Meet Our Team
The once controversial idea that parental experiences, such as stress or diet, can shape the physiology and behavior of their offspring via epigenetic mechanisms has become an active area of research. Dr. Mathieu Wimmer studies the influence of drug abuse in fathers (sires) on future generations. His research program combines animal models of drug addiction and memory formation with molecular biology techniques to investigate the impact of paternal drug taking on drug-related behaviors and memory formation in progeny.
Dr. Wimmer is also interested in epigenetic remodeling events in the brain that underlie these inherited changes in behavior. Dr. Wimmer received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Dr. Ted Abel. His postdoctoral training under the guidance of Dr. Chris Pierce at Penn focused on the transgenerational epigenetics of cocaine addiction. Dr. Wimmer’s research is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Reza Karbalaei, PhD.
Reza graduated from Tehran University in 2005 with a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology. He earned an M.S in Molecular Biology from the national institute of genetic engineering and biotechnology (NIGEB), where his work focused on cloning new genes in the B. subtilis genome. His Ph.D. in Medical Proteomics from Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences focused on the meta-analysis of available high-throughput data on Alzheimer's disease. In the Wimmer lab, Reza has been developing bioinformatic analytical pipelines for large sequencing data sets. His projects are aimed at delineating the molecular signatures associated with chronic drug exposure in reward-related brain regions. He is also continuing to purse meta-analyses of existing data sets related to addiction-like behaviors in rodents and chronic drug use in humans.
Caesar Imperio, MD, PhD.
Psychiatry Resident and Postdoctoral Fellow
Caesar graduated from The University of Scranton in 2009 with a B.S. in Neuroscience. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, he then pursued a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Penn State College of Medicine under the mentorship of Drs. Sue Grigson and Bill Freeman. His graduate work focused on developing an animal model that behaviorally stratified animals on their addiction-like behavior based on their avoidance of a natural reward. Furthermore, he also examined the interplay between environmental enrichment and heroin self-administration at the behavioral, genetic, and epigenetic levels. After obtaining his Ph.D. in 2015, Caesar decided he wanted to do more with his knowledge of the basic sciences and integrate it into clinical practice. Therefore, Caesar then enrolled at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and obtained his M.D. in 2019. Caesar is currently a psychiatry resident on the research track at Temple University. In the Wimmer laboratory, Caesar plans to investigate the molecular changes associated with extended drug abstinence that may influence craving and relapse.
Dana Zeid, PhD.
Dana earned her B.A. in Psychology from Marshall University in 2016. Under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Gould, she received her Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State University in the summer of 2021. Her graduate research focused broadly on genomic, neurobiological and behavioral underpinnings of learning and addiction in rodent models. Dana joined the Wimmer lab in the Fall of 2021. Her current research interests include mechanisms underlying multi- and transgenerational inheritance of drug addiction phenotypes, as well as the development and study of rodent behavioral paradigms.
Beth earned her B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of New Hampshire in 2015. While at UNH, she studied thalamic nuclei and their influence in flexible goal-oriented behavior. She then pursued her Ph.D. in Dr. Kyle Smith's lab at Dartmouth College. Her graduate work focused on contributions of ventral pallidum and nucleus accumbens in cue-driven motivation and behavioral phenotypes. She continued as a postdoc for a year in the Smith Lab using optogenetic and chemogenetic techniques to manipulate motivated behaviors. In the Wimmer lab, Beth is looking forward to exploring the multi- and transgenerational impact of drugs of abuse leveraging a combination of behavioral and molecular approaches.
Joanna Severino Perez
Joanna graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a B.S. in Biology in May of 2021. While at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Joanna was a research assistant in Dr. S. Tiffany Donaldson's lab where she studied environmental enrichment as a treatment for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. She also contributed to work concerning the effects of amphetamine exposure in adolescent rats. She joined the Wimmer lab as a PhD student in fall 2021 and hopes to investigate the epigenetics of chronic drug use and how drug addiction may contribute to cognitive deficits. Outside of the lab, Joanna likes making and listening to music, fitness, and reading comics.
