Zhang postdocs win $100,000 American Heart Association grants

The School of Medicine Report 5-11-2018

Two research fellows in John Zhang’s, MD, PhD, laboratory recently won American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship awards for nearly $100,000 over two years. Their research proposals were chosen from a field of more than 500 applicants.

Marcin Gamdzyk’s, PhD, research proposal was among the top 0.14 percent of all applicants in 2018. His research is centered around the pathophysiology of neonatal Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy – a brain damage condition caused by oxygen loss in infants. This type of injury often results in cerebral palsy, mental retardation and permanent neurological deficits. These consequences are mainly caused by death of neurons in the affected brain regions, as neurons are vulnerable to hypoxia. Gamdzyk identified that activation of PPAR-beta receptors have protective function, leading to inhibition of neuronal death and attenuation of brain damage in hypoxic-ischemic injury model. The funded project is focused on identifying novel mechanisms regulated by PPAR-beta receptor activation and in the future may help to develop successful treatments for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in the clinic.

Prativa Sherchan, PhD, who completed her doctoral studies at Loma Linda University in 2016 and received the award in 2017, ranked in the top 6.9 percent of applicants. Sherchan is focused on studying the pathophysiological changes that occur in the brain tissue following neurosurgical injury. Surgical brain injury occurs due to inadvertent injury to surrounding brain tissue when performing neurosurgical procedures. This can aggravate post-operative complications such as brain edema, cell death and neuroinflammation that consequently lead to poor neurological outcomes. Sherchan identified that a novel protein, Slit2 and its receptor roundabout, has protective function following neurosurgical injury. Slit2 is endogenously expressed in the brain and enhancing the effects of Slit2 improved outcomes in a surgical brain injury model. Sherchan’s research will provide new insights into therapeutic avenues to reduce neurosurgical complications.

Past News and Events



$1.7 million grant awarded to LLUSM for promising hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy treatment

Principal investigator John Zhang, MD, PhD, and PhD candidate Desislava Doycheva have discovered a treatment that has the potential to stop cell death in infants with hypoxia-induced brain injuries.

About four out of every 1,000 full-term births and 60 percent of premature infants suffer from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a serious brain injury that results from inadequate oxygen reaching the infant brain. Of these children, 40 to 60 percent will die or suffer from severe disabilities including retardation, epilepsy and cerebral palsy by the time they turn 2 years old.

It is a birth complication with no cure and few treatment options. But researchers in the School of Medicine have identified a promising new therapy that has the potential to stop the progression of brain cell death.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke through the NIH recently awarded John Zhang, MD, PhD, $1.7 million over five years to study whether overexpression of Bax-inhibitor 1 (BI-1) can interrupt the signals that lead to cell death. It is the first grant for the project.

“After hypoxia the cells begin to die, but they follow a sequence. We call it programmed death,” Zhang explained. “It’s like they are saying ‘I’m going to die today so I’ll get dressed and I’ll have a nice dinner and then I’ll die.’ There’s a process.”

“But in stroke or this neonatal brain, we don’t want them to die. If they die we begin to lose brain function,” he said. “So we want to interrupt this process of cell death to slow them down or prevent it entirely to retain some functions.”

PhD candidate Desislava Doycheva has spent the past two years studying just that. Doycheva hypothesized that hypoxia caused endoplasmic reticulum stress, which then led to inflammation and signaled to cells that it was time to die. She further hypothesized that overexpressing BI-1 would inhibit the endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced signals and slow or prevent apoptosis.

Using a virus vector, Doycheva introduced BI-1 to damaged brain cells in baby rats. She found that rats that received treatment had 20 percent less dead brain tissue than rats that did not receive treatment. The treated rats also displayed better learning, memory and motor skills four weeks after the brain injury than untreated rats.

“So after treatment the rats were able to recover better than without treatment,” she said.

Doycheva and Zhang said they were surprised the project was funded on its first grant proposal and believe that the novelty of the treatment played a role. No one has done an in vivo study testing the effects of BI-1 on endoplasmic reticulum stress and apoptosis.

“It was a total surprise to me,” Zhang said. “Now grants are so hard to get and usually you have to submit more than once. But no one has done this before for this population. It seems extremely promising.”

Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology Co-host International Vasospasm Conference

Drs. John Zhang (left), Warren Boling (middle) and Robert Martin (right) co-chaired the Vasospasm 2017 conference in Huntington Beach.

The Zhang Neuroscience Research Laboratory at LLU along with the Department of Anesthesiology, chaired by Robert Martin, MD, and the Department of Neurosurgery chaired by Warren Boling, MD, recently co-hosted a meeting entitled “The 14th International Conference on Acute Neurovascular Event After Subarachnoid Hemorrhage - Vasospasm 2017, Scientific Program.”

This meeting was attended by basic scientists and clinicians from 15 countries and had 175 attendees from around the world as well as clinicians in the fields of neurosurgery, neurology, critical care medicine, and anesthesiology.

John Zhang, MD, PhD, who directs the Center for Neuroscience Research at LLU, recently received a $1.7 million NIH grant to continue studying treatments for hydrocephalus resulting from a germinal matrix hemmorage.

