Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellowships

The Foundation established the Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellowships to expand on Leon Levy’s interest in neuroscience and the functioning of the brain to better to understand its impact on human behavior. The Foundation hopes to advance the careers of outstanding young neuroscientists as they pursue innovative risk taking research at select New York institutions.

Sara Abrahamsson, PhD, The Rockefeller University

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Dr. Abrahamsson earned her M.S. in Engineering Physics: Laser Physics and Quantum Optics, KTH from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering , USCF/UC Berkeley Graduate Program in Bioengineering. She was awarded a MBL Woods Hole, Whitman Summer Investigator Fellowship and a HHMI Janelia Farm Visiting Graduate Student Researcher. Dr. Abrahamsson holds a patent, Multi-Color Three Dimensional Imaging using Multi-Focus Microscopy. As a post-doctoral fellow at Rockefeller she will be working  on applying Multi-Focus Microscopy (MFM) for functional neuronal imaging to study animal behaviors (leaning and memory) and exploring other advanced 3D imaging approaches for increased contrast and resolution in live imaging.

Atheir Abbas, MD, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center

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Dr. Abbas earned his B.S. from Case Western Reserve where he graduated magna cum laude. While in the NIH-funded Medical Scientist Training Program at Case Western Reserve University he earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. At Case, his research interests focused on the role of serotonin receptors in cognitive processes, regulation of serotonin receptor function in the brain, and mechanisms of actions of serotonergic drugs.

Dr. Abbas is the author of a dozen publications in scientific journals including the Journal of Neuroscience, Neuron, Nature, Nucleic Acids Research, and Pyschopharmacology. His research projects included a report on the molecular underpinnings of serotonergic-glutamatergic crosstalk; and an article on a novel method for measuring post-transcripitional RNA editing of serotonin 5-HT2c receptors. He recently received the Ray A. and Robert L. Kroc award for outstanding research.


Mohsin Saeed Ahmed, MD, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Ahmed double majored in Biological Sciences and Chemistry at the College of Arts & Sciences at Cornell University. His Junior Year Abroad was at Cambridge University, Robinson College; the Program of Study was Natural Sciences Tripos Parts IB and Part II (Neuroscience). He received his M.D. and  PhD with Distinction in Neurobiology and Behavior from the Columbia University of Physicians & Surgeons.  He is a member of the Society of Neuroscience.  He is the recipient of the Titus Munson Coan Prize for “Best Essay in Biological Sciences”, Columbia University, Dean’s Day Research Award (Dr. Alfred P. Steiner Award) and the Columbia University MD/PhD Research Symposium Award. His PhD research, published in Neuron, was presented at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Meeting on Neural Circuits.


Victoria Blaho, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College

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Dr. Blaho earned  her B.S. in Biochemistry and her Ph. D in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Missouri. She is  currently an Instructor  in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Blaho was awarded the Keystone Symposium Scholarship, Bioactive Lipids: Biochemistry and Diseases, the Keystone Symposium Scholarship, Eicosandoids and Other Mediators of Chronic Inflammation and the Young Investigator Award in Inflammation, 10th International Conference on Bioactive Lipids in Cancer, Inflammation and Related Diseases. She was invited to make presentations at, among others, the 7th International Ceramide Conference and the Meeting of the New York Lipid and Vascular Biology  Research Club at Rockefeller University.


Argelinda Baroni, NYU Child & Adolescent Study Center


Dr. Baroni is a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at the NYU Child & Adolescent Study Center and a Sleep Medicine Fellow at New York University Langone Medical Center. She completed her training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center. She trained in General Psychiatry at New York Medical College. Dr. Baroni received her medical degree cum laude at University of Tor Vergata, in Rome, Italy, and completed her first residency program in Psychiatry cum laude at the same university. Dr. Baroni has received the Chief Residents’ Executive Leadership Award at the American Psychiatry Association meeting, the Award for Clinical Excellence from New York Medical College, and the International Medical Graduate Award at the Psychiatry American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training (AADPRT) meeting.

Eleanor Josephine Clowney, BS, PhD, The Rockefeller University

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Dr. Clowney earned her B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. from the Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. As a graduate student, Dr. Clowney studied the influence of genome organization on olfactory receptor gene regulation in the mouse, publishing first author papers in Cell and Genome Research and presented her work at the First Bay Area Chromatin Club Symposium.


Christopher Cselenyi, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center


Christopher Cselenyi earned his B.A. from the University of Miami with majors in English and Biochemistry. His thesis was on epic simile and developed biophysical methods to study an enzyme involved in DNA damage and repair. He earned his Ph.D. and M.D. degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Vanderbilt University. At Vanderbilt, Dr. Cselenyi won awards for “most outstanding Ph.D. training accomplishments” and “most progress in clinical psychiatry”. After his work with child and adolescent patients suffering from psychiatric diseases, he decided to devote his career to understanding neurodevelopmental origins of psychiatric diseases as a child psychiatrist and developmental neurobiologist.


