The Team

The Rost Stroke Research Group is a team of investigators committed to advancing stroke research in the effort to reduce stroke occurrence and stroke-related disability. With a multitude of collaborators, our group works to facilitate genetic discovery and accelerate development of new preventative and therapeutic strategies. By unraveling the genetic contribution to stroke disease, we aim to fuel new treatments, improve the standard of practice for primary stroke prevention and decrease the burden of post-stroke disability.

The Rost Stroke Research Group is based at Massachusetts General Hospital’s J. Phillip Kistler Stroke Research Center. Massachusetts General Hospital is a world-renowned institution conducting the largest hospital-based research program in the U.S. and was named the top hospital in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals 2015-2016. The JPK Stroke Research Center provides a collaborative and innovative environment hosting many stroke research groups all dedicated to improving the world’s knowledge of stroke and cerebrovascular disease.

Natalia Rost, MD


Natalia S. Rost, MD, MPH, FAAN, FAHA is Stroke Division Chief in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. A cum laude graduate of Boston University School of Medicine, she also holds a Master’s degree from Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Rost trained in Neurology and Vascular Neurology at Partners (Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital) residency and fellowship programs.

As clinician-scientist, Dr. Rost dedicated her career to care of patients with stroke and reducing the burden of post-stroke disability through excellence and innovation in care and neurological science. Dr. Rost has an established line of research aiming to unravel the role of pre-existing burden of cerebrovascular disease on susceptibility of brain tissue to acute ischemia, which has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health and foundations including National Stroke Association, Bugher Foundation of the American Heart/Stroke Association, and the NIH Career Development Award (K23). As the Principal Investigator of the SALVO (NINDS R01NS082285) and MRI-GENIE (NINDS R01NS0869050) studies, she is broadly recognized as expert in neuroimaging markers of cerebrovascular disease, genetics of stroke, and post-stroke outcome prediction. Dr. Rost also serves as co-investigator on multiple multidisciplinary, multi-center collaborations involving the US-based NINDS StrokeNET clinical trials network and the International Stroke Genetics Consortium, where she serves as Chair of the Neuroimaging Working Group.

Dr. Rost is an author of numerous peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and co-author of the “MGH Handbook of Neurology.” She serves as Assistant Editor of the journal STROKE, and she recently completed her tenure as President of the Boston Board of the American Heart/Stroke Association. Among her professional accomplishments, Dr. Rost is particularly proud of her career-long involvement with the American Academy of Neurology, where she currently serves as Chair of the Science Committee.

Ona Wu, PhD


Ona is Director of the Clinical Computational Neuroimaging Group, a Martinos faculty member, Associate Neuroscientist at MGH, Associate Professor in Radiology at Harvard Medical School, and a Co-Investigator of the MRI-GENIE study. She earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT and has remained in the Boston area. She is the Principal Investigator of several NIH-NINDS funded projects. The primary goals of her research are to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and management of patients with brain injury resulting from stroke, cardiac arrest or trauma. Her group’s research concentrates on the development of multiparametric algorithms which combine multiple MRI-modalities to assess tissue injury and recovery. Additionally, her research concentrates on the refinement of advanced MRI data acquisition and analysis techniques, such as diffusion-weighted and perfusion-weighted MRI.

Markus D. Schirmer, PhD


Markus is a Marie-Curie Fellow at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Disease Bonn, Germany, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT and is currently at the MGH JPK Stroke Research Center. He received his M.Sc. in Theoretical Physics from Aachen University in Germany and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from King’s College in London. In the Rost Research Lab, Markus applies his theoretical background combined with his interest in neuroimage analysis across the life-span to further research to improve our understanding of stroke and the associated outcome for patients. In his current work, Markus promotes the use of clinical magnetic resonance images in large scale analyses. He is investigating different outcomes in stroke patients, aiming to understand and utilize the concept that some brains are seemingly more resilient to insults. In the future, his goal is the facilitation of translational research to the point where theoretical neuroimage analysis can be used to understand individual differences in patients. This will help support medical decision making and personalize treatment options for patients in order to improve their long-term outcome.

Mark Etherton, MD, PhD


Mark is an Assistant in Neurology at MGH and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He completed his M.D./Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center and came to Boston for his Neurology residency within Partners. Mark is interested in understanding individualized recovery after ischemic stroke. In the Rost Research Lab, Mark is using advanced neuroimaging characterization of white matter to assess the contribution of functional connectivity to stroke recovery. In the future, he hopes to build accurate models for individualized prognostication in ischemic stroke recovery.

