Faculty

Suzanne  E.  Schindler, MD, PhD

Suzanne E. Schindler, MD, PhD

Fluid Biomarker Core Leader
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Neurology

Suzanne Schindler, MD, PhD, is a clinical neurologist and neuroscientist focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer disease. She completed the MD/PhD program at Washington University, where she studied the basic biology of apolipoprotein E (apoE) metabolism in the laboratory of David Holtzman, MD. Schindler then trained in clinical neurology at Washington University and completed a fellowship in dementia under the mentorship of Drs. John Morris, Marc Diamond and Anne Fagan. Currently Schindler sees patients with memory concerns in a weekly clinic, coordinates lumbar punctures for patients seen in the memory clinic and attends on the neurology consult service one month per year. She also performs detailed research assessments for the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center. She has been involved in multiple clinical trials, including the first prevention drug trial for Alzheimer disease. Schindler received a career development award from the National Institute on Aging to study cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of Alzheimer disease. She received a large R01 to evaluate the relationship between plasma biomarkers and symptomatic Alzheimer disease. She is very interested in translating research findings into clinical practice. Further, she has a particular focus on understanding and reducing disparities in healthcare.

Kellen Petersen, PhD

Kellen Petersen, PhD

Instructor in Neurology

Kellen Petersen, PhD joined the Fluid Biomarker Core Lab in March 2024 as an Instructor in the Department of Neurology at Washington University in St. Louis. He received a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. Following his doctoral work, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There he applied statistical models and machine learning approaches to understand the relationship between biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, cognition, and disease progression. He also has a worked on methods aimed at understanding AD heterogeneity as well as developing accurate diagnostic and prognostic tools for clinicians and researchers.

Personnel

Melissa Aldinger

Melissa Aldinger

Clinical Research Coordinator II

Melissa Aldinger joined the team as a Clinical Research Coordinator in September of 2023. As a coordinator, she contacts study participants, schedules lumbar punctures, and acts as liaison between the lab and the clinic. Melissa has previous experience working in oncology care coordination and finds the transition to research coordination just as rewarding.
Outside of work Melissa enjoys taking her dog to Forest Park, hiking, reading, and crafting.

Fatima Amtashar

Fatima Amtashar

Staff Scientist

Fatima Salah Amtashar joined the Fluid Biomarker Core in 2017 as a Research Technician focusing primarily on sample handling and processing for the Memory and Aging Project. Fatima received her BS in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from UMSL in 2017, where she spent 2 years working in AD research. After two years, she went on to complete her MS Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Drexel University and returned to Washington University in 2021, where she joined the Anesthesia Department studying GABA receptors in the Evers lab. In 2023, Fatima rejoined the Fluid Biomarker Core as a Staff Scientist. While not at work Fatima loves to regroup with her Iraqi roots by working on her Arabic calligraphy and learning to cook traditional meals. She is very involved in her local Islamic Community Center and is always in search of new hiking trails in the area.

Kristy Collins

Kristy Collins

Project Manager

Kristy Collins joined the Fluid Biomarker Core as a Project Manager in September 2022. She previously was an academic advisor at the Olin Business School from 2017 – 2022. She received her BS in Psychology from Missouri State University and her MA in School Counseling from Lindenwood University. Kristy is a St. Louis native and enjoys reading books, traveling, weight training, and spending time with her husband, two children, and her dog.

Sibonginkhosi Dlamini

Sibonginkhosi Dlamini

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Sibonginkhosi Dlamini joined the Fluid Biomarker Core in 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher and neuroscientist. She completed her PhD program in pediatric traumatic brain injury at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her objective in the lab is to develop and validate assays to evaluate candidate plasma and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers that predict risk for preclinical and symptomatic Alzheimer disease. Sibonginkhosi enjoys volunteering at her local church and is involved in several outreach programs. She loves playing sports, particularly boxing, spending time in her garden taking care of her plants and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Rachel Henson

Rachel Henson

Research Lab Manager

Rachel Henson joined the Fluid Biomarker Core in the spring of 2017 as a Senior Technician and now manages laboratory operations for the Knight ADRC Fluid Biomarker Core including the processing, storage, distribution, and analysis of plasma and CSF samples collected for projects in Memory and Aging. She received a BS in Biology from Webster University in 2010 and an MS in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University 2017 and has over ten years of core facility experience. Outside of the lab, Rachel loves to cook, learning new languages, and plays the keyboard in an 80’s cover band.

Bill Knight, MBA

Bill Knight, MBA

Senior Project Manager

Bill Knight joined the Fluid Biomarker Core in May of 2022. Previously he was a research assistant and lab manager for Dr. Jinbin Xu’s lab in the Radiology department from 2018-2022, as well as a research technician in Pharmacogenomics from 2017-2018. Bill Earned a BS in Biology and BA in Psychology from the University of Missouri – Columbia in 2013 and an MBA from Washington University’s Olin School of Business in 2021. Bill manages projects involving external collaborations, he also assists with the various administrative, financial, regulatory, and operational needs of the Fluid Biomarker Core. In his free time, Bill enjoys traveling with his wife Carlye, relaxing with his dog and cat, as well as practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Kensa Koeppen

Kensa Koeppen

Clinical Laboratory Assistant I

Kensa joined the Fluid Biomarker Core in June of 2023 and has enjoyed lending a helping hand with some projects in the lab. She has a strong passion for gerontology and has appreciated learning more about the intricacies of Alzheimer’s Disease research. Kensa graduated from Lindenwood with a BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology in December of 2023. Kensa is originally from Wisconsin and came to the Saint Louis area to compete for Lindenwood’s Varsity Collegiate Cycling Team, where she also served as team captain. Her hobbies include cycling and competing in Ironman Triathlons. She also volunteers with Girl Scouts and assists girls working towards their Gold Award.

