Current Lab Members


Takao K. Hensch
Professor, Molecular & Cellular Biology
Professor, Neurology (Children’s Hospital)
Director, Child Brain Development (CIFAR)
Director, IRCN (UTIAS)
Director, NIMH Silvio Conte Center
Center for Brain Science
Harvard University
hensch@mcb.harvard.edu

Takao K. Hensch, PhD, is joint professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School at Boston Children’s Hospital, and professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard’s Center for Brain Science. After undergraduate studies with Dr. J. Allan Hobson at Harvard, he was a student of Dr. Masao Ito at the University of Tokyo (MPH) and a Fulbright fellow with Dr. Wolf Singer at the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, before receiving a PhD in neuroscience working with Dr. Michael Stryker at the University of California, San Francisco in 1996. He then helped to launch the RIKEN Brain Science Institute as lab head for neuronal circuit development and served as group director (and now special advisor) before returning to the United States in 2006. Professor Hensch has received several honors, including the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award in both Japan (2001 Tsukahara Prize) and the United States (2005), as well as an NIH Director’s Pioneer award (2007).

Professor Takao K. Hensch MCB Profile
Professor Takao K. Hensch Conte Center Profile

Haneui Bae
Graduate Student, Molecules, Cells and Organisms Program
haneuibae@fas.harvard.edu

Haneui is interested in the role of specialized extracellular matrix structures called perineuronal nets in regulating critical period plasticity. Perineuronal nets form mainly around parvalbumin-expressing interneurons, whose maturation triggers the onset and closing of critical periods. Haneui received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Amherst College and studied the development of Drosophila larvae neuromuscular junctions in the lab of Dr. Ethan Graf.

Gervasio Batista
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
gbatista@fas.harvard.edu

Gervasio is interested in uncovering the molecular mechanisms controlling the organization of social behaviors during critical period. Combining multi-tracking algorithms and genetic tools he investigates the consequences of early life experience on social interactions within complex environments. Gervasio obtained his PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he studies the translation control of imprinting in chickens in the laboratory of Professor Jose Pena.

Maddalena Delma Caiati
Research Associate, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
mcaiati@fas.harvard.edu

Delma’s research focuses on the investigation of the circuit operations involved in experience dependent plasticity, during critical periods of brain development characterized by heightened neuroplasticity. Using electrophysiological, optical and genetic tools, her aims is the reverse engineer the cortical and thalamocortical dynamics underlying critical period of plasticity in physiological conditions and in neurodevelopmental disorders. Delma graduated in Medicine at Universita’ degli Studi di Bari, Italy and obtained her PhD in Neurobiology working with Professor Enrico Cherubini, at International school for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy.

Nate Hodgson
Research Associate, F.M. Kirby Neurobiological Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Nathaniel.Hodgson@childrens.harvard.edu

Nate’s research is focused on the role of oxidative stress and redoxbuffering in neurological disorders. Currently, he is studying the regulation of perineuronal net formation by OTX2 and how perineuronal nets impact the metabolism of thiol-containing amino acids and glutathione in parvalbumin-positive interneurons. Nate recieved his BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Gettysburg College and his PhD in Pharmacology from Northeastern University, where he worked with Professor Richard Deth.

Carolyn Johnson
Postodoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Carolyn_Johnson@fas.harvard.edu

Carolyn is interested in the developmental maturation of neural circuits for decision-making. She uses two-photon imaging of awake behaving animals along with electrophysiology and genetic techniques. Carolyn received a BA from Bowdoin College and a PhD in Neuroscience from USCF where she worked with Professor Linda Wilbrecht.

Hing Cheong (Henry) Lee
Postdoctoral Fellow, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
hingcheong.lee@childrens.harvard.edu

Henry aims to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying brain plasticity and neuronal inhibition. Combining molecular biology and electrophysiology techniques, Henry deciphered a choroid plexus-derived, extracellular matrix-mediated OTX2 signaling mechanism for cortical plasticity control. He also collaborated with investigators at Boston Children’s Hospital on translational research on traumatic brain injury and axon regeneration. Henry’s recent work has been focusing on neural mechanisms on gamma oscillations and critical period plasticity. Henry received his BSc and MPhil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and a PhD from University College London (UCL), where he studied phospho-regulation of KCC2 in the laboratory of Professor Stephen Moss.

Yuichi Makino
Research Associate, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
ymakino@fas.harvard.edu

Yuichi is interested in the developmental regulation of higher brain functions, such as emotion, learning, and memory. With a combination of behavioral experiments and electrophysiology in freely behaving animals, he is investigating the development of the network. Before joining the lab, he performed his PhD study in Neuroscience with Dr. Richard Huganir at Johns Hopkins University and postdoctoral research with Dr. Thomas McHugh at RIKEN.

Nathalie Picard
Postdoctoral Fellow, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Nathalie.Picard@childrens.harvard.edu

Nathalie Picard
Staff Scientist, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Nathalie.Picard@childrens.harvard.edu

Nathalie is interested in understanding the cellular mechanisms involved in cortical development in normal condition and in cognitive disorders and in translating this knowledge into better treatments for neurological disorders. She obtained a master in Biochemistry in the University of Denis Diderot (Paris, France) and her PhD in Neuroscience at the Medical School Amiens (France). During her PhD, she investigated the effects of prenatal drug exposure on neuronal network controlling the respiratory function to identify factors leading to respiratory disorders such as Sudden Infant Death.

Geoffrey Vargish
Postdoctoral Fellow, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Geoffrey.Vargish@childrens.harvard.edu

Geoffrey is interested in understanding the role of inhibitory circuitry in critical period plasticity. Using a multimodal approach, Geoffrey aims to explore presynaptic inputs to parvalbumin-expression interneurons, examining the maturation of these circuits and their contribution to cellular and network function. Geoffrey received a BS in Neurobiology from the University of Miami and an MPH from Drexel University before obtaining his PhD from Brown University, where he worked in the lab of Chris McBain at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of Brown-NIH graduate partnership program.

Rachel Woo
Research Assistant, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
RWoo@fas.harvard.edu

Rachel Woo
Research Assistant, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
RWoo@fas.harvard.edu

Rachel is interested in the role of critical period plasticity in development. Rachel obtained her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College where she worked with Professor Sharon Gobes studying the balance between excitation and inhibition in zebra finches.