Tang Receives NIH, AHA Awards August 24, 2017

The National Institutes of Health has awarded an R21 grant in the amount of $434,500 to support Loma Linda University’s research on "investigating the role of mast cells in neonatal germinal matrix hemorrhage."

The principal investigator is Jiping Tang, MD, professor of Physiology & Pharmacology in the Department of Basic Sciences.

Germinal matrix hemorrhage (GMH), bleeding in the brain, is a devastating disease affecting over 12,000 premature infants annually, resulting in hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy, leading to mental retardation and lifelong disabilities. GMH occurs in nearly half of low birth weight infants and significantly increases the risk of depressive and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Using a neonatal rat model of GMH, Dr. Tang, in collaboration with John H. Zhang, MD, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Neuroscience Research, will test whether stabilization of mast cells after GMH attenuate GMH-induced brain injury and improve mental and neurological functions.

The American Heart Association has also awarded Dr. Tang a grant in the amount of $154,000 to support Loma Linda University’s research on "ER-stress as a therapeutic target for neonatal hypoxia ischemia."

Neonatal hypoxia-ischemia (HI), which is caused by the lack of oxygen (hypoxia) and blood (ischemia) before, during, or after labor, results in brain damage and neurological deficits. HI is the major cause of acute mortality and chronic disability in newborns.

Also in collaboration with Dr. Zhang, Dr. Tang has found that inhibiting IRE1alpha (a protein that promotes cell damage upon its activation) prevented brain injury and improved behavioral outcome after HI in neonatal rats. This proposal will investigate the mechanism by which IRE1alpha inhibitor protects the neonatal brain from HI-induced injury. The long-term goal is to establish IRE1alpha inhibitors as a clinical therapy to prevent or treat neonatal HI-induced brain injury.

Dr. Yan Ding has been recently awarded with Innovator Award from Hydrocephalus Association to study post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) in neonates.

Dr. Yan Ding

Dr. Yan Ding has been recently awarded with Innovator Award from Hydrocephalus Association to study post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) in neonates. Preterm infants are susceptible to intraventricular hemorrhage which results from the rupture of thin vessels in the germinal matrix. Germinal matrix hemorrhage (GMH) occurs in approximately 3.5 per 1000 births and has a lot of severe life-long complications, of which PHH is a common one. Current clinical management for PHH involves surgical shunting but it can be problematic and costly. Dr. Ding’s research goal is to further elucidate the formation of PHH in the context of GMH and to seek pharmacological therapeutic targets. PHH is featured by the increased production or the decreased reabsorption of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the cerebroventricular system. In adults, CSF is mainly reabsorbed through the subarachnoid villi. However, subarachnoid villi are sparsely distributed and underdeveloped in infants. The exact mechanism remains largely unknown and researchers are speculating that the newly discovered glymphatic system might play a more important role in CSF drainage in infants. Dr. Ding’s research funded by this award is to first establish the important role of the glymphatic system in neonatal CSF reabsorption and identify how GMH impairs its function on the protein level. Dr. Ding’s previous research has made a connection between astrogliotic scarring around the ventricular area and the reduced CSF reabsorption. Thus, Dr. Ding will use an anti-scarring agent to reduce the scar tissue formation and restore CSF reabsorption through the glymphatic system in post-hemorrhagic neonates.


$1.72 million grant means LLU researcher has won 13 NIH grants in 12 years


To say that John Zhang, MD, PhD, is serious about preventing and treating hemorrhagic stroke is like saying ice cream tastes good on a hot summer day.

In the 12 years Zhang has been at Loma Linda University School of Medicine (LLUSM)—where he serves as professor of anesthesiology, neurosurgery and physiology, and director of the Center for Brain Hemorrhage Research—he has landed no less than 10 R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since he also secured a $6.3 million program project grant (PPG) from the NIH to establish the Center for Brain Hemorrhage Research at LLUSM in 2013 and served as co-investigator on one R01 and one R21 grant awarded to his wife, Jiping Tang, MD, professor of physiology at the school, the tally rises to 13 NIH grants in 12 years. [Read more...]

Three New Members Join the Zhang Lab

We extend our warmest welcome to our three new lab members from China who joined the Zhang Neuroscience Research Lab in May 2016. Dr. Tian Wang is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology from the Yan Tai University, Dr. Yang Xu is a Medical Doctor from the Zhejiang University and Tai Lu is an International Research Scholar from Soochow University. We wish them all the best with their research projects and publications.
Three New Members Join the Zhang Lab

Welcome Aboard

Drs. Zhengyang Lu, Weiwei Xu and Guangyong Wu

Drs. Zhengyang Lu, Weiwei Xu and Guangyong Wu joined the Zhang Lab in March 2016. Zhengyang Lu is an International Research Scholar from Soochow University. Dr. Weiwei Xu is Neurosurgeon from The First Affiliated Hospital of Jianan University and Dr. Guangyong Wu is Neurosurgeon from The Third Xiang-Ya Hospital. We look forward to their novel research accomplishments while at the Zhang Neuroscience Research Lab.

Zhang Lab Welcomes Three New Members

In January and February of 2016, the Zhang Lab welcomed three new Post Doc Fellows from China. Dr. Ningbo Xu is from the Southern Medical University in China. Dr. Yiting “Ashley” Zhang comes from Jinling Hospital, School of Medicine of Nanjing University and Dr. Lingyan Yu is visiting us from The Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University. We look forward to their important contributions to this lab.

