Faculty & Staff of Neuro-Oncology and Blood-Brain Barrier Program

Edward A. Neuwelt, MD

Edward A. Neuwelt, M.D.

Edward A. Neuwelt, MD is a Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. He divides his time between clinical work, primarily in the area of neuro-oncology including both operative neurosurgery and chemotherapy, and directing his research laboratory. 


Dr. Neuwelt attended Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois from 1965 –1968 and then received his MD, magna cum laude, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, Colorado in 1972. For his postgraduate training, Dr. Neuwelt did a surgical internship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas,Texas, 1972 –1973, followed by a Neurosurgical Residency at the same institution from 1973 –1978. During this time, Dr. Neuwelt also completed two neuro-oncology and neurosurgery research fellowships, first at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH) (1974 –1976) and then Queen Square Hospital in London, England (1976). While at the NIH, Dr. Neuwelt also completed his military duty as a Clinical Associate (Lt. Commander) in the United States Public Health Service, Neurosurgery and Enzymology Sections in Baltimore, Maryland (July, 1974 - July, 1976). Dr. Neuwelt is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and is a fully trained neuro-oncologist.

Faculty Appointments

In Texas, Dr. Neuwelt was Assistant Professor in both Surgery and Biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He was also Chief of the Neurosurgery Service at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, Texas from 1978 –1981. Dr. Neuwelt moved his laboratory to Portland Oregon in 1981, where he joined the faculty at Oregon Health & Science University, both in the Department of Neurology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He was Chief of the Neurosurgery Service at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon 1981 –1989, and he maintains an affiliation with the Portland VA Neurosurgery Service. Currently Dr. Neuwelt is a Professor in the departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery. He is a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program at OHSU, and also regularly teaches the neurology and neurosurgery house staff on topics related to brain tumors.

Activities and Organizations

Dr. Neuwelt is the principal investigator of two NIH R01 grants and one VA Merit Review grant (see Preclinical Research). He has been a regular member of the VA Merit Review Study Section on Neurobiology, and an NIH Study Section (NSP-A) that reviews program project and center grants. Dr. Neuwelt is a regular reviewer of neuroscience-related journals, including Neurosurgery, for which he was a member of the editorial board. He initiated and is director of ThinkFirst Oregon, a brain and spinal cord injury prevention program. He has eight approved patents, five of which have been licensed to Adherex, Inc. to investigate thiol agent chemoprotection. In collaboration with Dr. James Rosenbaum and Dr. Richard Rosenbaum, Dr. Neuwelt set up and directs a science class for high school students that introduces young people to laboratory research. With regard to the BBB Program, Dr. Neuwelt has overseen the expansion of the program to eight institutions across the US and internationally including Canada and Israel, as well as the annual Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) Consortium meeting funded by an R13 grant.


Prakash Ambady, MD

Dr. Ambady is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at OHSU. Working with Dr. Neuwelt and the BBBP since 2014, he provides patient care and is a co-investigator on multiple imaging studies and brain tumor clinical trials. His research focus is on immune modulatory therapies and validating imaging techniques for assessing response to therapies in brain tumors with emphasis on differentiating true progression from pseudoprogression. Dr. Ambady graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from Pondicherry University, Vinayaka Mission's Medical College in Karaikal, Pondicherry, India. He completed his Neurology Residency at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was a Chief Resident as well. He went on to finish a Clinical Fellowship in Neuro-Oncology at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, which included one year of training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Brain Cancer Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland. His work as a Neuro-Oncology Fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital focused on immunotherapy and the pattern of late relapses in primary central nervous system lymphoma. He is board certified in Neurology and certified in neuro-oncology by the United Council for Neurological Subspecialties (UCNS).


Leslie L. Muldoon, PhD, Director of Research Operations

Dr. Muldoon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology, with a joint appointment in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. She obtained a BS in Chemistry in 1982, and a PhD in Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences in 1986 from the University of Chicago, and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the OHSU Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy in 1990. She has led the BBBP Preclinical Laboratory since 1990. Dr. Muldoon has extensive background in tumor and cell biology, magnetic resonance imaging, and histological and immunological methods for assessing neurotoxicity and tumor volumetrics. She has played a central role in the analysis of chemoprotective agents against chemotherapy toxicity, and the development and imaging of brain tumor models. Dr. Muldoon directs all preclinical aspects of the program, including experimental protocol development, supervision of technicians and research fellows, and writing grant proposals and scientific manuscripts.


