top of page


Our Team: Team Members


Associate Professor

Christoph Hofstetter, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician scientist in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington. Dr. Hofstetter earned his M.D. from University of Vienna, and Ph.D. at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. 
Dr. Hofstetter is an expert in experimental and translational spinal cord injury research. His research focuses on the development on biomarkers for prognosis and treatment guidance following acute spinal cord injury. Together with his collaborator Dr. Matt Bruce, his laboratory has developed a novel type of contrast-enhanced ultrasound which allows to visualize specific segments of the vascular tree. This innovative imaging modality allows his laboratory to assess the impact of trauma on local tissue perfusion. Dr. Hofstetter also investigates the use of stem cells and specialized polymers to improve recovery following acute spinal cord injury. His research also includes the use of transcutaneous electrical stimulation with both preclinical and clinical trials in close collaboration with Drs. Moritz and Perlmutter. Dr. Hofstetter is former chairman of the Section of Spinal cord Injury of the North American Spine Society and serves as Associate Member of the AO Spinal cord injury knowledge forum.

Lindsay Cates


Research Scientist / Lab Manager

Lindsay received her Bachelors of Science in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  During and after college she spent time tutoring college-level biology and English courses. She came to the Hofstetter lab from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.  There she worked for a behavioral testing and surgical core facility. In the Hofstetter lab she puts her experience in rodent behavior and microsurgery to work, but also keeps the lab running smoothly as the lab manager. She enjoys cooking, fishing, and movie trivia.

Jeff Hyde


Research Technologist

Jeff joined the lab in 2017 as a recent graduate from Western Washington University. He previously worked in Western’s Behavioral Neuroscience program, studying the neural basis of sucrose craving under Dr. Jeffrey Grimm. In the Hofstetter lab he assists with all active projects by performing histological analysis of tissue specimens, and by evaluating the functional deficits associated with spinal cord injury. He enjoys outdoor activities all over the Seattle area, including hiking and rowing.

Ali- high resolution.jpg


Postdoctoral Scholar

Ali earned his PhD in Biomedical Engineering, which he worked in the field of tissue engineering and mostly focused on neural regeneration. He developed conductive nanofibrous scaffold to modulate neural cell behaviour and promote regeneration in combination with in vitro electrical stimulation.

He has extensive experience with the design and fabrication of bioengineering tools such as biomaterial and bio-scaffolds for tissue engineering and controlled release targeted drug delivery. Also, he previously worked with neurosurgery groups to alleviate symptoms of patients with Neurological Disorder using Deep Brain Stimulation and Spinal Cord Stimulation. In his current role, he is expanding his knowledge and experiences to the in vivo model by developing closed-loop stimulation in rats with spinal cord injury (SCI) to provide functional recovery after SCI.


Postdoctoral Scholar

Jen earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans, where she worked on the development of a novel minimally-invasive therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma. She has extensive experience with the design and fabrication of targeted contrast agents and their use in conjunction with either focused ultrasound, in a therapeutic context, or specialized imaging. In her current role, her primary focus is the development and application of novel high speed ultrasound contrast imaging techniques to assess injury-induced hemodynamic changes in the spinal cord.


Visiting Research Scholar

Kosuke Sugiura, MD, PhD, is a visiting scholar from Japan in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington. Dr. Sugiura graduated from Tokushima University Faculty of Medicine in Japan and subsequently trained as an orthopedic surgeon. He earned his PhD from the School of Medical Nutrition at the same university, where he conducted research on energy metabolism related to skeletal muscle atrophy.

Dr. Sugiura currently specializes in spine and spinal cord disorders resulting from various conditions, including trauma, degenerative diseases, and tumors. He focuses particularly on minimally invasive spine surgeries and the treatment of non-specific low back pain.

At the University of Washington, Dr. Sugiura is studying various endoscopic spine surgeries. He is also conducting clinical research on physical therapy for intractable limb spasticity associated with myelopathy in Japan and is interested in the basic research conducted here on electrical stimulation therapy for limb spasticity associated with spinal cord injury.