Ningbo Ashley Lingyan

Best Wishes to Dr. Anatol Mananeko

Dr. Anatol Mananeko

Dr. Anatol Mananeko


On February 15, 2016, the Zhang Lab bid farewell to Dr. Antaol Manenko, as we enjoyed an ice cream social in his honor to celebrate his newly accepted position in Germany, where he will continue his research in neuroscience. We appreciate his many years of collaborative and translational research on stroke in the Zhang Neuroscience Research Laboratories and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

White Coat Ceremony

White Coat Ceremony Carmara Brothers

Brothers Justin and Richard Camara were cloaked in their white coats by Dr. John H. Zhang during the annual School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony held on February 12, 2016, thereby marking their entry into the Profession of Medicine.

Visit from Dr. Cesar Borlongan

Dr. Cesar Borlongan

Dr. Cesar Borlongan visited the Zhang Neuroscience Research lab on Thursday, February 11 and exchanged new and exciting ideas with staff and graduate students. Dr. Borlongan is a Distinguished Professor and Vice Chairman for Research in the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida College Of Medicine and is also the Director at the Center for Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. We were very fortunate to have him present a lecture entitled, “Sequestering Neuroinflammatory Cell Death in TBI and Stroke via Stem Cell Therapy”


Dr. Raymond F. Regan

We were happy to welcome to Dr. Raymond F. Regan, M.D., on December 11, 2015, as he visited Loma Linda University and met with faculty and students. Dr. Regan is a Professor of Emergency Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his presentation was entitled, “Targeting the Nrf2-Heme Oxygenase-1 Axis: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Hemorrhagic Stroke”. He spoke on the evidence for the protective efficacy of this approach after hemorrhagic stroke.

Raymond F Regan MD

Dr. Gregory Zipfel

Dr. Gregory J. Zipfel

On Thursday, December 10, 2015, Dr. John Zhang hosted Dr. Gregory Zipfel from the Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Zipfel is a Professor and Residency Program Director for the Department of Neurological Surgery, Department of Neurology and Co-Director of the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center. Dr. Zipfel visited the Zhang Neuroscience Research lab and shared many new and exciting ideas with graduate students and staff. Dr. Zipfel delivered a lecture entitled, “The promise of conditioning-based therapy for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage”. We would like to thank Dr. Zipfel for his commendable expertise on stroke research.

Justin Camara Receives AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship

Justin Camara, a graduate student in Dr. John Zhang’s lab, has received an AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship to research mechanisms of preconditioning in ischemic stroke. Through administration of pharmacological treatments that mildly stress the brain’s protective mechanisms, the brain may develop increased resistance to subsequent severe injury. Dr. Camara will be studying ways in which recombinant tissue plasminogen activator can be used to stimulate the brain’s endogenous protective mechanisms against stroke. This work will hopefully result in development of novel treatments that can be translated for protection of patients with high risk of stroke.

The fellowship provides a stipend for up to two years.

Zhang Laboratory Camara Justin

The Zhang Lab Welcomes Drs. Li, Gong, Xie, Wan and Shi from China

In November 2015, the Zhang Lab welcomed four new members from China. Dr. Qian Li is a Fellow Neurologist from the 5th People’s Hospital of Chongqing. Dr. Lei Gong is a Pharmacist from the Affiliated Hospital of Zunyi Medical University. Dr. Weifeng Wan is a Neurosurgeon from the Affiliated Hospital of Sichuan Medical University in Luzhou, Sichuan and Dr. Zongyi Xie is an Associate Professor and Master Student Adviser in the Department of Neurosurgery. Dr. Xie has worked in the Second Hospital, Chongqing Medical University in Chongqing for the past 16 years and is an Associate Director in the Department of Neurosurgery.

We are pleased they have chosen to come to the Zhang Neuroscience Research Lab. We look forward to their significant scientific contributions and participation in research projects investigating translational therapeutic options for stroke and cerebrovascular diseases.


$1.73 Million R01 Grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is awarded to John Zhang, MD, PhD

A $1.73 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was recently awarded to John Zhang, MD, PhD and his team of students, residents, and postdoctoral researchers, for their project entitled “Crotalus Snake Venom Preconditioning to Prevent Surgical Brain Injury”.

Surgery causes inevitable injury to the normal tissues. For neurosurgeons, this issue is more pronounced due to the fragile nature of brain tissue. This project addresses reducing intraoperative bleeding and post-surgery edema using an unconventional approach.  The grant proposal findings show that using small dosages of Crotalus snake venom may boost the endogenous protective response in an experimental neurosurgery procedure.  After 3 days of the subcutaneous Crotalus snake venom treatment, in an experimental neurosurgery model, the procedure proved much less bleeding and brain edema were observed after a fronto-lobectomy in rats.

Because millions of surgeries are done each year in this country, if intraoperative bleeding and post-surgery edema can be reduced, this may impact a patients’ recovery, reduce the hospital stay, and decrease the cost of national health care.

