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.
Charlotte graduated from Colgate University in 2013 with a degree in neuroscience and biology. Following graduation, she worked as a research technician at McLean Hospital studying the role of muscarinic receptor subtypes in rodent models of cocaine addiction. She then decided to pursue her PhD at Weill Cornell Medicine, where she joined the lab of Dr. Anjali Rajadhyaksha. Her thesis research examined the role of a neuropsychiatric risk gene, cacan1c, in rodent models of relapse behavior, focusing on the neural circuits underlying behavioral phenotypes. In the Wimmer lab, Charlotte is excited to explore the epigenetic and transcriptional changes underlying persistent opioid craving and relapse.
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.
Andre graduated with a Master’s degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Biopsychology, from Hunter College at the City University of New York. While at Hunter College, he was a research fellow studying the neural mechanisms of addiction. For his Master thesis, he investigated methamphetamine-induced conditioned place preference in adolescent male and female mice of two strains, C57Bl/6 and 129/SvEv. After graduating from Hunter College, he joined Dr. Wimmer’s lab as a PhD student in Temple’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences program. Under Dr. Wimmer’s guidance, Andre plans to investigate the transgenerational epigenetics of drug addiction. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music, visiting the Caribbean and reading.
Lab Manager and Research Technician
Angela Bongiovanni graduated from Temple University in December of 2017 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Psychology. She joined the Wimmer lab in 2016 as an undergraduate researcher, and post-graduation, moved on to become the laboratory manager in January of 2018. Her primary project in the lab focuses on the effects of the female estrous cycle on drug-taking in a transgenerational model of opioid addiction. Her past projects have included analyzing the effects of a novel pharmaceutical, NS2359, on opioid reinstatement and rewarding efficacy; profiling spatial memory deficits produced by opioid use; and investigating the effects of early life adversity on drug-taking. She is also looking forward to providing data for a collaborative project focused on the effects of aging on drug-taking. Dedicated to science education, Angela has also spent time teaching chemistry at Temple. Her long-term plans are to enroll in a PhD program in Neuroscience.
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.
Heather is majoring in Neuroscience in the College of Liberal Arts (Class of 2021) and is minoring in Chemistry. She joined the Wimmer Lab in June 2018 and is excited to learn about research on addiction and its societal applications. Heather plans to attend medical school after graduation.
Ben is currently a Master student in the Neuroscience program. He joined the Wimmer lab in 2020 after graduating from Rowan University. Ben is broadly interested in epigenetic processes associated with addiction and new animal models for pain research. He plans to pursue his Ph.D in the future and is excited to expand his research experience. In Ben’s spare time he loves to play Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the gathering.
Maina graduated from Rider University in 2020 with a B.S in Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. While at Rider she was an undergraduate researcher in a circadian physiology lab. Maina is now a Master student in the Neuroscience Program at Temple and has joined the Wimmer lab in the Fall of 2020. She looks forward to learning more about the influence of opioid exposure on future generations and aspires to pursue a Ph.D in Neuroscience in the future.
Charita is currently majoring in Neuroscience, as well as minoring in Global Studies and a certificate in Genome Medicine (class of 2022). She joined the Wimmer lab in the Spring of 2019, and is excited to gain scientific insight into addiction and memory. After graduation, Charita hopes to attend medical school and pursue a surgical career in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Cindy Lam is a CLA Neuroscience major at Temple (Class of 2022). She joined the Wimmer Lab in the Fall of 2019. Cindy's project focuses on the influence of the estrous cycle on drug craving in females using the rodent incubation of craving paradigm. After graduation, Cindy plans on pursuing a career in biomedical research and medicine.
Priya is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience (class of 2022). She joined the Wimmer Lab in the Spring of 2020 to gain a deeper understanding of epigenetic mechanisms underlying addiction and relapse vulnerability. Priya hopes to attend medical school in the future with a potential specialty in child psychiatry or pediatrics.
Citlalli Tomas Baltazar
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.
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.
Ricardo is majoring in Neuroscience in the College of Liberal Arts, as well as minoring in Spanish and Psychology. He joined the Wimmer lab in August 2020 and is excited to learn more about research in addiction. He hopes to attend the 4+1 program at temple and get a PhD after graduation