Lab Members
Krystof Bankiewicz
Krystof Bankiewicz

Krystof Bankiewicz, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Neurosurgery and Neurology
Kinetics Foundation Chair in Translational Research

Krystof Bankiewicz received his MD degree from Jagiellonian University in Crakow, his PhD and DSc degrees from the Institute of Neurology and Psychiatry in Warsaw, and the title of Professor from the President of the Republic of Poland. After his residency and an appointment as Assistant Professor with the Post-graduate Medical Center in Warsaw, he received a Fogarty Fellowship and became a Visiting Fellow and then Visiting Associate Scientist with the Surgical Neurology Branch of the NINDS at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. There, he became Chief of the Central Nervous System (CNS) Implantation Unit in 1991. Shortly afterward, he came to California to serve successively as Chief of Preclinical Studies with the Somatix Therapy Corporation in Alameda, the Director of the Division of CNS Implantation and Regeneration with The Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, and from 1994-1998 a Visiting Scientist with the Laboratory for Functional Imaging of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. From 1997-2001 he returned to the NIH as Acting Chief of the Molecular Therapeutics Section of NINDS. Since 1998 he has been a Professor in Residence of Neurosurgery and Neurology, Principal Investigator with the Movement Disorders Research Program and the Brain Tumor Research Center at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). In 2009 Prof Bankiewicz was named the recipient of Kinetics Foundation Chair in Translational Research and in 2011 was appointed as a Vice Chairman for Research in Department of Neurological Surgery and Director of Translational NeuroTherapy Center at UCSF. Dr. Bankiewicz is an inventor of numerous patents, and has published more than 160 peer-reviewed research articles. Dr. Bankiewicz has considerable experience in supervising multi-investigator translational programs. He is a Principal Investigator on several multi-center, multi-investigator grants. He has supervised a total of 25 post-doctoral fellows, and manages a core research group of 20 individuals including technicians, post-doctoral fellows, and a senior scientists. Throughout his career, he has maintained a strong focus on the development of translational approaches to gene and cell replacement therapies, and has displayed a remarkable ability to synthesize several individual technologies into powerful new approaches to the treatment of such serious diseases as brain cancer and neurodegenerative disorders of the brain, including Parkinson's, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s diseases and pediatric neurotransmitter deficiency and lysosomal storage disorders. Dr. Bankiewicz was instrumental at every stage of the Phase-1 clinical trials for AAV2-hAADC and AAV2-hGDNF gene therapy, resolving technical and scientific issues with respect to filing an IND applications with the FDA, and also in recruiting a clinical team to undertake the clinical trials. He continues to champion the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat these important diseases. The recently established Translational NeuroTherapy Center at UCSF, of which he is the first Director, is a logical extension of Dr. Bankiewicz’s efforts to close the gap between bench and bed side by engaging academia, industry, NIH and non-for profit organizations in a joint effort in the clinical development of novel therapeutics for brain disorders.
John Forsayeth
John Forsayeth

John Forsayeth, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

John Forsayeth, who obtained his PhD from Monash University in Melbourne, was a member of the faculty of the Department of Anesthesia at UCSF from 1994-1996 after emigrating to the United States for postdoctoral training at UCSF. He subsequently held a number of senior positions in several biotechnology companies with a neurological focus. He has a significant background in molecular neurobiology and in preclinical studies designed to lead to Investigational New Drug applications. He has been a member of the Bankiewicz Group since 2004, and plays a central role in the design of experiments and the writing and submission of grants and manuscripts. He is a named inventor on 4 patents, and has published more than 66 peer-reviewed research articles. He plays an important role in the coordination of basic translational research programs focused on neuro-inflammation and the role of the immune system in PD.
Piotr Hadaczek
Piotr Hadaczek

Piotr Hadaczek, Ph.D.

Supervising Scientist and Laboratory Manager

Piotr Hadaczek joined the Department of Neurosurgery at UCSF in September 2001. He previously worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics and Pathology of Pomeranian Academy of Medicine in Szczecin, Poland. Since his arrival at UCSF, he has been a key member of the Bankiewicz group, helping both to establish the lab and to introduce many essential methods and research techniques.

