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Study Team Members

Principal Investigator

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Dr Michelle C Johansen, MD, PhD


Dr. Michelle Johansen is an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the department of Neurology.  Her academic and scientific pursuits in the area of Cerebrovascular Neurology stem from a fervent desire to be an exceptional care provider and clinical researcher. Her research focus is how changes in the heart (cardiac structure and function) impact neurological outcomes, to include ischemic stroke etiology, subclinical infarcts, brain white matter disease, and vascular contributions to cognitive decline. Dr. Johansen was the first research chief resident while training at the University of Virginia where she realized her own passion for clinical research. Her father’s stroke further solidified her resolve to push the bounds of scientific knowledge in this critical area.  

Relying on her background in chemistry combined with her PhD in Clinical Investigation from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Johansen has already established a relationship between cardiac echocardiogram markers and brain changes, such as stroke. She has found similar predictors of brain health using cardiac measures in large epidemiologic cohort studies, such as the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, or the GeneSTAR study. With recent funding from the American Heart Association, and the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Johansen is now using advanced cardiac imaging methods, such as Cardiac CTA and blood-based biomarkers, to diagnose the cause of patient’s strokes and determine the impact of cardiac changes on cognition over time.

Staff & Liaisons

Jing Wang, MHS

Lead Research Coordinator

Jing Wang is a Research Assistant with the Division of Cerebrovascular Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. She is the Lead Research Coordinator for the Johansen Lab. Jing received her MHS in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with thesis about the association between parental occupational history and the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in offspring. Prior to joining the Johansen Lab, Jing’s research focused on examining the association between environmental/infectious factors and neurodevelopment disorders. Currently, Jing is taking the lead on several lab projects that aim to explore the association between the brain and heart in patients with acute stroke and investigate the association between post-stroke cognitive impairment and dementia.

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Manasi Prashant, BS

Manasi Prashant is a Research Assistant in the Johansen Lab currently leading the NOMINATE study of atrial fibrillation and cognitive decline. She recently graduated with Honors from Johns Hopkins University with a BS in Neuroscience with a focus in Systems Neuroscience and minored in the Writing Seminars. She is passionate about neurological research, specifically in the areas of neurodegenerative disorders, cognition, dementia, and clinical patient interaction. Manasi is applying to medical school this year, hoping to continue her passion for biology and patient care.


Emma Gootee, MS

Emma Gootee is a former Research Assistant with the Division of Cerebrovascular Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. She was the Lead Research Coordinator for the Johansen Lab and the Cognitive Core Lead Coordinator for the DISCOVERY study. Emma received her MS in Global Health from Kings College London. Emma led a number of projects within the lab which focus on understanding the brain heart connection in acute stroke patients and post-stroke cognitive impairment and dementia. Prior to joining the Johansen Lab, Emma's research focused on brain injury in low- and middle-income countries.

Colin Stein, BS

Colin Stein graduated with honors from Siena College with a BA in Psychology. Upon graduating, he took on several roles in the Department of Neurology of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. At Hopkins, Colin served as a laboratory manager of the Stroke Cognitive Outcomes and Recovery (S.C.O.R.E.) lab under Dr. Argye Hillis and research assistant to Dr. Michelle Johansen. Colin now works with Dr. Edward Huey in the Taub Institute at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, where he manages clinical trials involving pharmacological symptom management of neurodegenerative disease.

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Alexandra Walker, MHS

Alex Walker is a Senior Research Program Coordinator in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Duquesne University and her Master of Health Science in Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Current projects include examining the feasibility of using electronic communications to augment the care of patients with mood disorders, and investigating how passive data gathered via wearable devices can generate transdiagnostic digital phenotypes to inform the treatment outcome of major mood disorders. She has previously assisted in the neurology department studying language performance over time in conjunction with neuroimaging, longitudinal changes to language processing and emotional prosody following stroke, and FLAIR hyperintense vessel rating to predict deficits and penumbra in acute stroke.


Nicole Williams, MS

Nicole Williams is a Project Manager for the DISCOVERY Statistical/Cognitive Core. She received her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University Maryland and is currently a Senior Research Coordinator with the Division of Cerebrovascular Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. Her research area of interest includes cognitive decline, specifically focused on associations with vascular risk factors. Prior to her work with DISCOVERY, she worked for over 5 years enrolling acutely decompensated heart failure participants in a study examining cognitive change using an extensive battery of neuropsychological assessments.


Students & Trainees

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Ana Lopez, BS

Ana Lopez is a 2nd-year medical student at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2020. She is currently working with Dr. Johansen this summer as part of the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research project involves comparing the outcomes and time to treatment of acute ischemic stroke patients treated with endovascular therapy based on the presence of atrial fibrillation.

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Nicholas Daneshvari, BA

Nick Daneshvari is currently a 4th-year medical student at Johns Hopkins. He started working with Dr. Johansen in his first year, hoping to explore cerebrovascular neurology. His primary work involved analyzing brain MRIs in order to understand how the volumes of ischemic strokes correlated with various stroke etiologies, in order to potentially aid in acute stroke decision making. He has also assisted with other projects, such as with writing a literature review on reperfusion therapies for acute stroke in patients with comorbid heart disease. Nicholas is currently applying to residency in psychiatry, where he hopes to utilize this neurological background to help understand psychiatric disease. 

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David Zhao, BA

David Zhao is a second year medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He earned his bachelor’s in History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine with a minor in Biology at the University of Chicago. Through the Scholarly Concentrations program at the school of medicine, he has been working on a clinical research project investigating the association between atrial cardiopathy and cerebral microbleeds with Dr. Johansen.

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Royce H. Kwon, MS, BA

Royce Kwon is currently a 3rd-year medical student at the University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine. He began working with Dr. Johansen in the summer of 2020 as part of the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research project involves looking into how the pre-morbid functional status of an ischemic stroke patient affects their post-stroke recovery, independent of stroke severity.


Sandra Kong, MS, BS

Sandra Kong is a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She received her B.S. in Computational Biology and M.S. in Biomedical Informatics at Stanford University. As part of the Scholarly Concentrations program, she has been investigating cognitive outcomes of congestive heart failure patients with the Johansen Lab. Outside of lab, she has a vested interest in health equity innovation, quality improvement, and health policy advocacy.


Samantha Lee, BS

Samantha Lee is a Hopkins Neuroscience and Sociology alumna and current ScM in Medical Sciences student at Brown University. She is originally from San Jose, CA and enjoyed exploring the Baltimore food scene. During her time in Dr. Johansen’s lab, she loved improving preventative health measures through clinical research and working with the fabulous Johansen team members. Samantha is planning to apply to medical school in the near future and plans to utilize her experience in the Johansen Lab to sculpt her career as a physician.  

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Mya Watson

Mya Watson is a junior at Johns Hopkins University studying Neuroscience and Applied Mathematics and Statistics. She is originally from South Florida. Mya has a fascination with the intricate relationship between the brain and other vital organs and uncovering the complicated mysteries of the brain.  She is passionate about neurology and cognitive neuroscience. In the future, Mya plans to apply to medical school, where she will further cultivate the skills she learns from working in the Johansen Lab.

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