People

Carmo Pereira de Costa
Maria do Carmo Costa, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Carmo is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. Using biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, high-throughput small-molecule and genetic screens, mouse models, and human pluripotent cells, the Costa Lab focuses its research on drug and target discovery for MJD/SCA3 and on studying molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration.

Carmo earned her “licenciatura” degree in Biochemistry from the University of Porto (2000), and her Ph.D. in Life and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Minho (2008) in Portugal mentored by Dr. Patrícia Maciel. She then conducted a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Paulson at the University of Michigan (2008-2012). Carmo joined the faculty of the Department of Neurology at the University of Michigan in 2013.

She started her research career in 1998 working with Dr. Maciel and Dr. Sequeiros at UnIGENe/IBMC, University of Porto and, since then, she has been contributing to a better understanding of the genetics and pathogenesis of MJD/SCA3 and other neurological disorders, the function of the ATXN3 protein, and to the development of both genetic and pharmacological therapies for this fatal disease.

Annie
Anna J. Barget, BSc.
Research Lab Technician Associate 

Anna earned her BSc. in Biomolecular Sciences with a minor in Medical Anthropology from the University of Michigan in 2017, and joined the Costa Lab in June 2018. While Anna plays a pivotal role in the majority of projects in the Lab, she’s mainly interested in identifying molecular pathways that modulate ATXN3 protein stability, and in exploring the therapeutic efficacy of aripiprazole for MJD/SCA3.

Maddie2
Madison Salvato
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Madison joined the Costa lab in October 2018 as a freshman at the University of Michigan for her Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) project during the Fall & Winter semesters of 2018/2019. She has been working in the lab since then as a research assistant investigating the therapeutic efficacy of aripiprazole in MJD/SCA3. Madison plans to conduct her honors thesis in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience in the Costa lab over the Fall & Winter semesters of 2021/2022.

Sara

Sara Trumza
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sara joined the Costa lab in October 2019 as a freshman/junior at the University of Michigan to develop her UROP project during the Fall & Winter semesters of 2019/2020. Sara plans to conduct her honors thesis in Neuroscience in the Costa lab over the Fall & Winter semesters of 2021/2022.

Ana2
Ana Ferreira, MSc
Ph.D. candidate, University of Azores

Ana is a Ph.D. student at the University of Azores, Portugal, mentored by Dr. Manuela Lima and Dr. Carmo Costa. She earned her “licenciatura” degree in Biology (2007) from the University of Madeira and her MSc. in Biomedical Sciences (2012)  from the University of Azores. She visited the Costa Lab over the Summer of 2018 to conduct part of her thesis work in identifying peripheral blood transcriptional biomarkers for MJD/SCA3. Ana plans to conclude her Ph.D dissertation in 2021.

Jody

Jody Chou, BSc.

Jody joined the Costa lab in the Summer of 2015 as an undergraduate research assistant and conducted her Honor thesis in Neuroscience in the Fall & Winter semesters of 2015/2016 investigating the cell vulnerability to mutant ATXN3-mediated toxicity in MJD/SCA3 mouse models. She earned her BSc. in Neuroscience, a minor in Music, and a minor in Science, Technology and Society from the University of Michigan in 2016, started Medical School at Wayne State University in 2017, and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at Harvard University (2020/2021). Jody continues collaborating with the Costa Lab since Spring 2018 in studies related to her Honors thesis project.

Alumni

Haiyang
Haiyang Luo, M.D., Ph.D.

Haiyang joined the Costa lab in January 2019 as a Ph.D. student in the Neurology Graduate Program at Zhengzhou University in China. He earned his Medicine degree at Zhengzhou University in 2016. He investigated the role of native and mutant ATXN3 in regulating different poly-ubiquitin species. He received his Ph.D. degree in the Summer of 2020 and returned to Zhengzhou to join the Department of Neurology at the first affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University.

TOULIS
Vasileios Toulis, MSc, Ph.D.