Chang, Wei-li MD, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Chang earned her degree in Human Biology  with a Concentration in Neurobiology and Psychobiology from Stanford University. At Stanford she was also awarded an NIH Post-Baccalaureate intramural Research Training Award where she studied schizophrenia and related disorders in the NIMH Section on Integrative Neuroimaging. At the University of California San Diego she matriculated in to the MD/PHD program. Within the Neurosciences Graduate Program there she did her dissertation research on Dopamine D3 Regulation of Sensorimotor Gating. Dr. Chang also managed the psychiatry clinic at the UCSD Student Run Free Clinic and served as the UCSD Chapter President of the American Medical Student Association.

Daniel Eskenazi, MD, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Eskenazi obtained his BS in Animal Physiology and Neurosciences from the University of California, San Diego, and matriculated at the University of Washington Medical Scientist Training Program for his MD/PhD. His dissertation research addressed the role of serotonin six receptors and striatal circuitry in habitual behaviors, with relevance for substance abuse, obsessive compulsive disorder, and Tourette syndrome. He has been an instructor and teaching assistant for numerous courses and contributed work to the AAMC’s MedEd portal. Dr. Eskenazi has written several papers and presented at national and international conferences including the Society for Neuroscience, International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, and Cold Spring Harbor Asia.

G. Sean Escola, MD, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Escola received his BA in Biochemistry, MS in Computer Science, MD, and PhD from Columbia University Medical Center. His thesis research, which was awarded with distinction, is in theoretical neuroscience, a field that employs mathematical and computational techniques applied to problems in neuroscience. Specifically, he worked on two primary projects for his thesis: 1) statistical models for dynamically tuned neural ensembles, and 2) a framework for temporal computations. During his graduate studies he also participated in research projects at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at the University College, London, and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Dr. Escola also has experience teaching, including as an instructor in the Department of Computer Science during his Master’s program and as a physics instructor in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at Columbia University. Among his awards are the Student Success Network Outstanding Teacher Award and the Medical Scientist Training Program.


Daniel Landay Kimmel, Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Kimmel graduated with honors from Oberlin College with a BA and double majors in Neuroscience and Biology. He matriculated in the MD/PhD program at Stanford University. His thesis, was entitled “Neural basis of valued -based decision making. He has written and presented extensively at international meetings

Wanhe Li, PhD, The Rockefeller University

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Dr. Li earned her B .S. in Biological Sciences from Nankai University, China and her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Stony Brook University. She held a Graduate Student Post at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and was a Research Assistant at the College of Life Sciences, Nankai University. Among her honors and awards are the Kevin King/John Miller Travel Scholarship Award, the Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Prize, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory In-House Symposium XX and the University Scholarship, Stony Brook University. She is a member  of the International Behavioral and Neural Genetics Society, Society for Neuroscience and the Genetics Society of America. Dr. Li has delivered several talks and presented posters in the US and abroad.

Caryn Ratcliff Hale, PhD, The Rockefeller University

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 Dr. Hale earned her BA in Liberal Arts from the Louisiana Scholar’s College and her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Georgia. Her dissertation was the identification and characterization of RNA-protein complexes involved in a novel RNA-based prokaryotic immune system. She will be a post-doctoral Research Associate at Rockefeller working on investigating dysregulation of RNA binding proteins in neurological disorders.  Dr. Hale has been a member of RNA Society since 2008  and is a co-inventor on a patent involving Cmr-guided cleavage of desired target RNAs.

Lee Lovejoy, MD, PhD., Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Lovejoy earned a BS and an MS from Tulane University, School of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering. He also holds a PhD from the University of California, San Diego, Graduate Program in Neurosciences and an MD from the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. Dr. Lovejoy is currently a Resident, Department of Psychiatry, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia Campus. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the Vision Science Society. He has reviewed papers for the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Vision, Neural Computation and Journal of Experimental Psychology.  Among his many honors, he has been an Aginsky Scholar, an Institute for Neural Computation Predoctoral Fellow and won a Merck Fellowship.

Makoto Ishii, MD, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Ishii has a BSE in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, an MD in Medicine from Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and earned a PhD in Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller University. He is a member of the New York Academy of Science, the American Academy of Neurology, the Endocrine Society and the Japanese Medical Society of America. In 2011 he was awarded the Distinguished Housestaff Award from the Department of Neurology, Cornell University. In 2012 he was awarded the Resident Teaching Award, Department of Neurology, Cornell University and a Junior Academic Neurologist Scholarship from the American Neurological Association. Dr. Ishii lectured, “Neuroradiology Basics” to the nursing staff at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center and has been Teaching Attending, Weill Medical College, and Neurology Clerkship for medical students.

Sean X. Luo, MD, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Luo received a BA, with honors, in Physics and a BS in mathematics from the University of Chicago. His PhD in Computational Neuroscience is from the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience and Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University. He received his MD from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University in May, 2010 and is presently a resident in the Department of Psychiatry, NYSPI, Columbia University Medical Center. He is a member of the Society of Neuroscience and the American Physician Scientist Association. He has had research experience both at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical College and the Department of Neurology, Section of Pediatric Neurology, University of Chicago. He has been invited to speak at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Conference. Dr. Luo has published many research articles. Among his awards are a NIH MSTP Grant and a UCLA Neuroengineering Fellowship.

