Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, MD, PhD

Dr. Gorno-Tempini is a behavioral neurologist with a PhD in imaging neuroscience and currently directs the Language laboratory of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (MAC). She obtained her medical degree and clinical specialty training in neurology in Italy. Dr. Gorno-Tempini’s main focus was in behavioral neurology, particularly the neural basis of higher cognitive functions such as language and memory. To pursue this research she worked for three years at the Function Imaging Laboratory, University College London, where she obtained her PhD degree in imaging neuroscience. She was part of the language group, and her thesis work consisted of several positron emission tomography (PET) and functional MRI studies investigating the neural basis of face and proper name processing. In 2001, Dr. Gorno-Tempini began her work at the MAC as a fellow and has since become a full professor. For the last 12 years she has applied her expertise in cognitive neurology and neuroimaging to the study of neurodegenerative disease, in particular Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). She has extensive experience in neurology and neuroscience and in the use of behavioral and neuroimaging paradigms to study language symptoms and their neural mechanisms.

Dr. Gorno-Tempini also has experience in mentoring residents, pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows, and faculty-level individuals from all over the world. She is faculty in the MAC T32 program and in numerous K23 applications in the neurology department and has taught research methodology, manuscript preparation and grant writing skills to mentees from diverse backgrounds, including speech and language pathology, clinical neurology and basic neuroscience.

Soon, the language group will have the opportunity to study the largest PPA cohort ever collected and the multifaceted dataset will provide a unique opportunity of making groundbreaking discoveries.

Zachary Miller, MD, PhD

Dr. Zachary Miller grew up in the Washington DC metro area. He obtained an undergraduate degree double majoring in Molecular Biology and Fine Arts from Haverford College. Following this he spent two years as a research assistant at MIT’s Whitehead Institutes for Biomedical Research in Dr. Harvey Lodish’s lab. He received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and pursued medical internship as well as neurology residency training at the University of Washington.
Dr. Miller came to the UCSF Memory and Aging Center as a behavioral and cognitive neurology fellow with particular interests in enhanced creativity and visual function that can occur in the setting select neurodegenerative diseases of the language network. He completed his fellowship and is now a neurologist in the UCSF Memory and Aging Center who specializes in the care of patients suffering from cognitive decline or dementia such as Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia. His current research interests have grown to encompass the study of novel risk factors for the development of neurodegenerative disorders including neurodevelopment and chronic inflammation.



Kevin Shapiro, MD, PhD

Dr. Kevin Shapiro is a neurologist who specializes in stroke in infants, children, and young adults, with a particular focus on problems with language and cognitive processing that result from brain injury. He also sees patients of all ages with a wide range of developmental and acquired language disorders, including dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, childhood apraxia of speech, and epilepsy-aphasia spectrum disorders.

Prior to joining the faculty at UCSF in 2014, Dr. Shapiro completed his medical degree, doctorate in cognitive psychology, and residencies in pediatrics and child neurology at Harvard Medical School. He came to UCSF in 2013 for a fellowship in vascular neurology. During his fellowship, he helped initiate the UCSF Pediatric Language Disorders Clinic, along with adult neurologist Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini, MD, PhD, and speech-language pathologist Jennifer Ogar, MS.

Dr. Shapiro also participates in the annual Neurological Mission to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rain Forest, a collaborative project with Hospital José María Velasco Ibarra in Tena, Ecuador, which brings much-needed neurologic care to children and adults in the remote Napo province. There, he treats children with stroke, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, brain malformations, and genetic and metabolic disorders.



Maria Luisa Mandelli, PhD

Maria Luisa Mandelli leads the neuroimaging research within the language team of the Memory and Aging Center. Her research focuses on neuroanatomical changes caused by language, and other neurodegenerative disorders. She has been working on brain magnetic resonance imaging for the past 10 years, with the goal of better understanding of how the brain develops, changes over time, and how it makes us who we are.

