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Research Team

2018 lab

Members of the Donahue lab and collaborators in December of 2018

Congratulations to 2018 Donahue Lab Distinguished Service Award Recipients: Chelsea Lee, Niral Patel, Rachelle Crescenzi, Meher Juttukonda, Kalen Petersen, and Spencer Waddle. 

Manus Donahue, PhD


Dr. Manus Donahue

Manus J. Donahue, PhD, graduated from Duke University (BS; Physics; BA: Philosophy) and earned a PhD in Biophysics from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Neurology at The University of Oxford, he joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2009 and in 2010 he moved to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. At Vanderbilt, he currently has appointments in the departments of Neurology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Radiology and Radiological Sciences, and Physics and Astronomy and is a member of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

His work is focused on using new imaging and computational approaches to characterize tissue function in health and disease. These approaches are sensitive to physiological parameters such as cerebral blood flow, cerebral blood volume, pH, oxygen extraction fraction and the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen, parameters that may adjust prior to symptom expression and irreversible tissue damage in many diseases. Over the past six years, he has been the Principal Investigator of four NIH-funded clinical trials in which these approaches are applied in patients with atherosclerotic cerebrovascular disease, moyamoya disease and syndrome, and lymphatic disorders.

He also directs The Center for Vascular and Physiological Imaging (CVPI), a facility located on the ground floor of the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS). The CVPI is a resource for investigators seeking to perform controlled measurements of vascular reactivity and quantitative physiology by using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods in conjunction with innovative vascular and neuronal stimuli.

He is a member of the FDA-established Brain panel to determine endpoints in clinical trials of patients with sickle cell disease, ad hoc member of several NIH study sections, CEO of biosight, LLC, which provides healthcare and clinical trials consulting services, and youth soccer coach in the Harpeth Valley YMCA. 

Paula Donahue, PT, DPT, MBA, CLT-LANA

Paula DonahuePaula has been a physical therapist since 2000 with experience in acute, outpatient, and home care therapy and has specialized training in lymphedema management.  She received her training at Duke University (BS), Northwestern University Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences (DPT), The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School (MBA), and The Academy of Lymphatic Studies (CLT).  She is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  Her primary research interests are in the areas of cancer rehabilitation and prevention and early management of lymphedema.   She collaborates with the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS) on the development of non-invasive imaging techniques intended to better inform patient management and optimize lymphedema treatment interventions.

Rachelle Crescenzi, PhD

Shelly's profileRachelle Crescenzi is a Research Instructor in the Department of Radiology  and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is supported by the Lipedema Foundation, Fat Disorders Research Society (FDRS), and Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) to research an understudied lymphatic fat disorder called lipedema. Her research focuses on developing clinical molecular MRI techniques to measure tissue sodium, protein, and fat accumulation in diseases of impaired lymphatic vascular clearance as part of the lymphatic team in The Center for Transational Vascular and Physiological Imaging. Her research seeks to address the clinical need for 1) differential diagnostics of lipedema, 2) risk assessment for the development of lymphedema secondary to lymph node removal, and 3) treatment optimization of lymphatic therapies.

She brings with her prior experience in neuroimaging of glutamate metabolism and histopathology of neurodegenerative disease processes from her graduate training at the Center for Magnetic Resonance and Optical Imaging at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. Coincidental with labmate Spencer Waddle, she also completed her bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Delaware, and now enjoys living down south with her husband, two children, and their menagerie. 

Chelsea Lee, BS

Chelsea LeeChelsea Lee graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies in August 2015. She is currently working on her Master in Business Administration at MTSU. Chelsea joined the Donahue Lab team in July of 2018 and assists as a clinical trials coodinator for the stroke, sickle cell anemia, and lymphedema imaging studies. Outside of work, Chelsea enjoys trying new restaurants, hanging out with her German Shepherd Cali, and trying to spot her favorite star cluster Pleiades in the night sky.

Niral Patel, BS, MPH

Niral Patel

Niral Patel earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Missouri State University in 2010. In 2012 she graduated from Saint Louis University with a Master in Public Health. She is currently a clinical research coordinator with the Donahue Research Lab working on stroke, sickle cell, and lymphedema projects. Niral enjoys going to the movies, traveling, hanging out with friends and family, and attending NFL and NBA games.