Dr. Hadaczek's contributions to the field of gene therapy for the central nervous system are already well recognized. His studies have focused on mechanisms for distributing gene therapy drugs within the brain. He evaluates different strategies that enhance the delivery of therapeutic genes and drugs for the treatment of a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease. His research is fundamental for pre-clinical studies and uses non-human primates to serve as the best models for human brain disorders. He has published more than 48 peer-reviewed research articles and 3 book chapters.

John Bringas, B.S.

Research Specialist

John has been involved in all of the aspects of local brain delivery of therapeutics and neuroimaging experiments for more than 10 years as a member of the Bankiewicz laboratory. His training includes several years at toxicology research laboratories such as SBI. He is responsible for all aspects of the surgical protocols, including MRI and PET imaging and assisting PI in brain surgeries.

Agnieszka Ciesielska, Ph.D.

Associate Researcher

Agnieszka received her Master of Science degree in Neurobiology from University of Lodz, Poland and her Ph.D. degree from Warsaw Medical University, Poland. Her Ph.D. thesis focused on the influence of age and gender on the neuroinflammatory processes in Parkinson’s disease. She then worked at the Institute of Neurology and Psychiatry in Warsaw before joining the Bankiewicz lab as a postdoctoral fellow in August 2009. She is involved in developing a novel LRRK2 model of Parkinson’s disease as well as projects related to vector gene transfer into the brain. Apart from work, flamenco dance is her passion.
Kate Hammond Rosenbluth
Lluis Samaranch

Lluis Samaranch Gusi, Ph.D.

Associate Researcher

Lluís received his PhD from University of Navarra, Spain, where he studied biomarkers of progression to Alzheimer disease in the Laboratory of Neurobiology and the Memory Disorders Unit. In 2006, he started his postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Neurogenetics in the Center for Applied Medical Research, Spain, studying new candidate genes and genetic risk factors involved in familial and sporadic neurodegenerative disorders. To explore a functional approach of genetics, he joined the Bankiewicz Lab in 2011 to study the transport and expression levels of different serotypes of adeno-associated vectors carrying therapeutic transgenes after their delivery into the central nervous system.

Waldy San Sebastian Ramirez, Ph.D.

Associate Researcher

Waldy obtained her PhD in 2008 at the Center for Applied Medical Research of the University of Navarra, Spain. Her PhD project focused on autologous cell therapy in the non-human primate model of Parkinson's disease. She joined the Bankiewicz Lab in April 2010 as a postdoctoral scholar and works on projects related to gene transfer into the central nervous system with special emphasis on the role of putamenal AADC expression in L-DOPA induced dyskinesia.

Kate Hammond Rosenbluth
Jaques Mallet

Jaques Mallet, Ph.D.

Visiting Adjunct Professor

Jaques is a distinguished research scientist who received his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from Harvard University. He has held several faculty positions at the University of Paris and at the Brain and Spinal Cord Institute. He has co-authored more than 400 scientific articles related to the fields of neurotrasmitter molecular biology, psychiatric genetics, epigenetics and gene therapy. In the field of gene therapy, the work of his laboratory led to landmark breakthroughts with (i) the demonstration that viral vectors had the ability to transduce nerve cells, (ii) the first proof-in-principle that a trophic factor encoded by an adenoviral vector preserves dopaminergic cells in vivo and (iii) the demonstration that lentiviral vectors can be rendered non-integrative and still show long-term transgene expression. Dr. Mallet will continue investigating novel gene therapy approaches for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Kate Hammond Rosenbluth
Marin Thompson

Marin Thompson, M.S.

Lead Clinical Study Coordinator

Marin received her Master of Science Degree in Nutritional Biochemistry with a specialization in Epidemiology at Tuft’s University. She is new to Neurological Surgery Interventions but has been involved in coordinating clinical trials since 2004. She is extremely interested in translational science and has built her career to focus on it. She is fascinated by the brain and thrilled to be part of the Bankiewicz lab. She is the Lead Coordinator on the AADC Gene Therapy Phase I Clinical Trial in Parkinson’s Disease which will begin in the fall of 2013.

Bankiewicz Lab Alumni

Foad H. Green, B.S.

Staff Research Associate

Foad received his Bachelor's in Chemistry from University of California at Santa Cruz. Having completed a year-long biomedical internship at the University of Washington, he is now at the Bankiewicz Lab. His current research focus involves brain tumors and Parkinson's disease research, while developing novel methods of visualizing the brain.

