at M Health Fairview Clinics and Surgery Center - Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He conducts research on untreatable balance and gait problems in Parkinson’s patients and offers treatments such as deep-brain stimulation for Parkinson's patients and minimally invasive surgery to stop epileptic seizures. 

Karen A. Mesce, Ph.D.

Karen Mesce
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor - Entomology & Neuroscience
412 Hodson Hall 1980 Folwell Ave. St Paul, MN 55108
(612) 624-3734

Dr. Mesce's laboratory is studying how the neuroactive substance, dopamine, influences identifiable neural circuits to choreograph specific locomotor programs, and impacts decision-making processes. To address such issues, at the level of single neurons and their interconnections, we utilize experimentally-tractable invertebrate preparations. Such systems have also proven beneficial for the testing of cutting-edge technologies for brain modulation. Currently, we are designing, manufacturing, and testing novel micro devices for the dual recording of electrical and chemical signals. They are also examining the cellular mechanisms underlying ultrasound neuromodulation.

Shalom Michaeli, Ph.D.

Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Radiology
2-122 CMRR Building
(612) 626-2001

Dr. Michaeli's research goal is to utilize novel DBS paradigms based on the generation of rotating fields by amplitude and frequency modulated pulses, for efficient low energy modulation of thalamic – cortical pathways. The general objective is to optimize DBS pulse shapes to generate excitation of selective neuronal populations. The work on animal models is critical for the translation of more efficient and safer DBS strategies to humans. Development of novel efficient schemes which allow for flexible and selective excitability of cell’s and axonal populations is critical. The detection of network level activity leaded to a breakthrough development of resting state functional MRI (rsfMRI) methodologies. Their preliminary studies demonstrate that strikingly different functional connectivity outcomes can be robustly measured by fMRI in rest and activated conditions upon different DBS paradigms, thus substantiating the rationale for this project.

Ziad Nahas, M.D., MSCR

Ziad Nahas, MD
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs — Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
F282/2A West-B 8393A, 2450 Riverside Ave Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 273-9732

Dr. Nahas's scientific interests lie in translational research of mood dysregulation and depressive disorders. His unique expertise is in functional neuroimaging and brain stimulation across various modalities [Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), Epidural prefrontal Cortical Stimulation (EpCS), Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Focally Electrically Administered Seizure Therapy (FEAST)]. He has also conducted basic research and collaborated on health economic studies. He received funding from various sources, notably the National Institute of Mental Health, National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) and the Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF). 

Peggy Nelson, Ph.D., CCC-A

Peggy Nelson
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences
Room 115 ShevH, 164 Pillsbury Dr S E
(612) 625-4569

In the Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science (CATSS) lab, Dr. Nelson's team is working on the development and refinement of sensory aids for sensory loss. Most of Dr. Nelson’s work is focused on auditory perception and device evaluation. Specifically, they believe that auditory sensory aids (hearing aids and cochlear implants) have progressed to the point where speech intelligibility is conveyed quite successfully, at least for understanding in quiet environments. They believe the next stage is improving the sound quality and ease of listening for users of these sensory aids. Improving these abilities would ensure that the central auditory system has acclimated to the new inputs, and is processing them as natural acoustic information. Visual and vestibular implants are in earlier stages of development, but show promise to improve sensory input to the brain to improve quality of life for millions of Americans.

Tay Netoff, Ph.D.

Tay Netoff
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Biomedical Engineering
6-122 Hasselmo Hall 312 Church St SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 625-3618

Dr. Netoff's research laboratory focuses on understanding the basic neuroscience underlying epilepsy and developing new ways to treat epilepsy. Using mathematic analysis to simplify the non-linear and high order activity of the brain into meaningful and more easily understood data. Using the mathematical models they develop, can predict how new drugs will affect brain activity or how deep brain stimulation will alter synchrony in networks. Their goal is to develop new, innovative ways to predict, treat, and terminate seizures to improve patient care. His lab wants to better understand how seizures are generated and how they propagate through the brain. Their research leads to the belief that inhibitory cells may play a significant role in the onset of seizures.

John W. Osborn, Ph.D.

