Christiane Wrann, DVM, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Wrann studied veterinary medicine at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, the University of Cambridge, and Cornell University. She received her Ph.D. with Summa cum laude in Immunology from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in 2008. She concluded her postdoctoral in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Spiegelman at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. In April 2016 she joined the faculty of the CVRC to start her own laboratory. 

Dr. Wrann is an Assistant Professor in Medicine at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Harvard Medical School in Boston. Dr. Wrann is also an affiliate of the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. She is the recipient a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NINDS and the Hassenfeld Cardiovascular Research Scholar Award. Her research focuses on the beneficial effects of exercise and metabolism on the brain, and specifically secreted factors in exercise as potential drug targets.

Mohammad Rashedul Islam, PhD

Post-Doc since 2017

Rashed received his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Texas. His graduate work focused on neuroprotective function of novel bivalent and multivalent opioid peptide analogs in ischemic stroke models. He went on to receive his postdoctoral training in neurodegenerative diseases, new drug development and screening for traumatic brain injury and ischemic stroke using different molecular, cellular and genetic approaches in neuroprotection research lab here at MGH. He joined Wrann lab in June 2017 and his current research focus is to explore the molecular mechanism(s) of exercise hormone(Fndc5/irisin) mediated hippocampal neurogenesis and the effects on cognition.

Joana Fernandes Da Rocha, PhD

Post-Doc since 2021

Joana received her PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Aveiro and NOVA University of Lisbon. Her PhD project focused on the role of the Amyloid Precursor Protein, a central protein in Alzheimer’s disease, in neuronal differentiation. During her postdoctoral training in the Chronic Disease Research Center (NOVA Medical School of Lisbon) and in the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (University of Porto), she has gained experience in acute and cultured brain slices, electrophysiology, and multielectrode arrays recordings. She joined Wrann Lab in June 2021 and his current research focuses on the modulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in the context of neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases.

Renhao Luo, BS

Research Technician since 2019

Renhao graduated from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Bioinformatics. He was an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Tallie Z. Baram’s lab for three years. His undergraduate research projects focused on understanding the electrophysiological and behavioral outcomes of blocking an inflammatory pathway in rats after Febrile Status Epilepticus (FSE). He’s learned to analyze Electroencephalogram (EEG) data, perform Novel Object Location (NOL) and Object Location Memory (OLM) tests and interpret the data, and other common lab techniques. Moreover, he’s completed projects in Bioinformatics involving Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and genome assembly tools. Currently, He is a research technician in Dr. Christiane Wrann’s lab at MGH to understand the effects of FNDC5/Irisin, a hormone released during exercise, in adult neurogenesis using a mice model. Renhao would like to pursue a neuroscience PhD in the future.

Kristen Figueroa, BS

Research Technician since 2021

Kristen graduated from Emmanuel College with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Concentration in Neuroscience. She was an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Leussis’ lab for three years. Her undergraduate work focused on understanding the biological mechanisms of bipolar disorder by studying ANK3 knockout mice and the stress pathway, specifically glucocorticoid receptors. Through her undergraduate experience, she was trained basic techniques to handle a mice colony. In addition, she learned immunohistochemistry staining and behavior tests including elevated maze, radial arm maze, and contextualized fear conditioning. She joined Wrann Lab at MGH in June 2021 to understand the hormone Irisin and the effects of exercise in the brain and metabolism. Kristen would like to pursue a MD and become a neurosurgeon in the future.

Nathaniel Hibbert, BS

Research Technician since 2021

Nathaniel graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. He was an undergraduate research assistant Dr. Nocera for a year. His undergraduate project focused on renewable energy and pharmaceutical synthesis. His research experience included working with graduate students to develop inorganic photoredox catalysts for organic transformations. Through his undergraduate work, he has learned to set up anaerobic experiments in a glove box and analyzing spectroscopic experiments. He joined Wrann Lab at MGH in July 2021 to understand the hormone Irisin and the effects of exercise in the brain and metabolism. Nathaniel would like to pursue a MD in the future.

Abbey Pan

Undergraduate research intern since 2020

Abbey is a member of the Class of 2022 at Harvard College, where she studies Neuroscience. She joined the Wrann lab as a PRISE Fellow in June of 2020 and works as an undergraduate research intern with the group. Outside the lab, Abbey has served as the director of Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies and continues to volunteer through the organization while actively dancing with and leading the Executive Board of the Harvard Ballet Company. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine and to ultimately enhance her practice as a physician through the experiences and perspectives she has gained through research and dance.