Michael J. Macayan, B.S.

Staff Research Associate II

Michael received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology graduating with a concentration in Physiology from San Francisco State University in 2009. Before arriving at the Bankiewicz Lab, Michael has worked as a histotechnician for a small urologic reference lab and gained clinical lab experience as a histotechnologist for UCSF in the Pathology Department at San Francisco General Hospital. With his skills and experience he is supporting both in vivo studies and immunohistology work at the Bankiewicz Lab.

Janine Beyer, B.S.

Staff Research Associate

Originally from Long Island, New York, Janine graduated with a BS in Biochemistry from SUNY Stony Brook in 1994. After graduation she was offered a job in the Neurobiology and Behavior Department at Stony Brook University. Under the guidance of her mentor, Janine worked with experimental models where the lab identified corticotectal neurons in the parietal cortex, and determined whether depth related activity in the intraparietal sulcus is transmitted to the superior colliculus, a critical region in the visual pathway of mammals. In 2003 Janine moved to California and was offered a job at a laboratory in UC Berkeley specializing in the hearing pathway of mammals specifically focusing on the connections of the inferior colliculus. Currently Janine is a Staff Research Associate working in an experimental Parkinsonian model and conducting brain tumor experiments in rats, as well as managing many other administrative functions in the laboratory. Her hobby outside of the lab is riding her horse in the equestrian sport of Dressage.

Phil Pivirotto, B.S.

Research Specialist

Phil is an expert in primate research and has been working with Krys for the last 20 years on projects involving MPTP-treated non-human primates. He is responsible for overseeing projects, including logistics of MRI, PET and surgical procedures. He performs clinical assessments and activity monitoring to document gross behavioral changes after gene therapy and nanoparticle administration into the brain. He has worked with Dr. Bankiewicz in various settings: private industry, academia and at the N.I.H. His main research interests include developing pre-clinical models of human disease, neurodegenerative diseases, movement disorders and gene therapy. Before being recruited by Krys, he worked at Yale University School of Medicine for 17 years in the laboratories of Patricia Goldman-Rakic and D. Eugene Redmond managing studies in schizophrenia, learning and memory, and PD. He participated in studies of fetal brain tissue transplantation for PD at the Yale-affiliated research field station in St. Kitts, West Indies.

Massimo Fiandaca

Massimo Fiandaca

Massimo Fiandaca, M.D., M.B.A.

Associate Research Scientist

Dr. Massimo Fiandaca is a board-certified neurosurgeon with extensive research experience with non-human primate models of human neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, having collaborated with colleagues at Emory University, the University of Rochester, University of Illinois, and UCSF. He has extensive clinical experience with stereotactic neurosurgery and radiosurgery, and neurosurgical oncology. Currently in private neurosurgical practice, Dr. Fiandaca was Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center (1988-1991) and the University of Maryland (1991-1993), and has served on the volunteer teaching faculty at both the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins (1993-2000). Dr. Fiandaca attended medical school at the Oregon Health Sciences University, and did his surgical internship and neurosurgical residency at the Emory University affilliated hospitals. Dr. Fiandaca received an MBA from Loyola College in Maryland. Drawn to the leadership in translational research in neurodegenerative diseases and neuro-oncology of the Bankiewicz laboratory and the UCSF Department of Neurosurgery, Dr. Fiandaca hopes to provide experience and perspective in the design and implementation of relevant preclinical studies that will lead to IDE and IND applications and clinical trials.

Adrian Kells, Ph.D.

Associate Researcher

Adrian joined the Bankiewicz Laboratory in 2008 as a Postdoctoral Fellow, having obtained his PhD at The University of Auckland, New Zealand, following postgraduate research investigating AAV vector delivery for Huntington's Disease. With an interest in translational neuroscience, Adrian is involved in performing IND-enabling research studies and regulatory affairs associated with these lab-to-clinic translational projects.

Pin-Yuan Chen, M.D.

