Research Team

Our multidisciplinary research team consists of dedicated researchers and trainees working toward exploring the very latest breakthroughs in plastic and reconstructive surgery research. Collaboration is key to our approach, and our team brings together the greatest minds across a range of specialties to find innovative approaches and solutions.   

Basic Science Research Staff
Clinical Sciences Research Building, 3rd floor

Daniel Hunter, RA
Senior Staff Scientist

Dan has over 30 years of experience in histology and microscopic analysis of nerve. He performs all histology analysis of nerve for the group including both light and electron microscopy. Ask Dan how many cats he has!

Albina (Ala) Jablonka Shariff, PhD
Staff Scientist

Ala has extensive training in a wide range of biological research with specific training in reproductive physiology, neuroscience, and molecular and cell biology. She has experience in using transgenic animal models and cell culture for a huge range of experimental techniques from cell and molecular biology to immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy. Her research investigates the interface between nerve and muscle, the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), after peripheral nerve injury. She specifically focuses on terminal Schwann cells, which are the specialized, non-myelinating glial cells located at the NMJ.

Lauren Schellhardt, BS, RVT
Lab Manager

Lauren is a licensed veterinary technician and worked in the veterinary field before coming to Washington University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2012 from Webster University. She focuses on animal care and behavior studies of functional recovery in rodent models, as well as immunohistochemical analysis of tissues. She also helps with regulatory compliance for lab safety. Lauren is originally from Illinois and moved to St. Louis in 2006 where she lives with her husband, twin daughters, and their dog, Spaghetti.

Clinical Research Staff

Our clinical research staff is committed to exploring the latest discoveries at the forefront of every subspecialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery. The team consists of exemplary researchers and trainees and who bring diverse research backgrounds and interests together to break new ground on the leading edge of the field.


William Moritz, MD
Research Fellow

Will Moritz, MD, is a post-doctoral research fellow whose work focuses on medical device development and surgical education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2016 and medical doctorate in 2021 from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Outside of plastic surgery, Will has published in the fields of neurology and anthropology. A native of St. Louis, Will is excited to add to the city’s resurgence through the development of innovative technology and the optimization of surgical care.

Kaamya Varagur
Research Fellow

Kaamya graduated with an AB in neuroscience, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Princeton University in 2018, where she also minored in classical vocal performance. She then
received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue her MPhil in the Centre for Music and Science at the University of Cambridge, before starting medical school as a Distinguished Student Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research in craniofacial surgery with Kamlesh Patel, MD, focuses on the impact of resource deprivation on access to care and outcomes in children with craniofacial differences. Her research in microsurgery includes several clinical and translational projects, including both a rat model of vascularized lymph node transfer for lymphedema and the growth of our human lymphedema biorepository, examining differences in adipose tissue derived from patients with and without lymphedema. She is originally from New Jersey and in her free time enjoys playing tennis and singing with the St. Louis Symphony.

Emma Young
Research Fellow

In 2020, Emma graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She then completed her master’s in biotechnology at Johns Hopkins in 2021. Her research involves regenerative medicine and biomaterials, with focuses on peripheral artery disease, peripheral nerve repair and vascular anastomosis. She is originally from California and is currently trying to find the best place for street style tacos in St. Louis.

Sai Pinni
Research Fellow

Sai Pinni is a St. Louis native and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BS in neuroscience. She is now in her third year at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and currently on a research year with the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Her research spans basic, translational and clinical studies on peripheral nerve regeneration, breast reconstruction, lymphedema and gender-affirming surgery. Fun fact: Sai loves to sing and was on a South Asian fusion a cappella team in college!

Suzanne Zhou
Research Fellow

Suzanne Zhou earned her bachelor’s degree in 2015 from Virginia Commonwealth University and is currently completing her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine
and a Master of Population Health Science from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research involves implementing a video-based coaching program for surgical trainees, evaluating telemedicine viability in surgical clinics and creating strategies to combat burnout in the operating room. She is originally from North Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys taking care of her fermentation cultures and exploring the outdoors on her mountain bike.

Blake Schofield
Graduate Student

Blake is an MD-PhD candidate who received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research involves understanding the mechanisms
of nerve regeneration across acellular nerve allograft (ANA) and engineering ANAs toward enhanced regeneration across long gaps. In addition to peripheral nerve, Blake is passionate about medical illustration, good design, antiques and restoration.

Jesús A. Acevedo Cintrón
Graduate Student

Jesús is a 6th year MD-PhD student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico, Jesús obtained his bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology in 2015 from the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras. After completing his undergraduate studies, Jesús completed a post-baccalaureate program at Johns Hopkins University where he studied the genetic pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. His research interests include understanding the role of the immune system in peripheral nerve regeneration. He is currently completing his thesis project under the supervision of Susan Mackinnon, MD, and Matthew Wood, PhD, studying how modulation of the immune system promotes nerve regeneration across acellular nerve allografts (ANAs). In his free time, Jesús enjoys watching sports, playing videogames and going on walks.

Cameron Martin
Research Fellow

Cameron Martin earned his bachelor’s degree in 2022 from Washington University in St. Louis. His research involves creating suture-less blood vessel anastomotic devices, engineering hydrogel composites to treat peripheral arterial disease and neuropathies, experimental drug therapies for the treatment of lymphedema and assessing the use of near infrared spectroscopy to predict the post-surgical complications of breast reduction surgery. He is originally from Maryland and enjoys playing numerous sports, including basketball and golf.


Michael Finnan

Adam Liebendorfer

Curtis Broberg

Evan Marsh

Annahita Fotouhi

Sarah Chiang

Unsupported Browser

This website will offer limited functionality in this browser.

We only fully support the recent versions of major browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge.