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Smith Lab

Yoland Smith, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist, Project 3: Connectome of Motor Corticofugal Neurons in Parkinsonian Monkeys

Yoland SmithYoland Smith received his PhD degree in Neurobiology from Laval University, Quebec, Canada in 1988. Through the use of immunocytochemistry and tract-tracing methods, he published series of manuscripts that contributed significantly to our current knowledge of the circuitry and chemical anatomy of the primate basal ganglia. He then spent two years of postdoctoral training at the MRC Unit in Oxford, where he learned various electron microscopy techniques that he used to elucidate various aspects of the synaptic microcircuitry of the basal ganglia. He then joined the faculty in the Department of Anatomy of Laval University in Quebec where he spent five years (1991-1996) developing a research program that focused primarily on the synaptic organization of the primate basal ganglia. In 1996, Dr. Smith moved to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory, where his research program includes of a multidisciplinary team that uses techniques in neuroanatomy, electrophysiology and behavioral pharmacology to study the synaptic microcircuitry and plasticity of GABA and glutamate systems in the basal ganglia of normal monkeys and animal models of Parkinson's disease.

Rosa Villalba, PhD

Villalba PhotoRosa M. Villalba obtained her PhD in neuroscience at the Cajal Institute (CSIC) and the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain) in 1991. After completion of her studies, Dr. Villalba worked as Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Alcala de Henares (Madrid-Spain), where she studied the pathology of glial cells in the central nervous system (CNS), and was Lecturer and Course Director of Cell Biology and Histology. In 1995, she accepted a position as Research Scientist at Viatech Imaging LLC/Cognetix Inc. (Ivoryton, CT-USA), where she remained until 1998. At this pharmaceutical screening company, she optimized the use of neuronal and glial primary cultures in the measurement of intracellular calcium using high-throughput screening and scanning laser confocal microscopy in order to rapidly assay the biological activity of drug-like compounds. In 1998, she returned to Spain to join the Department of Morphology and Physiology at the European University of Madrid (Spain), where she was Lecturer and Course Director of Molecular and Cellular Biology. In 1999, Dr. Villalba joined the laboratory of Dr. Francisco Alvarez in the Department of Anatomy of the School of Medicine at Wright State University (Dayton, OH-USA) where she achieved a series of studies on the anatomy of the spinal cord. In 2003, Dr. Villalba accepted a position as Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Yoland Smith at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University (Atlanta, GA-USA). Since she joined this lab, the focus of her research has been to elucidate the morphological, neurochemical and synaptic organization of neuronal networks in the primate basal ganglia. Her most recent work has centered on the study of the synaptic and glial plasticity of neuronal microcircuits during the development of pathological conditions in various basal ganglia diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea and dystonia. Dr. Villalba is an expert in the use of high resolution immunolabeling techniques and 3D electron microscopy reconstruction methods. The use of these methods, combined confocal microscopy, stereology and neuronal tract-tracing approaches, allowed her to make significant contribution to our current understanding of the neuronal and synaptic changes that underlie the pathophysiology of brain diseases that affect the basal ganglia in primates.  Click here for Dr. Villalba's current publications.

Gunasingh Masilamoni, PhD

Masilamoni PhotoGunasingh Masilamoni received his PhD in Advanced biology from the University of Madras, India in 1999 and joined in Central Leather Research Institute, India as a scientist, publishing a series of manuscripts focused on neuroprotection and neuroinflammation in acute inflammatory rodent models. He then spent two years of postdoctoral studies at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA where he extended his neuroprotection studies in primary neurons and transgenic mice models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). During this time, he generated new mice strains by crossing αB-crystallin/HspB2 deficient (CRYAB⁻/⁻HSPB2⁻/⁻) mice with a transgenic AD mice model expressing mutant human amyloid precursor protein. In 2007, he joined Dr. Yoland Smith's Lab at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University, where he is actively involved in numerous research projects aimed at studying structural and functional changes of various brain circuits of the basal ganglia, and the development of symptomatic and neuroprotective drugs for Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Masilamoni has extensive experience with the use of the MPTP-treated monkey model of Parkinson’s disease. He is an expert in the use of behavioral methods to assess motor performance, high-order cognitive functions, and anxiety in this animal model. He is also well versed in the use of PET imaging techniques using various ligands to measure changes in the dopaminergic system and neuroinflammation in nonhuman primates.  Click here for Dr. Masilamoni's currrent publications.

 Susan Jenkins

Susan JenkinsMs. Jenkins is a Senior Research Specialist in Dr. Yoland Smith’s lab.  Her position involves an array of duties ranging from testing antibodies, cutting tissue, training students, immuno’s, etc.  Along with Jeff Pare, she is involved in the day to day activities and functions of the lab.  Susan is a Histologist and graduated from MUSC- Medical University South Carolina in Charleston.  Over the years she has worked in both research and clinical environments.  She previously held positions as a Pathology supervisor at a Children’s hospital, worked for a Dermatologist involving skin cancer, and worked at a large private lab.  Most of her career has been at Emory and she has been with Dr. Smith twenty years now.  Click here for Ms. Jenkins' current publications.

Jeff Pare

Jeff PareMr. Pare is the lab supervisor for Dr. Yoland Smith.  He graduated from Ste-Foy College in Quebec, Canada in 1989 as a Laboratory Technologist.  Jeff changed direction and started working in research in 1992 and has been overseeing Dr Smith’s lab ever since.  He is responsible for training and supporting members of the laboratory along with assuming the day to day operations of the lab.  Additional responsibilities include maintaining both electron microscopes at Yerkes and acting as the designated member for the use of our confocal microscope.  Mr. Pare is involved in numerous research projects; working on the localization of muscarinic receptor 1 and 4 in the striatum of the rat, localization of NMDAR 1 in the CA1 region of the hippocampus of the rat, the co-localization of vGluT1 and vGluT2 in the Globus Pallidus of monkeys and finally the localization of vGluT2 in the motor cortex of normal and MPTP monkeys.  Click here for Mr. Pare's current publications.