Anli Liu, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center


Dr. Liu, is an Assistant Professor in the department of Neurology where she studies epilepsy and the impact of sleep on memory. She received her BA from Stanford University in Human Biology, her MA from the University of California, Berkeley in Cognition and Education and her MD from the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her internship and residency at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University followed by Fellowships in Clinical Neurophysiology and Cognitive Neurology at Harvard Medical School.  Among her honors and awards, she was a recipient of the Lila Wallis Women’s  Health Research Prize, the AAN/AES/EF Susan Spencer clinical research Training Fellowship and the American Epilepsy Foundation Clinical Research Fellowship.  Dr. Liu is a member of the American Epilepsy Society, the  American Association of Neurology and the Society of Neuroscience.


Bradley Miller, MD, PhD, Columiba University Medical Center


Dr. Miller earned his BS summa cum laude in Neural Sciences from New York University where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa. As an undergraduate he studied the mechanisms of short term synaptic plasticity and won the Sherrington Award for the best undergraduate neuroscience research. He earned his M.D., Ph.D. degrees from Washington University in Saint Louis. His doctoral research was on the molecular mechanisms of axonal degeneration and was published in Nature Neuroscience.  Dr. Miller has been awarded the O’Leary Prize for outstanding research in neuroscience.


Lakshman Kumar Puli, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Puli earned a BPharm  from the St. Peters Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kakatiya University, India, his MPharm from  K.L.E.S College of Pharmacy, Belgaam, India and his PhD from the A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.  Among his honors, he was awarded the Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher (FP6) Fellowship sponsored by EU for three years, a North Savo Cultural Foundation Grant and the Alexanteri Mikkosen Foundation Grant. He received the best oral presentation award at DPMM Winter school symposium in 2011 at Thako, Finland. Data from his studies have been published and were podium presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Paris (2011).



Peter R. Oxley, PhD, The Rockefeller University


Dr. Oxley received his BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics and his PhD from the University of Sydney University. He was also a first year biology Teaching Fellow at the University. Among his awards was the Postgraduate Excellence Award, Sydney University and the Genetics Society Australasia Student Presentation. He has written articles for several publications including Evolution, Molecular Ecology and the Journal of Heredity. Among several others, Dr. Oxely given presentations at the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Copenhagen, the International Union for the Study of Social Insects Australian Section, Brisbane.

Stephen V. Shepherd, PhD, The Rockefeller University


Dr. Shepherd earned his B.S., Biology (Computational & Neural Systems) at Caltech and his Ph.D., Neurobiology from Duke Unversity. He was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. He is a member of the Society for Social Neuroscience, the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Among his honors, was a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in the S.Shimojo Lab at Caltech and the Mardi Gras Scholarship, Morgan Hill Mardi Gras. He was a Guest Lecturer,”Diversity of Brains”, Princeton and will be a Guest Lecturer, “Biology Seminar”, Long Island University. He has been published in numerous journals including the Journal of Neuroscience and Current Biology. Dr. Shepherd is the editor of “The Handbook of Evolutionary Neuroscience” to be published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Lucas L. Sjulson, MD, PhD NYU Langone Medical Center


Dr. Sjulson is an Assistant Research Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Physiology at NYU where he studies addiction. He received his BA in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University and his PhD in Neuroscience and MD from Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He completed  his residency in Psychiatry and his postdoctoral research in Neuroscience at the New York University School of Medicine. He is a member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Sjulson was awarded both the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Research Fellowship and the Katherine Beineke  Foundation Fellowship. He has been the recipient of the NYU Physician Scientist and NYU KL2 Scholars Program Awards.


Louisa Juliane Steinberg, MD, PhD,Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Steinberg graduated with honors from Vassar College with a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior and her MD/PhD at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Department of Neuroscience. During her PhD, Dr. Steinberg studied neural coding and signal processing in the brain stem. She has presented many posters and published several papers, including two first author of papers published in The Journal of Neuroscience. While at Einstein she president of the student chapter of Physicians for Human Rights.

Nicholas Stavropoulos, PhD, NYU Langone Medical Center

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Dr. Stavropoulos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology at NYU where he studies the genetics involved in the regulation of sleep. He received his AB summa cum laude from Harvard University in Biochemical Sciences and his PHD from Harvard Medical School in Genetics. Dr. Stavropoulos did his postdoctoral research in the Laboratory of Genetics at Rockefeller University.  Among his awards and honors, Dr. Stavropoulos has been the recipient of the Whitehall Foundation Award, the winner of the Blavatnik Award from the NY Academy of Sciences and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.



Vikram Vijayan, PhD, The Rockefeller University

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Dr. Vijayan earned his B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering with Minors in Engineering Biology, Applications of Computing  from Princeton  University and his PhD,in Systems Biology  from Harvard University. He joined Rockefeller University in 2012 as a Postdoctoral Associate, Laboratory of Integrative Brain Function. Among his academic honors and awards, he has been  a National Science Foundation Graduate  Research Fellow and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Research Fellow. Dr. Vijayan has been published in journals including Journal of BacteriologyProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  and Nature.