Clinical Research Coordinator

Cathryn is a clinical research coordinator that has been working with the Hofstetter Lab since 2023. She most recently graduated with her Master of Science in Epidemiology from Columbia University. Prior to this, she obtained her Bachelor of Science in community health sciences from the University of Nevada, Reno. One of her many important tasks is to recruit participants for studies as well as ensure the studies are compliant with human subject regulations.



Clinical Research Coordinator

Nguyen recently joined the Hofstetter lab as a research coordinator, transitioning from his previous role as Chief Medical Scribe at Good Samaritan Emergency Department. At Pacific Lutheran University, he earned a BS in Biology in May 2023, concurrently holding leadership positions in medical and humanities clubs, specifically as president of the pre-health club and International Peer Advisor.  Nguyen finds great fulfillment in his role as a research coordinator, particularly in obtaining patient consent and performing spinal injury testing because it allows him to connect with patients on a deeper level. He hopes to become a compassionate physician specializing in procedure-based disciplines such as surgery, aiming to improve patient quality of life and satisfaction. Beyond his professional endeavors, Nguyen's interests include biking, hiking, singing, volunteering, playing chess, bowling, and racing RC cars.



Undergraduate Research Assistant

Isabella is a UW undergraduate student in the class of 2024, majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Chemistry. Intrinsically, her thirst for knowledge about the spinal cord, and the ways in which the body is able to communicate with itself, is the driving factor for her passion in lab. Extrinsically, she wishes to gain invaluable research and laboratory experience for Medical School and her interest in Neurological Surgery. She is currently working on the development of cuff electrodes for nerve implantation for paired use-dependent movement and neuromodulation therapies to relieve spasticity after SCI in rodent models. Isabella enjoys teaching STEM principles to young minds, while also instructing in the Martial Art of Taekwondo.



Postdoctoral Fellow

Pia is a second year orthopedic, trauma and spine surgical resident from Cologne, Germany. She graduated Medical School in 2022 and was a registered Scrub Nurse specialized in spine surgeries before. Pia joined the Hofstetter Lab in the end of 2023 as a postdoctoral research scholar to expand my knowledge in the research field and especially in the field of spinal cord injury and investigate neuroprotective treatments. She really enjoys working in an international team with all the different personalities and individual backgrounds. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities (which is a lot of fun in the vicinity of Seattle) and going to concerts.


Eliana Bieler

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Eliana is an undergraduate in the class of 2025 at the University of Washington where she is majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Neural Computation and Engineering. She is very interested in brain-computer interface technology, especially in the realm of neurorehabilitation. Currently, she is investigating the effects of closed-loop stimulation on functional recovery following spinal cord injury in a rodent model. Outside of lab, she can often be found in the rock climbing gym.



Research Engineer




Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Richard Is a UW undergraduate student in the class of 2025, double majoring in Biochemistry and Applied and Computational Math Science on the biological and life science track. He became interested in Neuroscience when he learned about the spinal cord in physiology class. Outside of school, Richard spends his time volunteering at Seattle Children's Hospital. In his free time, he loves to hike, ski, swim, play piano, and play video games competitively.



Undergraduate Research Assistant

Erica joined the lab in March of 2024 and is an undergraduate in the class of 2025 at the University of Washington, majoring in biology on the pre-med track. She is fascinated by the intricate relationship between the brain and spinal cord and has experience shadowing rehabilitation medicine physicians who focus on spinal cord injuries. Erica aims to expand her knowledge and contribute to research that aids in the recovery of SCI patients, with aspirations to serve in the medical field one day. In her free time, she enjoys film camera photography, reading, and playing pool with friends.



Undergraduate Research Assistant

Estelle is an undergraduate student in the class of 2025 at the University of Washington. She is majoring in Medical Anthro and Global Health with a minor in Bioethics. She is pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant after undergrad. Estelle is particularly interested in sports medicine and women’s health. Additionally, she is interested in the application of social-cultural approaches in medicine. Outside of school, Estelle works as a physical therapy aide and enjoys her time cooking, running, and watching Formula 1 racing!