Visiting Scholar

Pin-Yuan obtained his MD at Chang-Gung University in Taiwan. He served as the Attending Physician in the Department of Neurosurgery, Brain Tumor Division in Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital. In addition to his clinical service, his research focused on how ultrasound and magnetic energy enhanced the delivery of nanoparticle-formulated therapeutics into brain tumors. His is now a visiting scholar in the Bankiewicz lab, training in CED technology and participating several preclinical research projects in brain tumor therapy.
Kate Hammond Rosenbluth
Kate Hammond Rosenbluth

Kate Hammond Rosenbluth, Ph.D.

Assistant Researcher

Kate joined the Department of Neurosurgery in 2010. She received her PhD in Bioengineering in 2009 from UCSF and UC Berkeley, where she developed new high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for imaging neurological disorders including Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury and brain tumors. Prior to UCSF, Kate did research on motion tracking and musculoskeletal modeling as a Mechanical Engineering student at Stanford University. Kate has experience with medical device design and commercialization through the Mayfield Fellowship of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the Pediatric Device Consortium of the UCSF Department of Surgery. Currently she is working on intra-operative MRI techniques and medical device design for gene transfer to the central nervous system.

Ernesto Aguilar Salegio, Ph.D.

Post-doctoral Scholar

Ernesto is a postdoctoral employee with a background in neurosurgery, neuroinflammation and behavioral science. His PhD thesis investigated the effects of inflammation on CNS regeneration following a spinal cord and optic nerve injury. Dr. Aguilar joined the lab in 2009 and assisted in developing surgical procedures to administer therapeutic vectors into regions of the CNS. His research focus included Lysosomal Storage Disorders and Parkinson's Disease.

Jamie Eberling, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professor

Jamie was a Faculty Medical Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and an Associate Adjunct Professor of Neurology at UCSF and UC Davis. Dr. Eberling conducted research on neuroimaging of aging and neurodegeneration for more than 15 years. She now holds a senior position at the Michael J. Fox Foundation in New York.

Mark Richardson, M.D., Ph.D.

Neurosurgery Resident

Dr. Richardson is a resident in the Department of Neurological Surgery at UCSF and received an MD/PhD from the Medical College of Virginia. His graduate work, funded by a pre-doctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) from NINDS, explored the isolation of neural progenitor cells from the adult human brain, and focused on the transplantation of adult rodent subventricular zone neural progenitors to the hippocampus and lesioned striatum. Mark joined the Bankiewicz lab to further his training in translational neuroscience aimed at developing restorative neurosurgical therapies. He was awarded a post-doctoral NRSA from NINDS to investigate the role of putamenal AADC expression in L-dopa induced dyskinesia and is also interested in the direct delivery of GDNF to the basal ganglia.

Dali Yin, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Research Scientist

Dali obtained his MD at Henan Medical University, China, and his PhD at the Kobe University School of Medicine, Japan. He has published 50 papers. In Dr. Bankiewicz's lab, his research focuses on brain tumor therapies, specifically using CED to directly deliver therapeutic agents into the brain for treatment of glioma. He also studied cannula placement for CED infusion in the putamen, thalamus and brain stem of non-human primates, and stepped cannula for brain infusion in rats. He looks forward to translating bench-side studies into bed-side clinical practice to help patients with brain tumor.

Louisa Johnston, Ph.D.

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow

Louisa graduated with a First Class Bachelor of Science in Psychological Sciences from the University of Westminster in London (1999) and received her PhD in Pharmacology following her postgraduate work using the MPTP-treated common marmoset model of Parkinson's Disease in Professor Peter Jenner at King's College London (2004). Dr. Johnston worked at the Parkinson's instutute in Sunnyvale, California for just over two years before joining Dr. Bankiewicz's lab as a senior postdoctoral fellow. She currently holds a research position at Oxford University in the UK.

Francisco Valles, B.S.

UCSF Medical Student

Francisco grew up in Los Angeles where he attended Occidental College and California Institute of Technology. He obtained a BA in Biochemistry from Occidental and a Chemical Engineering BS from Caltech. He worked at Genentech for five years: first as a Research Assistant optimizing Phase I processes and then as an Engineer evaluating new manufacturing technology. While in the lab, he worked on developing a purification protocol for Neurturin and GDNF proteins as well as developing a bioassay to determine their bioactivity. Additionally, he worked on developing a predictive fluid flow model of CED infusions. He is currently attending UCSF Medical school.

Gabi Mittermeyer, B.S.

