Here's some of the highlights of what we've been up to

Rachana and Gabby win research presentation awards!

The Fox lab was well-represented the 2021 Central Virginia Chapter for the Society for Neuroscience. Grad students Gabby and Rachana both were selected to give oral talks on their research and both won awards for their presentations! Congratulations!

MARCH 2021

Michael receives Letter of Distinction from the School of Medicine!

Additionally, as a Letter of Distinction recipient, Michael Shlossman is one of eight students who will give an oral presentation about their research during the school’s Medical Student Research Symposium.


March 2021

Alexandria is featured by Radford University!

In an article entitled “Alexandria Pilot: Passionate about Public Health and Higher Education“, Radford University showcases Alex’s passion, determination, and genuineness that she brings to her work.

October 2020

Jianmin's paper on Somatostatin-expressing cells and Collagen XIX is online at JNeurosci!

You can find the article “Paracrine Role for Somatostatin Interneurons in the Assembly of Perisomatic Inhibitory Synapses” online on the Journal of Neuroscience website here.

August 2020

Rachana receives award to to attend CSHL's Glia in Health & Diseases conference!

Rachana was awarded Virginia Tech’s Broaden the Experiences of Scientific Trainees Award to attend Cold Spring Harbor’s Glia in Health & Diseases conference this July

June 2020

Statement on recent events

June 2020

The Fox lab is saddened by events of racism and violence targeting the Black community. It is unacceptable to us that acts of racism occur in this country, especially from groups that are in place to protect us.

The Fox lab reaffirms its principles of inclusion, diversity, and community at this time and affirms its support that all individuals must be treated with respect, compassion, and equity, regardless of their race, gender, country of origin, sexual orientation, religion, cultural traditions, physical abilities and mental health. We stand with the Black community, and all underrepresented groups, and are committed to supporting the fight for equity, justice, and a society free from discrimination.

The Fox lab supports statements released by VT President Sands and Vice President Pratt-Clarke, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, the College of Science, the Department of Biological Sciences, the School of Neuroscience, and the VTC School of Medicine, all of which strongly denounce these horrific acts against the black community and call for us, as Hokies, to embody Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) and to find ways to solve this multigenerational problem. We must not be content with incremental progress. We must find ways to make major changes now. Simply making this statement is insufficient. We all have an active role to play.

Finally, for those in need of support, we encourage you to reach out:

  • Mike Fox at 540-526-2050
  • Employee Assistance Program
    • Anthem at 855-223-9277
    • Aetna at 888-238-6232
    • Kaiser Permanente at 866-517-7042
    • Optima Health Vantage HMO at 866-846-2682

Rachana advances to candidacy

Congratulations to Rachana for successfully defending her thesis proposal in the middle of a global pandemic

may 2020

A new study is published in GLIA!

april 2020

Ubadah recognized with Young Investigator award from the American Society for Neurochemistry

March 2020

Ubadah selected as policy ambassador by Society for Neuroscience!

Ubadah was selected as one of 10 neuroscientists for the Early Career Policy Ambassador program and will participate in the Society’s annual Capitol Hill Day.

LinksSfN press release | News article

February 2020

A new study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences!


Gabby advances to candidacy!

Congratulations to Gabby Carrillo, 3rd year TBMH Ph.D. candidate, on successfully defending her thesis proposal and advancing to candidacy. 


Rachana Somaiya and Ubadah Sabbagh receive Adaptive Brain and Behavior Professional Development Awards!

TBMH graduate students, Rachana Somaiya and Ubadah Sabbbagh, received Adaptive Brain and Behavior Professional Development Awards.  Rachana’s award supports  travel to Dr. Guido’s laboratory at the University of Louisville to learn electrophysiology.  Ubadah’s award supports travel to the Gordon Conference on Thalamocortical Interactions, in which he was invited to give a talk.  Congratulations!

october 2019

Kristofer Rau, Ph.D., uses data to enhance neuroscience comprehension among VTCSOM medical students!

Links: Article

october 2019

Rachana is at the University of Louisville!