Nancy D. Doolittle, PhD, RN, Associate Director of Clinical Research

Dr. Doolittle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at OHSU. She obtained an MS in 1981, a PhD in 1990, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in 1991 in the Department of Physiological Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. She has been involved in the clinical care of neuroscience patients since 1974, and has been Associate Director of Clinical Research in the BBBP since 1995. Dr. Doolittle is the first author on several key publications for the BBB Program, including a multi-center assessment of BBB disruption chemotherapy, first evaluation of radiolabeled rituximab in primary CNS lymphoma, first large series report describing management and outcomes of patients with isolated brain relapse of systemic non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and the first clinical trial of sodium thiosulfate (STS) for hearing protection. Dr. Doolittle supervises clinical protocol implementation, including subject accrual, regulatory compliance, data management, analysis and reporting. She is the coordinator for the multi-site Blood-Brain Barrier Consortium. As such, Dr. Doolittle coordinates multi-site cooperative clinical trials as well as planning the annual Consortium clinical trials meeting in the fall and the international scientific BBB meeting in the spring.

Clinical Staff

Lauren Popp, MSN, RN, FNP-C

Lauren is a Family Nurse Practitioner with the Neurology-Oncology team at OHSU. She obtained her BS in Nursing in 2012 from the University of Evansville. She then worked as a registered nurse for six years in inpatient/outpatient oncology/hematology. Lauren obtained her MS in Nursing in 2018 from the University of Indianapolis and joined the BBBP in 2019. She is board-certified through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Lauren's role as a member of the patient care and treatment team includes diagnosing, treating, educating, and counseling patients.

Maria Turchan, RN, BSN, CNRN

Maria graduated from Arizona State University in 2009 with her BSN before moving to Florida to work at the Mayo Clinic on a neurosciences med/surg/PCU unit. She worked there for five years and obtained her certification as a neuroscience nurse (CNRN) before moving to Portland in 2015. She has been working for OHSU since then, starting out on the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit/Clinical and Translational Research Center before transferring to the Neuro-Oncology and Blood Brain Barrier Program in 2019. In her role as a clinical RN Coordinator, Maria provides nursing support to patients through addressing and triaging patient concerns, facilitating chemotherapy treatment including cycle management and lab review, and assisting with blood-brain barrier disruption therapy.

Julie Peterson, NCMA

Julie has been a Medical Assistant for 15 years and is currently working on her Bachelor's degree in Healthcare Administration and Management at Colorado State University – Global Campus. She has been working at OHSU as an MA for Neurology since 2017 and joined the BBB Program in December 2018. Her current role is to help support the providers and patients with MRI orders, lab orders, patient questions, and reviewing the beacon plans.

Verda Dew, MSW, LCSW

Verda received her BS in Psychology and her Master of Social Work degrees from Portland State University. She completed her Licensed Clinical Social Work License in 2012. She has worked for OHSU since 2009 as a Social Worker and Patient Advocate and joined the BBBP in November 2018. She provides supportive counseling, emotional and mental health support to patients and caregivers, referrals to resources for community based services, grief/loss support, transportation and lodging referrals, assistance with Advanced Directives and end-of-life issues, and information/referrals for financial and insurance concerns.

Stephanie Green

Stephanie has been with OHSU since 1993 and joined the BBBP in 2004 as a clinical trial patient coordinator. She schedules patient tests, consultations, admissions, and manages communication with insurance companies.

Julie Nanthathammiko

Julie joined the BBBP in October 2014 as the front office administrative assistant. She schedules and manages the outpatient clinic and provides general administrative support.  

Research Staff

Lisa Muir, MPA: HA, CCRP

Lisa has a BS in Molecular Biology from Portland State University and received her Master Degree in Public Health Administration in 2010. She is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional. Lisa has been with the BBBP for over 24 years, first as a laboratory technician and then for the past 16 years as the Program Administrator. She serves as grant, contract, and financial administrator for the NIH and VA grants and contracts that fund the BBBP preclinical and clinical research. She assists in development, submission and management of clinical research proposals. As a clinical study coordinator, Lisa assures adherence to protocols, assures compliance with IRB, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and FDA requirements, and monitors patients and patient tests for adverse events and outcomes.