The researchers in the Dr. Zhang’s neuroscience laboratory that are involved in the initial planning, writing, and revising of this grant proposal are Miss Cherine Kim, a MD/PhD candidate, Dr. Tim Lekic, a resident in Neurology, Dr. Raval Ronak, a resident in Anesthesiology, and Dr. Devin McBride, a postdoctoral fellow.

Dr. Sergei Kirov visits the Lab

Dr. Sergei Kirov visited the Zhang Neuroscience Research Lab on Thursday, October 8, 2015 and met with faculty and students. Dr. Kirov is a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and the Director of the Human Brain Laboratory at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Florida. Later in the afternoon, Dr. Kirov gave a very intriguing seminar presentation to the Basic Sciences Department entitled, “Window into the Injured Brain: Live Imaging of Pathological Depolarizations and their Impact on the Integrity of Synaptic Circuitry”. This meeting resulted in an exchange of ideas and brought new perspectives and offered an in-depth insight.

Sergei Kirov

Brain Edema XVI

In September 2014, Drs. Richard Applegate and John Zhang from the Department of Anesthesiology of Loma Linda University Medical Center chaired the 16th International Conference on Brain Edema and Cellular Injury in Huntington Beach, CA. The meeting proceeding entitled “Brain Edema XVI: Translate Basic Science into Clinical Practice” was published in October 2015 by Springer in the Acta neurochirurgica Supplement 121.

Brain Edema Conference
Photos of Dr. Robert Martin, Chairman of Anesthesiology who gave the opening speech in the conference, and Drs. John Lenard, Applegate and Zhang in the meeting.  

Brain Edema Conference Group
A group photo showing some of the meeting participants. 

Dr. Zhang was elected as the President of the International Society of Brain Edema in the meeting.  The current Advisory Board for International Society for Brain Edema includes: Ross Bullock (USA), Zbigniew Czernicki (Poland), Yoichi Katayama (Japan), Oliver Kempski (Germany), Toshihiko Kuroiwa (Japan), David Mendelow (UK), Nikolaus Plesnila (Germany), Ruta Suzuki (Japan), Guohua Xi (USA) and John Zhang (USA). 


Conference Room

In September 2015, while attending the 13th International Conference on Neurovascular Events after Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH) - Vasospasm 2015 in Tokyo, Japan, the participants of the conference voted Dr. John H. Zhang as president of the 14th International Conference on Neurovascular Events after SAH and to bring the conference to Southern California in 2017.  The current Board of Directors of the International Society for Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Research includes: Jens Dreier (Germany), Javier Fandino (Switzerland), Kenji Kanamaru (Japan), R. Loch Macdonald (Canada), Hiroki Ohkuma (Japan), Nicklaus Plasnila (Germany), Richard Pluta (US), John Zhang (US), Mario Zuccarello (US).

The Zhang Lab Welcome Drs. Feng Yan and Ruiming Fan

Dr Feng Yan and Dr Ruiming Fan

Dr. Feng Yan joined the Zhang Lab in July 2015. Dr. Yan is a Fellow Neurosurgeon from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, School of Medicine in the Department of Neurosurgery in China. In September of 2015, Dr. Ruiming Fan also joined the Zhang Lab. Dr. Fan is a Chief Physician in the Cerebrovascular Department of the Affiliated Hospital of the Zunyi Medical University, China. We are happy to have them working with us and look forward to their significant scientific contributions.

John H. Zhang, MD, PhD, was awarded the Loma Linda Health Distinguished Investigator Award on May 27, 2015

Award for Dr. Zhang

Farewell Potluck for Qin Hu

On May 22, 2015, the Zhang Research Lab held a potluck in honor of Qin Hu who will return to China to begin the next chapter in her life. We thanked Qin for the valuable and important contributions made to the Zhang Lab. Everyone enjoyed the celebration as members showed off their fashion sense and donned their favorite hats.

Farewell Potluck for Qin Hu

White Coat Ceremony

Three of Dr. Zhang’s Neuroscience Research Center students, Derek Nowrangi, Desislava Doycheva and Brandon Dixon, were awarded their white coats at the annual School of Medicine Family Day for the Graduate Programs in Basic Sciences ceremony held on Friday, February 13, 2015. We congratulate Derek, Desislava and Brandon on achieving this important milestone in their education.

White Coat Ceremony 2015


Christmas Potluck 2014

The Center for Neuroscience Research celebrated the holiday season with a Christmas Potluck which was attended by over 40 participants. We welcomed our newest lab members: Zhanhui Feng, Wing Mann Ho, Li Ma, Yibo Ou, Anwen Shao, Xudan Shi, Lusha Tong, Gaiqing Wang, Ting Xu and Lan Ye. Everyone had a great time together enjoying each other’s company and feasting on the many delicious international dishes reflecting the diversity of the Zhang Lab . We look forward to a Happy New Year!

Potluck Christmas 2014

PPG Retreat

The first annual PPG Retreat was held in Temecula in December and provided a great opportunity for the PPG members to discuss and exchange information. The retreat also allowed members a chance to assess past accomplishments and review future endeavors and projects in the upcoming year.

PPG Retreat

Dr. Sunghee Cho

Dr. Sunghee Cho visited LLU

On Thursday, December 4, 2014 we were pleased and honored to have Dr. Sunghee Cho of Weill Cornell Medical College at Burke Medical Research Institute, New York, visit the Center for Neuroscience Research. Dr. Zhang hosted Dr. Cho who delivered an informative lecture on “Targeting Neuroinflammation in Ischemic Stroke: CD36 in Hyperlipidemia”. Dr. Cho spent the day visiting and engaging with faculty and staff and shared her insightful expertise on stroke research.

