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The Baas Lab Members

 
Peter W. Baas, Professor and Lab Director, Baas Lab Member

Peter W. Baas

Professor and Lab Director
  pwb22@drexel.edu

Dr. Baas earned his PhD in 1987 from Michigan State University, and then trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Temple University. From there, he was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin for ten years before joining the faculty of Drexel University in 2000. Dr. Baas is interested in all aspects of the neuronal cytoskeleton, with a particular emphasis on the regulation of microtubules in developing neurons. He is also interested in various aspects of microtubules during neurodegenerative diseases as well as during nerve injury and regeneration. He is currently the director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at Drexel University.


 
Wenqian Yu, Research Instructor, Baas Lab Member

Wenqian Yu

Research Instructor
  wyu@drexelmed.edu

Dr. Yu earned her MD from Shanghai Medical University, and then joined the Baas Laboratory in 1993 as a postdoctoral fellow. She has remained in the laboratory since, and is currently a research instructor. She is the chief cell biologist in the laboratory, and is involved in several of the ongoing projects as well as the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She has published on microtubule transport in the axon, the role of the centrosome in generating axonal microtubules, the regulation of the dendritic microtubule array, the fragmentation of microtubules underlying collateral branch formation, and the role of microtubule-severing proteins and molecular motor proteins in regulating key events in the establishment of neuronal polarity. Dr. Yu is the recipient of the prestigious Edward Jekkal Award.


 
Liang Qiang, Research Instructor, Baas Lab Member

Liang Qiang

Research Assistant Professor
  liang.qiang@drexelmed.edu

Dr. Qiang earned his PhD in 2009 at Drexel University, supervised by Dr. Baas, where he made seminal discoveries on the regulation of microtubule-severing proteins (katanin and spastin) during neuronal development. These studies shed light on the functional mechanisms by which these severing proteins participate in axon outgrowth and axon branching. During his postdoc at Columbia University, he developed a cellular reprogramming strategy to directly convert adult human fibroblasts into functional neurons (hiNs) by defined transcriptional regulators in vitro and in vivo. Now, he is utilizing hiNs and iPSCs derived from unaffected individuals and patients with Alzheimer’s disease to study the pathological mechanisms of the disease and the potential therapeutic approaches. He is also applying the direct reprogramming strategy in the spinal cord injury studies in a close collaboration with Dr. Lane's lab in the department.


 
Emanuela Piermarini, Postdoc, Baas Lab Member

Emanuela Piermarini

Postdoctoral Fellow
  emanuela.piermarini@drexelmed.edu

Emanuela earned her PhD degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at University of Rome "Tor Vergata" in November 2016. During her PhD training she studied the role of oxidative stress in neurodegeneration, focusing her attention on the role of glutathione in the pathogenesis of Friedreich's ataxia. She joined the Baas Lab as a postdoc in December 2016, where she is involved in the project of characterizing a new mouse model of hereditary spastic paraplegia.


 
Ankita Patil, Graduate Student, Baas Lab Member

Ankita Patil

Graduate Student
  ap3326@drexel.edu

Ankita is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience program. She earned her BS in life sciences from the University of Mumbai, India, in 2014, and joined Drexel's program in 2015. After completing her MS in the Baas Llab, she is now continuing her work as a PhD student. She is working on motor proteins and their role in microtubule organization in neurons.


 
Hemalatha Muralidharan, Graduate Student, Baas Lab Member

Hemalatha Muralidharan

Graduate Student
  hm429@drexel.edu

Hema is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience program at Drexel University. She earned a BS in biotechnology from Madras University, India. She also did an MS in human genetics and forensic science from Manipal University, Dubai, before joining Drexel’s program in 2015. She will be working on the role of microtubule-based motor proteins and microtubule-severing protein in neurons.


 
Shrobona Guha, Graduate Student, Baas Lab Member

Shrobona Guha

Graduate Student
  sg3536@drexel.edu

Shrobona is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience program. She earned her MS in biotechnology from St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, India. After her MS, she worked on the neuronal circuit development of zebrafish for a year at IISER Pune. In the Baas Lab, she will be working on motor proteins and their role in microtubule organization in neurons.


 
Philip Yates, MD/PhD Student, Baas Lab Member

Philip Yates

MD/PhD Student
  ply23@drexel.edu

Phil is an MD/PhD student in the Neuroscience program at Drexel University College of Medicine. He earned a BA in biology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Phil is interested in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. He joined the Baas Lab in 2017, and will be researching Gulf War Illness using hiPSCs to investigate the role of the microtubule-associated protein tau in GWI, as well as microtubule-based therapies for GWI.


 
Qinghua Wang, Visiting Scholar Fellow, Baas Lab Member

Qinghua Wang

Visiting Scholar Fellow
  qw67@drexel.edu

Qinghua earned his PhD in genetic biology at Nanjing University in June 2015. During his PhD training, he studied the role of adipogenesis and gut microbiota in obesity and TIIDM with genetic mouse models. As a teacher at Nantong University, he transitioned his interest into spinal cord injury and regeneration based on cell therapy. He became a member of the Baas Lab as a visiting scholar in July 2018, where he is studying the use of microtubule-based interventions to treat spinal cord injury.

 
Şeyma Akarsu, Visiting Graduate Student, Baas Lab Member

Şeyma Akarsu

Visiting Graduate Student
  sseymaakarsu@gmail.com

Şeyma is a doctoral student in the Molecular Biology-Genetic and Biotechnology program at Istanbul Technical University, Turkey. She is working on transcriptional and translational regulation of katanin and spastin proteins, which regulate neuronal microtubule stability in neurodegenerative diseases. She joined the Baas Lab as a visiting graduate student in 2019. She is involved in the hereditary spastic paraplegia project, working on a transgenic mouse model for HSP recently established in the Baas Lab.

 
Ilgin Isiltan, Visiting Graduate Student, Baas Lab Member

Ilgin Isiltan

Visiting Graduate Student
  isiltanlgn@gmail.com

Ilgin is a doctoral student in the Molecular Biology-Genetics and Biotechnology program at Istanbul Technical University, Turkey. She earned a BS in molecular biology and genetics in 2012, and an MS in molecular biology-genetics and biotechnology in 2015 from Istanbul Technical University. She joined the Baas Lab as a visiting graduate student in February 2019, where she will be working on molecular regulation of microtubule sliding in the axon.

 
Alessia Niceforo, Visiting Graduate Student, Baas Lab Member

Alessia Niceforo

Visiting Graduate Student
  an675@drexel.edu

Alessia is a PhD student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program at Roma Tre University in Rome, Italy. She is taking part in an exchange program in collaboration with Drexel University College of Medicine. She earned her BS in biology from Sapienza University and her MS in molecular, cellular and pathophysiological biology from Roma Tre University.

During her time at Drexel University, Alessia will work with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and organoids as models to study hereditary spastic paraplegia.

 
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Baas Lab researchers used electron tomography to construct a 3D model (bottom), and found that whereas most microtubules (green) are attached to the centrosome (blue), a small number are unattached. The unattached microtubules are able to undergo motor-driven sliding, which helps neurons migrate in a straight line.