She completed a PhD in Biomedical Engineering in Italy at the Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with Neurological Institute C. Besta. Maria Luisa joined UCSF in 2010, specializing in brain imaging processing.



Jessica Deleon, MD

Jessica Deleon is a Behavioral Neurology fellow at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, where she focuses on care of patients with cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer's dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Prior to joining the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, she completed her medical degree, medicine internship and neurology residency at UCSF. Her research interests include the underlying genetics of primary progressive aphasia as well as socioeconomic factors that influence dementia care.



Eduardo Caverzasi, MD

Dr. Caverzasi is a radiologist working as an associate specialist in the Memory and Aging Center. His research specializes in primary progressive aphasia (PPA) and dyslexia. 



H. Isabel Hubbard, PhD

Dr. Hubbard graduated with a BA degree in speech language pathology from the University of Tennessee and a MS degree in communication disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas. She completed her PhD degree in the lab of Dr. Julius Fridriksson at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include aphasia treatment and recovery in stroke and neurodegenerative disease.



Christa Watson, PsyD

Dr. Watson graduated from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology-Stanford PsyD Consortium in 2014. She has a background in psychology, developmental biology, neuroimaging and neuropsychology. Her research interests include brain development across the lifespan. She is currently working on a pediatric HIV brain imaging study with Dr. Victor Valcour.

When she is not working, she enjoys spending time outdoors, watching movies, playing soccer, and listening to jazz. 



Andrea Lollini, PhD

Andrea Lollini is a visiting scholar from the University of Bologna, Italy. He has been awarded a Marie Curie Global Fellowship in support of his project: “Neurodiversity between Law and Science” (NEDBELS), which seeks to inquire into the legal impacts and socio-political implications of the concept of neurodiversity. This term pertains to individuals diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism and hypothesizes the emergence of a new category of difference in the human population. NEDBELS explores how this concept challenges the constitutional principle of equality, as well as how it fosters the need to accommodate new principles in criminal and civil law.

Prior to his work at UC Hastings, Andrea had an extensive career in legal research with international organizations such as Institut des Hautes Etudes sur la Justice of Paris and The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law.



Jet Vonk, MA 

Jet Vonk is a doctoral candidate with a focus on language and dementia, affiliated with the ALBA lab as a visiting scholar. Her Ph.D. dissertation concentrates on semantic and psycholinguistic features’ processing and neurobiology in Primary Progressive Aphasia, by relating behavioral language and cognitive measures to cortical thickness and volume via structural MRI scans. Other research projects and interests include lexical-semantic aspects in Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging, the role of sensory-perceptual cortices in the neurobiology of language, and the influence of cognitive reserve capacity on healthy older adults’ language and cognitive abilities. Jet holds a B.A. in Dutch Language and Culture, a B.A. in Linguistics, and a Research M.A. in Language and Cognition from the University of Groningen (Netherlands), as well as an M.Phil. from the CUNY Graduate Center. She received multiple grants and fellowships for her studies and research, among which a Fulbright Scholarship. Jet's primary affiliation is with the Neurolinguistics Laboratory of Dr. Loraine Obler at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York where she is obtaining her Ph.D. degree. Additionally, several of her projects are in collaboration with the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University, and the Language in the Aging Brain Project at Boston University/Boston VA Healthcare System.


Ariane Welch, MSLP

Ariane is a speech language pathologist from Australia. She graduated from the University of Sydney, Australia with a bachelor of arts degree (Hons I & The University Medal) in English, Linguistics and Semiotics and has a masters degree in speech language pathology, also from the University of Sydney. During her undergraduate degree, she researched multi-modal discourse analysis, creating a system network for the illustration of facial affect in children’s literature and completing a research project on embodied semiosis in political photography. She will be working with Drs. Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini on primary progressive aphasia, Zachary Miller on dyslexia and Kevin Shapiro on pediatric stroke.