TBMH graduate student, Rachana Somaiya, is currently spending a month working on electrophysiology with Fox lab collaborator, Dr. William Guido, at the University of Louisville.

september 2019

Ubadah's research is highlighted in President's State of the University Address!

Ubadah was interviewed live during President Sand’s 2019 State of the University Address, and later interviewed by Virginia Tech for a profile article written about his research and background.

Links: Profile Article

september 2019

Congratulations, SURF Students!

The SURF programs concluded last week with the fellows presenting their discoveries from lab at Virginia Tech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium and the first annual Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. Congratulations to all the fellows and thank you to all of the faculty, staff, and trainees that helped prepare them for their presentations!  Shout out to Prateek Govindaraj for winning first place for his poster presentation at the FBRI Symposium!

August 2019

Alicia's Last Day!

The Fox lab said our goodbyes to Alicia Kerr today! Good luck at the National Eye Institute! We will miss you! 

Video Credit: Ubadah Sabbagh

July 2019

The Fox and Mukherjee labs celebrate Alicia!

The Fox and Mukherjee labs came together for a send-off to celebrate Alicia’s next adventure at the National Eye Institute.  We will miss you! Congratulations!


July 2019

not keys

Alicia's paper is published in IOVS and she accepts a position at NEI!

Alicia’s paper, entitled “Non-cell autonomous role of CASK in optic nerve development”, was accepted for publication in IOVS.  She has also accepted a postdoctoral position at the National Institute of Health, working in the Section of Retinal Ganglion Cell Biology at the National Eye Institute with Dr. Stanislav Tomarev.  Congratulations, Alicia! 


July 2019

Ubadah wins NIH F99/K00 D-SPAN Award!

Ubadah has won a six-year $390,000 National Institute of Health (NIH) award that will fund his remaining TBMH pre-doctoral research and his future postdoctoral research.  The award, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), will support his research of visual circuits of the brain and his later work in optic never regeneration.

Links: News Article

July 2019

Ubadah receives Ben Barres Fellowship from Cold Spring Harbor!

Ubadah was awarded the Ben Barres Fellowship presented by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory while attending the 2019 Vision Course.  This award is presented to the most distinguished graduate student.

Links: News Article

June 2019

The Fox Lab conquers Roaring Run!

The Fox Lab ventured out to hike Roaring Run in Eagle Rock, VA.  We were especially proud of 3rd year TBMH PhD candidate, Ubadah Sabbagh, for surviving the plunge!

June 2019

The Fox Lab welcomes new neuroSURF members!

The Fox Lab is excited to welcome neuroSURF students, Prateek Govindaraj from the College of William and Mary,  Carlos Rodriguez from the University of Virginia, and Jessica Wei from Cave Spring High School, to Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

May 2019

Ubadah advances to candidacy!

Congratulations to Ubadah Sabbagh, 3rd year TBMH PhD candidate, on successfully defending his thesis proposal and advancing to candidacy. 

May 2019

Congratulations to Alicia Kerr for successfully defending her dissertation!

TBMH graduate student, Alicia Kerr, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on “Cell-Specific Roles for CASK in the Pathology of Optic Nerve Hypoplasia”.

April 2019

Rachana, Ubadah, and Chase win poster awards at CVCSN!

TBMH PhD students, Rachana Somaiya and Ubadah Sabbagh, and University of Virginia undergraduate student, Chase Amos,  won poster awards at the Central Virginia Chapter Society for Neuroscience conference at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

April 2019

Gabby and Rachana receive NIH-BEST awards!

Gabriela Carrillo and Rachana Somaiya, TBMH graduate students, were selected for and received the NIH-BEST (Broadening Experience in Scientific Training) award through Virginia Tech.  This will allow for Gabby and Rachana to further participate in professional development training.

April 2019

Gabby presents at Carilion Research Day!

Gabriela Carrilo, TBMH graduate student, was selected for, and gave an oral presentation at the annual Carilion Research Day.

April 2019

Rachana receives Health Sciences and Technology Commercialization fellowship!