Spencer Waddle, BS

Spencer's profileSpencer Waddle completed his bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Delaware in 2016 before coming to Vanderbilt as a graduate student in the Chemical and Physical Biology Program. In his research, Spencer processes functional imaging data with supervised learning techniques to better understand abnormal physiology in cerebrovascular disease. Additionally, Spencer works to develop pulse sequences for measurement of abnormal physiology in cerebrovascular disease. His work primarily focuses on Moyamoya disease, in which non-atherosclerotic arterial thickening leads to increased stroke risk. Spencer also runs MRI scans to collect functional and structural data on Moyamoya, sickle cell anemia, and healthy controls.

Kalen Petersen, BS

Kalen Petersen

Kalen is a PhD student in the Chemical and Physical Biology program. A native of the Great Plains, he studied Biology at the University of Tulsa. He is fascinated by neuroscience from the cellular to the systems level. His current studies focus on functional MRI in neurodegenerative movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. 

Maria Garza

Maria's ProfileMaria Garza is an imaging specialist and clinical trails coordinator at  VUIIS. She has five years experience in behavioral community-based research. Previous studies she has assisted in focus on nutrition and behavioral interventions in underserved communities. Maria joined the Donahue lab in 2019 and currently assists with stroke, lymphedema and salt sensitivity studies. Her efforts focus on data collection, processing and organization, recruitment and patient interaction, as well as techincal assistance during research scans. 

Skylar Johnson

Skylar Profile photoSkylar Johnson is a current undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University pursuing a major in Medicine, Health, and Society and a minor in Neuroscience. Her current research involves moyamoya patients before and after surgical revascularization and how impactful the procedure is in managing symptoms. At Vanderbilt she is involved with Club Volleyball, Dance Marathon, and Delta Delta Delta sorority.

Allison Griffin

AllisonAllison Griffin is a PhD student in Vanderbilt’s Chemical and Physical Biology program. Previously, Allison graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland before accepting a position at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she worked under the mentorship of Dr. Lawrence Latour in the Stroke Diagnostics and Therapeutics lab. During her time at the NIH, Allison developed methods of MRI guided pathology to allow for direct comparison of cellular changes observed on histology with in-vivo imaging in patients with traumatic brain injury and stroke, by developing customized experimental and computational protocols. In the Donahue lab, Allison’s research interests also focus on the use of hemodynamic and functional MRI to better characterize pathophysiological tissue changes in patients with cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Hannah Dibble

HannahHannah is an undergraduate student at University of Southern California pursuing a major in Human Biology and a minor in Global Health. She is currently working on creating a profile of clinical demographics of Moyamoya patients using survey data. The goal is to generate a larger cohort of patients than has been available in more conventional studies, in order to identify possible modifiable risk factors for the disease, including chemical or lifestyle factors.

Olivia Justice

OliviaOlivia Justice is a second-year undergraduate student working towards a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Business. In the past she worked as a Research Intern at Metacrine, a Biotech lab in San Diego, California researching NASH, also known as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. This year she will be studying the oxygen extraction fraction and neurological symptomatology in patients with sickle cell anemia. On campus, she enjoys being a member of Dance Marathon, Project Sunshine, and Delta Delta Delta Sorority. 

Jay Patel

JayJay Patel is a third year undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University pursuing a majoy in Neuroscience and Economic. He is currently working on teting lymphatic therapies, specifically the changes of biomarkers and if phenotypes presidpose how therapy works in realtion to lymph nodes. He is also a memeber of the Energy Balance Lab. On campus, he enjoys participating in VSVS, VSG, Camp Kasem, ASB and loves watching movies and NBA games. 

Shalin Naik

ShalinShalin Naik is a current third year undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University studying Neuroscience as well as a minor in Classical Guitar. He joined the lab in Summer 2019 and his research is focused on Cerebral Blood Flow, specifically with respect to Parkinson's disease patients before and after the use of dopaine agonist drugs. At Vanderbilt, Shalin loves going to the football games and is a part of SACE and Camp Kasem.

Halloween 2019. Whatever; fetch:

halloween 2019

(Left to Right). Janis, Damian, Regina's Mom, Regina, Karen, Gretchen, Ms. Norbury, Aaron Samuels, Coach Carr, Cady's Mom, Cady, Cady's Dad. Kevin G and Mr. Duvall (not shown).

Group dinner at Paris ISMRM 2018:paris2

2017 holiday picture:

2017 Holiday picture

Manus Donahue (2019), 10 years after first Johns Hopkins faculty appointment:

hopkins