John Osborn, Jr, PhD
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology
(612) 624-3074

Our laboratory studies the role of the autonomic nervous system​ in the​ pathogenesis of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases with an emphasis on hypertension. We are particularly interested in how nerves to (efferent sympathetic) and from (visceral afferent) the kidney regulate renal and cardiovascular function. At the present time we are developing novel approaches to modulate renal nerves, using optogenetic​s​.

Michael Park, M.D., Ph.D.

Michael Park Photo
MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Scholar, Associate Professor — Department of Neurosurgery
Mayo D429-4
(612) 626-4706

Dr. Park will use his background in biology, medicine, and electrical engineering to work with other university departments, such as neurology and medical bioengineering, to create new devices that increase therapeutic options for patients with brain conditions. His research interests include: brain structure,  neuromodulation/deep brain stimulation, and medical device innovation. 

Giuseppe Pellizzer, Ph.D.

Giuseppe Pellizzer photo
Neuromodulation Researcher, Associate Professor — Minneapolis VA Hospital, Neuroscience
6-125 Jac H
(612) 725-2283

I am interested in the neural mechanisms associated with the processing of information that leads to the production of movements. For this purpose, we combine psychophysical and neurophysiological approaches. The current projects concern (1) how the brain deals with uncertainty during motor planning; (2) the decoding of brain signals for brain-machine interface applications.

David Redish, Ph.D.

David Redish
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Neuroscience
4-142 MCB
(612) 626-3738

My main research objective is to use theory, neurophysiology, and computational modeling to understand how the brain drives behavior. My lab combines multi-electrode neural ensemble recordings from awake, behaving animals with complex computational analysis techniques that enable measurement of neural dynamics at very fast time scales (e.g. msec).   Furthering the understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie decision-making allows us to modulate those decision-making processes, behaviorally as well as neurally.

Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D.

Patrick Rothwell
Neuromodulation Scholar, Assistant Professor - Department of Neuroscience
4-142 WMBB
(612) 626-8744

Brain disorders and mental illness represent a tremendous social and economic burden, with few effective treatments. The goal of our research is to identify the causes of brain conditions, and develop interventions to restore healthy function using synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation. We study the striatum, and important brain region for both simple and complex movements and cognitive functions. We examine the function of neural circuits formed by striatal synapses that connect specific sources and targets. Our multidisciplinary approach includes quantitative analysis of gene expression; genetic and molecular manipulations of neural circuits; measurement of synaptic function and plasticity using electrophysiology; and optogenetic stimulation of circuits in brain slices and behaving animals. Our current research focuses on autism spectrum disorders and drug addiction - two brain conditions that affect overlapping elements of striatal circuitry.

Daniel Schmidt, Ph.D.

Daniel Schmidt, PhD
Neuromodulation Researcher, Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology & Development
MCB 4-124, Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 625-1180

Our group invents and applies protein engineering technologies to study how cells sense, integrate and exchange information, how pathologic changes in these processes relate to health and disease, and provide insights into new therapies. We are developing novel optogenetic reagents that allow us to systematically perturb specific ion channels and signaling receptors in a time- and amplitude-variant manner. We combine these molecular reagents into an experimental framework in which all families of ion channels and receptors can be independently controlled, and their contribution to diverse cellular signal transduction circuits investigated.

Alena Talkachova, Ph.D.

Alena Talkachova
Neuromodulation Researcher, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
6-128 Nils Hasselmo Hall
(612) 626-2719

We study the therapeutic effect and efficacy of vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy in experimental in-vivo animal models, aiming to assess the effects of VNS therapy on the functional and electrophysiological properties of the heart. We continuously record in-vivo ECG and blood pressure to characterize the effect of VNS on heart rate, blood pressure and arrythmias. We also perform ex-vivo optical mapping experiments in the isolated whole heart that  allow us to study complex spatio-temporal organization of electrical activity encountered in the heart during normal and abnormal rhythms, and investigate the electrophysiological properties induced by VNS in both healthy and diseased hearts.

Paul Tuite, M.D.

