People in the Bassell Lab

bassell-gary-150x210.jpgGary J. Bassell, PhD
Professor and Chair

Gary J. Bassell, Ph.D. joined the faculty at Emory University School of Medicine in 2005, where he is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology Prior to moving Emory, Dr. Bassell was a member of the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology (1995-1998) and subsequently in the Department of Neuroscience and Rose Kennedy Center for Mental Retardation (1998-2005). Read More

Anwesha Banerjee

Anwesha Banerjee, PhD
Assistant Scientist

My overall research focuses on understanding the central nervous system (CNS) associated molecular and behavioral pathology in repeat expansion disorders such as Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1) and Fragile X syndrome. My current project involves using a novel AAV based mice model to  characterize how dysregulation of specific RNA processing events is linked to molecular, cellular, and behavioral phenotypes observed in DM1. This will advance the end goal of identify potential genetic, small molecule and pharmacological therapeutic interventions  to rescue DM1 associated CNS phenotypes.

Dr. ShiLiang Shi, PhD
Assistant Scientist

My overall research focuses on understanding mechanisms of axonal mRNA transport and local protein synthesis in neurons. In particular, I am studying the role of the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP) in cultured neurons using fluorescence microscopy and live cell imaging methods. This will expand our understanding of Fragile X Syndrome and promote development of therapeutic strategies.



Kamyra Edokpolor
Graduate Student (PhD program, Neuroscience)

My research centers around using mouse models to elucidate neural mechanisms underlying impairments in inhibitory brain circuits in Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1). DM1 is a neuromuscular, neurodegenerative, and multisystemic disease with many of its central nervous system symptoms, such as emergence and recovery from anesthesia and hypersomnia under-researched. My research examines how sequestration of Muscle blind like protein 2 (MBNL2) RNA-binding protein alters the expression of specific inhibitory receptors, which may play a role in delayed emergence and recovery from anesthesia and increased sleep phenotypes observed in DM1.


A Janusz-Kaminska

Aleksandra Janusz-Kaminska, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

I’m interested in the mechanisms of structural neuronal plasticity and its contribution to learning, neurodevelopment and pathology. My current research project is focused on mechanisms of mRNA transport, localization and translation in neurons in the context of DM1 (Myotonic Dystrophy type I). For this, I utilize a variety of methods to visualize proteins and mRNA granules in living and fixed cells.




Luke Knudson
Graduate Student (PhD program, Biomedical Engineering)

I am currently investigating the interaction between Muscleblind-like (MBNL) RNA-binding protein and kinesin motor proteins and the role that this interaction plays in proper localization of mRNA in neurons. mRNA mislocalization due to MBNL nuclear sequestration is one of the major pathogenic contributors to myotonic dystrophy.




Adam Kosti
Postdoctoral Fellow



Kun Lin
Graduate Student (PhD program, Neuroscience)

I'm interested in the mechanisms underlying the gain-of-function RNA toxicity in the central nervous system in repeat expansion disorders such as Muscular Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1). Specifically, I'm interested in using a mouse model of DM1 to identify the molecular pathways affected directly and indirectly by the presence of the expanded trinucleotide CTG repeats in the central nervous system.

Zachary Mceachin

Zachary Mceachin, PhD
Assistant Professor of Human Genetics and Cell Biology

My research is focused on understanding shared mechanisms between C9 ALS/FTD and Spinocerebeallar Ataxia type 36 (SCA36).  These diseases are caused by a similar hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the first intron of C9orf72 (C9ALS) and NOP56 (SCA36).  To investigate the molecular etiology and pathogenesis of these disorders we are using a variety of model systems such as patient specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).


GiaLinh (Linda) Nguyen, MPH
Research Administrative Coordinator

As the Research Administrative Coordinator for the Bassell Lab, I ensure that the lab is in compliance with Emory’s research policies. My primary duties include overseeing daily lab activities, tracking laboratory expenditures, monitoring grant budgets, ordering laboratory consumables and chemical reagents, and maintaining laboratory records, biosafety manuals, chemical stock, and communal lab space in accordance with laboratory and biosafety regulations. I also assist the graduate students and research staff with various administrative tasks as needed.

Ryan Purcell

Ryan Purcell, PhD

3q29 deletion is a recurrent copy number variant and is the highest known genetic risk factor for schizophrenia. However, the molecular basis for this risk has not been identified and is a major unanswered question. The goal of my research is to characterize the neuronal consequences of 3q29 deletion using both a mouse model and human cells. My primary focus is the generation of neurons from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells for morphological and signaling pathway analysis. These studies will help us to better understand the cellular and molecular consequences of this genetic variant and may also provide important insights into the molecular basis of schizophrenia.

Nisha Raj, PhDraj-nisha-150x210.jpg
Postdoctoral Fellow

I am interested in studying the molecular mechanisms underlying specific cognitive, cellular and synaptic impairments seen in FXS, 15q13DS, DiGeorge syndrome and other autism related neurodevelopmental disorders. I am using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons from patients with known genetic mutations to investigate abnormalities in neuronal morphology, signaling and protein synthesis, as well as to screen potential therapeutic interventions. 

Maxine Robinetterobinnete-m-150x200.jpg
Graduate Student (PhD program, Neuroscience)

My research focuses on the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of 3q29 microdeletion syndrome (3q29Del), a major genetic risk factor for schizophrenia. I am using human iPSC derived neural stem cell models of individuals with the genetic mutation and a diagnosis of schizophrenia to investigate aberrant cellular function and potential downstream outcomes on neuronal development.