The team

2019 lab

Members of the Donahue lab and collaborators in December of 2019

  • Manus was trained at Duke University (BS: Physics; BA: Philosophy), Johns Hopkins University (PhD: Biophysics), and the University of Oxford (post-doc: Neurology). He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2009 and in 2010 moved to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he is currently a Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

  • Paula Trujillo Diaz is a research fellow in the Neurology Department focusing on image-based biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases. She received her bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering from Pontifica Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia, Masters of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. Her doctoral research proposed a quantitive assessment of the severity of Parkinson's disease, and differentiation between individuals with the disease and healthy subjects through the analysis of MRI. After her PhD, she worked at the Institute of Molecular Bioimaging and Physiology of the Italian National Research Council, with activities in the field of neuromuscular diseases, motor and exercise rehabilitation, and focused on the analysis of biomedical signals and images (EEG and MRI). In February 2017, she joined the Neurology Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and her current research includes investigating quantitative MRI methods to asses brain changes associated with neurodegeneration. She helps to support many projects involving mechanisms of neurodegeneration, including most recently the possible role of the recently-identified glymphatic system in these disorders.

  • Kilian is a senior post-doctoral fellow in the Neurology department. He is focusing on developing machine learning algorithms for neuroimaging analysis. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and his master’s degree in bioengineering from Université de Strasbourg, France. Kilian obtained his PhD in Computer Science from Université de Bordeaux, France. During his doctoral research, he worked on new machine learning methods for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and prognosis of subjects suffering from amnesic mild cognitive impairment. His current research includes studying developing new methods for the study of the glymphatic system. In addition, he is involved in other projects that use imaging techniques to assess changes occurring with the course of neurodegenerative diseases.
    In his free time, Kilian likes skateboarding around campus and educating the team about French wines.

  • Chelsea Lee graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies in August 2015. She is currently working on her Master in Business Administration at MTSU. Chelsea joined the Donahue Lab team in July of 2018 and assists as a clinical trials coodinator for the stroke, sickle cell anemia, and lymphedema imaging studies. Outside of work, Chelsea enjoys trying new restaurants, hanging out with her German Shepherd Cali, and trying to spot her favorite star cluster Pleiades in the night sky.

  • Niral Patel earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Missouri State University in 2010. In 2012 she graduated from Saint Louis University with a Master in Public Health. She is currently a clinical research coordinator with the Donahue Research Lab working on stroke, sickle cell, and lymphedema projects. Niral enjoys going to the movies, traveling, hanging out with friends and family, and attending NFL and NBA games.

  • Maria Garza is an imaging specialist and clinical trails coordinator at VUIIS. She has five years experience in behavioral community-based research. Previous studies she has assisted in focus on nutrition and behavioral interventions in underserved communities. Maria joined the Donahue lab in 2019 and currently assists with stroke, lymphedema and salt sensitivity studies. Her efforts focus on data collection, processing and organization, recruitment and patient interaction, as well as techincal assistance during research scans.

  • Spencer Waddle completed his bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Delaware in 2016 before coming to Vanderbilt as a graduate student in the Chemical and Physical Biology Program. In his research, Spencer processes functional imaging data with supervised learning techniques to better understand abnormal physiology in cerebrovascular disease. Additionally, Spencer works to develop pulse sequences for measurement of abnormal physiology in cerebrovascular disease. His work primarily focuses on Moyamoya disease, in which non-atherosclerotic arterial thickening leads to increased stroke risk. Spencer also runs MRI scans to collect functional and structural data on Moyamoya, sickle cell anemia, and healthy controls.

  • Sky Jones graduated in 2016 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BS in geology. He joined the Donahue lab in 2020 as a research analyst for the stroke, sickle cell anemia, and moyamoya imaging studies, where he focuses on process improvement and automated characterization of cerebrovascular pathology from functional images. Prior to joining the lab, Sky worked as an environmental scientist restoring streams and wetlands. In his free time, he enjoys playing the keyboard and visiting others with his registered therapy dog Fred.

  • Katie Hay is a Clinical Translational Research Coordinator II in the department of Neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She earned her MS degree in Clinical Psychology form Loyola University Maryland, with a concentration in neuropsychology. Her research background started at Johns Hopkins University in the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, where her work focused on researching more efficacious treatments for individuals with substance use disorders. Currently, she is serving at Vanderbilt exploring the effect of neurodegeneration on cognition, behavior, and movement symptoms through studies that utilize neuroimaging techniques such as MRI and PET. Her studies focus on Parkinson's Disease, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Multiple Systems Atrophy, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and others.

  • Jarrod Eisma is a PhD student in the Chemical and Physical Biology program at Vanderbilt. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2020 with a BS in Biomedical Engineering, where his research focused on applying quantitative methods to optimize optical imaging techniques and to differentiate cognitive control mechanisms on their electrophysiological profiles. In the Donahue lab, he is interested in using and developing structural and functional MRI techniques to better understand the glymphatic system in both neurodegenerative and healthy control subjects.



  • Alex Song is a Research Analyst in the Department of Neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He graduate from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience and in Economics. His research experience began at Vanderbilt under the mentorship of Dr. Calum Avison where he focused on the effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on numerical processing. Currently, Alex is working with positron emission tomography neuroimaging to explore the effects of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and others. 

  • Olivia Justice is a second-year undergraduate student working towards a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Business. In the past she worked as a Research Intern at Metacrine, a Biotech lab in San Diego, California researching NASH, also known as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. This year she will be studying the oxygen extraction fraction and neurological symptomatology in patients with sickle cell anemia. On campus, she enjoys being a member of Dance Marathon, Project Sunshine, and Delta Delta Delta Sorority.