Vasilis joined the Costa lab in 2016 and in 2017 (for 7 months in total) to conduct part of his Ph.D. thesis work to defining the function and dysfunction of ATXN3 in retina. He earned a BSc. in Biology in 2011 from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and a MSc. in Genetics and Genomics (2013) and a Ph.D. in Human Molecular Genetics (2020) from the University of Barcelona, Spain. He is currently pursuing his interest in investigating retinal disorders as a postdoctoral fellow at the University College London – Institute of Ophthalmology.

Michelle
Michelle Hoang

Michelle joined the Costa lab in October 2017 as an undergraduate research assistant for her UROP project during the Fall & Winter semesters of 2017/2018. She continued working as a research assistant investigating the therapeutic efficacy of aripiprazole in MJD/SCA3, and identifying novel compounds that regulate levels of ATXN3 in cell models. Michelle left the Costa Lab to conduct a co-op internship at DuPont Pharmaceuticals in the second half of 2020. She plans to earn her BSc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan in April 2021 and will then join Dupont Pharmaceuticals.

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Aidan H. Snell, BSc.

Aidan joined the Costa lab in October 2017 as an undergraduate research assistant for his UROP project during the Fall & Winter semesters of 2017/2018. He continued working as a research assistant in the lab and later conducted his Honors thesis in Neuroscience investigating the therapeutic efficacy of aripiprazole in MJD/SCA3 (January 2020). Aidan earned his BSc. degree in Neuroscience in April 2020 and he is now a research associate at the Moffitt Cancer Center while applying to the Medical school.

Emily 2
Emily D. Shaw, MSc.

Emily joined the Costa lab in January 2017 as an undergraduate research assistant. She earned a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering in May 2019, and a Master degree in Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine from the University of Michigan in December 2019. Emily participated in several projects in the Costa lab investigating small-molecules and genes that modulate levels of mutant ATXN3, and identifying biomarkers of MJD/SCA3. In February 2020, Emily started working at Abbott as a Biomedical Engineer.

Ben

Abednego Saah

Abednego joined the Costa lab to conduct his UROP’s Summer Community College Fellowship during the Summer of 2019. Abednego is currently pursuing his BSc. degree at the University of Michigan.

Cade

Cade Cantu

Cade joined the Costa lab in October 2018 as a freshman at the University of Michigan for his UROP project during the Fall & Winter semesters of 2018/2019 investigating the therapeutic efficacy of aripiprazole for MJD/SCA3. He is now pursuing his BSc. degree at the University at Michigan.

Naila 2017

Naila Ashraf, MSc.

Naila played an essential role in the Costa Lab since its inception. She started working as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Costa in 2008, when Dr. Costa started her postdoctoral fellowship, and continued working in the lab as a research assistant after graduating in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan (2010). She left the lab in 2011 to earn a MSc. in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University in 2012. She rejoined the Costa lab in the Summer of 2013 as a research lab specialist working in all the lab projects until January 2018. In Spring 2020, Naila started a Physician Assistant program at Butler University.

Zebedee

Zebedee Miller

Zebedee joined the Costa lab in October 2017 as an undergraduate research assistant to conduct his UROP project during the Fall & Winter semesters of 2017/2018 investigating the therapeutic efficacy of aripiprazole for MJD/SCA3. He expects to earn his BSc. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Michigan in April 2021, and he is currently applying for Ph.D. graduate programs.

Anshul Puli

Anshul joined the lab as an undergraduate research assistant in the Summer 2016. He is now pursuing his BSc. degree at the University of Michigan.

Maria

Maria Radzwion, M.D.

Maria joined the Costa lab as an undergraduate research assistant for the Fall & winter semesters of 2015/2016 investigating the correlation of cerebellar neurochemicals (measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy) with pathology in MJD/SCA3 mouse models. She earned a BSc. in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience and a minor in Spanish from the University of Michigan in 2016, an M.D. degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2020, and is currently a Resident Physician in Psychiatry at Wayne State University.

Gabriel Soares Guerra, MSc.

Gabriel joined the Costa lab and the Ivanova lab for the Summer of 2015 as a fellow of the “Brazil Scientific Mobility Program” to investigate the efficacy of selected compounds to modulate ATXN3 amyloid-like fibril formation in vitro. Gabriel earned a BSc in Biotechnology from the University Federal of Alfenas -MG, a MSc. degree from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, and is currently an early stage researcher at CICbioGUNE Institute, a member of Basque Research & Technology alliance.