Preston Yao

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Preston is an undergraduate research assistant in the class of 2026. He is a pre-dental student pursuing a career in general dentistry, but is also interested in human anatomy and biology.  Particularly, he became fascinated by the brain and the spinal cord after taking a biopsychology class, and wants to expand his knowledge on the intricacies of spinal cord injuries and the remarkable advancements in medical technology and rehabilitation techniques. Outside of school, Preston works as a dental assistant, and in his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and tennis at the IMA, playing the piano, and cooking food. 


Matthew Putnam

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Matthew is currently studying Bioengineering at the University of Washington with a minor in Neural Computation and Material Science Engineering. Matthew first learned of his passion for neural engineering when exploring possible treatments for nerve damage and the possibility of nerve regeneration. He hopes to work in furthering the development of these treatments and protocols. Beyond school Matthew enjoys spending time with his friends, swimming at the cut, and attempting new recipes.


Our Team: Research



Natalie Kai Yi Yap, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator

Natalie Kai Yi Yap was a new research clinical coordinator for the Hofstetter Lab. She graduated from the University of Washington with a double Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical engineering and Dance in Spring of 2021. Her final year capstone project focused on the development of a novel locally targeted drug delivery microneedle device to reduce inflammation during secondary spinal cord injury. She had actively managed the clinical front for multiple studies for the lab by using her knowledge and experience gathered during her undergraduate studies. One of her many important tasks was to recruit participants for studies as well as ensure the studies were compliant with human subject regulations. Natalie hoped to enter medical school specializing in neurological surgery and she believed her experience at the Hofstetter lab would further perpetuate her goal


Jannik Leyendecker, MD

Postdoctoral Scholar


Emma D'cessare

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emma joined the lab in October of 2021 and is an undergraduate in the class of 2025 at the University of Washington. She is majoring in Neuroscience, minoring in Anthropology, and is pursuing medicine. She is very interested in behavioral neuroscience, pediatrics, and psychiatry. She is also intrigued by the relationship between music and medicine, and has explored this connection through organizations where students provide musical therapy to nursing home residents and hospital patients. Outside of academics, Emma likes to spend her time volunteering, helping lead Grey Matters Neuroscience Journal, and composing orchestral music.


Dane Dewees, MS

Applied Physics Intern

Dane received a Master's degree in Applied Bioinformatics through the University of Oregon, completed a year-long internship at the University of Washington with the Applied Physics Laboratory and Neurological Surgery Department, and has continued as a data science consultant. He works on image processing using contrast enhanced ultrasound in a spinal cord injury model. He created visual representations of inflammation patterns, perfusion rates, and other unique trends that aligned with different SCI injury types. He plans to publish his findings in the near future. ​

Dane has also been a Data Analytics Consultant for the Business Development Department at Boeing in Seattle, Washington and a data science contractor with Amazon, LLC.

Screen Shot 2021-12-15 at 10.39.36 AM.png

Sananthan Sivakanthan, MD

Neurological Resident

Sanan was born in Toronto, Ontario but grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. He went to the University of Pittsburgh for his undergraduate education and majored in Neuroscience. While there he worked for the UPMC Department of Neurosurgery in a research capacity, under the mentorship of Dr. Juan Carlos Fernandez Miranda, working on skull base cadaveric dissection and high definition fiber tractography. He then went on to the University of South Florida for medical school where he continued research efforts in the field of Skull Base Surgery, working with Dr. Harry van Loveren, Dr. Siviero Agazzi, Dr. Fernando Vale and Dr. Puya Alikhani. While in medical school he also published in Dr. Greenberg’s Handbook of Neurosurgery. He started his neurosurgical training at the University of New Mexico, first as an unaccredited pre-residency fellow and then as a resident, before joining the University of Washington in his R2 year. 

