Our Team

Madan Kwatra, Director

Dr. Kwatra is an associate professor of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. He has a PhD in medicinal chemistry followed by several years of training in receptor biochemistry and pharmacology. This included training with 2012 Nobel laureate Dr. Robert Lefkowitz. Dr. Kwatra has been funded by the NIH to study the function of substance P/neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) and effect of age on cardiac GPCRs. He also led an interdisciplinary team consisting of anesthesiologists, biostatisticians, psychiatrists, and surgeons in a 2.5 million dollar, NIH-funded study to understand the molecular basis of postoperative delirium in the elderly. In 2009, Dr. Kwatra discovered a constitutively active form of NK1R in glioblastoma (GBM). Since then he has been focusing on GBM biology. Recently, he found that patient-derived GBM xenografts retain the phosphoproteomic profile of parent tumors and plans to use a panel of such xenografts and stem cells for personalized glioblastoma drug discovery. Because of his expertise in medicinal chemistry, receptor pharmacology, cell signaling, and clinical trials, Dr. Kwatra is in a unique position to develop an effective therapy against GBM.


Gustavo Chagoya M.D.

Dr. Chagoya is currently a neurosurgery resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is set to complete his residency training in June of 2022. His interests include cerebrovascular and skull base surgery, and neuro-oncology. He earned a Bachelor in Science degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University in 2011 and went on to complete his MD degree at Duke University in 2015. He is a former full time member of the Kwatra laboratory, focusing on glioblastoma research.


Jaimie McKeel

Jaimie is a second year biomedical engineering student at Duke. She utilizes her engineering background in bioinformatics and data analysis. Additionally, she researches the molecular characterization of EGFRvIII+ glioblastoma and the efficacy of FDA-approved drugs against these characterized cell lines.


Sarah Nullmeyer M.D.

Sarah completed her MD degree at Duke in 2020. She is originally from Iowa and attended undergraduate at Wartburg College. She will be working on testing various FDA-approved drugs against the lab’s glioblastoma cell lines over the course of the year.



Callie Roberts

Callie has been working with Duke’s Glioblastoma Drug Discovery Group and Dr. Kwatra since 2013. During her undergraduate years at Duke, she spent time in the lab, learning about glioblastoma cell culture and how to design and conduct experiments. After graduation, she worked full-time as a research technician to study the effects of a third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor on glioblastoma stem cells. While obtaining a Masters in Biomedical Sciences at Wake Forest School of Medicine, she researched receptor-mediated drug delivery to glioblastoma in the lab of Dr. Debinski, the Director of the Wake Forest University Brain Tumor Center of Excellence. She is now a second-year medical student at UC Davis School of Medicine, just an hour from her hometown in the East Bay. Her deep passion for improving the standard of care for glioblastoma patients and learning about the connections between oncology and immunology is rooted in her work with Dr. Kwatra, and she is honored to continue to collaborate with a creative, intelligent, and very dedicated group.


Our Advisors

Al Musella

musella@virtualtrials.comAl Musella

Al Musella is the president and founder of the Musella Foundation For Brain Tumor Research & Information, Inc, a 501(C)3 nonprofit public charity dedicated to helping brain tumor patients through emotional and financial support, education, advocacy and raising money for brain tumor research.  In 1992 his sister-in-law was diagnosed with GBM, sparking his interest in brain tumors. He soon realized there was no centralized online resource for brain tumor clinical trials.  Thus, shortly after, he began the first online support group dedicated to brain tumors and collected and published a database on all relevant clinical trials.  This site served as a model for the current NIH clinical trials website.  Next, Dr. Musella created an online patient registry to monitor the treatments used and the respective outcomes.  To date, he has provided grant funding for over 60 brain tumor research projects and emphasizes the value of nontraditional, unique approaches.   He serves on numerous boards as a patient advocate, helping to shape the direction of brain tumor research.  Dr. Musella was involved in the FDA approval process for Avastin and the Novocure System, and in the Medicare funding process for Gliadel, Temodar, Avastin and the Novocure system.  In 1999, Al also lost his father to GBM, but he has continued to make a profound impact on brain tumor research, awareness, and support.


Recent Lab Alumni

Cory Nanni

Madison Krischak

Kristine Brown

Gustavo Chagoya

Timothy Yen

Sarah Corin

Caroline Schanche

Bradley Cahn