Paul Tuite photo
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Neurology
12-146 P W B
(612) 625-9662

As a founding member of the neuromodulation team when I arrived at the University of Minnesota in 1996 I am playing a crucial role in managing the medical aspects related to Parkinson's disease as well as partaking in the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgical program consensus meetings that help select appropriate individuals for DBS surgery. 

Kamil Ugurbil, Ph.D.

Kamil Ugurbil photo
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor — Radiology-CMRR
102 CMRR
(612) 626-9591

Dr. Ugurbil is the director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) where he leads a multi-investigator and multi-disciplinary research effort focused on imaging brain anatomy, function, and connectivity with magnetic resonance (MR) techniques, particularly at ultrahigh (7 Tesla and above) magnetic fields. These techniques are increasingly important in evaluating numerous aspects of neuromodulation, such as defining circuits involved, targets for neuromodulation, consequences of neuromodulation, etc.

Sophia Vinogradov, M.D.

Sophia Vinogradov
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor, Head, Department of Psychiatry
(612) 273-9820

Dr. Sophia Vinogradov directs a translational clinical neuroscience laboratory that focuses on cognitive dysfunction in psychosis. The lab studies neuroscience-informed cognitive training methods and seeks to understand the mechanisms that drive enduring plastic changes in cortical and subcortical processing. Her team uses MEG, EEG, and fMRI methods to probe brain changes in both early sensory processing and higher-order cognitive operations in people who undergo this kind of cognitive training. There is a large focus on studying young adults in early psychosis, with the goal of ameliorating cognition and delaying or preventing the onset of a deteriorating psychiatric illness. Her work has contributed to a growing interest in the use of computerized “brain training” to treat some of the brain information processing abnormalities of psychiatric illnesses. She was a participant at the White House conference on “Video Games to Enhance Attention and Well-Being,” and a recipient of the NAMI National Research Award.

Jerrold L. Vitek, M.D., Ph.D.

Jerry Vitek
Neuromodulation Researcher, Professor & Head — Neurology Department, MnDRIVE Steering Committee Member
12-100 PWB
(612) 624-1903

Dr. Vitek directs a large interdisciplinary neuromodulation research program primarily centered on understanding the pathophysiology of movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease and dystonia as well as the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of deep brain stimulation. Dr. Vitek serves as the principal investigator for both pre-clinical laboratory studies using animal models and clinical studies on human subjects/patients. Much of his work focuses on the ultimate translation of basic laboratory research discoveries into clinical treatment options for affected patients in order to reduce symptoms, minimize side effects and enhance function and quality of life. Dr. Vitek forms key collaborations with other experts in neurology as well as other disciplines such as neurosurgery, neuroscience, biomedical science, and radiology in addition to the medical industry to expedite and enhance new discoveries and their meaningful translation from “bench to bedside.

Alik Widge, M.D., Ph.D.

Alik Widge
Neuromodulation Scholar, Assistant Professor — Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
3-208 McGuire Translational Research Facility (MTRF)
(612) 625-7594

Dr. Widge is a brain stimulation psychiatrist and biomedical engineer. He leads the Translational NeuroEngineering Lab, which develops new brain stimulation treatments for severe and treatment-resistant mental illness. The lab's work includes a variety of new algorithms for closed-loop brain stimulation and stimulation methods for modifying connectivity in the distributed circuits of mental illness. Studies cover the full translational range, from rodents to non-human primates to humans in clinical trials.

Zhi Yang, Ph.D

Zhi Yang
Neuromodulation Researcher, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Zhi Yang is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. He is the PI of the NeuroElectronics Lab, working on new stimulation, recording, and signal processing device that can enable high channel counts and closed-loop neuromodulation in the brain and in peripheral/autonomic nerves.

Early Faculty Development Awardees

Saydra Wilson, M.D.

Saydra Wilson portrait
Assistant Professor, Early Faculty Development Awardee

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Mentor: Alik Widge, M.D., Ph.D. & Ziad Nahas, M.D.

Dr. Wilson uses neuromodulation in her clinical care and her research work which will focus on improving neuromodulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to be effective for more people. She studies factors that can impact treatment outcomes in order to match patients with the best treatment. She investigates the mechanism of TMS to help design personalized TMS protocols. She is interested in making sure that everyone has access to neuromodulation and how people begin to accept new technology being used in the field of psychiatry.

