photo of Winston Chiong

Winston Chiong, MD PhD

Principal Investigator
winston.chiong (at)
Scholar Citations

I see myself as having three main jobs, which (I hope) inform one another. I am a behavioral neurologist, and my clinical practice focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and other cognitive disorders of aging. I am also a cognitive neuroscientist, applying observations from clinic to investigate why patients like mine are vulnerable to making bad decisions. Third, I am a neuroethicist, working alongside other clinicians, researchers, and policymakers to address the ethical and social implications of changes in decision-making due to altered brain function.

I studied philosophy as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. During medical school here at UCSF, I took a leave to pursue a PhD in philosophy at NYU, where I studied with Thomas Nagel and Derek Parfit. After residency training in neurology back at UCSF, I did a combined fellowship in cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging with Mark D’Esposito at UC Berkeley and in behavioral neurology here at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

Alongside my clinical and research work, I am Co-Chair of the UCSF Department of Neurology Diversity Committee and a member of the UCSF Medical Center Ethics Committee. Nationally, I serve on the Neuroethics Working Group of the National Institutes of Health BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Multi-Council Working Group, and the American Academy of Neurology’s Ethics, Law and Humanities Committee.

photo of Tobias Haeusermann

Tobias Haeusermann, PhD

tobias.haeusermann (at)

I am a Sociologist and Postdoctoral Fellow in the UCSF Department of Neurology Memory and Aging Center, where my research aims to elucidate the ethical concerns in existing clinical applications of closed-loop neuromodulation in epilepsy as well as movement and mood disorders. I am also part of UCSF’s Institute for Health Policy Studies and its newly established Medical Cultures Lab, a collaborative of social scientists working on methods innovations and the culture of medicine.

I received my PhD and Master of Philosophy degrees in sociology from the University of Cambridge, where I remain an Affiliated Researcher. During my doctoral studies I held a Research Fellowship at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and was a member of its Long-term Care and Dementia group. I then conducted postdoctoral research at the Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute of the University of Zurich and for the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich. Thereafter, I taught as student supervisor at the University of Cambridge for the “Introduction to Sociology:Modern Societies I” and the paper “Social Context of Health and Illness” and was a visiting fellow at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford.

I am particularly interested in how medical knowledge and care practices are interpreted differently in distinct cultural settings. Beyond these specific research domains, I am also interested in aging studies, the sociology of health and illness, comparative ethnographic research, and qualitative research methodologies.

photo of Clara Sanches

Clara Sanches, PhD

clara.sanches (at)

Movements are files of a person’s life, learned, reproduced, and altered as needed. There are external movements, those that make us act on objects and internal movements, an energy that we use in space and time. My interest in the body as a ‘depository of human expressiveness’ led me to a degree in Psychomotor Therapy with a Master’s specialization in old age and mental health (University of Lisbon). An enriching experience with an aging population triggered my interest in old age, and I realized how much I still had to learn about the biological and physiological mechanisms of aging and the disruptions that lead to age-related diseases.

My Master in Integrative Biology and Physiology, with specialization in Cognitive Neurosciences (Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris), provided me with the basis for understanding brain aging mechanisms. My enthusiasm in this domain propelled me to pursue a PhD in Cognitive Neurosciences (Sorbonne University) at the Paris Brain Institute, working in the field of language in neurodegenerative diseases and the use of transcranial stimulation as a possible therapeutic approach. As movements, each word also has a biography that is related to the biography of the person using it. Understanding how one’s language abilities are affected during a disease process is another piece in the complex domain of neurodegeneration and its consequences on one’s identity.

