About Us

Lab Members

Peter Tsai

Peter Tsai, M.D., Ph.D.

Peter.Tsai@utsouthwestern.edu 

Pete is a native Texan from the Houston area. He graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences before migrating west to the University of California – Los Angeles – where he completed his M.D./Ph.D. There, he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Hong Wu, M.D., Ph.D. where he investigated the contribution of the Erythropoietin Receptor in neuronal development and post stroke neurogenesis. After completion of his graduate and medical training, he returned east where he completed his pediatrics and child neurology residencies at Boston Children’s Hospital. He then completed a child behavioral neurology fellowship where he started and directed the Cerebellar Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic, focusing not only on the motor aspects of cerebellar dysfunction but also on the significant cognitive and behavioral sequelae of these disorders. He joined the laboratory of Dr. Mustafa Sahin, M.D., Ph.D. where he investigated the contribution of cerebellar dysfunction to autistic behaviors by developing a cerebellar mouse model of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. There, he was faculty from 2011–2014, until he made the move to Dallas to further pursue these research interests. Clinically, Pete continues to care for children with autism and cerebellar dysfunction in the Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities while pursuing his interests in delineating the mechanisms by which cerebellar dysfunction results in abnormal cognition and behavior in neurodevelopmental disorders. Outside of the above, he can frequently be found having food related fun with his family.

 

Christine Ochoa

Christine Ochoa Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Christine.Ochoa@utsouthwestern.edu  

Christine graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio Honors College with a bachelor's degree in Biology in 2011, and received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UT Southwestern in 2017.  Her graduate work in Craig Powell's lab explored the role of Kctd13 in regulating synaptic transmission and RhoA signaling. In the Tsai lab, Christine will define cerebellar circuits influencing social behaviors and identify how dysfunction of the cerebellum contributes to autism-related behaviors. In her spare time, Christine enjoys spending time with her family and pets, watching NBA basketball (Go Spurs Go!), and attending kickboxing classes.


Chongyu Ren

Chongyu Ren M.D., Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Chongyu.Ren@utsouthwestern.edu   

Chongyu Ren is a researcher who enjoys working with patch clamp techniques. Chongyu is from Shandong Province, the North of China, where he got his M.D, Ph.D. in Physiology at Peking Union Medical College, in Beijing. In 2006, he came to the U.S. for his first post-doctoral training position where he worked on cardiovascular electrophysiology in Dr. Blaustein’s lab at the University of Maryland until 2008. He has also worked in Dr. Yong Wang’s lab at the University of Utah from 2008 to 2012, until he made the move to Dallas with his family. Currently, he is a research scientist in Peter Tsai’s lab at UT Southwestern, and is focusing on understanding electrical properties of brain slices in mouse models of Autism and cerebellar dysfunction. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his two little girls at home, playing tennis, swimming and sitting quietly the watching sky.


Elyza Kelly

Elyza Kelly B.A.

Graduate Student

Elyza.Kelly@utsouthwestern.edu 

Elyza is a neuroscience graduate student in the Tsai Lab studying neural circuits influenced by the cerebellum which facilitate social reward and repetitive behaviors. Elyza is from Vermont and received her bachelors degree in neuroscience at Wheaton College (MA). After college she worked for three years at Boston Children's Hospital studying mouse models of autism spectrum disorders before coming to UTSW for graduate school.


Brianne Dentel

Brianne Dentel B.S.

Graduate Student

Brianne.Pierce@utsouthwestern.edu 

Brianne is a native of Kansas, and graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Microbiology. She is now in the Medical Scientist Training Program here at UT Southwestern, and has finished the first two years of medical school. She is interested in the biological mechanisms behind autism and focal epilepsies we see in humans. In her free time she likes to run, ride her bike, and bake breads and pies


Jennifer Gibson

Jennifer Gibson B.A.

Graduate Student

Jennifer1.Gibson@utsouthwestern.edu 

Jenn received her B.A. from Wheaton College, MA, where she studied Neuroscience. During that time she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Meg Kirkpatrick, completing an honors thesis analyzing the behavioral and biomechanical effects of methylmercury on adult mice. A native Vermonter, she moved to Dallas to work as a research technician in the lab helping to further define the role of the cerebellum in Neurodevelopmental disorders. She recently re-joined the lab as a neuroscience graduate student.


Aby Flores

Abigail Flores B.S. 

Research Technician

Abigail.Flores@utsouthwestern.edu  

Aby is a native Floridian and received her B.S in both biology and neuroscience from the University of Florida. With previous research experience in Alzheimer's disease and Spinal Cord Injury, she is excited to learn more about the cerebellum's role in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She currently assists the Tsai lab by managing the mouse colony. Outside of lab, she enjoys crossfit, bouldering, and billiards. 


Dylan jiang

Dylan Jiang

Dylan.Jiang@utsouthwestern.edu  

Dylan Jiang is a native of Texas originally from The Woodlands. He is interested in Neuroscience and previously worked in the laboratory of Joanna Jankowsky at Baylor College of Medicine. Outside of lab, he enjoys taking road trips with his friends, playing tennis and visiting his family.


Razaq Durodoye

Razaq Durodoye

Razaq.Durodoye@utsouthwestern.edu   

Razaq is from Denton, Texas and received an Associate in Liberal Science from North Lake College May 2015. He now studies Biochemistry the University of Texas at Dallas with an intended minor in Philosophy and plans to graduate Spring 2018. He is working in the Tsai Lab as a UTD Greenfellow and intends to follow the MD/PhD route in his education. Some of his hobbies include performing poetry and creative prose, fantasy/sci-fi reading, and exploring philosophy. 


Previous Lab members

Cyrena Howland

Fantao Meng Ph.D

Sanaz Sajadi M.S.

Shwetiha Rajagopal B.S.

Pei Liu Ph.D

Cleone Howland B.S.

Christopher Cano M.D.

Shuping Jia

Past Stars Students

Alejandro Rey Hipolito

Nidhi Prakuzhy