Principal Investigator

Anju Vasudevan, PhD

Anju Vasudevan, PhD is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Director of the Angiogenesis & Brain Development Laboratory, and Chair/Scientific Director of the Department of Neurosciences at Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI). Dr. Vasudevan received her PhD degree in Neuroscience from the University of Cologne, Germany and performed postdoctoral work in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. From 2007-2020, Dr. Vasudevan was a faculty member in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Vasudevan established the Angiogenesis and Brain Development Laboratory (ABDL) in 2011, at McLean Hospital, that pursues basic and translational research in neuroscience. The ABDL moved to HMRI in 2020, and is also known as the Neurovascular Research Program here. Dr. Vasudevan served as the Director of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program from 2020-2022, and created a robust network of talented postdoctoral fellows at HMRI. Dr. Vasudevan’s work on early embryogenesis of the forebrain vascular system, and diversity of endothelial cell populations, has opened up an entirely new conceptual framework from which to view this important component of brain development. Her research focuses on defining new cellular and molecular mechanisms governing brain development and the way it shapes postnatal and adult behaviors. This work has implications for understanding, prevention, and treatment of a variety of nervous system disorders like schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, developmental delays, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Vasudevan is the recipient of the NARSAD Young Investigator Award, NARSAD Independent Investigator Award and awards from the National Institute of Health.

Apart from science, Anju loves nature and enjoys creative activities.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Divya Desai, PhD

Divya Desai, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Angiogenesis and Brain Development Laboratory. Dr. Desai received her PhD degree in Biological Sciences with a specialization in Stem Cell Biology and Epigenetics from NMIMS University in Mumbai, India. During her doctoral training, she studied the role of Polycomb (PcG) group proteins in early neuronal differentiation with the use of human pluripotent stem cells. She detected the localization of small histone modifiers at genomic targets during stage-specific early neuronal development and explored its regulation of neuronal differentiation. Dr. Desai’s current research focuses on generating human forebrain-like endothelial cells using human pluripotent stem cell technology, delineating novel aspects of endothelial cell diversity with the use of genetic models, and elucidating new paradigms of neurovascular interactions.

When not in the lab, Divya enjoys reading, travelling, and hiking. She also likes to cook different dishes in her free time.

Divya Mishra, PhD

Divya Mishra, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Angiogenesis and Brain Development Laboratory. Dr. Mishra received her PhD degree in Life Science from the Jawahar Lal Nehru university of India. Her doctoral training focused on understanding the anti-hypertensive potential of natural compounds and exploration of mechanisms by which they produced vasorelaxation and rescue in cardiac tissue. Specifically, she explored the role of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in ex-vivo and in-vivo studies in rodent models, for which she received the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Fellowship. Her current research focuses on uncovering novel aspects of endothelial-neuronal interactions and mechanisms of their crosstalk during forebrain development, that can contribute to the origin of psychiatric illness.

Divya loves painting and enjoys cooking during her free time.

Lab Staff

Said Elbakri

Said Elbakri is a Research Assistant in the Angiogenesis and Brain Development Laboratory at HMRI. He received his Diploma in General Science from FSSM – La Faculté des Sciences Semlalia, Marrakech. Said is the heart of the lab, coordinating transgenic colony management and genotyping, with multiple lab operations.

Said enjoys boxing, reading, soccer, and traveling.


Marque Villareal

Marque Villareal is in her fourth year at California State University, Fullerton and is pursuing her B.S. in Cell and Developmental Biology. Marque is a talented Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) and Volunteer in the Angiogenesis & Brain Development Laboratory at HMRI. She is planning to continue her education and pursue a PhD in Developmental Neuroscience.

Besides her scientific interests, Marque enjoys painting, hiking, and snowboarding.

Postdoctoral and Student opportunities are available.

Chungkil Won, PhD
Research Associate, 2009-2011

Peeyush Kumar, PhD
Research Fellow, 2012-2013

Suyan Li, PhD
Research Assistant, 2011-2013
Research Fellow, 2013-2015

Sampada Joshee, MS
Research Assistant, 2014-2016

Vicky Wang, MS
Research Assistant, 2017

Sarah Kaye, BS
Research Assistant, 2018-2019

Yong Kee Choi, PhD
Instructor/Faculty, 2017-2020

Debkanya Datta, PhD
Research Fellow, 2016
Instructor/Faculty, 2017-2020

Jugajyoti Baruah, PhD
Research Fellow, 2018-2020

Anass Agrud, MS
Research Assistant, 2020
Research Associate, 2020-2022