Professor Jeffrey F. Dunn visited LLU

On October 1, 2014, we welcomed Dr. Jeffrey F. Dunn at the Zhang Neuroscience Research Laboratory in Loma Linda University. Dr. Dunn, a professor in the Departments of Radiology, Physiology and Biophysics; Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Dr. Dunn met with faculty and students and delivered a lecture for the IBGS on Oxygenation and Hypoxia as Markers of Disease and Injury in Brain. We enjoyed his visit at Loma Linda University and wish him continuing success with his clinical work and research.

Summer Potluck 2014

At the end of July, Zhang Lab hosted a potluck to welcome new lab members and bid farewell to those leaving.  French students Julia Legrand, Loic Adam, Jean-Sebastien Louis, Guillaume Oudin, and Corentin Waker finished their internships.  Di Chen, Bo Li, and Yue He have neared completion of their studies and will be heading back to China to finish their papers.  Paul Krafft will be heading to New Mexico for clinical rotations.  We also welcomed Onat and Gokce Akyol, who are anesthesiologists from Turkey.  Mert Demirci and Miray Cimsit are visiting research students from Turkey.  Cheng Yin is a post-doc joining us from China.  Justin and Richard Camara are graduating medical students who enrolled in the PhD program and will be joining our lab.  To those leaving, we appreciate your hard-work and contributions to our lab and wish you the best on your future endeavours.  To those joining, welcome and we look forward to your accomplishments during your time with us.

Potluck Summer 2014

Spring 2014 BBQ and Farewell to William Rolland

Dr. Zhang and Dr. Tang hosted lab members to a BBQ at their home and everyone congratulated William Rolland for nearing the end of his PhD program.  William Rolland was instrumental in establishing our Germinal Matrix Hemorrhage model and his work played a key role in getting an R01 grant funded for continued GMH research.  William Rolland also contributed towards the PPG grant for establishing the Center for Brain Hemorrhge Research.  He managed the lab and trained many researchers over the years on performing stereotaxic rodent surgeries as well as other relevant lab techniques.  He will be missed, but we wish him the best on his next steps.  Meanwhile, the lab is expanding with new members and added lab space within Risley Hall as plans are put into motion to continue developmet of the Center for Brain Hemorrhage Research.

Zhang BBQ 2014


$7.7 Million NIH PPG Funded to Establish the Center for Brain Hemorrhage Research

The new center will focus on elucidating the neurophysiological mechanisms behind and potential novel therapeutic modalities for hemorragic stroke and traumatic brain injuries.  Dr. John Zhang and fellow collaborators, Drs. Jiping Tang, Jerome Badaut, Andre Obenaus, Richard Hartman, and William Pearce will lead the establishment and development of the first brain hemorrhage research center in the US.  Congratulations to this group and good luck on carrying out the center's aims!

LLUH researcher awarded $7.7 million grant from NIH

Dr. Cenk Ayata MD Visits the Lab

Dr. Cenk Ayata visited the lab on Thursday, November 21, 2013 and gave a very intriguing seminar presentation to the basic sciences department about the relationship between migraines, cortical spreading depression, and stroke.  Dr. Ayata is a neurologist and physician scientist, with positions as Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and as Assistant in Neurology and Neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital.  His contributions to the neurovascular research field include developing and integrating eloctrophysiological and multimodal optical imaging techniques to explore therapies enhancing perfusion and oxygenation in acute stroke, cortical spreading depression in migraines, and injury depolarization pathophysiology in stroke.  Thank you Dr. Ayata for your visit and we wish you the best in your future research efforts.

Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemia Grant Funded by the American Heart Association

Tim Lekic's grant on intranasal osteopontin administration in the neonatal hypoxic-ischemia model has been funded by the American Heart Association. Tim is one of the first few residents to win a national competition and be awarded an AHA grant. Congratulations to him and Desislava Doycheva, who worked extensively on the grant, for their success. We look forward to executing the aims in their proposed study.

Western Anesthesiology Residents Conference 2013

Congratulations to Tiffany Hadley MD and Ronak Raval MD, who won first and third place respectively at WARC 2013 for best oral presentation. Dr. Hadley's presentation was titled "Anti-neutrophil Antibody Enhances the Neuroprotective Effects of G-CSF by Decreasing Neutrophil Mobilization in Hypoxic Ischemic Neonatal Rat Model" and Dr. Raval's presentation was titled "Decreased surgical bleeding in Sprague Dawley rats pretreated with Crotalus atrox venom".

International Anesthesia Research Society 2013

Congratulations to Arthur Leitzke for winning the Society for Neuroscience in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Award at IARS 2013. His presentation was titled "Isoflurane Post-Treatment Ameliorates Germinal Matrix Hemorrhage-Induced Brain Injury by Activating the Sphingosine Kinase/AKT Pathway in Neonatal Rats".