Amy Huddleston, MPA: HA, CCRP

Amy has a BA in International Studies and Spanish and received her Master Degree in Public Health Administration from Portland State University in 2010. She is a Research Associate and a Certified Clinical Research Professional. Before completing her master's, Amy was the Patient Care Coordinator for 4 years. Since 2014, she has been the Clinical Manager as well as one of the Clinical Study Coordinators within the program. She assists in the development, submission and management of clinical research proposals, assures adherence to protocols, compliance with IRB, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and FDA requirements, and monitors patients and patient tests for adverse events and outcomes.

Claire Diaz, RN, BSN

Claire graduated from Southwestern Oregon Community College in 2005 with an Associates in Nursing degree and then graduated from OHSU in 2007 with a BSN degree. She moved to Portland in December of 2018 to work at OHSU as a Cancer Research Nurse in the BBB and Neuro-Oncology Program. In this role, she coordinates,communicates with, and monitors patients on chemotherapy and radiation therapy regimens, as well as monitors lab values, side effects, and toxicities. Additionally, she coordinates imaging needs and referrals, and triages patient calls regarding clinical concerns. Prior to coming to OHSU, Claire worked at North Bend Medical Center as an outpatient surgical and pediatric nurse and at Bay Area Hospital & Bay Area Cancer Center as a chemotherapy and radiation therapy nurse. 

Emily Youngers, BS

Emily has a BS in Biology from Portland State University and a Master Degree in Epidemiology from OHSU. She has been with the BBBP for over 10 years and is currently the program's Research Coordinator. Emily assists with various research projects, monitoring of clinical research studies, and data management.

Heather Leon

Heather has been at OHSU since 2004 and joined the BBBP in December 2015 as an Administrative Coordinator. She assists with various office duties, manages Dr. Neuwelt's extensive travel schedule, coordinates manuscript preparation and submissions, and leads the planning and development of the Annual Blood-Brain Barrier Consortium Meeting.

Riley Roth-Carter, BS

Riley received his BS in Biology from the University of Portland in 2018. He joined the BBBP that same year as a Research Assistant II. In this position, Riley assists with research projects, monitoring of clinical research studies, along with the development and management of the program's databases.

Jasmine Cox

Jasmine joined the BBBP in November 2017 as a Non-OHSU Student Worker. She is earning her BS degree in Health Sciences from Portland State University and will graduate in the Spring of 2019. Her responsibilities include inputting patient lab data, managing the BBB Repository Database, and helping with needed tasks around the office.

Preclinical Laboratory Personnel

DreeAnna Morris, BS

DreeAnna graduated from Portland State University with a BS in Chemistry. She first joined the Blood-Brain Barrier Program as a Research Assistant II in 2014. After a brief hiatus, DreeAnna rejoined the lab in 2017 as a Senior Research Assistant and lab manager. In her position with the lab she has managed cell culture, tissue sectioning and immunohistochemistry, and also oversees compliance, ordering, and training and mentoring of summer interns. Her current research includes in vitro studies of cell growth, protein expression and hypoxia as well as in vivo studies that focus on therapy for CNS lymphoma, medulloblastoma and brain metastases. She has also had the opportunity to train in many different imaging techniques with the OHSU Advanced Light Microscopy Core. DreeAnna has also taken on the position of Coordinator for the Partnership for Scientific Inquiry (PSI) high school science course. In this capacity, she develops the curriculum, recruits students, mentors and speakers, and helps to facilitate the day-to-day operation of the PSI class each spring.

Ying-Jen (Jeffrey) Wu, PhD

Dr. Wu has a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (1990) from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, and his MS (1994) and PhD (1999) from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. After Post-docs at Louisiana State University and OHSU Molecular Medicine, Dr. Wu joined the BBBP in 2003 as a Research Associate. He has expertise in Cellular and Molecular biology, pharmacology and pharmacodynamics, and tumor biology. His current research projects include chemo-enhancement with acetaminophen in vitro and in vivo, and localization of Q-dot labeled cells in leptomeningeal and hematogenous metastasis tumor models.