Neuromodulation Fellows

Stephanie Alberico, Ph.D.

Stephanie Alberico
Postdoctoral fellow

Department of Neurology

Mentor: Joshua Aman, Ph.D.

Project: Characterizing the pathophysiology across the pallido-cortical network and therapeutic pathway activation in dystonia using directional stimulation.

Dr. Alberico's project aims to examine the intra-operative of neural activity in the motor and sensorimotor circuits as well as determining DBS pathway activation that will be used to determine optimal DBS parameters for treating patients with dystonia. This data will provide a better understanding of the pathophysiology of dystonia and the optimal location within the GPi for the treatment of dystonic symptoms, which may lead to reduced programming time, improved clinical outcomes, and provide a greater quality of life for dystonia patients.

Nicholas Arnoudse, M.D.

 Nicholas Arnoudse
Medicine fellow

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Mentor: Ziad Nahas, M.D.

Dr. Arnoudse is our third MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Medicine Fellow. He is interested in utilizing neuromodulation techniques such as esketamine, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electroconvulsive therapy in his clinical practice. Dr. Arnoudse is interested in advancing the field of neuromodulation through research and the profound impacts involved with using these interventions with his patients. He is pursuing this fellowship to gain an in-depth knowledge base of the current basic science and evidence-based clinical applications of neuromodulation, to fine-tune his skill set of its delivery and to explore new therapeutic applications to provide the best care to all his patients.


Sijin "Cathy" Chen

Cathy Chen
Graduate fellow

Department of Psychology

Mentor: Nicola Grissom, Ph.D.

Project: Sex-Modulated Dopamine Activities During Exploration

Cathy Chen's project aims to identify sex-different neural signatures and critical circuits that are associated with differential risk factors of neuropsychiatric disorders. Her research will advance the development of targeted neuromodulatory interventions.

Arthur de la Cruz-Lynch

Arthur de la Cruz-Lynch
Graduate fellow

Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology

Mentor: John Osborn, Ph.D.

Project: Novel Electroceutical Approach for Neuromodulation of the Kidney as a Treatment for Hypertension

Arthur de la Cruz-Lynch’s research project aims to develop a specialized renal nerve cuff with Heraeus Medical Components which can electrically block renal nerve activity, and is non-destructive, reversible, and titratable. The device can “turn off” the nerves to the kidneys which will remove excess blood volume and decrease the stiffness of blood vessels thereby lowering arterial pressure. A novel feature of this device is that it can be adjusted as needed to allow a kidney to control blood volume under conditions of dehydration or blood loss.

Hafsa Farooqi, Ph.D.

Hafsa Farooqi
Postdoctoral fellow

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Mentor: Tay Netoff, Ph.D.

Project: Optimizing closed-loop stimulation sequences to control beta band oscillations in Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Farooqi's project aims to develop neural control systems with the precision and temporal specificity critical to characterizing the role of oscillatory dynamics in brain function. Using a closed-loop evoked-interference deep brain stimulation (iDBS) will optimally suppress or amplify oscillations in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) or globus pallidus (GPi) with varying amplitude and frequency in real-time. This is essential to advance the development of personalized DBS systems for Parkinson’s disease and other brain conditions.

Lauren Glassburn

Lauren Glassburn
Graduate fellow

Department of Neuroscience

Mentor: Esther Krook-Magnuson, Ph.D.

Project: A Novel GABAergic Projection from the Hippocampus to the Supramammillary Area

Lauren Glassburn's project proposes to characterize a novel connection from the hippocampus to the supramammillary area of the hypothalamus that could signal recognition of the environment. Using techniques in neuromodulation, this proposal would give insight into how the brain identifies a familiar versus an unknown spatial context and how this identification influences forming memories. Her research findings will help advance our understanding of diseases such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

Shayne Hastings

Shayne Hastings
Graduate fellow

Department of Neuroscience

Mentor: Esther Krook-Magnuson, Ph.D.