Brian Kim

Brian Kim, BS

Research Assistant

Brian began working for the Hofstetter Lab as a freshman at UW.  Over the two years he spent with the lab he went from a bioengineering major to an informatics major focusing in data science.  This change in major coincided with the Hofstetter Lab's development of contrast-enhanced ultrasound where Brian was able to apply his data science and image processing education.​

Brian is currently a software engineer at the Allen Institute for Cell Science in the Microscope team.  He is developing microscope automation software for many different types of acquisitions that our incorporated into the "Cell Explorer" project.  ​

Brian is also working with Dr. Donghoon Lee's lab in UW Radiology on MRI data analysis, and with UW software developers to create a fitness app.

Michael Cruz.jpg

Michael Cruz, BS

Undergrad Post-bacc Student

Michael Cruz is currently a rising second year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He graduated cum laude at California State University Long Beach in 2012 where he studied Political Science and competed nationally in collegiate debate. His first passion has always been mentoring and teaching others, and he had fully intended to become a political science professor before switching careers to pursue medicine. His teaching track record includes science tutoring, high school competitive debate coaching, premedical mentorship, and professional training. Michael first came to the Hofstetter lab as an undergraduate post-bacc student, and has remained involved after he was accepted into UWSOM. His general research interests involve exploring clinical and basic science approaches to functional recovery after CNS injuries and neurodegenerative diseases. He recently finished a project involving development of an animal model to investigate plasticity induction with transcutaneous electrical stimulation after an acute spinal cord injury. In his off-time, Michael enjoys weight-lifting, hiking and reading books.

Juliana Bushnell

Juliana Bushnell

Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Juliana is a class of 2021 undergraduate at the University of Washington. After a year in business school, she decided to switch her major to a B.S. in Public Health and Global Health. Beyond school, Juliana spends her time playing violin, volunteering at the ED of Seattle Children's Hospital, and watching sports. In the lab, she is involved with studying the effects of bladder denervation after SCI.

Yasameen Al-kahachi.jpeg

Yasameen Al-Kahachi, BS

Graduate Research Assistant 

Yasameen is a graduate student at the University of Washington in the Masters of Applied Chemical Science and Technology program. She joined the Hofstetter team during her senior year of undergrad to help with conducting animal behavior analysis. With her background in Biochemistry as an undergrad, her main interest is understanding the pharmacokinetics and therapeutics of spinal cord injury treatments. Aside from academia, she works as a part-time office assistant at the UW School of Social Work. She spends her free time painting, solving puzzles and playing with her cat. 


Julia Bergquist, BS

Research Scientist

Julia graduated in the class of 2020 at University of Washington, majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Diversity. In addition to academics, she is an author and production manager for Grey Matters, UW’s undergraduate neuroscience journal. She is also a program leader for the cultural exchange program Unite UW. In the Hofstetter lab, Julia studies neuroinflammation and extracellular matrix interactions while also applying her editing and peer review skills to lab publications.


Jinci Lu, BS

NSSSP Student

Jinci is currently a medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She graduated with a BS at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Psychology. With a interest in medicine and research, she applied for the Neurological Surgery Summer Student Program and was selected to work in the Hofstetter Lab. She spent her summer doing research on validating our novel technique, ultrafast contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) with the microsphere deposition technique. She has also researched non-traditional treatments for adolescents with mood disorders at the University of Minnesota.


Gustavo Hernandez, BS

Research Scientist/ Engineer


Abi Chandru

Research Lab Volunteer

Abi is an undergraduate in the class of 2023 at the University of Washington. He is majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Bioethics on the premed track. He is very interested in the medical field and hopes to become a physician in the future. He is founder of HiddenHealth, a website platform designed to engage students to educating others on global health issues and medical research. Away from school, Abi spends his time volunteering at the ED at Evergreen Health, playing tennis, creating digital art, and has recently gotten into cycling.


Noor Al-Khayat

Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Noor is an undergraduate student in the class of 2023 at the University of Washington and has been a part of the lab since October 2020. She is studying Biochemistry with a minor in Bioethics and is hoping to go to medical school. Noor has a particular interest in the intersection of social care and medicine and aspires to work in underserved communities as a general practitioner. In the lab, Noor works on studying the effects of bladder denervation after SCI. During her time at UW, she has created and taught a course to help students succeed in biology. Outside of this, Noor spends her time photographing concerts and experimenting in darkrooms.


