Our Team

Principal Investigator

  • Dr. Francesca Bagnato is a dual-board (European and American) neurology certified physician, currently on faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). Dr. Bagnato sees patients with neuroimmunological diseases at the Neuroimmunology Clinic of VUMC as well as the Nashville VA HealthCare System. She joined Vanderbilt in October 2015 where she is now the Head of the Neuroimaging Program of the Neuroimmunology Division, Co-Director of Research-MSCoE-East for the VA and Associate Vice-Chair of Research at VUMC. Dr. Bagnato has authored more than 100 publication focused on MS.  

Research Students

  • Kelsey is a fourth year medical student at Vanderbilt and plans to pursue residency training in child neurology. She has a strong interest in neuroimmunology and completed the National MS Society's medical student mentorship program in 2022. She is investigating subtraction imaging techniques for detection of leptomeningeal enhancement on 7T MRI in persons with MS. 

  • Rachael Cheek is a fourth-year medical student at Meharry Medical College. She began to work with Dr. Bagnato in July 2020 as a participant in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Clinical Mentorship Program. She worked directly under the tutelage of post-doctoral research fellow Margareta Clarke. In this role, she assisted with data collection, data analysis, and any other assigned research duties. In addition, Rachael has authored a clinical review on how to address and assess telephone calls of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) seeking for help in the clinic. 

    Her previous research endeavors include examining cognitive impairment in MS (Georgetown University) and studying the relationship of gonadotropin‐releasing hormone and sexual dimorphic kisspeptin neurons (Morgan State University).

  • Bryan Hernandez is a senior at The University of Texas at El Paso studying neuroscience. He was a summer student Bagnato Lab in 2022 as member of Vanderbilt's Medical Scientist Training Program Summer Undergraduate Research Program. He now continues to work in the Bagnato Lab remotely. Bryan's research centers arounds identifying the clinical manifestation of multiple sclerosis pathology using phase imaging at ultrahigh field as a method of identifying potential biomarkers of the disease progression.

  • Faraaz Kazimuddin is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying neuroscience and world politics while working as a student researcher in the Bagnato lab. Faraaz's research focuses on the radiological and clinical outcomes of persons with multiple sclerosis presenting with paramagnetic rim lesions, assessing biomarkers of disease progression and characterization using MRI sequences such as fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR), susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI), phase-contrast imaging, percentage signal recovery (PSR), and quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM). 


  • Jiacheng Wang is a second-year Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University majoring in computer science in Prof Oguz lab. He is passionate about exploring the potential application of machine learning/deep learning in physiological and pathological conditions.

    Jiacheng runs several projects aimed at developing automated segmentation of  paramagnetic rim lesions, leptomeningeal enhancement foci and white matter lesions on 7T MRI under limited human annotations scenarios. 

Research Coordinator

  • Salma has her B.S. in neuroscience from the University of Iowa and is now a second-year master's student at the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge program. Salma assists scan patients and analyzing MRI scans to investigate disease severity in relation to localization.

  • Taegan has her B.S. in Public Health from the University of Alabama. Taegan enrolls participants, obtains consent, and assists with 7T MRI scans. Taegan is interested in gaining further knowledge in the progression of multiple sclerosis observed through MRI methods and performs image analyses of mice with experimental multiple sclerosis. 

Neurology and Radiology Residents

  • Dr. Dhairya Lakhani earned his M.D. from Sumandeep University in India. He completed his postdoctoral research fellowship and PGY-1 Internal Medicine Residency at Vanderbilt University. He joined the Bagnato lab as a research resident in 2018-2019. He is currently Chief Resident in Diagnostic Radiology at West Virginia University and plans to start a clinical neuroradiology fellowship at John Hopkins University in June 2023.

    Dr. Lakhani’s past research in Dr. Bagnato's laboratory was focused on clinical application of advanced diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and he is now involved in studying the effect of paramagnetic rim lesions on the surrounding healthy white matter.



Amalie Chen, M.D.

Previous position: undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Position in the lab: research medical student (school of medicine Vanderbilt University School of Medicine) and awardee of the clinical mentorship of the National MS Society (summer of 2018). 

Current position: Neurology chief resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Margareta A Clarke, Ph.D

Previous position: PhD at the University of Nottingham, England. Awardee of the ECTRIMS-MAGNIMS research fellowship.

Position in the lab: National Multiple Sclerosis Society post-doctoral fellow (2019-2022).

Adriana Morales, B.S.

Previous position: sophomore undergraduate student at Duke University.

Position in the lab: summer student (2021).

Current position: senior undergraduate student at Duke University.

Keejin Yoon, B.A.

Previous position: undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University.

Position in the lab: undergraduate research student (2020-2021).  

Current position: medical student (MS-I) at University of Central Florida.