Junior Specialist

Gabi earned her Bachelor of Science in biology in 2009 at the Technical University of Munich. Her thesis concerned the role of microRNAs in the establishment of motor circuitry in the chicken embryo during development. She joined the Bankiewicz Lab in April 2010 and is working on axonal transport following gene transfer to the brain.

Francisco Gimenez, B.S.

Staff Research Associate

Francisco received his degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, and he is now enrolled in the Biomedical Informatics Department at Stanford to do his Ph.D. He works on MRI image analysis, predictive flow models for infusions, development of cannula targeting methods, as well as handles general lab IT work.

Vanja Varenika, B.S.

UCSF Medical Student

Vanja grew up in New York City and came to the West Coast to attend Stanford University. At Stanford he researched the mechanisms involved in the development and maintenance of cellular polarity, focusing on the Septin family of proteins. He graduated in 2006 with a B.S. in Biology and joined the Bankiewicz Laboratory as a Junior Specialist. During his year at the lab, Vanja worked on testing novel therapeutics for the treatment of brain tumors, developing real-time imaging of convection-enhanced delivery, and delivering gene therapy to the brain. He is now attending UCSF School of Medicine and remains involved in the lab.

Marina Mendiburu-Elicabe, B.S.

Visiting Graduate Student (University of Madrid, Spain)

Marina was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated in biochemistry in the Universidad Autonoma of Madrid. She was a visiting Ph.D. student working in the lab in therapies against brain tumors.

Xiaomin Su, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Xiaomin earned her bachelor degree in Biological Engineering from the South China University of Technology, Master of Science in Biological Resources Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2003 and Ph.D in Immunology from the University of Rochester in 2007. Her Ph.D thesis research focused on neuro-inflammation in Parkinsons disease. She worked at the Bankiewicz laboratory from 2008 to 2010 on projects related to gene transfer into the central nervous system with special emphasis on neurodegenerative diseases.

Ray Chavez, Ph.D.

Program Manager

Ray is a San Francisco native who obtained his PhD in Physiology at UCSF. After his post-doctoral training at UC Berkeley, Ray has worked at several biotechnology companies including Elan Pharmaceuticals and Avigen, eventually moving into PD and neuropathic pain gene therapy research as well as preclinical development in biologics and small molecules. After working as a preclinical and clinical development consultant, he joined the Bankiewicz Laboratory in 2011 to support the translational efforts of the laboratory. When not focusing on the laboratory or family, Ray is involved in things like this.

Hanna Mirek, Ph.D.

Staff Research Associate

Hanna was born and raised in Poland, where she attended the Wroclaw University of Technology, earning a Masters Degree in civil engineering and graduating with a strong background in mathematics. After realizing it was her calling, she pursued a doctoral study in biochemistry at the Akademia Medyczna in Wroclaw. She received her PhD right before immigrating to the United States in 1980. In the meanwhile, Hanna was involved in research in physiology and biochemistry in the field of physical therapy at the Academy of Physical Education. It was there that she also taught anatomy and biochemistry. After immigrating to the US, Hanna took time to establish her new life, raise her daughters, and learn English. She started her professional life in the US as a licensed clinical exercise specialist in 1998. In 2002, Hanna joined the UCSF Neurosurgery Department as a Research Associate and became involved in histology, which she enjoys very much. Apart from work, mathematics and fitness are a big part of her life. Her philosophy is "there are no shortcuts".

Maria Bartola Mejia, B.S., ASCP

Staff Research Associate

In her career as a histologist, Maria has worked and taught in several settings: hospitals, for-profit laboratories, and universities specializing in several areas of histology. Before coming to work at UCSF, Maria worked 18 years for a private institute performing a wide range of histology techniques on the visual system of the brain and the retina to increase the understanding of normal vision and of eye disorders. Now,she's here working in the Bankiewicz lab and finds the research focus in models of Parkinson's disease and brain tumors undoubtedly one of the best experiences of her histology career. Maria manages histology group.

Yuying Zhai, B.S.

Staff Research Associate

Yuying graduated from the Nursing College, Henan Medical University in China. She has done brain tumor research for three years. She works in Dr. Bankiewicz's lab to do research on Parkinson's disease and brain tumors, supporting both in vivo studies and histology work.