SAH Grant

An NIH RO1 grant titled "Neurovascular Protection for Early Brain Injury after SAH" was submitted in fall of 2012 and recently received a funding score. Congratulations to Prativa Sherchan for her hard work and contributions to this grant! We are excited to continue our work and expand the fields knowledge in SAH injury.

Dr. Marc Simard MD PhD visits the lab

Dr. Marc Simard MD PhD, an accomplished neurosurgeon and clinical researcher from the University of Maryland, visited the lab on Thursday, March 14, 2013. He gave a very insightful seminar presentation titled "The Sur1-Trpm Channel in CNS Injury". The lab enjoyed spending the day with him and is grateful for the knowledge and expertise he shared with us from his work in stroke and traumatic brain injury. We wish him the best in his future studies at the University of Maryland.

Spring BBQ

On Sunday, March 17, 2013 Dr. Zhang and Dr. Tang opened their home to the lab and hosted a BBQ. We want to congratulate the current members for their hard work and contributions as well as welcome our new members from China, including Yan Peng, Yujie Chen, Yang Zhang, and Junjia Tang.


Christmas Luncheon

On Friday, December 14, 2012 the Zhang lab hosted a holiday luncheon. Lab members were given a gift in celebration of the holiday season. We also said good-bye to Sheng Chen, who will be returning to China at the end of December. We thank Sheng for his valuable contributions to the lab and congratulate him on his SAH research. We wish him the best in his future career pursuits. We also wish everyone a happy holidays!

GMH Grant

In March 2012, an RO1 NIH grant propsoal on collagenase-induced germinal matrix hemorrhage in neonatal rat pups was resubmitted, reviewed, and received a funding score. Funding for this exciting project will begin in February 2013. Congratulations to William Rolland, Paul Krafft, and Tim Lekic for their significant contributions. We are thrilled to continue the work which they have started and expand the field's knowledge on pre-term germinal matrix hemorrhage injury.

Zhang Lab Potluck

On 8/24/2012, we said good-bye to Dr. Mutsumi Fujii, who will return to Japan with his family. Dr. Fujii has completed his projects on SAH after working with us for over two years. We look forward to his future publications and wish him the best.

BBQ at Dr. Zhang and Dr. Tang's House

On 8/5/2012, Dr. Zhang and Dr. Tang hosted a BBQ for the lab at their beautiful home. Our lab's diversity was reflected in the variety of grill prepared meals contributed by our members. Everyone bonded and enjoyed themselves on this hot, summer afternoon, especially Dr. Zhang and Dr. Tang's dogs. Congratulations to our lab for their hard-work over the summer.

Congratulation Dr. M.S. Charles

Our best wishes to Melissa upon completing her PhD in Microbiology. On 5/27/2012 she presented the results of her projects to the committee in a defense who then accepted her for graduation after spending four years in our lab. Melissa will be completing her degree by starting Medical School. Good luck to her, and many more good news to come.

Dr. Alexander Vahmjanin joins us

We welcome Dr. Vahmajanin, an abdominal surgeon from Russia to Loma Linda University on 4/1/2012. Alexander is now starting his own study in a rat model of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. We wish him luck !

Zhang Lab Potluck

On January 20, 2012 we said good-bye to three members of Dr. Zhang’s Lab, Drs. Caner, Sun and Soejima. Our colleagues completed their projects and returned to their home countries, where they will continue with their work. We are looking forward to their future publications.

Dr. Ming's Visit

On March 28th, 2012 we welcomed Dr. Mingming Ning at Zhang’s Neuroscience Research Laboratory in Loma Linda University. Dr. Ning, an assistant professor in neurology at Harvard Medical School and Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital is well known for her research in brain ischemia and stroke.  Dr. Ning met with faculty and graduate students and also gave a seminar on Clinical Proteonomics, exploring neurovascular pathophysiology using a translational approach and discussing alternative treatments for stroke patients. We enjoyed her visit at Loma Linda University and wish her continuing success with her clinical work and research.

Welcome Loma Linda University Medical Students

Arthur Leitzke and Nicole Van Allen have joined our lab, they will be with us until June 2012.

Arthur joined us in December 2011. He is working in our lab for the Anesthesia Department under Dr. Applegate. His interests include the effects of Inhaled Volatile Gases in different animal stroke models. Nicole joined us in 2012. She will be assisting with various research projects and will be writing a review on inhaled volatile gases.

Here is a warm welcome on behalf of everyone in Zhangs' lab!

Zhang Lab Potluck

On December 13, 2011 the Zhang Lab organized a potluck in celebration of Rhonda Souvenir and Qingyi Ma's completion of their doctoral degree. Both of them graduated in 2011.

We bid farewell to Dr. Junhao Yan who is leaving our lab after successful completion of his project.

Our best wishes to all of them.

Dr. Dru Perera Joins us

Dru joined our research lab in 2012. She is a medical doctor from Sri-Lanka and is expected to be here with us for one year developing various experimental therapies. Here's a warm welcome on behalf of everyone in Zhangs' Lab!

Professor Jun Chen visited LLU

We welcomed Professor Jun Chen to Loma Linda University on January 25, 2012. Dr. Jun Chen is a professor of Neurology and Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in the molecular mechanisms associated with cerebral ischemia, and Parkinson’s disease. His work focuses on determining the role of apoptosis and mitochondrial dysfunction using various in vivo and in vitro disease models. Dr. Chen visited the Zhang Neuroscience research laboratory and met with stuffs and graduate students. We were very fortunate having him presented a lecture to Loma Linda faculty and graduate students on DNA repair and neuro-protection against ischemic neuronal injury.