Rajahnae Monger

Rajahnae Monger

Clinical Laboratory Assistant II

Rajahnae Monger joined the team as a Clinical Laboratory Assistant II in March of 2024. Her interests outside of the lab include art, music, food, traveling, and photography. She also loves to laugh, loves dogs and animals and is very family oriented.

Alexis Montgomery

Alexis Montgomery

Clinical Laboratory Assistant I

Alexis Montgomery joined the Fluid Biomarker Core as a Clinical Laboratory Assistant I in March of 2023. Alexis attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis and majored in Biology. Alexis has always had a strong passion for medicine as it runs in her family. She plans to attend Physician Assistant school and specialize in Emergency Medicine. When not in the lab, she likes to volunteer, travel with friends, watch true crime, listen to music, or read a book.

Benjamin Saef

Benjamin Saef

Statistical Data Analyst II

Benjamin Saef is a Statistical Data Analyst in support of various projects in the Fluid Biomarker Core. He joined the lab in summer of 2021 and currently performs data analysis, figure creation, and data handling related to late-onset sporadic Alzheimer disease biomarkers. He completed his MS in Biostatistics at Washington University’s School of Medicine (WUSM) in 2012 specializing in statistical genetics. He has since worked as a data analyst and bioinformatics specialist in support of many projects, both at WUSM and at the National Jewish Health hospital in Denver, which have investigated adiposity, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and upper-respiratory diseases. When not working Benjamin likes learning new languages, cooking, playing video games, reading and visiting botanic gardens.

Sushila Sathyan

Sushila Sathyan

Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

In her role as a senior clinical research coordinator, Sushi Sathyan is responsible for all aspects of lumbar puncture procedures for the Knight ADRC Memory and Aging Project (MAP) participants. She joined the Fluid Biomarker Core in September of 2005. She is passionate about working with study participants and is grateful to be contributing to this cutting-edge research for a future without Alzheimer’s and other dementia. When not working, Sushila loves to try new recipes, read, work out, make handmade cards for sick kids in hospitals, serve the under-privileged, and play with her grand dog Louie.

Jasmine Stewart

Jasmine Stewart

Senior Research Technician

Jasmine Stewart’s current role as a Senior Research Technician is rewarding and fulfilling; she assists the team with processing samples, pulling samples for projects and post doc requests, and also assists with assay testing and result documentation. She has previously worked in radiochemistry as a data analyst processing environmental samples for radioactivity and ensuring safe levels for sample collection. She also has six years’ worth of experience in toxicology processing and resulting specimen accessioning for the judicial system. She Washington University in January of 2022 where she worked in dermatopathology as a Clinical Support Specialist II. She transferred to Neurology as a part of the Fluid Biomarker Core team in March of 2023 where she continues to learn about Alzheimer disease and early detection. When not working Jasmine enjoys spending quality time with her son and family, listening to music, reading a good book, writing poetry, playing basketball and other sports, swimming, dancing, and traveling.

Katherine Volluz

Katherine Volluz

Senior Research Technician

Katie joined the Fluid Biomarker Core in the summer of 2018 and assists in sample management and analysis, assay development, and scientific writing. She graduated from Saint Louis University in 2020 with a BS in Biology. In addition to working part time in the lab, Katie is an editorial assistant at Acta Biomaterialia, where she helps to facilitate the peer review process. When not working, Katie volunteers for Washington University’s science communications network, InPrint, where she is an editor and the group’s secretary. While she hopes to continue her education in the future, she currently enjoys her free time, which she spends reading, writing or dancing around her bedroom to Celine Dion.

Founding leader of the Fluid Biomarker Core

Anne  Fagan, PhD

Anne Fagan, PhD

Professor of Neurology

Dr. Fagan completed her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of California – San Diego under the mentorship of Dr. Fred “Rusty” Gage where she studied glial cells and trophic factors in rodent models of neuronal injury and repair. Dr. Fagan joined Washington University as a Research Associate in the lab of Dr. David Holtzman in 1995 to study the role of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). In 1997 Dr. Fagan worked with Drs. Holtzman and Morris to initiate new and groundbreaking longitudinal studies to explore the potential of fluid biomarkers in preclinical AD pathology for older and middle-aged at-risk cohorts. In 2002 Dr. Fagan was promoted to Research Associate Professor of Neurology and Core leader of the Knight ADRC Fluid Biomarker Core, a position in which she served until her retirement. She performed some of the first studies demonstrating the relationships between fluid and imaging biomarkers of amyloid. She helped to establish that cognitively normal individuals with abnormal biomarker levels are at higher risk for dementia. Her investigations into the use of fluid biomarkers for preclinical AD populations helped establish the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network (DIAN) study in 2008. This groundbreaking global longitudinal study into Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease expanded into a trials unit in 2010 (DIAN-TU). Dr. Fagan was promoted to Research Professor of Neurology in 2011. Following the success of the DIAN and DIAN-TU studies, Dr. Fagan’s work in evaluating the use of fluid biomarkers in AD expanded into many other large longitudinal studies focused on the development of AD in different populations such as Down Syndrome (Alzheimer Biomarker Consortium-Down Syndrome [ABC-DS]) and early-onset AD (Longitudinal Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Study, [LEADS]). In 2019 Dr. Fagan was awarded with the Fellows award from the St. Louis Academy of Science. After more than 20 years on the faculty of the department of Neurology, Dr. Fagan retired from her position at Washington University School of Medicine in 2023. In recognition of her lifetime of leadership in Alzheimer’s Disease research, Dr. Fagan was awarded with the 2023 Khalid Iqbal Lifetime Achievement Award at the Alzheimer Association International Conference.