I am interested in understanding how an individual responds to aging in different spheres of life and how the identification of altered mechanisms in pathological aging can help prevent early cognitive and functional decline. By joining the Decision Lab at the Memory and Aging Center, I am excited to explore how the process of decision-making is affected and which are the neural basis that subtends decision-making alterations.

photo of Cailin Lechner

Cailin Lechner

Research Coordinator
cailin.lechner (at)

As an undergraduate at UCLA, I studied human biology and society, a unique major dedicated to understanding how human health functions in both biological systems and larger societal contexts. Through this interdisciplinary curriculum, I developed a deep interest in bioethics, specifically as it relates to promoting justice among vulnerable health populations. Whether executing my senior research project on toxic exposure within a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood in south Los Angeles, or volunteering as executive director for a nonprofit that tutors and mentors students in under-resourced public schools, I dedicated my college career to examining health and educational disparities.

My enthusiasm for assisting those whose health outcomes are unfairly hindered by biological, environmental and systemic factors led me to my current work as an Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator in the UCSF Decision Lab. In my role, I conduct patient recruitment and data management for the Neuroethics in Novel Neurotechnologies project, which aims to integrate ethics and neuroscience by investigating patient, family and clinician experiences with closed-loop brain devices. I also organize the Neuroethics Seminar, an informal twice-monthly meeting where participants from diverse disciplines deliberate ethical questions facing neurological research and clinical practice. I am motivated by the opportunity this position presents to advance knowledge of neuroethics with the hope of improving patient care.

Outside of work, I enjoy camping in national parks, listening to podcasts, and attending concerts, especially at intimate venues.

photo of Clayton Young

Clayton Young

Research Coordinator
Clayton.young (at)

My curiosity about human behavior’s underlying mechanisms led me to become a UC Davis biopsychology major, where I spent my time as an undergraduate entrenched in cognitive neuroscience research. I was fortunate enough to work under the guidance of (then) graduate student, Dr. Trevor Brothers, whose contagious passion for linguistics, desire to teach, and electrophysiological expertise gifted me the foundation necessary to work in Dr. Steve Luck’s Laboratory for Basic and Translational Cognitive Neuroscience. After getting a grasp on EEG/ERPs and extending my interest in language processing to attention and visual working memory, I decided to take a break from research and gain clinical experience as a psychometrist in hopes of understanding cognition from a different vantage point. Combining my clinical and research experience, I was eager to revisit academia and join the Decision Lab to contribute to science once again.

Upon joining the lab, I started working on the Decision-Making in Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias study, where I collected data and began analyzing our Generalized Axiom of Revealed Preferences data. I later transitioned to developing E-Prime and Qualtrics instruments during my ownership of organizing the multi-national ALLFTD (ARTFL-LEFFTDS) recruitment for our Genes, Brains and Decisions project. Although my responsibilities have recently shifted to see that the lab runs smoothly, I hope to continue developing my understanding of behavioral economics, programming, and statistics.

When I’m not working, I enjoy singing songs about my favorite Liverpool FC players, rock climbing, playing soccer, and, more recently, unsuccessfully prospecting for gold!

photo of Celeste Fong

Celeste Fong

Research Coordinator
celeste.fong (at)

The Decision Lab is the perfect home for my interdisciplinary interests. I received my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where I conducted research on Alzheimer’s disease. While there I also took several philosophy courses, which introduced me to the field of bioethics. I became so enamored with the subject that I went to study for a Master’s in Bioethics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the opportunity to conduct work with a lab studying deep brain stimulation as a potential therapy for treatment resistant depression. My thesis project analyzed patient perspectives to respond to the ethical concerns and implications of DBS for depression, particularly as it relates to themes of identity.

My experience in neuroethics and neurotechnology led me to San Francisco and UCSF, where I work as a research coordinator in the Decision Lab for the Neuroethics in Novel Neurotechnologies study. The project involves observing and interviewing patients, caregivers, and providers in order to identify and respond to concerns regarding the ethics of closed-loop deep brain stimulation. I see value in the perspectives that these narratives can provide as we develop best practices for novel neurotechnologies. More broadly, however, I am also curious as to how such advancements in therapeutic technologies can challenge our society’s perception of itself and its values. Beyond this project, I also organize the Neuroethics Seminar, a twice-monthly interdisciplinary discussion on ethics-related questions that arise from neuroscience research and clinical neurology practice.

