Current Members


Bruna Bellaver, PhD

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

Cristiano Schaffer Aguzzoli, MD

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 –, and a music project called Homem Café, which is influenced by rock and folk aesthetics.

Cristiano Schaffer Aguzzoli

Douglas Leffa, PhD

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

Francieli Rohden, PhD

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

Guilherme Negrini, PhD

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.
Francieli Rohden

Guilherme Povala, PhD

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

Hussein Zalzale, MD

Postdoctoral Associate

I am currently a postdoc at the Pascoal lab. 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

Pamela Lukasewicz Ferreira, PhD

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

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

Carolina Soares, MSc

Visiting PhD Candidate

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

Ghada Abdelhady, MSc

Rotating PhD Student

I am a pre-doctoral fellow in the Center for Neuroscience (CNUP), School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh. I have a Master of Science in Immunology and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. I’m intrigued by the potential of bioinformatics in evaluating the inter-individual variabilities that are contributing to and being affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and hopefully, pushing toward more personalized and tailored interventions in a clinical setting. I love running, wandering around new cities, and sunny days.

Ghada Abdelhady

Joao Pedro Ferrari Souza

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 and ongoing projects involve using neuroimaging and fluid biomarkers to understand the 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

Staff Members

Firoza Z Lussier, MSc  

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

Peter Lemaire, PhD

Data Coordinator & Analyst

I am a Data Coordinator and Analyst in the Pascoal Lab, 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