Associate Professor Xiaoying Wang visited LLU

Faculty and students from LLU welcomed Associate Professor Xiaoying Wang from Harvard University on January 11, 2012.  Dr. Wang visited the Zhang Neuroscience Research Lab and changed new and exciting ideas with graduate students and staffs. On January 12, 2012, Dr. Wang delivered a lecture on Neuroprotection and Reperfusion, Targets for Stroke Therapy which was hosted by Professor John Zhang.  We would like to thank Dr. Wang for his commendable expertise and sharing his thought on stroke research.

Congratulations to Dr. Anatol Manaenko

Dr. Manaenko's collaborative and translational research grant entitled " Effect of endometrial regenerative cells on brain injury after intracerebral hemorrhage" has been funded. The grant award will support this innovative project for the duration of two years. We wish Dr. Manaenko good luck on his endeavors as we anticipate the results of the study.


Greetings Damon and Jerry

Damon Klebe a graduate from University of California, Berkeley joined the Zhang Neuroscience Research Lab in July 2011 as a research intern.

Jerry Flores, a student from University of California, Riverside joined in September 2011 as a research intern.

We are glad to have them on board.

Zhang Lab Potluck

On July 13, 2011 the Zhang Lab organized a potluck in celebration of Rhonda Souvenir and Qingyi Ma's completion of their doctoral degree. Both of them graduated in 2011.

We bid farewell to Dr. Junhao Yan who is leaving our lab after successful completion of his project.

Our best wishes to all of them.

Welcome Regina, John and Jack

We welcome Miss Regina Peters. Regina is a research student from the University of California (Riverside), she joined the Zhang's Neuroscience Laboratory in June 2011. She is interested in germinal matrix hemorrhage.

Jack Hou, a medical student form Copenhagen (Denmark), joined our lab in June 2011. His research interest is intracerebral hemorrhage.

Dr. John Yoon graduated from Loma Linda University medical school. He is interested in model of neonatal hypoxia/ischemia. John joined the lab in June 2011.

Research members joined the Zhang Lab

We extend our warm welcome to Drs. Wendy Woo and Esther Komanapalli who have joined our lab from the Department of Anesthesiology. They will both be conducting research on surgical brain injury. We wish them all the best with their research projects.

We welcome also Mrs. Desislava Met Doycheva, visiting research student from Trinity College (Dublin, UK)

Congratulation to Dr. Anatol Manaenko

Dr. Manaenko was promoted to Assistant Research Professor

Lab luncheon for departing Zhang lab members

The farewell lunch took place in June 2011 to cerebrate departing lab members including Dr. Kamil Duris, Dr. Jun Mu, Dr. Hank Chen, and Dr. Orhan Altay. Many thanks for your hard and productive work and best wishes to you all!

New Zhang lab members in the summer of 2011

Jack Hou, a student from Copenhagen, joined the Zhang Lab for neuroscience research training. Welcome aboard! Warm welcome is also in order for our new graduate students Regina Peters and John Yoon and for summer research students, Charles Mansell, Jessica Yook, Jerry Flores, Damon Klebe, and Aaron Campbell. Best of luck with your neuroscience projects!

Professor Xuejun Sun joined the Zhang Lab

Professor Xuejun Sun came to us from Shanghai in China. Professor Sun is a professor of Diving Medicine and he is also an adjunct Professor in physiology at LLU. Professor Sun published many papers on hyperbaric oxygen and hydrogen and we expect many contributions from him to this lab.

Good Luck Michel and Colleen

After successful completion of their projects, Drs. Michael Benggon and Colleen Pakkianathan have returned back to their clinical work. We are looking forward to their publications and wish them all the best.

The APC award goes to Dr. Nikan Khatibi

Dr. Nikan Khatibi won APC conference of 2011 with flying colors. He received the first place award and gave a brilliant talk before the prestigious audience. The paper he presented has been accepted for publication in Anesthesia and Analgesia.  Congratulations! All Zhang lab members savor Nikan's great accomplishment.


Zhang Lab welcomes Dr. Junhao Yan

Dr. Junhao Yan, an accomplished anatomist and neuroscientist from Beijing arrived at the Zhang Lab in December 2010. His major research field is SAH, with a special focus on the mechanisms of early brain injury and cerebral vasospasm. We certainly hope for great outcomes of Junhao’s research.

New students in the Zhang Lab

Melissa Charles and Cherine Kim are the newest additions to our graduate student body. Melissa started an interdisciplinary project dealing with hypothalamic– pituitary–adrenal axis and neuroprotection in the neonate. Cherine’s work is to test new curative agents for perioperative brain injury.  Hopefully, they will follow the steps of our very own Michael Burris who recently presented new fascinating results.

Research fellows joined the Zhang Lab

The Zhang Lab welcomes new anesthesia research fellows in the fall of 2010.  Dr. Colleen Pakkianathan is conducting studies of neuroprotection by anesthetic agents. Dr. Gary Shih is researching neuroprotectants for neonatal hypoxia-ischemia. We wish both of them a successful pursuit of research projects in the Zhang Lab.

