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Principal Investigator-Dr. Murray Blackmore

Dr. Murray Blackmore received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, and his graduate degree in neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. During his postdoctoral training at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Dr. Blackmore studied axon regeneration and adopted High Content Screening methods to identify new gene targets to promote neural repair. Later, as a Research Assistant Professor at the Miami Project, Dr. Blackmore used a gene therapy approach to test these new gene targets for the ability to promote axon regeneration in the injured spinal cord. Dr. Blackmore is continuing this line of research at Marquette University, using viral delivery of genes to injured neurons in rodent models of spinal injury in order to foster repair.

Zimei Anchor
Research Assistant Professors
 Dr. Zimei Wang

Dr. Zimei Wang earned a degree in medicine from Shanghai Second Medical University and a PhD in Neuroscience from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She was briefly a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University, and then joined Dr. Blackmore while he was still a Research Assistant Professor at the Miami Project. She moved with Dr. Blackmore to Marquette University in 2011 and was instrumental in establishing the new lab. She is lead author on a number of lab publications and has a wide range of lab skills, most notably surgical expertise. When the lab  wants to move in a new direction with animal models, it is Dr. Wang that makes it happen.

Postdoctoral Fellows
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Jose Rosas

Jose Rosas graduated with an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences from Marquette University in 2014. He studied neuroinflammatory secondary damage after spinal cord injury (SCI) at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) earning his PhD in microbiology and immunology. During his time at MCW, he investigated the damaging effect of interleukin-12 (IL-12) on SCI neuroinflammation. He joined the lab in January of 2023 with a desire to study the effects of neuronal stress on axonal regeneration and ways of optimizing neural progenitor cell transplantations.      


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March 2021

We are looking for a postdoc!


Potential projects range from the molecular to the behavioral and can be tailored to match your skills and interests. Contact Dr. Blackmore at and find the official Marquette job posting here.

SCI Community Liaison 

Nancy Nicholas received her Bachelor's of Science in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York (1985). She earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Seattle University (1994). Nancy is a retired executive from the Boeing company where she held a variety of positions starting in manufacturing research and development and culminating in program management. She sustained a spinal cord injury while mountain biking with her family in 2013. Nancy joined the lab in November 2020 to share her lived experience and to represent the SCI community in the research process.

Nancy Nichols
Research Technicians
Logan Friedrich
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Logan Friedrich conducted undergraduate research while earning his cellular and molecular biology degree from Wisconsin Lutheran College. He assisted professors, co-founded/ran research teams, and conducted independent/guided research related to developmental/cancer biology and gene therapy technique. After college he began his career in neuroscience managing a lab studying opioid addiction. Then, he went on to develop novel neuro-oncological models and stemness analysis techniques. His wide variety of experiences and abilities make him a valuable team member well suited to gene therapy based neural regeneration research. He also does most of the 3D printing and engineering work in the lab, including the creation of the conveyor apparatus and accompanying AI analysis pipeline.

Graduate students
Carli Batsel
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Carli Batsel received her B.A. in Biology from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, FL. She is a first-year graduate student with a strong interest in the molecular control of axon growth and is launching a project centered on temporal control of several lead hit genes. Welcome Carli!

Shalana Atwell
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Shalana Atwell received her B.S. in Neuroscience from Knox College in Galesburg, IL. She joined the Blackmore lab in 2022 and has worked on stem cell grafts and surgery techniques. She will utilize these techniques and more in her thesis project, which is focusing on modes of axonal growth, specifically, the importance of cytoskeletal organization proteins in elongational growth. 

Sofia Testor
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Sofia Testor graduated in 2022 with a degree in Biotechnology. She has a strong background working in the laboratory. She did her internship at IPTG department of clinical genomics (Spain) researching gene therapy approaches to cure Neurofibromatosis type 2, a rare genetic condition that causes tumors to grow along your nerves. Most recently, Sofia has been researching Spinal Cord Injuries at Blackmore Lab, testing combinations of regeneration promote Transcription Factors by dissecting the neurons of mice that had been retrogradely injected with an AAV containing those factors and performing the posterior Single Cell experiments and bioinformatic analysis.

Undergraduate students

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March 2021

We are looking for Marquette Undergrads!


Potential roles range from the molecular to the behavioral and can be tailored to match your skills and interests. Contact Dr. Blackmore at

Former Lab Members
Dr. Ishwariya Venkatesh

Dr. Ishwariya Venkatesh received her Bachelors degree in Engineering & Biotechnology from BIT (Anna University) in India (2009) and her PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2014). Her dissertation research focused on the identification of gene regulatory pathways that underlie successful optic nerve regeneration in Zebrafish. She joined the lab in the Fall of 2014 with a strong interest in epigenetic and transcriptional regulation. Besides her bench work she has dedicated herself to mastering in a range of bioinformatic techniques, which are now yielding a number of manuscripts and exciting new gene combinations for the lab. She has been supported since 2016 by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. She transitioned to a Research Assistant Professor position in March 2018. 

@Ishwariya13 @Axon_reg_papers 

Research Technicians
Advaita Chakraborty received his Bachelors in Biotechnology from AMITY University in India (2013) and his Masters in Biomedical Sciences from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2017). His master’s thesis research focussed on amyloid beta protein toxicity in Alzheimer’s disease. He joined the lab in the Summer of 2017 and is responsible for cell culture growth assays, high content screening, gene expression analysis, and keeping the lab running smoothly.

Erik Eastwood received his bachelors degrees in biochemistry and biophysics from Marquette University (2018). He transitioned from an undergrad researcher to surgical technician in the Summer of 2018. He is primarily responsible for performing in vivo surgeries and assisting with behavioral analyses. His future plans include pursuing a medical degree. 

Bioinformatics/Software development

Vatsal Mehra received his Bachelors degree in Computer Science (NMIMS, Mumbai) in India (2010) and a Masters in Bioinformatics from Marquette University (2016). Vatsal joined the lab in December 2018 and is primarily responsible for developing and executing novel bioinformatic pipelines for several projects in the lab. He comes with strong programming expertise in Python, R, bash shell scripting, Javascript along with data visualization skills (d3.JS)


Graduate students
Audra Kramer

Audra Kramer received her Bachelors degree in Biochemistry & Microbiology and French from Marquette University (2010). She received her Master’s degree in Cell Biology  from The Medical College of Wisconsin (2014). Her masters thesis research focused calcium binding proteins in pre-frontal cortex-hippocampal dependent learning and memory. She joined the lab in the Fall of 2014 with a strong interest in synaptic integration and cells-specific targeting of regenerated axons. She also engages in scientific outreach activities including mentoring high-school students in protein chemistry and judging local science fairs.

Undergraduate Students

Lyndsey Holan is majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a disciplinary Honors in Research.  She plans to attend dental school to become a pediatric dentist. Lyndsey's Honor  project centers on transcription factor over-expression for axon growth, looking at both histological and behavioral outcomes.  

David Nowak is majoring in biomedical sciences and applied economics.  He hopes to pursue a medical degree and continue research in his career.  Lab responsibilities include optogenetic data processing, axon quantification, behavioral assessment, and general animal care

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Zac Beine is majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a disciplinary Honors in Research. His Honor’s project is focused on the use of Single Cell Analysis to evaluate the effects of select transcription factors on regeneration associated genes. In the future, Zac hopes to pursue a career in medicine.  

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