Project: Cerebello-hippocampal interactions via the supramammillary area

Shayne Hastings' project will examine the connections and understudied intermediary regions between the cerebellum and hippocampus and how those may contribute to the development of novel targets for seizure intervention via neuromodulation. Understanding how other brain regions modulate hippocampal function may allow for development of new neuromodulation interventions for the treatment of epilepsy.

Abigail Heiller

Abigail Heiller
Graduate fellow

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Mentor: Hubert Lim, Ph.D.

Project: Neuromodulation of the Auditory Pathway Through Paired Electrical and Acoustic Stimulation: Development of a Novel Hearing Enhancement Device

Abigail Heiller's research aims to develop a new non-invasive brain enhancement technology to improve hearing performance and combat hearing loss through paired music listening and comfortable electrical stimulation of the ear. The increasing aging population and prevalence of hearing loss generates an immense need and market for an enhanced hearing device to mitigate the social, psychological, cognitive, and economic impacts of hearing deficits, which is becoming a rapidly growing health crisis in society. Furthermore, hearing loss is closely linked to tinnitus, so improving hearing with this new technology could also help to treat those with comorbid hearing loss and tinnitus.

Anne Huntemer-Silveira

Discoveries through Industry Partnerships Graduate Fellow

Department of Neurosurgery

Mentor: Ann Parr, M.D., Ph.D.

Project: Functional Characterization of iPSC-Derived Cell Types for In Vitro Modeling of Spinal Cord Injury and Chronic Pain

Anne Huntemer-Silveira's research project lays the foundation for the development of a unique stem cell model that can be used to study sensory circuitry in the spinal cord. She will use an application of molecular and optogenetic approaches as well as inclusion of human DRGS. The development of this model has the potential to impact treatment options and will help improve the quality of life for many suffering from spinal cord injuries with limb paralysis and management for chronic pain. 

Dzifa Kwaku

Graduate fellow

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Mentor: Matthew Johnson, Ph.D. & Hubert Lim, Ph.D.

Project: Closed-loop renal nerve block for treatment of resistant hypertension

Dzifa Kwaku’s research project aims to develop a reversible and adjustable neuromodulation technique to precisely regulate the activity of renal nerves based on a feedback system to control blood pressure by modulating communication between the kidney and the brain. Successful development of this novel closed loop electroceutical technology can enhance neural target engagement which will lead to improved treatments for hypertensive patients in Minnesota. This technology can also be applied to modulate other organs for the treatment of cardiometabolic diseases.

Camille Merhi, M.D.

Camille Merhi
Medicine fellow

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Mentor: Ziad Nahas, M.D.

Dr. Merhi is our second neuromodulation medicine fellow. As a fresh graduate from a psychiatry residency, he believes neuromodulation is a revolutionary approach to understand the brain’s electrochemical connections. From rodent to human brains, he is involved in multiple projects including basic and clinical research, the most recent ones focused on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) effects on cognitive improvements and the identification of structural/functional networks that underlie deep brain stimulation (DBS) targets. 

Cristian Morales-Carrasco, Ph.D.

Cristian Morales-Carrasco
Postdoctoral fellow

Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain

Mentor: Damien Fair, Ph.D.

Project: Utilizing Precision Functional Mapping and the FIRMM software for Non-invasive TMS

Dr. Morales-Carrasco's research project will use precision functional mapping, the FIRMM product for motion mitigation and optimal mapping, along with new tools for TMS neuromodulation. Building and improving on non-invasive neuromodulation treatments will improve overall mental health in development and aging and will help future healthcare and the overall health of our society. 

Sarah Olsen, Ph.D.

Sarah Olsen
Postdoctoral fellow

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Mentor: Alik Widge, M.D., Ph.D.

Project: Exploring longitudinal changes in cognitive control, and its LFP correlates, in patients receiving deep brain stimulation for OCD.

Dr. Olsen's project investigates how cognitive and neural processes are enhanced over time with deep brain stimulation and how it will lead to improved outcomes for individuals suffering from severe mental illness. Her goal is to identify how this treatment changes the brain, allowing for more precise targeted areas and program DBS treatment for individual patients. This research would bring a more reliable and effective treatment for mental illness by relieving the burden on patients and society.