In my free time, I enjoy keeping up to date with the newest films and shows, trying to find the best bites in San Francisco, and pretending that I am half as good at rock climbing as the rest of the SF population.

photo of Sang Ngo

Sang Ngo

Research Coordinator (at)

Research was an integral part of my undergraduate experience at Stanford University, where I spent four years studying dynamic stem cell behaviors and tumor development. Working at the bench ignited my curiosity to explore and solve difficult questions about the natural world.

Though bench research consumed much of my time in these four years, I also dedicated time for community engagement work with vulnerable low-income and migrant communities. One experience I deeply cherish is my years spent volunteering at the university’s pediatric hospital, where I got the opportunity to connect with migrant children living with a host of conditions and diseases. Their spirit was a grounding and reassuring force for me all throughout college.

For a long time, these two parts of my life remained separate. It gradually became apparent to me, however, the disconnect between my research and the patients I interfaced with in the hospital and the wider community. My efforts to find an intersection between these two led me to the Decision Lab, where I manage the Decision-Making in Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias study. I am excited to extend my love for research to a clinical field that centers on the individual and the human experience.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, cooking comfort food, volunteering with migrant communities, and watching YouTube videos.

photo of Ashley Jackson

Ashley Jackson

Research Coordinator
ashley.jackson3 (at)

I am transitioning from a former career as a Ballet dancer to a field of medicine, science, and groundbreaking clinical research. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Performing Arts Degree in the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program at Saint Mary’s College of California. I am also earning an Associate’s degree in the field of Biological Sciences at Canada College. Among several extracurricular activities, I also enjoyed being a part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

While focusing on my artistry as a ballerina, I enjoyed traveling the world and experiencing unique cultures. In my dance career, I was awarded the Princess Grace Award, a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Performing Arts Medal, and the Chris Hellman Award, among other newspaper and magazine features. While I appreciate and value my time in the dance world, I always knew that I would like to go into medicine one day.

I discovered my passion for research during my time as an NIH researcher in the Bridges to Baccalaureate Program through SF State University. In this program, I acquired laboratory skills and presented on various research projects. I enjoy volunteering at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and at Shanti Project, where I was grateful to be named the Spotlight Volunteer in Shanti’s Spring 2019 Newsletter. I am thrilled to provide emotional support and practical assistance for both children in the hospital and assisting aging adults with disabilities in Shanti.

Compassion for our elderly with dementia is a value that is essential in society, so I am incredibly interested in researching and assisting with projects that enhance their quality of life. This is one of many reasons I believe in and value the research at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and why I’m excited about the work that I am doing as a member of the Decision lab, specifically on the Genes, Brains and Decisions Project. The insightful knowledge, experience, and abilities I will learn while working at UCSF’s world-class facility will better prepare me for my future as a physician and researcher.

In my spare time, I enjoy swimming, hiking, reading, and Pilates.

photo of Rea Antoniou

Rea Antoniou

Associate Specialist
Rea.Antoniou (at)

I first obtained my BA in psychology (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece). As a bachelor thesis student, I was introduced to the fascinating world of research by undertaking a behavioral study probing the association between cheating, creativity and moral reasoning. The question which psychological mechanisms tilt our moral compass sparked my interest. However, pieces were definitely missing from understanding such a perplex topic in depth.

My MS in Neural and Behavioural Sciences (University of Tubingen, Germany) provided a bigger piece to the puzzle by giving me the opportunity to work out interdisciplinary questions such as how cognitive enhancers affect cheating upon monetary payoff (Oxford University, UK) and how arousal mediates different contexts of lying (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Germany).

Now, being part of the Decision Lab at the Memory and Aging Center, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to add another, major piece, dementia. In other words, investigating conditions characterized notably by impairment of memory and judgment. In the lab, I am responsible for fMRI task design, data collection and analysis for the Decision-Making in Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias and the Online Studies of Decision-Making in Healthy Aging projects. Some questions I am eager to examine is how moral reasoning, dishonest behavior and overall value based decision making processes are altered in different types of dementia, including corresponding brain areas.

