Research Education Component

The Research Education Component (REC) of the CADRC links new investigators in the aging and neurodegeneration research field to mentors in order to develop individualized training plans that will help them advance their knowledge and skills and guide them towards developing their own successful research programs. The goal of the REC is to promote a highly collaborative research environment among young basic scientists and physicians. 

In addition to collaborating with mentors to develop individual research projects and to secure their own grant funding, new investigators also complete additional training courses and hands-on clinical observations with physicians for experiential training linking patient care and translational research.  This unique bilateral approach ensures there will be a strong core of future researchers in the Cleveland area.

Please contact the REC administrator for more information.

Click links below to view the summary of the REC and TTC 2023 Retreat on August 17th.


Dr. Xiongwei Zhu, PhD, Research Education Component Leader

James Leverenz, MD, Research Education Component Co-Leader

Sandra Siedlak, REC Coordinator

Current CADRC Early Stage Investigators

Katherine Koenig, PhD, Assistant Professor, Cleveland Clinic, is studying the longitudinal evaluation of neuroimaging and cognitive function in Down syndrome. The main research focus for the next year will be bringing subjects back for longitudinal visits.

Tian Liu, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University, will investigate the therapeutic role of mitochondria-associated proteins in Ab pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). He will develop small molecules targeting mitochondria protein and test them in animal models of AD and human AD iPSC-induced neurons.

Ajay Nemani, PhD, Project Staff, Cleveland Clinic, will use resting state fMRI to explore novel biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, including new approaches for brain parcellation, network analysis, and modeling.   In addition, he will develop protocols to collect some of the first ultrahigh field (7T MRI) functional neuroimaging data on AD patients, evaluating its feasibility for wider studies.

Ann W. Nguyen, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.  Her research examines psychosocial determinants of health among older Black Americans. The overarching goal of her research is to contribute to health equity by identifying modifiable factors that persistently place older Black adults at greater risk for health problems than older white adults. See Dr. Nguyen’s “Meet the Investigator” interview

Karin Mente, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pathology at CWRU, and a neurologist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. She received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her master’s degree in cancer biology from University of Toledo. She completed a neurology residency at Cleveland Clinic and a clinical and research fellowship in movement disorders at the National Institutes of Health. Her research focused on MRI, especially diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). She was also introduced to neuropathology methods. Dr. Mente’s current research interests are at the crossroads of MRI and neuropathology.

Min-Kyoo Shin, Ph.D., Instructor, Case Western Reserve University, will comprehensively characterize the function of 19 tau acetylation sites on microtubule binding, tau seeding activity, extracellular tau secretion, tau phosphorylation, tau stability related to ubiquitination, susceptibility to cell death in an in vitro model of traumatic brain injury, and alteration in tau binding partners.


Wenzhang Wang, Ph.D., Assistant professor, Case Western Reserve University, will pursue abnormal mitochondrial translation in Alzheimer’s disease. Preliminary data suggested the changes of mitochondrial DNA coded proteins at protein levels and importantly, the assembly of mitochondrial ribosome were shown impaired in AD neurons.

Outstanding REC Alumna

Ignazio Cali, PhD, is a Neuroscientist at Case Western Reserve University and National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (NPDPSC), elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying the phenotypic expression of prion disease (PrD), Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy pathology. In collaboration with the NPDPSC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Cali is actively involved in several studies aimed at identifying atypical or novel prion disease phenotypes.

Jagan Pillai, MD PhD, Assistant Professor, Cleveland Clinic, will investigate CSF tau isoforms and their potential role in clinical Alzheimer’s disease variants. The underlying reasons different AD variants could have differences in levels of CSF total tau is unknown. Clarifying this question could help us understand the pathophysiology of AD variants and help develop precision therapeutic strategies against specific tau isoforms if they play a key role in different AD variants.