We work to cultivate the next generation of X-linked Dystonia-Parkinsonism (XDP) research leaders with undergraduate research education, postdoctoral research fellowships and clinical research fellowships.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Katia E. Maalouf, PhD

Dr. Maalouf

Dr. Katia E. Maalouf is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Xandra Breakefield’s laboratory at Mass General and Harvard Medical School. She is currently studying the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in XDP. Dr. Maalouf obtained a PhD in Molecular Biochemistry from the Leibniz University of Hanover (LUH), Germany with emphasis in neurodegenerative diseases. She later joined the laboratory of Dr. Rose-Mary Boustany at the American University of Beirut (AUB) as a postdoctoral fellow. There she worked on testing the effect of various drugs on neurobehavioral and biochemical parameters in a mouse model of Batten’s disease.

Alan Mejia-Maza, PhD

Alan Mejia-Maza, PhD
Dr. Mejia-Maza

Dr. Alan Mejia-Maza is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Vanessa Wheeler´s laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on understanding the instability of the XDP hexameric repeat. Specifically, Dr. Mejia-Maza uses a range of genetic, molecular and bioinformatic analyses in patient samples and in patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) and neuronal models to identify factors that modify hexameric repeat instability in XDP.

Dr. Mejia-Maza obtained his PhD in Neuroscience from the Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London (UCL) under the supervision of Prof. Elizabeth Fisher. His work at UCL focused on mouse models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with special emphasis on neuromuscular junctions.

Ranee Zara B. Monsanto, MD

Dr. Monsanto

Ranee Zara B. Monsanto, MD, is a research fellow in Dr. Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili and Dr. Cristopher Bragg’s laboratories in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her research primarily focuses on investigating the role of neuroinflammation in the pathogenesis of X-linked Dystonia Parkinsonism.

Dr. Monsanto obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of Santo Tomas and Doctor of Medicine from Far Eastern University - Dr. Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation in the Philippines. She completed her medical internship training at the Philippine General Hospital before passing the Philippine Physician Licensure examination in 2016. She also finished her research internship in interdisciplinary neuroscience at Academia Sinica through the Taiwan International Graduate Program - International Internship Program (TIGP-IIP). Currently, Dr. Monsanto is a Master of Science in Molecular Medicine student at the St. Luke’s Medical Center - College of Medicine.

Ayumi Nishiyama, MD, PhD

Ayumi Nishiyama, MD, PhD
Dr. Nishiyama

Dr. Ayumi Nishiyama is a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Laurie Jean Ozelius at the Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. Her research primarily focuses on genetic analysis in neurological disorders and neurogenerative diseases, and she is currently working on identifying genes and understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying Dystonia and neurogenerative diseases. Dr. Nishiyama obtained a Doctor of Medicine from Akita University, Japan. After residency training in general internal medicine and Neurology at the Department of Neurology, Tohoku University Hospital, Japan, She started researching to identify novel genetic causes for neurogenerative diseases, particularly Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Dr. Nishiyama has developed genetic research skills at the Department of Medical Genetics, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Japan, and received her Ph.D. from Tohoku University Graduate School, Japan, in 2017. Then, She continued clinical practice and genetic research as a Neurologist. She is certified by the Japanese Board of Neurologists and a Fellow of the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine (FJSIM).

Charles Jourdan F. Reyes, PhD 

Dr. Reyes

Charles Jourdan F. Reyes, PhD is a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratories of Prof. Clotilde Lagier-Tourenne and Prof. Cristopher Bragg at the Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. He is currently investigating pathogenic mechanisms causing neuronal death in XDP and related neurodegenerative diseases. Charles graduated with a BS in Biology, Minor in History from the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Then, with the support of a research scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), he finished his Master of Medical Science, focusing on RNA Biology and Neuroscience, at Osaka University Medical School. He recently obtained his PhD in Biomedicine, specializing in neurogenetics, at the University of Lübeck in Northern Germany through a German Catholic Academic Exchange (KAAD) scholarship.

Miguel Israel Chavez Santoscoy, PhD

Dr. Santoscoy

Dr. Santoscoy is a postdoctoral fellow working in Dr. Casey Maguire laboratory at Mass General and Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on engineering AAV-vectors with the primary goal of enhancing transduction efficiency and selectivity in diverse central nervous system cell types, including those implicated in XDP disease.

Dr. Santoscoy recently published in Molecular Therapy Methods & Clinical Development journal, his work produced an AAV with increased transduction into the murine striatum and improved transduction specificity of cholinergic neurons. He was also recognized by the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) after receiving the Underrepresented Population Fellowship Award in Gene and Cell Therapy. 

Prior to his work in gene therapy, Dr. Santoscoy obtained his PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Iowa State University, where he improved the physiology of cell factories using rational metabolic engineering strategies.

Undergraduate Students

  • Ean Norenberg, Harvard University ‘24
  • Justin Han, Harvard University ‘24


  • William Hendriks, PhD
    Associate Director and Principal Scientist
    BlueRock Therapuetics
  • Jamal Al Ali, MD
    Resident Physician
    Department of Neurology
    The University of Chicago
  • Heather Wick, PhD
    Bioinformatician II
    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Marisela Dy-Hollins, MD
    Clinical Director, Pediatric Movement Disorders
    Instructor in Neurology
    Massachusetts General Hospital
    Harvard Medical School
  • Jan Kristoper P. de Guzman, MD
    Consultant, Neurologist & Movement Disorder Specialist
    Sunshine Care Foundation
  • Connie Cai
    MD Student
    Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Anne Cheng, MD
    Resident Physician
    Department of Pathology
    Stanford University
  • Christina Young Liu, MD
    Resident Physician
    Department of Surgery
    Massachusetts General Hospital
  • David Shin
    PhD Student
    University of California, San Francisco
  • Liam Power
    MD PhD student
    Tufts University
  • Dan Henderson
    Senior Research Associate
    CRISPR Therapuetics