In my free time I enjoy dancing, hiking and camping. When I experience a rush of adrenaline I am most likely trying to surf.

photo of Emily Hardy

Emily Hardy

Research Coordinator
emily.hardy (at)

During my undergraduate studies I was able to accumulate a broad range of experiences. I received my B.S. in Physiology and became involved with research through studying and completing my Honors thesis project on the effects of amniotic membrane application on post-infarct cardiac remodeling. Additionally, I received a minor in Health and Human Values which introduced me to the way social, political, and institutional values, norms, and policies affect the health of different patient populations.

To supplement my understanding of these concepts, I worked as an intern developing a cervical cancer screening intervention at a family clinic with a largely underserved patient population. I also completed a capstone project highlighting ways the current sex education system fails to provide adolescents with necessary sexual health information.

In addition to these projects, I was able to gain first hand clinical experience by working as an EMT and then later as a patient care technician in the hospital. Although I enjoyed being able to interact with patients in these roles, I missed the academic aspect that I experienced working in research.

I am grateful to currently be working as a clinical research coordinator in the Decision Lab, as well as Dr. David Perry’s lab, where I am able to work in an integrated clinical and academic environment. In the Decision Lab I manage the psychophysiology testing for Genes, Brains and Decisions. This allows me to interact with current patients, and also contribute to academic knowledge which can inform better health care for future patients.

When I’m not at work I enjoy hiking, working out, and trying all of the best brunch places SF has to offer.

affiliate members

photo of Cutter Lindbergh

Cutter Lindbergh, PhD

Neuropsychology Fellow
cutter.lindbergh (at)
Scholar Citations

I received a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Gonzaga University and then completed a master’s degree program in experimental psychology at the College of William and Mary. I went on to earn a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Georgia, with emphases in the neuropsychology and neuroscience of aging. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology within the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) under the mentorship of Dr. Joel Kramer.

My program of research is broadly focused on brain aging, with specific interests in (1) identifying early detection strategies for unhealthy cognitive aging and neurodegenerative diseases and (2) better understanding factors that contribute to resilience against age-related cognitive decline and dementia. I also have a background in studying changes in decision-making that occur in typical aging and early stages of age-related neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. I am excited to have the opportunity to extend this work in Dr. Winston Chiong’s Decision Lab at UCSF.

In my free time, I enjoy hiking, camping, and more generally enjoying the outdoors. Playing basketball and reading novels are also high on my list of favorite pastimes.

photo of Samira Maboudian

Samira Maboudian

Visiting Graduate Student
smaboudian (at)

My interest in the brain began as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, where I studied Cognitive Science with a minor in Bioengineering. These fields gave me an interdisciplinary perspective to the study of the brain and mind, which is central to my approach to neuroscience. After spending a summer researching hippocampal circuitry in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease as an Amgen Scholar at Columbia University, I developed an interest in studying dementia and neurodegeneration. Looking to combine this budding interest and the human cognition focus of my major, I then worked in the Neuroeconomics Lab at Berkeley studying human decision-making and memory processes in aging and dementia.

I am now pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience also from UC Berkeley, where I’m broadly planning to study structural and functional changes in the brain in aging and neurodegeneration. As a rotation student in the Decision Lab, I am working on characterizing the role of memory and language deficits in decision-making impairments among patients with dementia, in collaboration with the Berkeley Neuroeconomics Lab.

When I’m not doing research, I enjoy science outreach. I am a Team Leader and instructor for Bay Area Scientists Inspiring Students (BASIS), where I have developed and taught neuroscience lessons in local Bay Area elementary schools. I also started Picking Brains with 3 other grad students, a project that highlights the stories of professors in neuroscience to normalize different backgrounds and journeys to becoming scientists.

In my free time, I enjoy art, baking, reading, hiking around the Bay Area, and visiting museums.

photo of Loren Gotingco

Loren Gotingco

Student Intern
lvgotingco (at)

I am an undergraduate student enrolled in a four-year BSN program with a minor in gerontology at the University of San Francisco. Through my experiences in both hospital and clinic-settings, I have been fortunate enough to interact with individuals of various walks of life. It is because of these relationships that I have learned the importance of being an earnest advocate for older adults and raising awareness about the diseases of aging within the larger community.

