Liang Ma, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Department of Pharmacology at UT Health San Antonio, earned his PhD degree in Human Genetics from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in the laboratory of Dr. Yong-Gang Yao. As a graduate student, Dr. Ma’s research focused on identifying genomic variants associated with increased schizophrenia risk using a large independent homogenous Han Chinese cohort. He evaluated Han Chinese GWASs, CREB1 signal pathways, and a mitochondria gene.

He performed his postdoctoral work at the Lieber Institute at Johns Hopkins medical campus under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Weinberger and Dr. Joel Kleinman, where he identified SNX19 by incorporating multi-omics data generated from 495 postmortem brains. Then, he moved to Stanford University in the laboratory of Dr. Sundari Chetty, where he determined CYP2D6.

Luis Aguirre, MS, is a research assistant focusing on brain omics data analysis at the Ma lab. He received his master’s degree in Bioinformatics and his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso. His master projects revolve around advancing our understanding of rotifer phylogeny, where he developed a Python pipeline to automate the genome assembly process and developed a GenBank sequence retriever tool that facilitates rotifer phylogeny studies.

Bria Moore, MS is a graduate student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), Neuroscience doctoral program. She received her master’s degree in Neuroscience and bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Neurobiology Concentration, both from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). While attending UTSA, she also concurrently served as an active-duty Combat Medic in the United States Army for five years. During her time as a combat medic, she worked in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, where she provided emergency medical treatment and performed minor surgeries and invasive procedures.

Her master’s project focused on how neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex and auditory cortex (AC) form representations of context, that facilitate navigation and memory encoding in fear generalization and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During her master’s research, she found that silencing principal cells in the AC during early memory recall affected discrimination of safe and fearful sounds, without affecting posterior memory discrimination at remote time points. Her research also alluded to the fact that the AC plays a vital role in not just complex tones, but simple tones as well. More recently, she investigated whether changes in oxidative stress and redox status in the mitochondria and/or cytosol attenuate neurodegeneration, aging, and age-related pathology, using unique animal models with altered levels of various antioxidant enzymes, such as thioredoxin transgenic/knockout mice and Cu/ZnSOD transgenic rats at the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.

She is very excited to join Dr. Ma’s lab so that she can develop a stronger understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms and neurogenetics that play a role in both neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Coupled with her years of direct patient care and prior neuroscience research and knowledge, she feels that the research in Dr. Ma’s lab will broaden her level of expertise greatly and aid her in her future career goal of pursuing Neurolaw.

Felix Borrego is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in Biology with a minor in Computer Science. Mr. Borrego is excited to be part of Dr. Ma’s lab where he will have the opportunity to apply his skills and delve into neuroscience research. With an emerging interest in bioinformatics, he is passionate about the fusion of biology and technology. He is eager to use this research experience to broaden his horizons and explore how the integration of bioinformatics and neuroscience can unlock new possibilities to prepare him for future challenges he may encounter in his professional journey.


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