About Us

About Us




Peter Douglas, Ph.D., was born in San Antonio, Texas,and lived in Dallas, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and St. Louis, Missouri, before receiving his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Peter earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. As a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Douglas Cyr, Peter used different methods in biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology to understand the mechanisms by which protein homeostasis machinery detoxifies misfolded, aggregation-prone proteins. During this time he was awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association. 

Peter completed his postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Dillin at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, and the University of California in Berkeley, California. During this time he was awarded fellowships from the National Institute of Health on the Neuroplasticity of Aging and the George E. Hewitt Medical Foundation. He also received a Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) from the National Institute of Health.

In 2015, Peter joined the faculty at UT Southwestern Medical Center as an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology.

Post Doctoral Researchers

Sonja Arneaud, PhD

Laboratory Manager & Postdoctoral Researcher

Sonja earned her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in the laboratory of Dr. John R. Porter. Her graduate work focused on the investigation of two key enzymes involved in the podophyllotoxin biosynthetic pathway of the endophytic fungus Phialocephala fortinii. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Douglas laboratory, her research efforts are focused on aging and neurodegeneration in C. elegans. In her spare time, Sonja enjoys reading the Bible, traveling, photography, biking, and cooking.

Rene Solano Fonseca, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Rene was born in Mexico and earned his PhD in Cellular and Structural Biology from UT Health San Antonio. His graduate work focused on investigating the role of microglia and inflammation on the aging ventricular-subventricular zone neurogenic niche. His postdoctoral research is focused on elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanism of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a novel mouse model of TBI. Rene enjoys going on long walks with his wife and his dog, listening to loud music and watching a lot of basketball.

Support Staff

Patrick Metang, MS

Research Associate I

Patrick earned his Master of Science in Biotechnology at the University Pierre et Marie Currie in Paris, France. For his Masters defense Patrick focused on constructing targeted antibodies to elicit specific CD8 responses against the cancer antigen WT1. As a researcher in the Douglas Lab, Patrick works on understanding the mechanism(s) of neurodegeneration caused by traumatic brain injury using mouse models as well as in vitro cell culture. Patrick enjoys spending time with his wife and son. He also enjoys carpentry and sports.

Nathanael Beck, BS

Research Technician I

Nathanael (aka Nate) earned his BS at Baylor University in 2018. His research with the lab explores the mechanisms of cellular lipid sensing pathways and glial cells' role in degeneration after traumatic brain injury. Nate is currently applying to medical school and fills his spare time withe seminary classes, reading, and spending time with his wife.

Graduate Students

Kielen Zuurbier, BS

PhD Graduate Student

Kielen received his BS in Biomolecular Research from the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in The Netherlands. He performed his Bachelor’s thesis work in the lab of Dr. Ann Stowe in the department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern where he developed a novel gene expression system with both chemical and optical induction capabilities. In the Douglas lab, Kielen is interested in elucidating the molecular mechanism behind why dopaminergic neurons specifically degenerate after traumatic brain injury. In his spare time, Kielen enjoys playing guitar in his band.

Abigail Watterson, BS

PhD Graduate Student

Abigail received her BS in Biology from the University of Richmond in 2018. She did her undergraduate research in the lab of Dr. John Warrick, in which she investigated the role of histone acetyltransferase Tip60 in the pathology of Machado Joseph Disease, a polyglutamine neurodegenerative disease. Currently, Abigail is studying the molecular mechanisms of vesicle trafficking in response to metabolic stress. Outside of lab, Abigail loves traveling to new cities and National Parks, and enjoys trying new restaurants in Dallas.

Lexus Tatge, BS

PhD Graduate Student

Lexus received her BS in Biochemistry from Hamline University in 2019. She did two years of undergraduate research at her university in Dr. Larry Masterson's Lab working on peptide-lipid interactions, and an REU at McGovern Medical school in the Lab of Dr. Ruth Heidelberger looking at the role of syntaxin-3 in breast cancer. In the Douglas lab, Lexus is interested in elucidating protein::ligand interactions regarding orphan receptors in C.elegans. In her spare time, Lexus enjoys coaching youth lacrosse around the DFW area.

Naureen Wajahat, BS

Green Fellow Student

Naureen received her BS in Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2020. She did two years of undergraduate research in the migraine neurobiology lab of Dr. Greg Dussor where she developed a rodent model of migraine. She joined the Douglas lab as a 2020 Green Fellow and has been working to understand the effects of lipid depletion in intestinal and neuronal cells since. In her free time, she likes to paint landscapes.

Previous Lab Members

Nicholas "Nick" Cheatwood - Research Technician II (2018-2020)

Nathan "Nate" Egge, PhD - Graduate Student (2016-2020)

Wu Yu - Visiting Scholar (2018)

Melina Mihelakis - Research Scholar (2018)

Pauline Wales - Research Associate (2018)

Charles "Charlie" Savelle - Research Technician II (2017-2018)

Sidra Shah - Research Technician I (2016-2017)

Ian Gonzalez  - Research Intern (2015-2017) 

Juan “JJ” Jaramillo, BS - Research Technician II (2015-2016)