Team

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor

MD in the University Federal of Pelotas, Brazil. Residency in Neurology in the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowship at McGill University. Currently, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at University of Pittsburgh.

Tharick Pascoal

Staff Members

Devin Fine, BS

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Research Regulatory Specialist

I received my undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. I have experience in regulatory and clinical coordination in pulmonary, critical care, and now Alzheimer’s research.  I currently assist in coordinating the team’s research projects by submitting applications and reporting to regulatory institutions. I enjoy gaming, tennis, camping, and hiking in my free time. 

Peter Lemaire

Research Operations Coordinator

I completed my Master’s in Neuroscience at McGill University under Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto, and am now the Research Operations Coordinator for the Pascoal Lab. While I don’t pursue research full-time anymore, I’ve previously investigated the associations of neuropsychiatric symptoms, specifically the syndrome of mild behavioral impairment, with PET imaging biomarkers in older individuals. I enjoy film clubs, farmers’ markets, and going back home to Montreal whenever I can!

Firoza Z Lussier

Juli Cehula, MSc

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Research Coordinator

I completed my master’s degree in special education at Saint Vincent College and post-graduate coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis. My research interests include adverse childhood experiences and their effect on cognitive development later in life. I also have an extensive background in behavioral interventions for the ID/A population. In my free time, you’ll either find me traveling to a new destination or spending time with my family, friends, and puppy Stella.

Firoza Z Lussier

Kendra Vaughn, MPH, MA

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Administrative Specialist

I received my Master’s of Public Health in Social Behavioral Sciences as well as my Master’s of Anthropology with a focus on Applied Medical Anthropology from the University of Memphis. My interests are specifically on the influence of culture and behavior on disease patterns and syndemics. My research focused on a formative evaluation of community identified cultural and societal barriers as well as community proposed solutions for the initiation of a PrEP HIV prevention program. I have now transitioned from research activities to research administration, which I love. I generally spend my free time cooking, watching moves, attending tabletop games, and hanging out with my assortment of cats.

Firoza Z Lussier

Maddie Bloomquist

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Research Specialist

I received my B.A. in Linguistics with Honors Research Distinction from the Ohio State University in May 2023. My undergraduate research focused on computational phonology and natural language processing, and I intend to focus on the neurobiology of language in future studies. I currently assist the lab with recruitment, scheduling, participant supervision, and data collection. Besides research, my passions include triathlon, bonding with friends and family, and searching for the perfect cup of coffee.

Firoza Z Lussier

Peter Lemaire, PhD

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Data Coordinator and Analyst

I received my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. I help organize the databases and provide support and solutions for programming projects in the lab. In my free time, I like to make pies, cook, and play tennis!

Peter Lemaire

Postoctoral Associates

Postdoctoral Associate

I am a Pharmacist from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) with a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences, focusing on astrocyte functionality during aging. During my Ph.D., I studied the connection between astrocytes and peripheral mediators of inflammation. I also participated in a one-year exchange student program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Additionally, I have experience working with molecular biology, biochemical assays, primary cell culture, cerebral energetic metabolism, and oxidative stress. Currently, I am a postdoctoral associate focusing on investigating glial biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease. During my spare time, I like practicing sports and traveling around.

Bruna Bellaver

Cynthia Felix, MD

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Postdoctoral Associate

I am a geriatrician interested in studying healthy brain aging and dementia prevention. I have worked with stroke rehabilitation, neuroimaging, and cognitive training. These helped me understand the potential of neural repair and neuroplasticity in modulating brain functions towards healthy trajectories. Currently, as a post-doc in the Pascoal lab, I am keen to harness the power of advanced Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers. I want to use both fluid and molecular imaging markers to study the early impact of dementing pathologies on brain structure and function with a goal to thwart such deleterious effects.

Bruna Bellaver

Postdoctoral Associate

I received an M.D. from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), and a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from the same university. During my Ph.D., I investigated the role of non-invasive neuromodulation in treating adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. I am currently a psychiatry resident at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where I am part of the Psychiatry Research Pathway under the supervision of Dr. Tharick Pascoal. My current work involves understanding the epidemiological association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer’s disease using clinical data and in vivo biomarkers of Alzheimer’s pathology. During my free time I like reading, playing boardgames, and traveling.

Francieli Rohden

Postdoctoral Associate

I have a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Biochemistry, from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. Postdoc in Biochemistry/Neurochemistry, from the Federal University of Rio Grande, do Sul, Instituto Nacional of Science and Technology (INCT). In the Pascoal Lab, I am a senior postdoctoral and my goal is to analyze through immunofluorescence techniques the expression of biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in human tissue post-Mortem. My professional interests are research about neuropathology, like Alzheimer’s Disease and stroke. I like walking in the park on a sunny day and I fight muay thai when I have more time.

Francieli Rohden

Postdoctoral Associate

I am a Biomedical Scientist (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) and a Biomedical Informatician (Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre, Brazil) with an M.S. in Neuroscience and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. This unique combination of expertise has allowed me to interact with key stakeholders in Health Sciences. My previous research focused on using animal models to investigate neurodevelopmental disorders and applying bioinformatics methods to analyze circular RNAs. Currently, I am focused on developing machine learning models and utilizing data-driven approaches for imaging biomarkers analysis in neurodegenerative conditions. In my spare time, I enjoy watching basketball, cooking, and baking with my wife.

