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Guojun Bu, PhD

Professor of Neuroscience

Dr. Guojun Bu is the Mary Lowell Leary Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville. He is also the Jorge and Leslie Bacardi Associate Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine and an Associate Director for Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Prior to joining Mayo Clinic in 2010, he was a Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Bu received his B.S. degree in biology from Beijing Normal University, his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech, and completed his postdoctoral training in cell biology at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Bu is a world leader in the field of apoE and apoE receptors, which play critical roles in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. His primary interest is to understand why APOE4 is a strong genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and how this pathway can be targeted for therapy by studying animal and stem cell-based cellular and organoid models. His research also includes interests in addressing the glial and vascular contributions to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Dr. Bu has received numerous honors and awards including the Zenith Fellows Award from the Alzheimer’s Association, the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association, the Investigator of the Year award from the Mayo Clinic, and the MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research in Alzheimer’s disease.

He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Neurodegeneration and an Associate Editor for Science Advances.

Henrietta Nielsen, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Henrietta Nielsen earned her PhD from Lund University, Sweden, and thereafter further trained as a postdoctoral researcher at the VU Medical Center Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida USA.

During her training in the Netherlands she focused on amyloid-beta clearance and the influence of amyloid-associated-proteins like apolipoproteins E and J in primary cultures of post-mortem isolated human astrocytes and microglia. Further work of hers at Lund University in Sweden entailed biomarker discovery efforts focusing on CSF alpha-synuclein levels and various inflammatory markers in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and synucleinopathies like Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

More recently and together with colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Nielsen studied individual apolipoprotein E isoform levels in plasma and CSF from Alzheimer’s patients and controls, by use of mass-spectrometry. Since 2015 Dr. Nielsen heads the Translational Neurodegeneration Research Team at Stockholm University, Sweden, with major efforts invested in assessing the role of alpha-synuclein in Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology, and potential links between liver-derived apolipoprotein E and neurodegeneration of the brain.

Dr. Nielsen is a senior editor of Molecular Neurodegeneration, an associate editor of the Journal for Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) and a frequent reviewer for numerous journals and grant agencies.

Robert Vassar, PhD

Professor of Neurology

Dr. Robert Vassar’s research focuses on molecular and cellular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, he investigate the beta-secretase enzyme BACE1, which initiates the production of the beta-amyloid peptide that plays a central early role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s.

He uses a combination of biochemical, cell culture and animal model approaches to investigate the role of BACE1 in health and disease.

Huaxi Xu, PhD

Professor of Neuroscience

Dr. Huaxi Xu, Jeanne & Gary Herberger Leadership Chair in Neuroscience at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, earned his doctorate in Anatomy and Cell Biology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, NY. He completed his postgraduate studies with a fellowship from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and at The Rockefeller University (with Nobel Laureate Paul Greengard). In 1998 Dr. Xu became an Assistant Professor at the Fisher Center for Research on Alzheimer Disease, Rockefeller University. In 2003 Dr. Xu joined the Neurodegenerative Disease Program at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research as Associate Professor and in 2008 as a Professor. During this time he was Acting Director (2007-2011) of the Neurodegenerative Disease Program. In 2016 Dr. Xu was appointed Director of the Neuroscience Initiative.

Dr. Xu is an expert specialized in the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). His research is focused on the regulation of APP processing and trafficking, and mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction and neurotoxicity induced by proteotoxic beta amyloid and neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) tau components. Dr. Xu’s laboratory has also engaged in pioneering research in investigating novel genes and pathways involved in neuronal function/dysfunction and cell death, and integrating their cellular function to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as AD, Down syndrome, ALS and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. To this end, his laboratory is also developing animal models to study neuronal and microglial function in relation to neurodegenerative dysfunction. As an independent PI with over 20 years’ experience, Dr. Xu has continuously received funding of multiple grants from the NIH and many private foundations, and published over 150 papers with a total impact factor of ~1200 (with ~16,900 citations and h-index 61).

Hui Zheng, PhD


Dr. Hui Zheng obtained her PhD degree from Baylor College of Medicine in 1990. After a brief postdoctoral training at Baylor, she joined Merck & Co. where she began her research on Alzheimer’s disease and continued after her return to Baylor in 1999.

Dr. Zheng’s expertise is mouse genetics and she is a pioneer in utilizing sophisticated mouse models to probe the biology and pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease.

Through her long-standing effort, she revealed the amyloid precursor protein as a synaptic adhesion protein mediating synaptic and cognitive function. Her studies on the presenilins offered critical clinical insights.

Dr. Zheng’s current research focuses on the investigation of the autophagy-lysosomal pathway and neuron-immune interaction in Alzheimer’s disease.