Sveta

Svetlana Fischer, MSc.

Svetlana worked in the lab as a Research Lab Specialist for five years (2010-2015). She participated in several projects of the lab investigating the preclinical therapeutic efficacy of a viral-delivered microRNA targeting ATXN3 in SCA3 transgenic mice, and identifying small-molecules that modulate the abundance of ATXN3 in SCA3 cellular and mouse models. Svetlana is a Research Lab Specialist & Lab manager at the Paulson lab.

David Cook, BSc.

David joined the Costa lab (May 2014 – May 2015) as an undergraduate research assistant and participated in studies identifying aripiprazole as a modulator of levels of mutant ATXN3 oligomeric species in SCA3 mice. He earned a BSc. in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2015.

Dylan Begun, BSc.

Dylan joined the lab (September 2012 – August 2013) as an undergraduate research assistant investigating small-molecules that regulate levels of mutant ATXN3. He earned a BSc degree in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2015 and is now a student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Yemen

Yemen Yang, Pharm.D.

Yemen joined the lab as an undergraduate research assistant in June 2012. She earned her BSc. in Biomolecular Sciences and Psychology from the University of Michigan in April 2013, and continued working as a research assistant in the lab until August 2014. Yemen participated in several projects in the Costa lab investigating small-molecules and genes that modulate levels of mutant ATXN3. She received her Pharm.D. from the University of Michigan in 2018, conducted her PGY-1 residency at the VA Boston Healthcare System (2018-2019), where she is now a Clinical Pharmacist since May 2020.

emily Schapka

Emily Schapka, M.D.

Emily joined the lab in the Summer 2012 as an undergraduate research assistant and participated in studies identifying small-molecules that modulate the abundance of ATXN3 in SCA3 cell models until July 2013. She earned a BSc. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2013, an M.D. from the University of Illinois in 2017 and she is currently a Resident Physician in Pediatrics at the Children’s hospital of Richmond at VCU.

rahil

Rahil Dharia, M.D.

Rahil started working with Dr. Costa when she was a post-doctoral fellow in the Fall of 2011 as a Junior undergraduate research assistant investigating the preclinical efficacy of a viral-delivered microRNA targeting ATXN3 in SCA3 transgenic mice, and identifying small-molecules that modulate the abundance of ATXN3 in SCA3 cell models until he graduated in May 2013. He earned a BSc. in Biopsychology, Cognition and neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2013, an M.D. from Wayne State University in 2017, and he is currently a Resident Physician in Dermatology at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System since 2018.

Stephen

Stephen Philip, M.D., MSc.

Stephen worked with Dr. Costa when she was a postdoctoral fellow as a research assistant in the Winter & Spring 2012 semesters identifying small-molecules that modulate mutant ATXN3 abundance. He earned a BSc. (2011), a MSc. in Clinical Research, Cardiology outcomes, and Pacemaker reuse (2016) and a M.D. (2017) from the University of Michigan, and he is a Resident Physician in Internal Medicine at the UT Southwestern medical center since 2017.

Luke
Lucas Fishman, M.D.

Lucas worked with Dr. Costa when she was a postdoctoral fellow (Summer 2011- fall 2012) as an undergraduate research assistant evaluating the preclinical efficacy of a viral-delivered microRNA targeting ATXN3 in SCA3 transgenic mice. He received a BSc. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2013, a M.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 2018, and he is a Resident Physician in Internal Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center since 2018.

Michelle Ouyang

Michelle Ouyang, M.D.

Michelle started working as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Costa in 2008, when Dr. Costa was a postdoctoral fellow, until graduating with a BSc. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2011. Michelle participated in studies investigating the preclinical efficacy of a viral-delivered microRNA targeting ATXN3 in SCA3 transgenic mice, and identifying small-molecules that modulate the abundance of ATXN3 in SCA3 cell models. Michelle earned a M.D. from Wayne State University in 2015, and completed in 2020 the Residency in Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Iowa Health Care, where is currently pursuing a Body Imaging Fellowship.

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