Current

Ben Sachs, Principal Investigator.  Dr. Sachs first got involved in research in Dr. James Cherry’s Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology & Behavior at Boston University, where he majored in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Psychology. He then joined the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at the University of California-San Diego where he joined Dr. Katerina Akassoglou’s lab in the Department of Pharmacology. After completing his dissertation describing a novel signaling pathway downstream of the p75 neurotrophin receptor, he joined Marc Caron’s laboratory in the— Department of Cell Biology  at Duke University where he first began performing research related to mental health – investigating the consequences of brain serotonin deficiency. Dr. Sachs came to Villanova in 2015 and started his lab here in 2016. When not demonstrating gross violations of laboratory safety guidelines to his children, Dr. Sachs enjoy spending time with his wife, two daughters, dog, and African Grey parrot.

 

James Dzera CBN’18. Research assistant extraordinaire. James graduated from Villanova as a CBN major in 2018, but he is staying on in the lab to continue gaining research experience. He has been performing binge drinking experiments and gene expression analyses aimed at understanding the mechanisms through which stress increases binge drinking.

 

Graduate Students

Melinda Karth – Graduate Research Assistant. Melinda is performing her Master’s thesis in the lab. For her project, she is investigating the effects of brain serotonin deficiency on binge eating.

 

 

Michelle Karth – Graduate Research Assistant. Michelle is performing her Master’s thesis in the lab. For her project she is evaluating the effects of chronic consumption of a high fat diet on anxiety- and depression- like behaviors in wildtype and serotonin-deficient mice.

 

 

 Olivia Best, Olivia is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Psychology and received a summer research grant to conduct studies in my lab in the summer of 2018. She is interested in treatment-resistant depression, particularly in adolescents or “young adults” with history of trauma or early life stress. In the lab, she has been using mouse models to evaluate the efficacy of potential pharmacological interventions to reverse the effects of early life stress.

 

Stephen Gironda, Stephen is performing his Master’s Thesis work in the lab. His project involves looking into the effects of environmental enrichment on preventing the development of anxiety- and depression-like behavior and binge drinking following a history of early life stress.

 

 

 

Undergraduates

Gianna Perez. CBN ’19. Gianna started working in the lab in 2016 and has been involved in several projects, mostly examining the effects of drugs of abuse and serotonin deficiency on gene expression in the mouse brain. After she graduates, she plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

 

Grace Chen. CBN ’19. Grace has been working in the lab since the beginning of 2017. She has been performing primarily molecular biology experiments, including RNA isolations and real-time PCR, for a number of projects in the lab. She plans to attend medical school upon graduation.

 

Sabrina Nguyen. CBN ’19. Sabrina has been working in the lab since 2017. She has been involved in both behavioral and molecular experiments, primarily RNA extractions, real-time PCR, and drinking-in-the dark studies. She plans to attend medical school after she graduates.

 

Luke Sabal. CBN ’19. Luke has been working in the lab since the summer of 2017. He has been performing a range of experiments, but he is currently focusing on the effects of alcohol on depression- and anxiety-like behavior.

 

 

Julia Ferrante. CBN ’20. Julia started working in the lab in the fall of 2017. She has been performing primarily behavioral studies to examine the effects of stress on anxiety- and depression-like behaviors.

 

 

 

Tyler Gray, CBN ’20. Tyler started working in the lab in the fall of 2017. She has been performing primarily behavioral studies to examine the effects of stress on anxiety- and depression-like behaviors.

 

Leah Waltrip, CBN ’20.

 

 

 

Elisabeth Dimitratos, CBN ’21. Elisabeth started in the lab her first year on campus (Spring of 2018) through the Villanova Match Program for First Year Students . She has been studying the effects of stress on binge drinking behavior and gene expression. She will be presenting some of her results at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego this fall.