Currently, I volunteer at Mabuhay Health Center, a student-run clinic that provides health-related services to residents, mainly of Filipino-American descent, living in the South of Market district in San Francisco. As a second generation Filipino-American, I hope to be part of the effort in increasing diversity and inclusion within healthcare.

My interest in research sparked when I began to explore nursing informatics as a possible career path. I was intrigued by how informatics nurses are able to analyze trends and bring innovative, advanced systems to life through the use of data found from research. At the Decision Lab and UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center, I am able to explore my professional interests and serve a rapidly growing community of people in need by engaging in the studies of dementia and aging.

In my free time, I enjoy eating good food and rollerblading to stay active. I also love watching films and listening to K-pop, specifically Blackpink!

photo of Sheila Tran

Sheila Tran

Student Intern
tran.t.sheila (at)

I’m an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley pursuing a B.A. in Integrative Biology with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician. At Berkeley, I served as a reading mentor at an under-resourced elementary school in Oakland through B.U.I.L.D., and am engaged in our Labor Coach Program and the Biology Scholars Program. Outside of school, I volunteer as a crisis text counselor with Crisis Text Line, in which I support texters during their most difficult moments and empower them to make their own plans for safety.

My first introduction through research was in a psychology lab through the Stanford R.I.S.E. Program. It was there that I saw how research could impact the lives of individuals like myself, how its specificity and thoughtfulness could intervene on and validate problems whose importance may not have been emphasized in the past. Having seen how dementia has affected my grandmother and the apparent cultural challenges of coping with illness, the research being done at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center are personal to me. I’m excited to work with both the Program Project Grant and the Decision Lab to work towards real change and discovery in the field. In doing so, I’m confident that these experiences will help me become a compassionate physician and researcher in the future.

In my free time, I love to play and create music on the piano, make coffee, and read.


Heather Ma
Medical Student (at)
Effect of a collaborative dementia care model on advance directive possession
Carson Quinn
Medical Student
carson.quinn (at)
COMT Val158Met polymorphism associated with greater susceptibility to framing effects in healthy older adults


