Catalyst for a Cure: Meet the New Team of Investigators

The Catalyst for a Cure Initiative to Prevent and Cure Neurodegeneration.

The Melza M. and Frank Theodore Barr Catalyst for a Cure Initiative to Prevent and Cure Neurodegeneration will support creative collaboration by a team of four diversely talented young investigators.

Trailblazers, pioneers, superstars in their chosen fields — all demonstrate creativity, a track record for innovative impact, a talent for collaboration, and a deep love of science.

They are:

Sandro Da Mesquita, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Meningeal Lymphatics and Neurological Disorders Lab
Mayo Clinic

Dr. Da Mesquita’s unique expertise is in the field of central nervous system blood vessel biology, which has implications for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Milica Margeta, MD, PhD
Physician and Surgeon
Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
Harvard Medical School

Dr. Margeta is a glaucoma surgeon and a leader in the biology of microglia (immune cells of the brain and spinal cord) and in neuroinflammation.

Karthik Shekhar, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Faculty Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
Member, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
University of California Berkeley

A leader in computational biology, Dr. Shekhar has played a key role in collaborations that span neuroscience, immunology, single cell genomics, genetics, and machine learning, with a focus on visual systems.

Humsa Venkatesh, PhD
Assistant Professor, Program in Neuroscience
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Dr. Venkatesh’s discoveries have shaped the emerging field of cancer neuroscience, illuminating the nervous system’s role in disease progression.

Consortium members will start their work together by identifying promising avenues of investigation. The team will work together for an initial period of three years, guided by a group of expert scientific advisors.

“The Neurodegeneration Initiative is one of the most exciting projects I’ve been involved with,” says Adriana Di Polo, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Montreal, who is an award-winning neuroscientist, glaucoma pioneer, and scientific advisor for the new consortium. “It’s an unprecedented step forward — not just tackling glaucoma, but seeking cures for all neurodegenerative diseases.”


Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Sandro Da Mesquita, PhD, Milica Margeta, MD, PhD, Karthik Shekhar, PhD, and Humsa Venkatesh, PhD. Photos by Jay Watson.

Posted August 24, 2022