Kathleen Donahue, BS

Kathleen (Katy) is our Project Coordinator for the Rost Research Group and the MRI-GENIE study. She provides support for the Rost Research Lab on both the administrative and neuroimaging analysis sides. She received her BSc in Neuroscience from Stonehill College and plans to continue her career in clinical research operations.

Marco Nardin, BA

Marco is our Computational CRC working primarily on the analysis pipeline for extracting phenotypic traits from acute ischemic stroke patient MRIs. He received his BA in Biology from Tufts University and is currently continuing his education by pursuing a MS Bioinformatics from Northeastern University. In the Rost Lab, he aims to continue developing computational skills for analyzing biological data and assist in facilitating novel insights.

Polina Golland, PhD


Polina is a professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT. She received her BSc and Masters in Computer Science from Technion, Israel and a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. Polina’s research spans computer vision and machine learning and her primary research interest is in developing novel techniques for biomedical image analysis and understanding. Polina’s current research focuses on developing statistical analysis methods for characterization of biological processes using images (from MRI to microscopy) as a source of information.

Arian V. Dalca, PhD


Adrian V. Dalca is a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He obtained his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the EECS department. He is interested in mathematical models and machine learning for medical image analysis, with a focus on characterizing genetic and clinical effects on imaging phenotypes, especially as applied to stroke. He is also interested and active in healthcare entrepreneurship and translation of algorithms to the clinic.

Razvan Marinescu, PhD


Razvan Marinescu is a a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, working with Polina Golland to develop machine learning algorithms for quantifying pathologies in the human brain.

Clinton Wang


Clinton Wang is a PhD student in Polina Golland's group at MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. His research is focused on medical image analysis and deep learning

Pamela Rist, PhD


Pamela is an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an Instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and instructor in epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She earned her bachelor in Engineering from University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Science & a Doctor of Science (MPH) from Harvard School of Public Health. She received a K01 award from the NHLBI to study the effects of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements on functional outcomes from stroke and examine pre-stroke predictors of white matter disease. She is collaborating with Dr. Rost and her team to achieve the goals of the grant. Pamela plans to continue researching cardiovascular epidemiology with a focus on the morbidity burden associated with cerebrovascular diseases, particularly stroke.

Alumni Members
Anne-Katrin Giese, MD


Anne worked as a Research Fellow at the MGH JPK Stroke Research Center. After graduating from Medical School at the University of Rostock in Germany, she began working as a researcher and physician at the Albrecht-Kossel-Institute for Neuroregeneration at the University of Rostock with a focus on monogenetic and polygenetic causes of stroke and lysosomal storage disorders. The shared interest in stroke genetics led Anne to the position within Dr. Natalia Rost’s laboratory at the J. Philip Kistler Stroke Research Center. In the Rost Research Lab, she aimed to characterize the genetic architecture of acute and chronic cerbrovascular lesions and to additionally assess the impact of genetic variation on known vascular risk factors. Beyond her work at MGH, Anne’s long-term career goal is to become an academic neurologist and clinician-scientist with an independent line of research in genetics and neuroimaging of ischemic stroke.

Florian Dubost


Florian Dubost is PhD student in medical image analysis at Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands. his research is brain segmentation of Cerebral Microbleeds and Virchow-Robin Spaces. His research interests are machine learning and computer vision techniques applied to medical data.

Mattias Drake


Mattias Drake Mattias works as a neuroradiologist and doctoral student at Lund University in Lund, Sweden.

Lisa Cloonan


Lisa Cloonan worked in the Rost Research Lab from 2009-2015 as a Neuroimaging Analyst/Project Coordinator. Her current position is at Decision Resources Group as a Business Insights Analyst.

Kaitlin Fitzpatrick


Current Position: Internal Medicine Resident at Tufts Medical Center in her PGY-2 year.

I graduated from University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2016. I worked at MGH with Natalia full time from 2010-2012 and previously, I had worked with her as a summer intern in 2008 and 2009.

Ira Ktena


Current Position: Research Scientist.

Ira spent 5 months in the Rost Lab while pursuing her PhD in Medical Image Computing at Imperial College London. She focused on developing a preprocessing pipeline for functional MRI data of stroke patients and worked on functional connectivity analysis in a hospital-based cohort of acute ischemic stroke patients. The end goal of her project was to investigate the potential of improving functional outcome prediction with connectivity measures.

Adriana Perilla


Current Position: Neurology Resident, PGY-4, Loyola University Medical Center
Upcoming Position: 2018 Movement Disorders Fellow, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Working with Dr. Rost was one of the major highlights in my life as a neurologist. As a first-year graduate student, she took me under her wing and guided me in my growth. She has an extremely captivating and enthusiastic personality that spreads to all of those around her. Whether the work involved analyzing data, coming up with new ideas for research, or simply thinking of what would be the best treat to bring to the next group meeting, she always kept a positive spirit and the love of research very much alive. I am delighted to hear of her growing group and am happy to be a part of it.

