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OTTC Past Members
Image of Brandon Harvey, Ph.D
Brandon Harvey, Ph.D

Director, OTTC; Associate Scientist, GNI Lab |

Dr. Harvey received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Anatomy from the University of Rochester where he began his interest in gene delivery and gene therapy for the central nervous system. He joined NIDA in 2002 where he brought methods for viral vector production to the Neural Protection and Regeneration Section led by Dr. Yun Wang. Dr. Harvey’s experience with molecular biology and viral vectors coupled with his background in the models of neurodegeneration and neurotoxicity contribute to his directorship of the Optogenetics and Transgenic Technology Core where he develops genetic tools for monitoring and manipulating the activity of neurons and glia in the rodent central nervous system. Dr. Harvey also has an ongoing research project as part of the Cellular Protection and Repair (CPR) laboratory examining the protein Mesencephalic Astrocyte Derived Neurotrophic Factor (MANF) and its associated functions in the neuroprotection, ER stress, unfolded protein response (UPR) and the KDEL retrieval pathway.

Image of Chris Richie, Ph.D
Christopher Richie, Ph.D

Research Scientist, Program Manager, Transgenic Design and Construction |

Dr. Richie received his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Texas - Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences where he studied DNA repair in eukaryotes at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) with Andy Golden studying cell cycles genetics in the nematode C. elegans, and was recruited to NIDA to characterize the function of MANF in worms. After the formation of the OTTC, Dr. Richie’s role transitioned into the construction and development of new molecular biological tools for the manipulation of gene expression in the central nervous system.

Image of Doug Howard, M.Sc.
Doug Howard, M.Sc.

Research Associate, Lab Manager and Viral Vector Production|

Doug received his BA in biology from St. Mary's College of Maryland. A long, long time ago, in a building that is far, far away in our distant memories, Doug joined Dr. Harvey while working in the NPR section of NIDA. While there, he helped to initiate AAV production and purification first for the NPR section, then for all of NIDA and various collaborators around the world. After years of working in the lab and being pestered by un-named persons, he went on to get a MSc from Johns Hopkins University in Biotechnology. Currently, Doug oversees AAV production and purification, and assists with other OTTC-related projects including cloning and AAV testing and characterization.

  • Produce and purify AAV vectors
  • In vitro and in vivo characterization of AAV vectors
  • Lentiviral vector production
  • General manager for OTTC
  • Image of Lowella Fortuna, B.S.
    Lowella Fortuno, B.S.

    Research Associate, Cell and Tissue Culture Facility Manager |

  • Maintainance and use of cell lines for characterizing viral vectors
  • Primary cell cuture (neurons and glia) for characterizing viral vectors
  • Immunostaining and western blot analysis for characterizing viral vectors
  • Image of Yajun Zhang, M.D
    Yajun Zhang, M.D

    Research Scientist, Transgenic Rat Colony Manager|

    Ya-Jun Zhang received her M.D. in China from Shanxi Medical University. She has over 15 years of experience in rodent transgenic research, first starting in 1997 with Dr. Eric Nestler’s molecular psychiatry laboratory at Yale University. She joined Dr. Barry Hoffer’s cellular Neurophysiology Section of NIDA in 2000 then moved to OTTC in 2012 as part of the collaborative effort with NIAAA.

    Current responsibilities include:
  • Coordinate the breeding and usage of the OTTC transgenic rat colony
  • Manage the database of all of OTTC’s transgenic rats
  • Phenotype and genotype OTTC-generated transgenic rats.
  • Image of Julie Necarsulmer, B.A.
    Julie Necarsulmer, B.A.

    Post-bac IRTA |

    Julie graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Neuroscience, where she completed a senior thesis project using electrophysiological techniques to investigate molecular mechanisms involved in Alzheimer’s Disease as well as to examine a potential therapeutic peptide. She joined the NIDA OTTC in June of 2015, and is currently involved in the characterization of novel transgenic rats as well as the analysis of the functionality of viral vectors in vivo.

    Image of Janette Lebron, M.A.
    Janette Lebron, M.A.

    Scientific Program Analyst |

    Janette received her M.A. in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from Johns Hopkins University in 2009. Before joining NIDA OTTC, she was a Scientific Project Manager for Dr. Clifton Barry, in NIAID, for six years. Janette provides program support for multiple ongoing projects in OTTC.