Valentina Borghesani, PhD

Valentina is a postdoctoral scholar with a background in psychology (B.S. at the University of Bologna) and neuropsychology (M.S. at the University of Trento). Prior to joining the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in Spring 2017, she completed a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroimaging at the University Pierre et Marie Curie. With her research, she aims to shed light on the neural substrates of cognitive processes and representations, notably focusing on semantic knowledge and related high-level cognitive functions.



Cheng Wang, PhD

Cheng Wang is a postdoctoral fellow working with UCSF Dyslexia Center and Memory and Aging Center. Prior to joining UCSF, she completed a BS from East China Normal University, a MS in social neuroscience at Peking University, and a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from University of Michigan. Her research interests include the neural and genetic mechanisms of reading and language processes, as well as intergenerational transmission of emotion regulation.



Sladjana Lukic, PhD

Sladjana is a postdoctoral scholar at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. She completed a BS in Speech-Language Pathology from University of Belgrade, and received her PhD and MA from Northwestern University under the supervision of Dr. Cynthia K. Thompson. Using eye-tracking and neuroimaging methodologies based on linguistic theory, she is investigating how grammatical knowledge is acquired and processed in cognitively healthy controls and individuals suffering from stroke or neurodegenerative diseases.



Wendy Shwe, BA

Wendy graduated from UC Berkeley in December 2016 with a B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology, Neurobiology. During her time as an undergraduate, she volunteered at the MAC and worked with Dr. Miguel Santos on his apraxia and primary progressive aphasia projects. Additionally, she worked as a research assistant in Richard Ivry's Cognition and Action Lab, testing participants in visuomotor error clamp experiments to better understand the mechanisms behind motor adaptation. Wendy joined the ALBA team in April 2017, and now works as a research coordinator for Drs. Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini and Zachary Miller. 



Giovanni Battistella, PhD

Giovanni is a biomedical engineer with a strong background in image and signal processing, computational and cognitive neuroscience, and imaging genetics.

During his PhD, he implemented multimodal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to investigate patterns of brain dynamics at functional and structural levels in Fragile-X tremor Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS), as well as to examine the acute effects of cannabis smoking in regular and occasional users. Before joining the ALBA lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow in July 2017, he worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Mount Sinai, New York City, investigating the neural and genetic bases of laryngeal dystonia, using cutting-edge analytical techniques (i.e., graph theoretical analysis, machine learning) and next-generation exome sequencing.

His main research focus is the use of multimodal MRI-based acquisition and analytical techniques to investigate the neural bases of language-related neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders.



Eduardo Europa, PhD, CF-SLP

Eduardo is a postdoctoral scholar and clinical fellow in speech-language pathology at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. He has a BA with high honors in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley, and a MA and PhD in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Northwestern University. In the ALBA Lab, Eduardo uses multimodal imaging to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms of language processing in neurodegenerative disease, and collaborates with UT Austin’s Aphasia Research and Treatment Laboratory to explore treatment-induced neural and behavioral changes in primary progressive aphasia.



Sara Cirillo, PhD

Sara is a visiting scholar from Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and Hospital (Neuroradiology Unit) in Milan, Italy. She graduated in Cognitive Neuroscience (M.S.) at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, where she also obtained her Ph.D. in Experimental Neurology. During her Ph.D. she investigated cerebellar functional connectivity in different pathological conditions across development, focusing on cognitive contributions of the cerebellum structure.

Her current research activity includes also the application of advanced neuroimaging techniques in the presurgical clinical assessment of language and related higher cognitive functions in patients suffering from brain tumor.


Our Collaborators


Lab Alumni

Miranda Babiak, SLP
Barbara Beber
Richard Binney, PhD
Mikhail Pakvasa, BA
Peter Pressman, MD

Francesca Caso, MD
Benno Geseirich

Miguel Santos, MD

Edoardo Spinelli, MD

Marita Meyer, BA

Paolo Vitali, MD
Sebastiano Galantucci
Serena Amici

Lynne Rosenberg