Michael A. Pagel, BA

Michael received a BA in biology from Kalamazoo College in 1975. He joined Dr. Neuwelt in his first laboratory in Dallas in 1979, and then moved to Oregon when Dr. Neuwelt established the OHSU BBBP in 1981. Michael is an expert in the osmotic BBB disruption technique and has used this technique to assess delivery of chemotherapy, antibodies, and nanoparticles to the brain in multiple animal models. His current projects include evaluating the impact of chemoprotective thiols on chemotherapy toxicity and efficacy, delivery of radiolabeled agents across the BBB in hematogenous brain metastasis models, and assessing the efficacy of novel monoclonal antibody-based therapeutics in multiple animal brain tumor models.

Jessica Bills, BS

Jessica graduated from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah in 2011 with a BS in Microbiology. She first joined OHSU in 2015 as a Research Assistant 1 working with the HIV vaccine research team, and then joined the BBBP team as a Research Assistant 2 in 2016. Jessica performs a wide range of research support activities including: cell culture, immunohistochemistry, in vitro assays and assisting with animal studies. She supports the graduate students in their studies and is a teacher's aide in the Partnership for Scientific Inquiry (PSI) high school science outreach program.

Samantha Holland, BS

Samantha graduated from PSU in June of 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in biology and a determination to begin a career in cancer research. In October of 2018, that goal was realized when she joined the Blood-Brain Barrier Program as a Research Assistant I. Samantha performs a wide range of research support activities such as immunohistochemistry, cell culture and in vitro assays and is responsible for the upkeep of much of the laboratory. She also assists with animal studies and is preparing to take on some of her own. Samantha also has a deep interest in microscopy and is currently training with the OHSU Advanced Light Microscopy Core in hopes of advancing her imaging abilities.

Preclinical Laboratory Graduate Students

Cymon Kersch, MS

Cymon is an MD/PhD student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology and then completed her MS at Texas A&M University in Entomology studying the mosquito species that transmit the pathogens for Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever. Cymon did a rotation with the OHSU BBBP in the summer of 2013 and came back to join the team in October 2014. Her current research focuses on understanding the dual role of adhesion and growth factor receptors in the ability of metastatic breast cancer cells to grow in the brain microenvironment.

Research Fellows

Csanad Varallyay, MD, PhD

Dr. Varallyay obtained his Medical Degree and PhD from Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. After 3 years of neuroimaging research with the BBBP, followed by 3 years of neuroradiology training in Wurzburg, Germany, Dr. Varallyay returned to Portland to join the radiology residency program while continuing clinical research with the BBBP. His expertise includes MR imaging of the CNS using ferumoxytol as a contrast agent.

Laszlo Szidonya, MD, PhD 

Dr. Szidonya joined the BBBP as a Research Instructor in 2016. His main interest involves the application of ferumoxytol in CNS imaging. Dr. Szidonya received his MD from Semmelweis University, Budapest in 2001. He studied the signaling characteristics of the AT1 angiotensin receptor, receiving his PhD in 2008. He started a residency in Radiology at Semmelweis University in 2007, completing his specialization in 2012. From 2009 to 2016, he had been working at the Heart and Vascular Center of Semmelweis University, focusing on neuroradiology.

Gerda Toth, MD

Dr. Toth finished her MD in 2005 at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary. She has a certification in general and vascular surgery. She worked as an assistant lecturer at Semmelweis University Heart and Vascular Center and started her PhD in 2014 in vascular research. Dr. Toth joined the BBBP in 2016, where her current research includes ferumoxytol-enhanced MR imaging in vascular diseases.

Radiation Oncologists

Jerry Jaboin, MD, PhD

Dr. Jaboin completed his medical and doctoral degrees through Howard University and the Graduate Program Partnerships of the National Cancer Institute. He subsequently trained as Holman Fellow in Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the Knight Cancer Institute early in 2016, he has worked as a physician-scientist at Washington University where he focused on the development and application of novel therapies to enhance the current standard therapies used to treat brain tumors.

Charlotte Kubicky, MD, PhD

Dr. Kubicky earned her MD and PhD degrees at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she studied the molecular pathways of tumorigenesis in gastrointestinal cancers. She completed a medical internship at the California Pacific Medical Center,followed by residency training at the University of California at San Francisco. In 2007, she joined the faculty at OHSU. Her clinical and research interests are in improving stereotactic radiosurgery techniques in treating brain and spine tumors and combining radiation with novel therapies.

Oregon Health & Science University, Department of Radiation Medicine
Phone: 503-494-8756