Guilherme Povala

Postdoctoral Associate

I’m a Ph.D. in Biochemistry with B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science. Currently, I’m a postdoc at Pascoal Lab. I have experience with neuroimaging (analysis and processing of PET and MRI) and with the application of artificial intelligence techniques for diagnosing and predicting events related to neurodegenerative diseases. My current work focuses on PET imaging harmonization using Deep Learning techniques. During my spare time, I like to play mobile games and cooking.

Guilherme Povala

Postdoctoral Associate

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and an MD from the American University of Beirut, in addition to a Master’s degree in psychiatric research from King’s College London. I am interested in identifying biomarkers that correlate with specific symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Outside the lab, I enjoy reading, gaming, and sports!

Hussein Zalzale

Marina Scop Medeiros, MD, PhD

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Postdoctoral Associate

I am a Brazilian Neurologist and a postdoc associate in Pascoal Lab. I currently study the clinical utility of AD biomarkers. I received my MD at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, and I did my Medical Residency at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul. Other current projects include investigating the relations between dementia, depression and circadian rhythms. I am a fan of musical theater, Coldplay, comedy, Internacional (soccer) and a proud dog mom to Logan, a good-boy akita-chow.

Hussein Zalzale

Markley Silva Oliveira, PhD

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Postdoctoral Associate

I am a Biomedical scientist by training with a master’s degree in immunology from the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil (focusing on phytopharmacology and reactive astrogliosis modulation). My Ph.D. is scaffolded in pharmacogenomics and drug-repurposing strategies in progressive Multiple sclerosis animal models and its role over white-matter reactive astrocytes and disease outcomes. This part of my research training was developed at the University Clinic of Duesseldorf-Heinrich Heine University, Germany. After concluding my Ph.D., I worked in the biotech industry as a scientific advisor in synthetic biology strategies for research and diagnostics in neuroscience. I joined Dr. Tharick Pascoal’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh as a postdoctoral research associate directing research on the impact of reactive astrogliosis in the AD continuum. In my spare time, I like a good stroll with a sunset completing the view and some Jazz and good Rap on my earphones.Some weight lifting and good food do a fair job for my daily-basis enjoyment.

Pamela Lukasewicz Ferreira

Pamela Lukasewicz Ferreira, PhD

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Postdoctoral Associate

I’m a pharmacist with a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Currently, I’m a Postdoc at Pascoal Lab, working with fluid and imaging biomarkers. I’m comparing fluid biomarkers’ performance to predict AD pathophysiology and its applicability in clinical practice. Additionally, I’m working on evaluating the cost-effectiveness of fluid biomarkers in clinical trials. I’m passionate about dogs, sports, and books. I love photography and enjoy spending my time taking pictures in parks and random things around the city.

Pamela Lukasewicz Ferreira

Sarah Abbas, MD

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Postdoctoral Associate

I received my MD from Ziauddin University in Pakistan and currently pursue a postdoc at the Pascoal Lab. I’m currently working on exploring sex differences in core biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease pathology. My hobbies include spending time in nature, cooking, and practicing yoga.

Sarah Abbas

PhD Students

Visiting MD-PhD Student

I am a visiting scholar at the Pascoal Lab and a Biochemistry Ph.D. candidate at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) under Dr. Eduardo Zimmer’s supervision. Here, I am currently investigating the role of synaptic biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Disease. I live for learning, laughing, and enjoying arts.

Carolina Soares

Alumni

Cristiano Schaffer Aguzzoli, MD

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Postdoctoral Associate

I am a Neurologist from the São Lucas Hospital from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, as well as a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health from the University of California in San Francisco. Currently, I am working as a postdoc in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. I believe that research in biomarkers offers a powerful opportunity to better characterize neurodegenerative disorders and improve earlier diagnosis and better management of patients. My ongoing projects include the study of microglial activation in Alzheimer’s disease, and the study of the frequency and clinical impact of AD clinical syndromes and positive biomarker status among patients hospitalized in psychiatric wards in Brazil. My personal interests include a visual art project under the pseudonym of Tata Owen (last exhibition in Gallery 190 – https://memory.ucsf.edu/about/art-mac/gallery190), and a music project called Homem Café, which is influenced by rock and folk aesthetics.

Cristiano Schaffer Aguzzoli

Joao Pedro Ferrari Souza

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Visiting MD-PhD Student

I’m an MD-PhD student at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil, and currently a visiting scholar at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychiatry in the Pascoal Lab. My current research interests andongoing projects involve the use of neuroimaging and fluid biomarkers to understand glial contribution to the etiology and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as to investigate the multifaceted role of the APOEε4 allele in Alzheimer’s disease development. I’ve always been a curious person who wanted to know the explanation for everything and was frustrated whenever I had to accept knowledge without understanding it. With the start of college, this feeling only increased, leading me to start doing research to satisfy my need for answers.

Joao Pedro Ferrari Souza