TBMH graduate student, Rachana Somaiya, received the 2019 Health Sciences and Technology Commercialization fellowship award.  She was one of six graduate students to receive first-hand experience in research entrepreneurship.

March 2019

Gabby receives James A. Ferguson Fellowship Award!

Gabriela Carrillo, TBMH graduate student, was selected for and received the James A. Ferguson Fellowship Award to conduct research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

March 2019

Ubadah wins oral presentation award!

Ubadah Sabbagh, TBMH graduate student, received a bronze award at the VT Graduate School Symposium for his talk, titled “Sweaters for Brain Cells.”  He discussed the lab’s recent discovery of perineuronal nets (or sweaters) in the visual thalamus, while wearing a sweater mathing his neurons.

March 2019

Gabby and Rachana receive travel awards!

Congratulations to TBMH graduate students, Gabriela Carrillo and Rachana Somaiya, for receiving travel awards for the International Society for Neurochemistry meeting in Montreal, Canada this August.

March 2019

Gail's work is highlighted in the news!

Congratulations to Gail Stanton, a medical student in the VTC School of Medicine, on having her work featured. Gail’s research focused on development of complex synapses in the visual thalamus. Gail also received an award for her poster at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s annual meeting.

Links: Press releasePaper 

February 2019

Sabbagh 2016 JNeurochem

Ubadah publishes first author paper!

Ubadah Sabbagh’s first lead-author manuscript as a PhD student has been published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, and one of the figures was selected for the journal cover.

Links: Press release | Paper | Journal Cover

December 2018

Rachana wins research grant!

Congratulations to Rachana Somaiya, PhD student in the Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health, on winning her first ever research grant. This was awarded by the Virginia Tech Graduate Research Development Program.

December 2018

Somaiya, Rachana is a student in the Translational Biology, Medical and Health (TBMH) at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.  (David Hungate/ Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute)

Gabby receives a travel award!

Congratulations to Gabby Carrillo on receiving a travel award to present at the Virginia Nordic Precision Neuroscience Meeting in Oslo, Norway.

august 2018

Welcome Gabby and Rachana!

Gabby Carrillo and Rachana Somaiya have joined the Fox Lab! They both are in students in the Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health doctoral program at Virginia Tech.

August 2018

Carrillo, Gabriela is a student in the Translational Biology, Medical and Health (TBMH) at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.  (David Hungate/ Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute)
Somaiya, Rachana is a student in the Translational Biology, Medical and Health (TBMH) at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.  (David Hungate/ Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute)

neuroSURF fellows joined Fox Lab and presented at the annual VT Symposium. Another successful year!

Naomi Carter, Mia Genuario, and Chase Amos, all FBRI neuroSURF fellows, joined the Fox Lab and presented their work at the Virginia Tech Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, alongside the other neuroSURF fellows (15 undergraduates and 2 high schools students in total).  The program concluded another successful year!

July 2018

Ubadah wins two year neuroscience fellowship!

Congratulations to Ubadah Sabbagh on being selected as a fellow in the Society for Neuroscience’s Neuroscience Scholar Program!

Links: Press release 

july 2018

SfN Neuroethics

Aboozar's paper is published in eLife!

Aboozar Monavarfeshani’s paper “LRRTM1 underlies synaptic convergence in visual thalamus” was published eLife!

Links: Paper

april 2018

Gail wins best poster award!

Congratulations to medical student, Gail Stanton, who won the Member-in-Training Best Poster Award for the Visual Neuroscience section of the annual Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting.

april 2018


Alicia wins oral presentation award!

Alicia Kerr, TBMH PhD graduate student, received a silver award at the VT Graduate Student Assembly Research Symposium in Blacksburg, VA for her talk, entitled “CASK haploinsufficiency produces retinal ganglion cell pathology and optic nerve hypoplasia”. 

March 2018

Ubadah receives Adaptive Brain & Behavior award!

Ubadah Sabbagh received an Adaptive Brain and Behavior Destination Area professional development award to train at the Alan Alda Center for Science Communication.

march 2018


Ubadah named a finalist for PD Soros Fellowship

Ubadah Sabbagh was selected to be a finalist for Soros Fellowship for New Americans.  Only 77 finalists were selected from 1,765 nominees.

march 2018

Gabby's paper is published!

