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Current Members

Renu Sah, Principal Investigator

Renu Sah

I graduated from Lucknow University, India and after postdoctoral fellowships at University of Wisconsin, Madison and Duke University, North Carolina, I moved to Cincinnati. As described under the lab research section, my interests lie in understanding mental illness and what makes us susceptible. In addition to research, I am also very vested in graduate education and mentoring young talent: they hold our future !. When I’m not thinking about research grants and papers, I love spending time with my family, cooking, yoga and gardening. My latest passion has been practicing mindfulness and meditation. Blends well with the mind-body theme of our research!

Katherine McMurray, Postdoctoral Fellow
Katherine McMurray - Postdoctoral Fellow

I’m a currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab. My long-term research goals are to identify risk factors and improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms and neurocircuitry underlying psychopathology in order to identify novel targets for treatment. I received my bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill then completed my PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Chicago under the mentorship of Dr. Abraham Palmer. My graduate work focused on investigating the therapeutic potential of GLO1 inhibition for the treatment of comorbid disorders like alcohol use disorders, anxiety, and depression. My research in the Sah lab is focused on understanding risk factors and neurocircuitry regulating fear and stress-associated behavior and physiology. My current studies investigate neuroimmune modulators within discrete neurocircuits using mouse models of relevance to panic and PTSD. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, good food, and getting outside to hike, climb and bike.

Emily Johnson, Graduate Student
Emily Johnson - Grad Student

I am a 4th year PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at UC. I am interested in the relationship between peripheral inflammation and mental health. My project is investigating the relationship between Asthma as a potential predisposition factor for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. We have shown that a chronic asthma model exhibits altered freezing throughout fear extinction. Our data suggests that Th17 and one of its products, IL-17a, is involved in these behavioral changes. We hope to further explore the mechanisms behind these relationships and how the periphery is communicating with the central nervous system. Outside of lab, I enjoy taking my dog on walks and exploring Cincinnati.


Rebecca Ahlbrand, Lab Manager

Rebecca Ahlbrand - Lab ManagerAs lab manager, I keep the lab “functional, managing everything from orders, approvals, to lab and rodent colony maintenance. Given my experience in bench science I have also conducted several research studies. Currently, I am investigating the role of endothelial interleukin 1 (IL1) receptor in regulating CO2 sensitivity and fear extinction deficits in mouse models with relevance to PTSD and panic. In my spare time I like to hike, camp and garden.



Allison Wilson, Undergraduate Student
Allison Wilson - UG student

I am a post undergraduate obtaining a degree in Biology at UC. I hope to continue on to medical school in order to become a psychiatrist, as I have an interest and passion for those with mental illness, particularly with anxiety disorders. In the lab, I am currently researching sex differences in PTSD using mice models. In my free time I love spending time with my four other roommates, hiking and running, and serving my church. 



Sachi Shukla, Undergraduate Student
Sachi Shukla - UG student

I am a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Neurobiology with a minor in Sociology on a pre-med track. I am passionate about mental health, specifically eliminating stigmas on depression, anxiety, and PTSD. As a researcher, I assist in investigating the underlying mechanisms behind PTSD and its relation to CO2-inhalation. In my free time, I am usually going for a walk around UC’s campus, playing tennis, or trying a new restaurant with my friends.



Anisha Ajmani, Undergraduate Student
Anisha Ajmani - UG student

I am an undergraduate Medical Sciences major at the University of Cincinnati. In the lab, I am currently researching the relationship between PTSD/anxiety and severe asthma. I am very interested in psychiatric disorders and hope to pursue medical school in order to further this passion. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, traveling, and exercising.



Aravind Kalathil, Undergraduate Student
Aravind Kalathil - UG student

I am an undergrad student at the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in Psychology and Biology. This summer, I am interning as a SURF-Neuro fellow in the Sah lab. My summer project explores whether anxiety and fear behaviors can be impacted  by brain areas regulating homeostasis. To test this, we are manipulating a homeostatic-anxiety regulatory circuit using AAV-DREADD approaches. I hope to go to grad school and eventually do research on social stress and anxiety. In my free time, I love to try new foods and watch stand-up comedy.



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Department of
Pharmacology and Systems Physiology

College of Medicine
231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0575

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