Ivy Huang, MD
previously: Undergraduate Research Assistant
now: Resident Physician, UCLA Department of Surgery
Chiong W, Kim AS, Huang IA, Farahany NA, Josephson SA. Inability to consent does not diminish the desirability of stroke thrombolysis. Annals of Neurology. 2014; 76(2):296-304.
Chiong W, Kim AS, Huang IA, Farahany NA, Josephson SA. Testing the presumption of consent to emergency treatment for acute ischemic stroke. JAMA. 2014; 311(16):1689-91.
William Feldman, MD DPhil
previously: Medical Student
now: Fellow, Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care
Feldman WB, Kim AS, Chiong W. Trends in recruitment rates for acute stroke trials, 1990-2014. Stroke. 2017; 48(3):799-801.
Feldman WB, Kim AS, Josephson SA, Lowenstein DH, Chiong W. Effect of waivers of consent on recruitment in acute stroke trials: A systematic review. Neurology. 2016; 86(16):1543-51.
Mia Borzello
previously: Research Coordinator
now: Graduate Student, UCSD Department of Cognitive Science
Beagle AJ, Zahir A, Borzello M, Kayser AS, Hsu M, Miller BL, Kramer JH, Chiong W. Amount and delay insensitivity during intertemporal choice in three neurodegenerative diseases reflects dorsomedial prefrontal atrophy. Cortex. 2020; 124:54-65.
Quinn CM, Borzello M, Zahir A, Kramer JH, Chiong W. COMT Val158Met polymorphism associated with greater susceptibility to framing effects in healthy older adults. bioRxiv. 2019. [unrefereed preprint]
Ali Zahir
previously: Research Coordinator
now: Medical Student, UCSF School of Medicine
Zahir A, Staffaroni AM, Wickham RE, Quinn CM, Sapozhnikova A, Seidman J, Chiong W. Caregiver “objective attitude” toward patients with neurodegenerative disease: Consequences for caregiver strain and relationship closeness. Aging & Mental Health. 2020; 1-7.
Beagle AJ, Zahir A, Borzello M, Kayser AS, Hsu M, Miller BL, Kramer JH, Chiong W. Amount and delay insensitivity during intertemporal choice in three neurodegenerative diseases reflects dorsomedial prefrontal atrophy. Cortex. 2020; 124:54-65.
Quinn CM, Borzello M, Zahir A, Kramer JH, Chiong W. COMT Val158Met polymorphism associated with greater susceptibility to framing effects in healthy older adults. bioRxiv. 2019. [unrefereed preprint]
Alex Beagle, MD
previously: Research Coordinator, then Medical Student
now: Resident Physician, UCSF Department of Medicine
Beagle AJ, Zahir A, Borzello M, Kayser AS, Hsu M, Miller BL, Kramer JH, Chiong W. Amount and delay insensitivity during intertemporal choice in three neurodegenerative diseases reflects dorsomedial prefrontal atrophy. Cortex. 2020; 124:54-65.
Chiong W, Wood KA, Beagle AJ, Hsu M, Kayser AS, Miller BL, Kramer JH. Neuroeconomic dissociation of semantic dementia and behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. Brain. 2016; 139(2):578-87.
Julia Heunis, MD
previously: Medical Student
now: Resident Physician, Boston Children's Hospital
Bernstein A, Merrilees J, Dulaney S, Harrison KL, Chiong W, Ong P, Heunis J, Choi J, Walker R, Feuer JE, Lee K, Dohan D, Bonasera SJ, Miller BL, Possin KL. Using care navigation to address caregiver burden in dementia: A qualitative case study analysis. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2020; 6:e12010.
Bernstein A, Harrison KL, Dulaney S, Merrilees J, Bowhay A, Heunis J, Choi J, Feuer JE, Clark AM, Chiong W, Lee K, Braley TL, Bonasera SJ, Ritchie C, Dohan D, Miller BL, Possin KL. The role of care navigators working with people with dementia and their caregivers. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 2019; 71(1):45-55.
Merrilees JJ, Bernstein A, Dulaney S, Heunis J, Walker R, Rah E, Choi J, Gawlas K, Carroll S, Ong P, Feuer J, Braley T, Clark AM, Lee K, Chiong W, Bonasera SJ, Miller BL, Possin KL. The Care Ecosystem: Promoting self-efficacy among dementia family caregivers. Dementia. 2018.
Possin KL, Merrilees J, Bonasera SJ, Bernstein A, Chiong W, Lee K, Wilson L, Hooper SM, Dulaney S, Braley T, Laohavanich S, Feuer JE, Clark AM, Schaffer MW, Schenk AK, Heunis J, Ong P, Cook KM, Bowhay AD, Gearhart R, Chodos A, Naasan G, Bindman AB, Dohan D, Ritchie C, Miller BL. Development of an adaptive, personalized, and scalable dementia care program: Early findings from the Care Ecosystem. PLoS Medicine. 2017; 14(3):e1002260.
Neil Vaishnav, MD JD LLM
previously: Medical Student
now: Resident Physician, UCSF Department of Medicine
Vaishnav NH, Chiong W. Informed consent for the human research subject with a neurologic disorder. Seminars in Neurology. 2018; 38(5):539-547.
Madhu Manivannan
previously: Research Coordinator
now: Medical Student, Emory School of Medicine
Heather Romero-Kornblum
previously: Research Coordinator
now: Graduate Student, UCSD Rady School of Management
Antoniou R, Romero-Kornblum H, Young JC, You M, Kramer JH, Chiong W. No utilitarians in a pandemic? Shifts in moral reasoning during the COVID-19 global health crisis. PsyArXiv. [unrefereed preprint]