Breakthrough Discovery Symposium II


Christophe Ribelayga, Ph.D.
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Chair, Breakthrough Discovery Symposium II

Ines Moreno-Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology
“Risk factors and molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease”

Dr. Ines Moreno-Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at The Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Brain Disorders at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth since 2013.

She received her BSc in Biology in 2003, a Master’s degree in Education in 2004, a Master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2005, and Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience in 2009 at the University of Malaga (Spain). She was trained at the Neurological Diseases Division, Sanofi (France), the School of Pharmacy, University of Seville (Spain), and the Institute of Bio-Engineering, University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland). From 2010 to 2013, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth under the mentorship of Dr. Claudio Soto.

Dr. Moreno-Gonzalez has almost 30 peer-reviewed publications in journals like Nature Communications, Acta Neuropathologica, Molecular Psychiatry, and Journal of Experimental Medicine. She has secured almost $1,000,000 in total funds for her research program on risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. She is the principal investigator of three grants – two from the prestigious Alzheimer’s Association and a highly competitive Department of Defense contract. She is associate editor of Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, the program co-chair of the Alliance of Women Alzheimer’s Researchers, an active member of the Neuroscience program at GSBS, and has been recently awarded The Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship, and the Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award at UTHealth.

Her research focuses on three main molecular and cellular aspects of Alzheimer’s neuropathology: amyloid beta and tau deposition, brain inflammation, and neuronal degeneration. Currently, she is evaluating disease-modifying factors that may influence the onset and progression of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, including smoking, type 2 diabetes, meat consumption, and traumatic brain injury.

Seung-Hee Yoo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine
“Circadian rhythm: From genes to behavior”

Dr. Yoo is currently a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Yoo conducted her Ph.D. thesis work in the lab of Dr. Joe Takahashi, a prominent leader in circadian research, at UT Southwestern. After obtaining her Ph.D. in 2004, Dr. Yoo performed her HHMI-supported postdoctoral research in the Takahashi lab before coming to UTHealth.

Dr. Yoo is a highly accomplished circadian biologist who uniquely combines forward/reverse mouse genetics with molecular/physiological approaches to elucidate fundamental clock mechanisms. She previously developed and utilized a PERIOD2::LUCIFERASE circadian reporter model to demonstrate the existence of independent peripheral clocks in virtually all mouse tissues. This finding has radically changed the “central dogma” of the mammalian circadian system, and this reporter mouse line has been distributed to over 100 laboratories throughout the world. Furthermore, her research on novel ENU-generated circadian mutant mice has led to the discovery of novel clock genes and elegant regulatory mechanisms for the mammalian circadian clock, particularly the exquisite check-and-balance impinging upon circadian periodicity. Currently, her laboratory continues to investigate both fundamental regulatory mechanisms of the core clock and pathophysiological relevance of dysregulated biological timing.

Dr. Yoo has published a number of research articles in top-tier journals including Cell, Science, PNAS, and Nature. As a widely recognized expert, she has presented many invited seminars and closely collaborated with a number of laboratories within UTHealth and worldwide. Her research programs are currently funded by multiple grant awards from federal, foundation and industrial sources.

Ramesha Papanna, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences,
Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine
“Human umbilical cord patch for in-utero spina bifida repair”

Ramesha Papanna, M.D., M.P.H., is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at McGovern Medical School. He joined The Fetal Center and the division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at McGovern Medical School in 2013. Dr. Papanna is an internationally recognized physician for his research and presentations about improving outcomes following fetal intervention such as in-utero spina bifida repair and investigating methods for the prevention of preterm delivery after fetal surgery.

Dr. Papanna received his medical degree in India and relocated to Houston where he received his master’s in public health from the School of Public Health at UTHealth. He completed his residency training at Rochester General Hospital. He completed a fetal intervention fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, followed by a maternal-fetal medicine fellowship at Yale University focusing on fetal membrane biology for the prevention of preterm, premature rupture of the membranes after fetal surgery. Dr. Papanna’s specialty interests include prevention of preterm delivery after fetal intervention and surgery.  He is actively involved in the fetal intervention for conditions including twin-twin transfusion syndrome, fetal spina bifida and other fetoscopic-based and needle guided in-utero procedures. He is actively involved in multiple research studies, including the NIH-funded research investigating cryopreserved human umbilical cord patch as a regenerative matrix for in-utero spina bifida repair.