Affiliated Faculty

Maria Do Carmo Costa, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Costa completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Porto, and her PhD in Health Sciences at the University of Minho, in Portugal. During her post-doctoral training in the Paulson lab she explored pharmacological and RNA interference-mediated strategies to reduce levels of mutant ATXN3 protein as a potential therapy for Machado-Joseph disease/Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 3 (MJD/SCA3) using both cellular and mouse models. She continues developing strategies to reduce levels of mutant ATXN3 in the brain that can be translated for MJD/SCA3 patients. She is also interested in understanding how cells handle mutant ATXN3 by identifying the mechanisms involved in the stability and clearance of this toxic protein with the main goal of defining novel targets for therapeutic intervention in MJD/SCA3. 

Magdalena Ivanova, PhD

Research Assistant Professor, Neurology

Dr. Ivanova joined the Department of Neurology as an Assistant Research Professor in 2013. She completed her Ph.D. in the Institute of Molecular Biophysics at the Florida State University. Dr. Ivanova performed her postdoctoral research with Prof. David Eisenberg at the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute, where she then continued her scientific studies as a Research Associate. She investigates the structure of amyloid aggregates, seeking to uncover the molecular basis of protein aggregation associated with various degenerative brain diseases including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Dr. Ivanova’s present multi-disciplinary research focuses on molecular mechanisms of protein aggregation with the hope that we can find interventions that prevent, slow or reverse protein misfolding in amyloidogenic disorders.   

Vikram Shakkottai, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology and Associate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology 

Email: vikramsh@med.umich.eduPhone: 734.615.6891
Dr. Shakkottai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology. He received his medical degree from the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India in 2000. He then completed a Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of California, Irvine in 2004 and a residency in Neurology at Washington University in Saint Louis. He joined the Paulson lab as a Research Fellow in 2008 before  joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 2010. While a fellow he was awarded research grants from the National Ataxin foundation, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, and a Training Grant Fellowship as part of the National Ataxia research Consortium. During his fellowship, he was awarded a K08 grant by the NIH. Dr. Shakkottai investigates the physiologic changes in the nervous system accompanying dominantly inherited ataxias and other neurodegenerative disorders. His current work tests the hypothesis that reestablishing normal patterns of firing in cerebellar and other neurons, even in the presence of neuronal loss, may have therapeutic potential. He also sees patients with ataxia and other movement disorders.  

Peter Todd, MD, PhD

Bucky and Patti Harris Career Development Professor of Neurology and Associate Professor of Neurology 

Email: petertod@umich.eduPhone: 734.763.0601
Dr. Todd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology.  He attended the University of California at San Diego as an undergraduate and then moved to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he completed his M.D. and Ph.D. in Neuroscience. The focus of his Ph.D. work was the function of the protein lost in Fragile X Mental Retardation, FMRP. He then completed his medical internship and Neurology residency at the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, he performed research on the role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy in Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy, a polyglutamine disorder, and Fragile X Tremor Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS). He joined the Paulson lab as a Research Fellow in 2008, before joining the Neurology faculty as an assistant professor in January 2010 as the inaugural recipient of the Bucky and Patti Harris Collegiate Research Professorship. While a fellow, Dr. Todd was awarded research grants from the American Academy of Neurology and a K08 grant from the NIH. Dr. Todd's current research focuses on the mechanisms underlying RNA-mediated neurodegeneration in FXTAS and Myotonic Dystrophy and how these mechanisms may overlap and inform our understanding of other neurodegenerative disorders. He also sees patients with movement disorders and inherited neurological disease. 

Lisa M. Sharkey, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, Neurology

Email: lisams@umich.eduPhone: 734-615-6156
Dr. Sharkey completed her Ph.D in Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has completed 2 postdoctoral fellowships studying the molecular mechanisms of neurological disease at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, Department of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, and at the University of Michigan in the Department of Human Genetics. In her current position in Dr. Paulson's laboratory she is interested in studying the mechanisms of neurodegeneration underlying two common forms of dementia: Alzheimer's Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). Ubiquillin2 (Ub2) is a member of a family of proteins containing ubiquitin-like domains that has been implicated in the trafficking of proteins tagged for degradation to the proteasome. Mutations in Ub2 have been shown to cause FTD and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In order to investigate the function of this poorly understood protein, Dr. Sharkey has developed transgenic mouse lines expressing WT and mutant forms of Ub2. Her goal is to use these mice to understand the cellular role of Ub2 in protein quality control both in health and disease states. 

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