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Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging

Knoebel Institute

Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging

Who We Are


Click here to see an overview of KIHA's Research Groups and the Principal Investigator for each group. 

Founding Executive Director

Dr. Lotta Granholm-Bentley  

Dr. Lotta Granholm-BentleyAnn-Charlotte ("Lotta") Granholm joined the University of Denver on Sept. 1, 2015 as the founding executive director of the Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging. Granholm is also a research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Denver. She comes to DU after 14 years as the director of the Center on Aging at the Medical University of South Carolina. Granholm recently received a three-year appointment as a guest professor in neurosciences at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. One of the largest and most prestigious medical universities in the world, Karolinska is the premier research institute in Sweden and the university that gives out the Nobel Prize in Medicine (official name: Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology).

faculty and staff

Briony Catlow, Ph.D. | Grant Writer

Briony Catlow PhDBriony joined the Institute in August 2016. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biology from the College of Charleston in 2000 and a Ph.D. in Psychology/Neuroscience and a graduate certificate in Aging and Neuroscience from the University of South Florida in 2008. As a graduate student under the tutelage of Cheryl Kirsten Ph.D. and Juan Sanchez-Ramos, M.D. Ph.D. she investigated the effects of psychoactive drugs on neurogenesis and learning and memory. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Ron McKay's laboratory at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS/NIH) and the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at Johns Hopkins University. Briony then served as the grants administrator at the Lieber Institute where she guided and facilitated faculty and staff in the development and preparation of research proposals, contracts, sub-contracts, and agreements.

Eric Chess, MD, JD | Director of the Financial Security and Cognitive Health Initiative

Eric Chess, MD, JDDr. Chess joined the Institute in October 2017. He is a physician and lawyer with a focus on prevention, wellness and aging populations. Dr. Chess has over a decade of experience as both an inpatient and outpatient internal medicine physician. In addition, Dr. Chess has founded a company developing and implementing evidence-based prevention, health and wellness plans for individuals, corporate and government employees. He has an undergraduate degree in economics and a graduate law degree with experience as a legal and economic consultant. In his role at the Institute, Dr. Chess has developed and implemented a multidisciplinary research and education initiative involving business, law, medicine, neuroscience and social work. His work involves the broad implications of the intersection between financial security and cognitive health.

Mary B. Cullen | Coordinator

Mary CullenMary B. Cullen joined the Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging in November 2015. Mary earned a Master of Applied Communication from DU in 2004 and is delighted to return to campus. As the Institute's coordinator, she works with the executive director to create and coordinate the Institute's calendar. Mary also attends construction meetings and coordinates the executive director's move from the Medical University of South Carolina to lab space in the new building. In addition, she works with the Strategic Planning Committee and executive director to develop and refine the vision and mission and strategic plan. Mary also represents the Institute at regional aging meetings and is responsible for Institute's communications. Prior to joining DU, Mary was an administrative coordinator for a nonprofit that dealt with improving K-12 education for 10.5 years.

Anah Gilmore | Research Assistant

Anah Gilmore joined the Institute in June 2017, after graduating with honors from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2017 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology. Anah discovered her passion for scientific research as an undergraduate intern in Dr. Ravi Mahalingam's lab at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, where she studied how Simian Varicella Virus (a primate model for the shingles virus) deposited itself in the skin tissue and sweat glands of infected monkeys. In addition to assisting Dr. Ledreux and Dr. Granholm with research projects, Anah manages the newly formed DU Down Syndrome Biobank, part of a network of brain banks that accept donations from around the country. Anah earned her National Certification in Phlebotomy and is the staff phlebotomist for the DU's Concussion Study, which aims to research links between biomarkers and repeated concussions. When she isn't in the lab, Anah loves to hike with her husband, Nathan, and rescued Austrailian Shepherd, Marie.

Adam O. Hebb, MD

Adam Hebb, MDAdam O. Hebb, MD, is an Associate Research Professor. His research and clinical area is developing novel therapy options for deep brain stimulation, brain tumors, epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia, using stereotactic surgery techniques. He works with KIHA faculty and DU engineers.




Aurélie Ledreux, Ph.D. | Assistant Research Professor

Aurelie Ledreux, PhDAurélie Ledreux joined the Institute in October 2016. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France in 2001, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from AgroParisTech in Paris, France in 2010. In 2011, she moved from Paris with husband and cat to Charleston, SC when she was awarded with a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Research Council of the National Academies to work at the Marine Biotoxins Program for NOAA. At that time, her research was focused on investigating the transfer of marine biotoxins in the food web. In 2014, she joined Dr. Granholm's lab at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC as a postdoctoral researcher to work on the effect of high fat diet and inflammation on cognition and the brain in animal models of aging. Her current research interests focus on healthy aging, and blood biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases.

Daniel Paredes, Ph.D. | Assistant Research Professor

Daniel Paredes, PhDDaniel joined the Institute in July 2016. A neurochemist, he previously served as an investigator at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. As part of his doctoral studies in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida, he demonstrated how the neurochemistry of the aging brain changes while performing a learning and memory task. This study demonstrated that one of the natural occurring mechanisms underlying memory loss in aging is a lack of norepinephrine leading to aberrant memory consolidation. Daniel's interests revolve around understanding the molecular mechanisms of neuronal circuit formation and developing new therapeutic approaches to target neuroplasticity and regeneration in aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's Diseases.

David Patterson, Ph.D. | Senior Research Professor

David Patterson, PhDDr. Patterson received his B.S. from MIT and his Ph.D. from Brandeis University. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is currently a Research Professor at the Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biological Sciences and a Senior Scientist of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute at DU. His research focuses on metabolic changes associated with aging and with Down syndrome, the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability in the human population and a premature aging syndrome, and other human health conditions. Dr. Patterson also conducts research on the synthesis of purines, critical molecules in information storage and transfer, energy metabolism, and cellular and intercellular communication. The purine system is also altered in several human inborn errors of metabolism and in aging. He has published over 200 peer reviewed scientific articles and contributed to seminal work on Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), and cancer. His work has been supported by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as well as by several foundations. He serves on the National Institute on Aging Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee, the Medical Scientific Committee of the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, the National Down Syndrome Society Science and Clinical Advisory Board, and the Down Syndrome International Scientific Advisory Research Group.

Guido Vacano, Ph.D. | Assistant Research Professor

Guido Vacano, PhDGuido joined the Institute in 2016. He graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a double Bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Anthropology. Guido left Colorado for graduate school at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, and graduated with a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. After returning to Denver, he worked for several years as Research Associate in Dr. David Patterson's lab at the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. His current research interests include bioinformatics, investigating the brain metabolome and proteome of a mouse model for Down syndrome during aging, the role of adenylosuccinate lyase (ADSL) in human evolution, and the role of the collapsin response mediator proteins (especially CRMP2) in Alzheimer disease, Down syndrome, and neural development. At home, Guido enjoys spending time with his wife Deborah and his (brilliant) son, Nikolas.