Women in Neurosciences Committee

Lisa Gunaydin, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Dr. Gunaydin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at UCSF. Dr. Gunaydin’s laboratory studies how the prefrontal cortex regulates subcortical brain areas involved in emotional behavior. Her research is focused on understanding neural circuit mechanisms underlying avoidance behaviors and how they go awry in anxiety disorders, with the goal of eventually leading to novel and more targeted treatment approaches. Dr. Gunaydin received her BA in Biology from Swarthmore College and her PhD in Neuroscience from Stanford University, where she developed and applied a variety of novel optogenetic techniques to dissect neural circuitry underlying complex mammalian behaviors. She completed postdoctoral training at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and joined UCSF as a faculty member in May 2016. She is a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, Neuroscience Graduate Program, and Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience. Dr. Gunaydin has published her work in prestigious journals such as Cell, Nature, and Nature Neuroscience. In 2017 she was named a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator and recipient of the UCSF Weill Neurosciences Innovation Award. In 2018 Dr. Gunaydin received the Excellence in Didactic Teaching Award from the UCSF Psychiatry Residency Program.



Lily Jan, PhD

Professor, Department of Physiology

Dr. Jan is a Professor in the Department of Physiology at UCSF. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and has received numerous accolades including Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America Presidential Award, Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience, Wiley Prize in Biomedical Reseaarch, a Gruber Neuroscience Prize, and a Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science. Lily’s lab is interested in the basic mechanisms of neuronal signaling involving ion channels. Starting with molecular identification of the founding members of potassium channel families and the calcium-activated chloride channel family, they then proceed to learn how these ion channels work and what they do in neurons at specific brain regions. These studies are outlined in an iBiology talk. Lily earned her undergraduate degree in Physics from National Taiwan University before pursuing a PhD in Biology at California Institute of Technology. She completed subsequent postdoctoral research at both Caltech and Harvard Medical School before joining the Physiology Department and Neuroscience program at UCSF.




Nerissa Ko, MD, MAS

Professor, Department of Neurology

Dr. Ko is a Professor of Neurology, Vice Chair for Diversity in the Department of Neurology, and the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation Endowed Professor of Neurocritical Care. She completed her neurology residency and fellowship training at UCSF, and currently serves as the Associate Director of the UCSF Neurovascular Service, the Medical Director of the Adult Neurointensive Care Units, and the Director of the Neurocritical Care Fellowship Program. With her clinical training and experience as a neurointensivist and vascular neurologist combined with her background in clinical research and genetic epidemiology methods, Dr. Ko has had a successful longitudinal clinical research program in subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and brain aneurysms for over a decade. She is board certified in Vascular Neurology and Neurocritical Care, with a Master’s in Advanced Studies in Clinical Research from the UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. With funding support from the NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the American Heart Association, Dr. Ko has been the PI for a longitudinal outcome study of SAH patients, a quantitative cerebral blood flow study in cerebral vasospasm, and an aneurysm genetics study. She has also served as a co-Investigator on numerous clinical trials, and most recently the NorCal Regional Coordinating Center of the NIH Stroke Trials Network. She is currently the study neurologist for the UCSF Brain Arteriovenous Malformation (bAVM) study and co-director of the UCSF Center of Excellence for Cerebral Cavernous Malformations (CCM). Our goal is to use rigorous clinical research methodologies to integrate physiologic, radiographic, genetic and biomarker information to improve our understanding of acute and chronic neurological injury in patients with complex vascular diseases of the brain. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial to refining our current risk assessment tools and to identifying better targets for intervention that will ultimately improve patient outcomes in the neurointensive care unit and beyond.



Susanna Rosi, PhD

Professor, Departments of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science and Neurological Surgery

Dr. Rosi is a Professor in the Departments of Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science and Neurological Surgery and the Director of Neurocognitive Research in the Brain and Spinal Injury Center. Originally from Tuscany, Dr. Rosi earned her undergraduate degree and PhD in Biology from the University of Florence, Italy. She trained in the Neural System Memory and Aging center at the University of Arizona before becoming a Faculty Member of UCSF. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms responsible for the loss of cognitive functions observed after different insults to the brain. She demonstrated the key role that neuroinflammation plays in the development of cognitive deficits and she identified therapeutic strategies able to both prevent and restore lost cognition. She serves as PI on NIA, NINDS, NCI and NASA funded grants, she is a standing member of the Molecular Neurogenetic study section at the National Institutes of Health and Associate Editor for Journal of Neuroinflammation. She received the Bridging the Gap Award from the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, the Innovation Award from the Weill Institute for Neurosciences and most recently she was the recipient of the the International Award Simply Woman.




Lauren Weiss, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Institute for Human Genetics

Dr. Weiss is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Institute for Human Genetics at UCSF. The long-term goal of the Weiss lab is to understand the genetic architecture of autism. The current goals are two-fold. First, understanding complex genetic mechanisms by which autism spectrum disorder (ASD) susceptibility genes may act, including identification of gene-by-environment, gene-by-sex, and gene-by-gene interaction. Second, to leverage known genetic risk factors through analytical and experimental models to dissect genetic mechanisms and identify potential diagnostic, treatment, or prevention strategies. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generated from patient samples with major risk factors are used as an experimental model to functionally test genetic hypotheses and move towards prevention and treatment. Dr. Weiss received her BS in Human Genetics from the University of Michigan and her PhD in Human Genetics from The University of Chicago, where she studied quantitative traits related to ASD in a founder population and began studying gene-by-sex interaction. She completed postdoctoral training at Harvard and the Broad Institute in Psychiatric Genetics, where she performed the first GWAS of ASD and identified the 16p11.2 copy number variant as a strong risk factor for ASD. She received an NIH New Innovator Award shortly after joining the faculty of UCSF in 2008. In 2016 she earned The Chancellor's Award for the Advancement of Women.




Kristine Yaffe, MD

Professor & Vice Chair, Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology

Dr. Yaffe is a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Epidemiology, the Roy and Marie Scola Endowed Chair and Vice Chair of Research in Psychiatry at UCSF. Dr. Yaffe is dually trained in neurology and psychiatry and completed postdoctoral training in epidemiology and geriatric psychiatry, all at UCSF. In addition to her positions at UCSF, Dr. Yaffe is the Chief of Neuropsychiatry and the Director of the Memory Evaluation Clinic at the San Francisco Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. In her research, clinical work, and mentoring, she has worked towards improving the care of patients with cognitive disorders and other geriatric neuropsychiatric conditions. Dr. Yaffe's research focuses on the epidemiology of dementia, cognitive aging, and brain health, with an emphasis on prevention and modifiable risk factors. She is the principal investigator of more than a dozen grants from the NIH, Department of Defense, and several foundations. Dr. Yaffe served as the Co-Chair of the United States’ Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Cognitive Aging which released a report in 2015 entitled, “Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action”, and she is a member of the Beeson Scientific Advisory Board and the California Governor’s Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force. With over 500 peer-reviewed articles (H-index=134; recognized by Clarivate Analytics as one of the most highly cited researchers in her field), Dr. Yaffe has received several awards for her groundbreaking work, including the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s Distinguished Scientist Award and the American Academy of Neurology’s Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer’s Research. Most recently, Dr. Yaffe was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.