Lab Team & Mission

"To learn is not to know; there are the learners and the learned. Memory makes the one, philosophy the others."

Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Lab Mission

In the Ebbert lab, our purpose and mission are to meaningfully impact human health and disease, where we are primarily focused on Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Part of this mission also includes a better understanding of overall genetics and genomics. We are only beginning to understand the roles every gene in the human genome play, which is complicated by the number of distinct RNA isoforms, and therefore, the number of distinct protein isoforms every individual gene encodes.

For example, the top genes implicated in Alzheimer's disease encode an average of ~12 isoforms. To truly understand human health and disease, we need to understand the function of these individual isoforms.

We also aim to train and help aspiring scientists accomplish their life & career goals. We’re looking for individuals (technicians, students, postdocs) who are genuinely excited and motivated by the prospect of improving human health and disease.

Our approach and specific long-term aims

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Help develop a meaningful disease treatment.

The idea is simple: we need treatments that will stop or prevent neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, FTD, and Alzheimer’s disease. Developing these treatments has clearly proven challenging. This is largely because we’re not trying to kill an infection like bacteria or virus, or to kill diseased cells like cancers; we’re trying to keep cells happy and healthy—that’s an entirely different story and a big challenge. We want to make our contribution to developing meaningful disease treatments for ALS, FTD, and Alzheimer’s disease by first identifying precise mechanisms driving disease that will make it possible to know how to treat it. These mechanisms are still largely unknown or poorly understood.

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Help develop pre-symptomatic disease diagnostics.

We hear a lot about how badly we need a meaningful treatment for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and ALS. It’s true. We absolutely do. What I don’t hear researchers talk about is how important a pre-symptomatic disease diagnostic is for neurodegenerative diseases. A diagnostic test is critical to treating many diseases. Generally speaking, the sooner you can properly identify a disease, to better outcome the patient will have (if there’s a meaningful treatment). For many diseases, the amazing body will heal itself once the threat is removed (e.g., infection or cancers). You cannot heal from a neurodegenerative disease, however; once symptoms have onset, it’s too late. We need pre-symptomatic disease diagnostics to detect neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) before symptoms onset.

Image 2
Help understand how environmental factors affect disease.

Nature or nurture? Genetics or environment? However you phrase it, the question has been around a long time. What is actually causing disease? The truth is that it’s probably both for complex diseases like ALS, FTD, and Alzheimer’s diseases. There are many possible environment factors that could affect a disease’s onset, severity, or duration, including diet, exercise, trauma, chemical exposures, etc. For example, why is there higher incidence of ALS among military veterans? We cannot fully understand disease if we don’t understand how the environment is involved.

Lab Team

Lab Leadership
Mark T. W. Ebbert, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator (PI)
Dr. Mark Ebbert joined the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging from the Mayo Clinic in 2020. He studies neurodegenerative diseases using cutting-edge sequencing technologies and computational approaches such as computational biology and bioinformatics.

Ja Brandon, Ph.D
Scientist IV
Dr. Ja Brandon received his PhD from the School of Forensic Science, University of Central Lancashire in England. He has been at the University of Kentucky since 2001 with a background in molecular biology, immunology and neurogenitive disease.

Mark E. Wadsworth, M.S.
Bioinformatics Analyst Sr.
Mark Wadsworth received his M.S. in Oncological Sciences from the University of Utah. Through leveraging large genomic datasets, he aims to identify factors contributing to disease progression with potential to improve clinical outcomes in patients. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, caring for his animals, and running.

CDO (Chief Disciplinary Officer)
Coding Consultant (also HR)
CMO (Chief Mischief Officer)
Graduate Students & Post Docs
Bernardo Aguzzoli-Heberle
Ph.D. Candidate
Bernardo Aguzzoli Heberle received his B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Kentucky. He aims to help inform more effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases by combining computational biology and genomic approaches. Outside the lab he enjoys playing basketball.
Patty Doyle
Ph.D. Student
Patty received her BS in Biology from West Virginia University with a concentration in Neuroscience and a minor in Music Performance. After graduation, Patty completed a postbaccalaureate research internship at The Jackson Laboratory. She aims to understand genomic influences on Alzheimer’s Disease risk in multiple cell types on the single-cell level. In her free time, she enjoys trivia, hiking, fiber arts, and music.

Grant Fox
Ph.D. Student
Grant received his BS in Neuroscience from Thiel College with minors in chemistry and biochemistry. After graduation, Grant worked at Carnegie Mellon University in the Computational Biology department as a research technician studying neurogenomics. Grant aims to elucidate RNA modifications impact on the epi-transcriptomic landscape. In his free time, Grant enjoys playing video games and being outside.
Madeline (Maddy) Page
Bioinformatics Analyst
Maddy graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Bioinformatics and minors in Computer Science, Math, and Business Management. She has a deep desire to learn and to better understand human diseases. Outside of research, Maddy likes to stay active through playing soccer and dancing.
Lacey Gordon
Lab Technician
Lacey received her B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in Biology, with the goal to attend medical school. She aims to improve her techniques within the wet laboratory and further her understanding of genetics and long-read DNA/RNA sequencing. In her free time she likes to read and try new coffee shops.
Nathan White
Neuroscience major
Nathan is pursing B.S. of Neuroscience degree at The University of Kentucky and aspires to attend medical school. He is interested in finding the causes of neurodegenerative diseases and helping victims of Alzheimer's Disease. In his free time he plays on the UK Rugby team and enjoys practicing guitar, especially blues music.
Brendan White
Computer Science and Neuroscience majors
Brendan is currently pursuing Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and Neuroscience at the University of Kentucky. He aims to harness the intersection of these fields to better understand the human brain. When not in the lab, he enjoys skateboarding and reading.


Kayla Nations
Ketsile Dikobe
Sabrina Krause
Ph.D. Student

Erik Huckvale
Bioinformatics Technician
Elizabeth (Liz) Vance
Matt Hodgman
Megan Biesinger