The Team

Josh Neman, PhD (Principal Investigator)

Josh Neman (@cnsmender) / XDr. Josh Neman is an Associate Professor in Neurological Surgery, Physiology & Neuroscience at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). Within USC, Dr. Neman serves as the Director of the Cancer Biology & Genomics Doctoral Program and the Scientific Director of the USC Brain Tumor. Additionally, he is the co-leader of the Neuro-Oncology Disease Affinity Group and Director of Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination (CRTEC) at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Neman received his doctoral degree at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Neurobiology. He then went on to complete his Cancer Biology Fellowship at the City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute where he was a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Fellow focusing on brain tumors.       Dr. Neman is a strong supporter of involving the community in his basic and translational laboratory—this involves engaging with patients, patient advocates, and their families’.

Diganta Das, PhD

Diganta is a Postdoctoral Researcher working on brain metastasis through  neurobiology perspectives (microenvironment and brain barriers).  Diganta received his PhD in snake venom protein chemistry from Tezpur University, Assam, India and has a sound experience in proteomics. He earned the technique of handling snakes and venom milking. Diganta enjoys a good guitar and photography binge but can also be found in the midst of wilderness.

Mukund Iyer, BS

Mukund is a PhD candidate in the lab. Before joining, he received his BS in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University while working at a pancreatic cancer lab at MD Anderson. His research interests are focused on elucidating the mechanisms through which tumor cells enter the brain and adapt to the  brain microenvironment. In his free time he enjoys watching basketball, hiking all around LA, and playing video games.

Neman Lab Alumni

Krutika Deshpande, PhD

Krutika  joined the Neman lab after she completed her M.S in Microbiology and Immunology from Georgetown University where she studied the molecular biology of the Hepatitis Delta Virus. She then went on to work at the University of Kansas, researching alcoholic liver disease. Krutika joined the Neman lab in 2016, where her research focused on characterizing and unraveling the mechanisms that tumor cells use to metastasize to the brain. Using molecular biology and core neuroscience to complement each other, she studies how breast cancer cells co-opt neuronal pathways to adapt  to the brain’s microenvironment, and then establish clinical metastases. When she’s not actively trying to advance science, she can be found taking pictures of sunsets, reading science-fiction, listening to podcasts, and trying to get other lab members to be guinea pigs for her baking experiments. Krutika is currently a postdoc in the laboratory of Frank Attenello MD, MS at USC working on Glioblastoma biology.

Rachel Eisenbarth, MD

Rachel studied physiology and neuroscience at UCSD and graduated from USC Keck School of Medicine in 2022.  Her projects in the lab focused on  novel therapeutics for breast-to-brain metastases. In her spare time, Rachel loves playing board games and is learning to play Go. She enjoys ballroom dancing, painting, and hiking. Rachel is currently a Neurology resident at USC with interests in neurointerventional radiology.

Alex Julian, MD

Alex is currently a medical student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He completed his B.S. in Neuroscience at UCLA and worked as a research assistant in Dr. Neman’s lab between graduating college and starting medical school. He has worked on numerous projects throughout his time in the lab, but his current project focuses on the effects several novel therapeutics for triple-negative breast cancer and breast-to-brain metastatic cells. Alex is also the drummer of an all medical student band entitled “The Anastomoses” and a teammate on an all medical student softball team entitled “Sentinel Chickens”. He enjoys exploring Los Angeles, listening to music, and playing a number of sports, including basketball, soccer, softball, and ultimate Frisbee

Vahan Martirosian, PhD

Vahan completed his B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. After graduating he continued his research in the Department of Radiation Oncology where he studied the neurological deficits caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment and how to reverse these effects utilizing stem cell transplantation therapy. He then went on to receive his M.S. in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Southern California where he studied the metastatic capabilities of pediatric brain tumor -medulloblastoma. Vahan’s research in the  the Neman lab focused on identifying genetic and metabolic pathways which give medulloblastoma  tumor cells the ability to disseminate into the leptomeningeal space. When he is not busy in the lab, he enjoys tending to his garden, working on cars, playing sports, and traveling. Vahan is currently postdoc at UCLA.

Max Reed, BS

Max Reed was an undergraduate junior majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Entrepreneurship at USC when he joined the Neman.  He was on several projects that focused on the role of the tumor microenvironment in brain metastasis. His passion for remedying racial and socioeconomic disparities in public education and healthcare led him to volunteer for organizations such as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and the Orthopedic Institute for Children and intern for the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Max is currently a M.D. Candidate at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Robert Herrera , MS

Robert joined the Neman lab upon being admitted to USC’s MMI program in 2018. He completed his B.S in Biology at UCSB. After graduating, Robert worked as a lab technician for a biotech company where he manufactured regenerative medicines. He then went on to work at UCI to take on a more research-focused role. At UCI his research centered on Alzheimer’s disease, where he investigated neuronal biomarkers in transgenic mice. His experience in neuroscience continued in the Neman lab where his research focused on brain metastasis.  He recently received his master’s degree and is currently working at Genentech. On his free time he enjoys the movies, hikes, and hanging out at the beaches. On windy days you could find him in Long Beach kite surfing Belmont shore.

Michelle Lin, MD

Michell  grew up in the Bay Area where  she spent  summers camping and winters in Tahoe. She received her undergraduate degree in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. Following undergrad, she spent a year at Stanford studying jellyfish stings with the Emergency Department.  She then came to USC for medical school.  As a medical student, her work in the lab focused on medulloblastoma research where she received Keck School of Medicine’s Deans Award and American Brain Tumor Association Medical Student summer research fellowship Award. Michelle is currently a neurosurgery resident here at USC.

Behnaz Saatian, PhD

Ian Buchannan, MD

Vazgen Stepanosyan, MD