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Brain Resilience Lab

The Brain Resilience Lab is the main research hub of the Knight Initiative.


Our mission is to unveil the molecular characteristics of human brain aging and better understand the pathways towards brain resilience.

Bridging the culture of a startup company and university research, we specialize in applying the latest transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics technologies to create detailed molecular maps of the human brain.


We must understand the changes our brains undergo as we age. Our goal is to identify the factors that put us at risk of neurodegeneration and those that can protect our brains long into old age. We are harnessing the latest technologies and expertise from the biotech industry to chart the molecular evolution of the aging human brain.

We aim do this by:

  1. Developing a detailed molecular map of the human brain as it ages, with a focus on identifying physiological pathways that foster resilience against neurodegeneration.
  2. Conducting rigorous, innovative research that pushes the boundaries of our current understanding of brain resilience and aging.
  3. Fostering collaborations both within and beyond the Knight Initiative to leverage diverse expertise and accelerate our research.
  4. Communicating our findings clearly to the wider scientific community, healthcare professionals, and the public, to raise awareness about the importance and potential implications of our research.
  5. Using our research findings to inform the development of new treatments and preventative strategies for age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

Lab Team

Alina Isakova

Lu Zhou
Jennifer Okamoto
Micaiah Emmy Atkins
Shon Alimukhamedov
James Haberberger
Syed Bukhari

Our Expertise


Transcriptomics provides a comprehensive analysis of RNA transcripts from the genome. Utilizing advancements like single-cell and spatial transcriptomics, the Brain Resilience Lab gains precise insights into both cellular diversity and spatial arrangement in the brain, which are crucial for understanding resilience and recovery mechanisms.


Through proteomics, we study the suite of proteins present in the aging brain, illuminating the dynamic interactions and changes that occur over time. By decoding these protein patterns, we gain insights into processes like synaptic plasticity, neural communication, and the defense against age-associated neurodegenerative disorders.


Within brain aging research, metabolomics uncovers the distinct chemical fingerprints of metabolites produced during different stages of brain maturity. These metabolites can indicate shifts in neural metabolism, energy production, and cellular health, helping pinpoint metabolic vulnerabilities and strengths in the aging brain.

Digital pathology

In our approach to studying the aging brain, we implement meticulous brain dissections by aligning human brain sections with the renowned Allen Brain Atlas. This precise alignment ensures unparalleled accuracy and reproducibility in our studies, facilitating a detailed exploration of age-related changes and abnormalities within the brain's structure.