Salil Saurav Pathak, Ph.D.

Salil Saurav Pathak
Postdoctoral fellow

Department of Biomedical Sciences in Duluth

Mentor: Yi-Mei (Amy) Yang, Ph.D.

Project: Cerebellum-forebrain circuitry underlying anxiety/depression-like behavior in a social isolation mouse model

Dr. Pathak aims to identify the neurocircuits responsible for this vulnerability which will establish the cerebellum as a new locus for psychiatric disorders predisposed by adolescent social stress. The novel insights can be capitalized to develop innovative therapeutics for mental illness.

Renata Saha

Renata Saha
Graduate fellow

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Mentor: Jian-Ping Wang, Ph.D.

Project: Implantable Magnetic Microcoils (μcoils) For Cellular-Level Treatment of Neurological Disorders

Renata Saha's project aims to develop a device using microcoils (μcoils), which provides magnetic stimulation with the focality of an implantable electrode but works on the physics of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Patients with these μcoil implants would need less frequent implant replacement surgery. Her research promise Minnesotans a better and brighter future in terms of treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, depression, anxiety etc. 

Alexandra Scott

Alexandra Scott
Graduate fellow

Department of Neuroscience

Mentor: Jocelyn Richard, Ph.D.

Project: Ventral pallidal GABAergic projections to lateral hypothalamus in cue-elicited reward seeking and eating behavior.

Alexandra Scott's research will examine the role of ventral pallidal neuronal projections to the lateral hypothalamus in cue-elicited reward seeking and food intake. Relatively non-invasive neuromodulation techniques will elucidate the functional impact of these cells on eating behavior and will contribute to the knowledge needed for development of novel therapeutic approaches for obesity.

Sina Shirinpour, Ph.D.

Sina Shirinpour
Discoveries through Industry & Commercialization Partnerships Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Mentors: Alexander Opitz, Ph.D. & Ziad Nahas, M.D.

Project: Development of a software module for the optimization of focal electrically-administered seizure therapy (FEAST)

Dr. Shirinpour's research project aims to develop a software-based system to optimize electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) according to a precision-medicine approach and will be collaborating with industry partner, MECTA Corporation. Electroconvulsive therapy remains the primary treatment option for drug-resistant depression. Success in optimizing ECT to only target specific brain regions and use the minimal required energy can significantly improve treatment outcomes, reduce potential side effects, and thus quality of life for thousands of Minnesotans. 

Blair Vail

Blair Vail
Graduate fellow

Department of Neurosurgery

Mentor: David Darrow, M.D.

Project: Developing neuromodulation targets for reward pursuit and threat avoidance with human intracranial electrophysiology

Blair Vail's research project investigates the neural mechanisms underlying mental health disorders by identifying the role of specific brain areas in these processes, which can then be targeted by brain stimulation, several forms of which are non-invasive and low risk. This mechanistic approach will improve treatment outcomes for patients living with mental illness and reduce the economic burden on state resources.

Miles Wischnewski, Ph.D.

Miles Wischnewski
Postdoctoral fellow

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Mentor: Alexander Opitz, Ph.D.
Project: Real-time closed-loop TMS-EEG and tACS to investigate motor cortex excitability

Dr. Wischnewski will investigate the causal relationship between neural oscillations and motor cortex activation, greatly advancing knowledge of neuromodulation and the human motor system. Using cutting-edge technology neuromodulation and precise brain wave recording is combined in real-time. This study lays the groundwork for future clinical applications in rehabilitation of movement disorders.


Xinyuan Yan, Ph.D.

Xinyuan Yan
Postdoctoral fellow

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Mentor: Alexandar Herman, M.D., Ph.D.

Project: Examining the prefrontal basis of explore-exploit transitions in humans as a putative neuromodulation target for cognitive flexibility.

Dr. Yan's project will examine whether neural signatures in the prefrontal cortex of explore-exploit transitions represent potential neuromodulation targets for improving cognitive flexibility with intracranial recordings and stimulation in humans. Her project addresses a major gap in the knowledge needed to design neuromodulation treatments for improving the flexibility of exploration and exploitation behaviors.