Hasan Karadeli


Current Position: Director, Stroke Services, Goztepe EAH (Education and Training Hospital), Assistant Professor of Neurology, Istanbul Medeniyet University

I was very happy to have the chance to study with Dr. Rost and team. I felt a part of the team since the first day I started with her. I admired her work discipline and ability to at the same time establish internal relationships with the whole team. And the team, they are very professional, helpful and smiling (of course hardworking) at all times.

Kunakorn Atchaneeyasakul

Current Position: PGY 4 Neurology Resident, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Upcoming Position: Vascular Neurology Fellow, University of California Los Angeles

I am a neurology resident with specific interest in research regarding vascular neurology and endovascular treatment of stroke. I was able to join Dr. Rost's lab working on the project identifying white matter intensity burden on stroke thrombectomy outcome. Dr. Rost's lab includes a wonderful team of physicians and scientists giving a great learning experience.

Arne Lauer


Current Position: Resident in Neuroradiology, Department of Neuroradiology, Goethe University Hospital, Frankfurt a.M. Germany

Dr. Rost is a fantastic mentor!

Svetlana Lorenzano


Current position: Researcher at the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Policlinico Umberto I Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy and Clinical Expert in the field of Neurology for the European Medicines Agency

The mentorship of Dr. Rost was particularly inspiring and motivating. Under Dr. Rost's supportive guidance, I increased my knowledge on cerebral small vessel disease and learned about semi quantitative methods to adequately measure radiologic markers of cerebral small vessel disease - mainly white matter hyperintensity - and to better evaluate their correlations with biomolecular markers and outcome measures.

Sarah Nelson


Current position: Assistant Professor of Neurology and Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

Cathy Zhang


Current Position: Third-year medical student at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri

During my M.A. at Boston University, Dr. Rost served as my master's thesis advisor. During my time in Dr. Rost's lab, I worked on genetic analyses of stroke, MRI white matter hyperintensity, and related phenotypes.

Arooshi Kumar

Current Position: I am currently a PGY1 resident at NYU Langone Medical Center pursing my neurology residency.

Dr. Rost was instrumental in fostering my curiosity and excitement for clinical vascular neurology research. I learned a great deal about acute ischemic stroke, vascular risk factors, statistical analysis, and genetic analysis because of Dr. Rost's dedication towards mentoring me as a medical student researcher. Additionally, I worked with a wonderful team comprised of people with diverse academic backgrounds who taught and helped deepen my understanding of genetic stroke research. My enriching experience in Dr. Rost's lab fortified my decision to choose a career in academic neurology!

Aurauma Chutinet, MD, MSc


Current Position: Assistant Professor, Head of the Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn Stroke Center, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thai Red Cross, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

I had a great time working with Dr. Rost on projects mainly focused on the determinants of, and outcomes from, intracranial and extracranial atherosclerotic disease and severity of leukoaraiosis in large vessel atherosclerotic disease. Working alongside some of the world's best researchers exposed me to diverse cultures and I gained valuable insight to enhance my work in Thailand.

Jamie Labuzetta, MD


Current Position: Assistant Professor, UC San Diego, Department of Neurosciences, Division of Neurocritical Care

Natalia is a wonderful teacher, researcher, and friend. I'm working in neurocritical care now, and she was instrumental in helping me arrive at the decision to do so.

Saloomeh Sadaghiani


Current Position: PGY-4 resident at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in the Combined Preventive - and Occupational Medicine Residency Program and the current chief resident in the program

The time working with Dr. Rost in her group at Massachusetts General Hospital is one of the highlights of my career. Not only did I learn much from her about medicine and research, she is also my role model because she is someone whom everybody loves and highly respects. She has this way of making everyone around her comfortable. I loved working with Dr. Rost, and will be forever thankful for that experience!

Pedro Pinto, MD

Current Position: Neurointensive Care staff and Research Director of the NeuroICU, Hospital Vitória, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Dr. Rost was my mentor during my research fellowship at the Kistler Stroke Research Center, MGH (2014-2015). During that year, I had the opportunity to work with her on the relationship between leukoaraiosis, blood-brain barrier disruption and tissue outcomes after acute ischemic stroke. Working with Dr. Rost proved to be a watershed moment in my career, deeply influencing the development of my PhD thesis after I came back to Brazil and setting the bar in terms of professionalism, scientific rigor and enthusiasm in academic research.

Allison Kanakis


Current Position: PGY-3 Internal Medicine resident at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.