Gabby Carrillo’s manuscript on the role of extracellular matrix proteins in maintaining circadian rhythms was published in Frontiers in Neural Circuits.

Link: Paper

february 2018

spon1 team
Ubadah Sabbagh (David Hungate/ Dominion Images Photography)

Ubadah receives travel award for science policy!

Ubadah Sabbagh received an NIH-BEST award from Virginia Tech to attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 4-day training on Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE).

january 2018

neuroSURF receives 5-year NIH grant!

A summer pilot program for undergraduate neuroscience research, directed by Dr. Fox, proved so successful that National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, of the National Institutes of Health, has provided $500,000 of funding for another five years.

Link: Press release

december 2017

cole surf

Aboozar recognized with award from Society for Neuroscience!

Aboozar Monavarfeshani, a graduate student at the FBRI with the department of biological sciences in Virginia Tech’s College of Science, received a Trainee Professional Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience.

Link: Press release

november 2017

Courtney & Aboozar's paper is published!

Courtney Knill (medical student) and Aboozar Monavarfeshani’s (graduate student) paper on transmembrane collagens in the brain is publisehd in Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience.

Link: Paper

september 2017


Fox Lab renews NIH R01 Grant!

The Fox lab renewed one of its R01 grants. The project, entitled “Molecular mechanisms of retinogeniculate circuit formation” aims to identify target-derived factors that influence the unique development of synapses in visual thalamus.

september 2017

Ubadah is recognized for STEM outreach efforts!

Ubadah Sabbagh receives Fellowship Award from Roanoke CityWorks (X)po in recognition of his science outreach work in the community.

august 2017

neuroSURF students present at VT Symposium!

The FBRI neuroSURF program concluded last week with the fellows presenting their discoveries from lab at the VT Undergraduate Research Symposium in Goodwin Hall. Congrats to all the fellows and thanks to all of the faculty, staff, and trainees that helped prepare them for their presentations!

july 2017

Aboozar & Ubadah publish review!

Aboozar Monavarfeshani and Ubadah Sabbagh have published a review on the circuitry and function of the LGN, titled “Not a one-trick pony: Diverse connectivity and functions of the rodent lateral geniculate complex” in Visual Neuroscience.

Link: Paper 

june 2017


Welcome Ubadah to the Fox Lab!

Ubadah Sabbagh, a doctoral student in the Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health program, has passed his qualifying exam and joined the Fox Lab.

To learn more about Ubadah’s research and writing, please visit:

june 2017

Dr. Fox presents on parasites in Switzerland!

Dr. Fox presents his work on how parasitic infection alters brain circuits in Les Diablerets, Switzerland at the Neuro-ethology Gordon Research meeting

june 2017


Fox lab welcomes 3 FBRI neuroSURF fellows!

Welcome to James Cole (College of William and Mary), Joseph Teamer (Virginia State University), and Jonathan Van Name (College of William and Mary).

May 2017

FBRI neuroSURF program begins!

The neuroSURF program at VTCRI is a 10-week long summer program that gives students the opportunity to participate in hands-on hypothesis-driven independent research in an area of translational neurobiology.  The program encompasses a full-time, 40-hour week schedule.  More information about neuroSURF is available here:

may 2017

Gabriela Carrillo, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI)

Gabby accepted a position in the the TBMH doctoral program!


april 2017

Aboozar gives an oral presentation at ASN!

Aboozar Monavarfeshani was selected to give an oral presentation at the annual ASN meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. Aboozar described his work on LRRTM1 in visual circuits.

march 2017

Jianmin Su presents findings of his research to faculty and students during the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute's annual retreat held at the Hotel Roanoke on November 3, 2015. (David Hungate for VTC)

Jianmin and James’ work on perinuronal nets is published in ASN Neuro!

Loss of Interneuron-Derived Collagen XIX Leads to a Reduction in Perineuronal Nets in the Mammalian Telencephalon

Link: Paper

january 2017

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