Tobias Prasse, MD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Tobias Prasse is a third year surgical resident who worked at the University Hospital of Cologne (Germany) after graduating Medical School in 2019. In 2020 he defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Rostock (Germany) dealing with bisphenol A and its effects on the morphology and biomechnical properties on rat bone. He joined the Hofstetter Lab in 2021 as a postdoctoral research scholar to analyze the pathophysiology of spinal cord injury with special focus on chronic damage. When he is not in the lab, he enjoys exercising and exploring the Seattle area.

Tashmee Sarwar.jpg

Tashmee Sarwar, BS

Neurosurgery Laboratory Assistant

Tashmee is an undergraduate in the class of 2024 at the University of Washington and began working for the Hofstetter Lab as a sophomore. She plans to major in a B.S. in Public Health and Global Health with a focus on Neuroscience and is also on the pre-med track. She aspires to be a pediatric neurologist in the future, focusing on health disparities in underserved communities. Throughout high school and undergrad, she has been passionate about taking on leadership positions to promote social justice in a wide range of sectors, from student government to health and medicine-centered clubs at the UW. She hopes to bridge the gap between societal structural inequity and medicine. In her free time, Tashmee enjoys engaging in meaningful conversations about life and exploring nature. 

Anna Marie Yanny

Anna Marie Yanny, BS

Neurosurgery Intern

Anna Marie was a Neurosurgery Intern for the Hofstetter Laboratory.  She helped to document motor neuron survival following a novel surgery in the rat spinal cord.  After her internship, Anna Marie completed her B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience at Western Washington University.  She went on to work at the Allen Institute for Brain Science where she helped classify neuronal and glial cell types in the human brain through transcriptional profiling.

Justin Nelson.png

Justin Nelson, BS

Research Intern

Justin Nelson is currently a medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He graduated summa cum laude from Boise State University where he engaged in research investigating the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis. His current interests include brain and spinal cord injury research and the field of neurosurgery.

Ronak Jaisalmeria.png

Ronak Jaisalmeria

Volunteer Research Assistant

Ronak Jaisalmeria is a rising junior at Redmond High School. He has participated in various STEM based competitions such as Science Olympiad, Brain Bee, and USABO. He was chosen to represent Washington State in the National Brain Bee in 2020. He is a central administrator and teacher of the 501©3 nonprofit Science Infinity, an organization dedicated to educating younger students in STEM fields. He created an experimental device to help out Parkinson’s patients to prevent freezing of gait and is very interested in learning lab based aspects of brain and spinal-cord based injuries.

chuc Hof Lab photo.jpg

Chuc Le

Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Chuc is an undergraduate at the University of Washington, double majoring in Psychology and Biology with a focus in Physiology. She discovered her interest in the nervous system as a high school student after enrolling in a college level Psychology course as part of the Running Start program. Seeking an opportunity to further her knowledge, she applied for an internship in the Neurological Surgery Summer Student program at UW, and was placed in the Hofstetter Lab. After the internship, she was invited to remain in the lab to continue her research efforts. Her work in the lab is focused on the use of hemostatic nanoparticles to prevent blood loss after traumatic spinal cord injury.


Brian Nguyen, BS

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Brian is an undergraduate in the class of 2020 at the University of Washington, majoring in Electrical Engineering with a concentration of Digital Signal and Image Processing.  He is passionate about biotech and medical device industries where he could contribute his work to the creation of ideas and devices that could help people for the better.  He joined Dr. Bruce's lab to further his passion and knowledge of image processing and ultrasound imaging, specifically on spinal cord injury.  His work in the lab is mainly focused on reconstructing and processing data to obtain perfusion and blood flow images and 3D rendering volume models after spinal cord injury.

Rachel Blakemore

Rachel Blakemore, BS

Research Lab Volunteer

Rachel began working with the Hofstetter Lab during the Autumn of 2016 and volunteered in the lab a couple of days a week assisting with histology and data analysis. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2018 with a B.S. in Microbiology, and is beginning optometry school at Pacific University in Fall 2019.


Our Team: Gallery
bottom of page