Meet the PI
Sarah H. Shahmoradian, Ph.D.
Dr. Sarah Shahmoradian is an Assistant Professor of Biophysics at the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases (CAND) at the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical School. She has over 15 years of experience in near-native state imaging of protein assemblies underlying neurodegenerative diseases using cryo-electron microscopy, tomography, and correlative light-electron microscopy. Prior to her faculty appointment at UT Southwestern in 2021, she was a Principal Investigator at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland.
Meet the Team
Victor Cruz, Ph.D.
Senior Research and Development Scientist
I was born in Puerto Rico, and completed my B.S. in Biomedical Science and Genetics at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), followed by my Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry and Molecular Structure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I completed my doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Schwartz solving atomic resolution structures and biochemically characterizing nuclear scaffolding proteins. During my postdoctoral research in Dr. Jan Erzberger's laboratory (UTSW), I studied the mechanism of large ribosomal subunit biogenesis in eukaryotes employing a multi-disciplinary approach that included single particle cryoEM, yeast genetics, and biochemistry. In the Shahmoradian Lab, I use correlative cryo-electron microscopy and tomography to understand the molecular basis of membrane remodeling within cells, relevant to neurodegeneration in cellular and mouse models.
Hung Tri Tran, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate
I was born in Vietnam, and completed my B.Eng. in polymer/plastics engineering at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology in Vietnam, followed by my MSc. in material science and engineering at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea. I earned my Ph.D. in biology from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich). In the Shahmoradian Lab, I use both materials science and neuronal imaging to understand the structural basis of pathological aggregation.
Jenny Jiou, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate
I am a First Generation College Student and Scientist in my family. I completed my B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Dallas, followed by my Ph.D. at the UT Southwestern in Molecular Biophysics. In the Shahmoradian Lab, I determine the structures of protein complexes involved in uptake and early stages of aggregation in cellular models of neurodegeneration. I also create scientific animations and graphical communications based on 3D modelling and design.
Jim Monistrol, Ph.D.
I am originally from France, and completed my B.Sc. in chemistry followed by my master’s degree in chemistry and chemical engineering at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier (ENSCM) in Montpellier, France. I earned my Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB) in London. In the Shahmoradian lab, I use cryo-electron microscopy and tomography to study the ultrastructure of macromolecular complexes -including alpha-synuclein and tau amyloid - in relation to brain cells and tissues.
Valerie Perez, Ph.D.
I was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received my B.S. in chemical engineering from Stanford University. I completed my Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics here at UT Southwestern Medical School, investigating the roles that different molecular chaperones play in neurodegenerative diseases. In the Shahmoradian Lab, I use a combination of cryo-electron microscopy and grid surface chemical modification to solve the structures of neurodegenerative proteins and their modulators. I enjoy collecting cute things, making origami sculptures, and trying to keep my plants alive.
Olive Pedraza, M.Sc.
Computational Research Technician
I received my B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Dallas. I completed my M.Sc. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and a M.Sc. in Biotechnology investigating variational autoencoders to predict suitability and function of new proteins. In the Shahmoradian Lab, I use advanced computational processing to help solve the structures of neurodegenerative proteins and their modulators.
Skyler Taylor, B.Sc.
A Dallas native, I earned my bachelor's in biology at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. In the Shahmoradian lab, I generate human cortical neurons and microglia from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that are used for studying the early stages of protein aggregation.
Elley Nixon, B.Sc.
Raised in east Texas, I earned my bachelor’s in biology with a minor in psychology at Texas A&M University - Commerce. In the Shahmoradian Lab, I coordinate acquisition of critical materials, perform cell culturing, and coordinate data organization for electron-microscopy studies of cells and tissues.
I am currently a Neuroscience student at the University of Texas at Dallas. In the Shahmoradian lab, I apply computational processing for both 2D and 3D cryo-electron microscopy data to understand the structure and cellular context of pathological protein aggregates in brain cells. I plan to pursue medical school, focusing on Psychiatry.
Born and raised in Texas, I’m a student at Hebron High School (Class of 2025) and love learning about the human body. In the Shahmoradian lab, I create 3D segmentation models of fibrils from alpha-synuclein aggregates in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. I plan to become a physician-scientist, combining health care with research.
Join the Lab
We are newly established at the Center for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases, part of the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Our group is growing quickly, and we are currently accepting graduate students and postdoctoral scientists. We welcome qualified applicants from all backgrounds.
UT Southwestern Medical Center is committed to an educational and working environment that provides equal opportunity to all members of the University community. As an equal opportunity employer, UT Southwestern prohibits unlawful discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, genetic information, citizenship status, or veteran status.