Paris graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a B.S in Psychology and specialization in Neuropsychology. While completing his undergraduate degree, his research under the tutelage of Dr. Webbe focused on concussion testing in patients using an objective Virtual Reality system (NVIT). Paris then joined Drs. Mihailidis and Khan's laboratories at the University of Toronto where he helped develop and Artificial Intelligence Response System for fall detection. Paris joined the Wimmer lab as a PhD student in the Fall 0f 2021. He plans to investigate the epigenetic processes contributing to substance abuse and addiction-related behaviors. In his free time, Paris enjoys listening to musing, working on his vacation rental business and traveling.
Lab Manager and Research Technician
Carmen Dressler graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in Neuroscience in December of 2020. She joined the Wimmer lab as a laboratory technician in February 2021. Carmen is excited to participate in the research dedicated to the effects of opioids on memory and addiction. In the future, she plans on attending medical school and pursuing a career as an emergency medicine doctor.
Citlalli Tomas Baltazar
Undergraduate Student, MiNDS Program
Citlalli is currently majoring in Neuroscience (Class of 2023) and is also minoring in Accounting. She joined the Wimmer Lab in the Fall of 2020 and hopes to learn more about the STEM research field as well as gain knowledge about drug addiction and epigenetics. After graduation, Citlalli plans on applying to graduate schools and getting more research experience.
Undergraduate Student, MiNDS Program
Mariyah is currently majoring in Neuroscience, as well as minoring in Public Health with a certificate in American Sign Language (class of 2023). She joined the Wimmer lab in the fall of 2020 in order to better understand the relationship between environment and addiction-like behaviors. Mariyah is also interested in the neurobiology of relapse. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience in the future.
Camryn is pursuing a BS in Neuroscience in the College of Liberal Arts with a certificate in Spanish for Health Professions. She joined the Wimmer Lab in January 2021 and is part of Temple's Honors Program, planning to graduate in May 2024. Camryn intends to enter medical school after graduation and aspires to complete a residency in pediatrics, following with sub-specialization in pediatric oncology or child abuse. She is very passionate about public health and hopes to gain experience within both the lab and the community. Camryn is the President of the Public Health Club FIMRC and the public relations chair for Nu Rho Psi, the honors neuroscience society. Camryn is currently working under her mentor Dr. Smedley, focusing on the effects of hippocampal lesions and heroin self-administration.
Madeline is pursuing a BA in Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience and Biology (class of 2024). She joined the Wimmer lab in summer of 2022 in hopes to gain more knowledge about drug addiction and relapse, the epigenetics of addiction, and understand how memory plays a role in it as well. After her time at Temple, Madeline intends to enter medical school to become a neurologist. Outside of the lab, Madeline is a part of Phi Sigma Sigma and Diamond Dogs.
Cass is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice in the College of Liberal Arts, and is a part of Temple’s Honor Program (class of 2024). They joined the Wimmer lab in the spring of 2023 to better understand the epigenetics of substance use and how early life stressors affect vulnerability to addiction. After completing their undergraduate studies, Cass plans to attend graduate school to study behavioral neuroscience with a focus on how early life adversities affect addiction and criminal behavior in adulthood.
Renee is pursuing a bachelor’s of science in Biology (Class of 2024) with minors in Clinical/Health Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. She joined the Wimmer Lab in hopes of expanding her knowledge of addiction and the mechanisms underlying susceptibility/resilience to neuropsychiatric diseases. After graduation, Renee aspires to attend medical school and become a physician. Outside of the lab, Renee is an Emergency Medical Technician, a student athlete on Temple University’s women’s rowing team, a Morgan’s Message Ambassador, and a member of Temple's Phi Delta Epsilon Chapter for pre-medical students.
Lilly is a sophomore in the honors program with a major in Neuroscience and minor in clinical and health psychology (class of 2025). She joined the Wimmer Lab in the Spring of 2023 and hopes to learn more about the impact of chronic drug exposure on memory and cognition in males and females. Lilly plans to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience after graduation.