  • Tonner is a second-year undergraduate student pursuing a major in Psychology and Medicine, Health and Society with a minor in Spanish. She joined the Donahue Lab in August 2019 and is currently studying cerebral capillary shunting in sickle cell disease patients before and after blood transfusions. On campus, she enjoys being a member of the Varsity Swim Team, Project Sunshine, and VSVS.

  • Caleb Han is a second-year undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University majoring in Neuroscience. In the past, he has been a member of the Dortch Lab where he studied potential biomarkers to aid in the diagnosis of hereditary neuropathy. Currently, he is researching the use of choroid plexus reactivity values as biomarkers of ischemic stress in moyamoya patients with the Donahue team. At Vanderbilt, he is involved in Club Volleyball, ACEing Autism, and Beta Upsilon Chi Fraternity.

  • Gabriela Pierobon Mays is a rising second-year undergraduate pursuing a major in Neuroscience and Medicine, Health, and Society. She joined the Donahue lab in April 2021. On campus, she is a member of the Vanderbilt Women’s Swim Team, an associate director of High School Dance Marathons through Vanderbilt Dance Marathon, a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, and enjoys volunteering as a swim instructor for the Nashville Dolphins. 


Sky Jones & Dr. Hett looking down on St. Louis (c. 2021)

Sky & Killian

Sky Jones seconds before Jenga collapse (c. 2021)


Dr. Kalen Petersen (c. 2021)

Dr. Kalen Petersen

Lymphatics Team and Collaborators (c. 2020) 

Lymphatics Team

The Cast of Ferris Beuller's Day Off (Halloween; c. 2020)

COVID-19 Halloween 2020

Donahue Lab Members and Collaborators (c. December 2019).

holiday party 2019

Sickle Cell Disease Imaging Team (not pictured: Chelsea Lee)

scd team

Current and Former Lab Members at 2020 International Stroke Conference


Manus and Carlos. Black's, Bethesda. (c. March 2020).


Annual Awards Table. These Prestigious Awards are Presented to Core Lab Members and Key Study Personnel in Good Standing.


The Cast of Mean Girls (Halloween; c. 2019).

Mean Girls Halloween (c. 2019)

Fantasy Football Draft Night (c. 2019).

fantasy football

Megan Strother and Manus Donahue Pose for a Picture for the Newspaper During a Scan on a Moyamoya Patient (c. 2012).


Late Spring Happy Hour in Nashville (c. 2019).

Happy Hour (c. 2019)

Sodium MRI Preparations. Taken After Restarting the Multi-nuclear Amplifier (c. 2018).


Manus' 29th Surprise Birthday Celebration (c. 2019). 


Shelly Reporting at the Lipedema Foundation Annual Meeting (c. 2018).


Spencer Considers the Impact of Reduced Reactivity While Staff Discuss Available Options.


Preparing for Blood Relaxation Time Experiments.


Skylar Receives Some Food and the ISMRM Ribbon for Being #1.


Manus Donahue Returning 10 Years After Leaving Johns Hopkins University (c. 2019).


Chelsea Considers the Influence of a Hemoglobin Stabilizing Agent on Water Transverse Relaxation.

blood scan

Moyamoya Revascularization Surgery.


Post-Mortem Human Brain Preparations.


The Original Lymphatic Imaging Group Posing by the Mock Scanner for the Newspaper (c. 2014).


Lab Members Add Their Thoughts While Considering New Results (c. 2017).


Multi-nuclear Imaging Not Working after 3 Tesla Ingenia Upgrade.

not working

Multi-nuclear Imaging Working after 3 Tesla Ingenia Upgrade


Radiology Wisdom from Men's Health. Josh Kopelman has Consistently Been Ranked in the Top 20 for Venture Capitalists and in 2000 Sold to EBay.


Donahue Lab and Collaborators at First Holiday Party (c. 2014).

lab group

Vanderbilt University Campus in the Spring (c. 2018).


Richad Edden and Manus Donahue (Graduate School, Johns Hopkins, c. 2006).

richard and manus

Johns Hopkins Easter Egg Decorating Competition (c. 2005).


Katie Works in the Center for Cerebrovascular and Physiological Imaging (c. 2017).

perometer room

Human Lymph Node with Afferent Vessel (c. 2018).

lymph nodes

High Spatial Resolution 7 Tesla Arterial Spin Labeling MRI at Baseline and During Hypercapnia (c. 2015).

7t asl

Lab Super Bowl Party (c. 2018).

super bowl

Paula and Shelly Interpret Images from a Patient with Breast Cancer Treatment Related Lymphedema (c. 2018).


Spencer Waddle


Group Holiday Party (c. 2018).

holiday party

Niral's Baby Shower (c. 2018).

baby shower

Manus Donahue Before Talk at Epic Medical Records Headquarters, Wisconsin.


Spencer and Maria Raise Their Arms Above Their Heads at Happy Hour (c. 2019).

happy hour

A Compressed Cylinder Containing a New Medical Grade Hypercapnic Normoxic Respiratory Stimulus.


Paula Diaz Provides Insight on Neurodevelopment (c. 2017).


Control Room of the PET/CT VUIIS Scanner (c. 2017).


Carlos Faraco, PhD (c. 2018).


Lab Members in Paris, 5th Arrondissement (c. 2018).


Lab Happy Hour at Saint Anejo Cantina, Nashville (c. 2019).

happy hour

Manus Donahue and Members of the van Zijl Lab (c. 2007)