Dr. Basak Caner, a neurosurgeon from Turkey, has been accepted to the Zhang Lab postdoctoral training program. She is going to study mechanisms of brain injury after subarachnoid hemorrhage and is also interested in tumor biology research.

Zhang Lab Potluck

On July 13, 2010 the Zhang Lab organized a potluck in celebration of the newly arrived & departing lab members. New students Johnathan Chou, Timothy Lee, and Mike Zaki have joined us for eight weeks of summer research. We were also welcoming Dr. Michael Benggon from LLU Anesthesiology Department who wants to do research on surgical brain injury. Welcome aboard!
All members of the Zhang lab were saying goodbyes to French students, Jerome Kammer and Frederic Spagnoli. They both have worked with us for a couple of months and made themselves quite popular around here. Congrats and many thanks for your hard work and dedication!

Drs. Paul Krafft and Jun Mu joined the Zhang Lab in the Spring/Summer of 2010

Paul Krafft is a medical doctor from Germany. His project's aim is to develop novel experimental therapies for intracerebral hemorrhage. Dr. Mu, a neurologist from China, joined us to study neurogenesis in the focal ischemic model of stroke. We are thrilled to have them work with us!

Welcome, Jerome and Frederic

It has become Zhang lab tradition to admit students from France in the summer. This year we are happy to have Jerome Kammer and Frederic Spagnoli from the University of Nancy. This renowned institution for higher learning is located in the city of Nancy, the Art Nouveau capital of France and home to Stanislas square. Both students will pursue their research interests in investigational drugs and medical bioengineering. We believe they will significantly contribute to the scientific output of our lab.

So Long Tim & Nancy

On May 7th, all lab members and our guest speaker, Dr. Carmichael from UCLA, joined Drs. Zhang and Tang in the conference room for a farewell party in honor of our wonderful students, Timothy Lekic and Nancy Fathali. They both will be graduating soon. Tim and Nancy received many words of appreciation and cordial wishes for their future endeavors.
Everybody at the party enjoyed delicious multinational food.

Dr. Nikan Khatibi receives 1st place trophy at WARC

Having completed his outstanding research in the Zhang Lab, Dr. Khatibi submitted an abstract on the experimental therapies of intracerebral hemorrhage to the Western Anesthesia Resident Conference.  He gave an oral presentation and was declared a winner of the conference. Congratulations, Nikan!

Welcome, Drs. Yoshiteru Soejima and Mutsumi Fujii

Two Japanese neurosurgeons joined our research staff. Dr. Yoshiteru Soejima from the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Fukuoka and Dr. Mutsumi Fujii from Tokyo Medical and Dental University joined the Zhang lab in April for two years of postdoctoral training. Dr. Soejima will study the role of cytokines in cerebral ischemia.  Dr. Fujii will pursue novel therapies of subarachnoid hemorrhage in the experimental setting. Good luck to both of you!


This year’s Annual Postgraduate Convention held at LLU honored Dr. Robert Ayer from Neurosurgery Department for his research carried out in the Zhang Lab. Dr. Ayer, who had conducted studies on surgical brain injury, received the first place award in the Research Fellow category.
Mr. Adriel Fajilan was granted Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuchein Student Research Fellowship to support his research on new neuroprotectants in neonatal hypoxia.
This calls for a celebration!

Farewell to Drs. Yu Hasegawa and Yilin Zhou

On March 12, 2010 Zhang lab members went for farewell lunch for departing post-doctoral fellows, Drs. Yu Hasegawa and Yilin Zhou. The event took place at BJ’s restaurant in San Bernardino. Both doctors have been productive and well liked by collaborators. During lunch, the doctors received many warm wishes for their future welfare.

Dr. Manaenko receives the Julian Hoff Award

The award, with a check for $1000, was handed to Dr. Anatol Manaenko at the Third International Conference on Intracerebral Hemorrhage in Palm Springs, California on March 9, 2010. His research presentation, which received this honor, was entitled “Geldanamycin Reduced Brain Injury in Mouse Model of Intracerebral Hemorrhage.”  It offered in-depth insight into neuroprotective mechanisms of geldanamycin in the treatment of hemorrhagic brain injury. Congrats from the whole Zhang Lab!

Dr. Hank Chen and Bin Huang joined Zhang Lab in January of 2010

Dr. Chen started his postdoctoral fellowship in neurosciences.  He is completing a study in post-treatment neuroprotection in surgical brain injury.  He is also pursuing his other research interests, which include cerebral angiopathies, neonatal hypoxia and neuroprotection using nano-medicines.

Bin is a graduate student from China who joined Dr. Zhang's lab to complete training in neuroscience research. He will study molecular mechanisms of ICH-induced brain injury.
We hope that their work will soon come to fruition!

Dr. Raj Ratan visited LLU

Dr. Raj Ratan of Cornell University, who is a renowned expert in the hypoxic signaling pathways, visited LLU and delivered a lecture for the IBGS on January 7, 2010. Dr. Ratan, hosted by Dr. Zhang, visited the Zhang Neuroscience Research Lab and met with students and faculty. This meeting resulted in an exchange of ideas and brought new perspectives for collaboration between the two research groups.