Katherine Hamel

Entering Class - 2018

E-MAIL:  [email protected]

PhD 2023

PhD Thesis

Intra-Regional Differences in Cerebellar Vulnerability of Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1 Mice

Current Position:

Guideline Development and Methodology Manager at the American Academy of Neurology

Undergraduate Institution and Major:

St. Olaf College, B.A. in Biology, 2013

Graduate Advisor:

Marija Cvetanovic, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Graduate Research:

My graduate work focuses on the connectivity changes that occur during the development of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) - both within the cerebellum and from the cerebellum to higher order brain regions. To do this work, I will be using a knock-in mouse model of SCA1 that expresses the hallmark polyglutamine CAG expansion in the SCA1 gene. With this work, we hope to determine the effect that alterations in cerebellar connectivity has on the development of SCA1.

Graduate Publications:

  • Hamel K, Moncada EL, Sheeler C, Rosa JG, Gilliat S, Zhang Y, Cvetanovic M. Cerebellar heterogeneity and selective vulnerability in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). Neurobiol Dis. 2024 May 14;197:106530.
  • Soles A, Selimovic A, Sbrocco K, Ghannoum F, Hamel K, Moncada EL, Gilliat S, Cvetanovic M. Extracellular matrix regulation in physiology and in brain disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Apr 11;24(8):7049.
  • Rosa JG, Hamel K, Soles A, Sheeler C, Borgenheimer E, Gilliat S, Sbrocco K, Ghanoum F, Handler HP, Forster C, Rainwater O, Cvetanovic M. BDNF is altered in a brain-region specific manner and rescues deficits in Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1. Neurobiol Dis. 2023 Mar;178:106023.
  • Borgenheimer E, Hamel K, Sheeler C, Moncada FL, Sbrocco K, Zhang Y, Cvetanovic M. Single nuclei RNA sequencing investigation of the Purkinje cell and glial changes in the cerebellum of transgenic Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 mice. Front Cell Neurosci. 2022 Nov 15;16:998408.
  • Rosa JG, Hamel K, Sheeler C, Borgenheimer E, Gilliat S, Soles A, Ghannoum FJ, Sbrocco K, Handler HP, Rainwater O, Kang R, Cvetanovic M. Spatial and temporal diversity of astrocyte phenotypes in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 mice. Cells. 2022 Oct 21;11(20):3323.
  • Hamel KA, Cvetanovic M. Cerebellar regional dissection for molecular analysis. J Vis Exp. 2020:Dec 5;(166). doi: 10.3791/61922.

Graduate Awards:

  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship 2022-2023
  • Sping and Ying Ngoh Lin Award 2022
  • Stark Travel Award 2019

Professional Memberships:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Tribeta

Research Category:

Neurodegenerative Diseases and Neural Injury


Marija Cvetanovic, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Rocio Gómez-Pastor, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Steven Graves, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology
Keith Vossel, M.D., Department of Neurology

Undergraduate or Post-Bac Research:

After graduating from college, I worked in two different labs in San Francisco. First, I worked as a lab tech in Dr. Raymond Swanson and Dr. Scott Panter’s lab at the VA hospital. Theiy were studying the effects of a PARP inhibitor on the development of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) using a pig model. I helped coordinate the project and ran behavioral experiments on the pigs in order to detect changes after injury and drug treatment. From there, I moved to Dr. Allan Basbaum’s lab at UCSF studying chronic pain and itch. I worked as the lab’s animal behavior technician and was involved in a variety of projects using multiple mouse models of chronic pain and itch.

Post-Bac Publications/Abstracts:

  • Yu X, Liu H, Hamel KA, Morvan MG, Yu S, Leff J, Guan Z, Braz JM, Basbaum AI. Dorsal root ganglion macrophages contribute to both the initiation and persistence of neuropathic pain. Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 14;11(1):264.
  • Tran M, Braz JM, Hamel K, Kuhn J, Todd AJ, Basbaum AI. Ablation of spinal cord estrogen receptor α-expressing interneurons reduces chemically induced modalities of pain and itch. J Comp Neurol. 2019 Dec 24. doi: 10.1002/cne.24847.
  • Irvine K, Bishop R, Won SJ, Xu J, Hamel K, Coppes V, Singh P, Sondag A, Rome E, Basu J, Santos G, Panter SS, Swanson R. Effects of veliparib on microglial activation and functional outcomes following traumatic brain injury in the rat and pig. J Neurotrauma.Apr 2018.918-929.
  • Dembo T, Braz JM, Hamel KA, Kuhn JA, Basbaum AI. Primary afferent-derived BDNF contributes minimally to the processing of pain and itch. eNeuro. 2018 Dec 26;5(6). pii: ENEURO.0402-18.2018.
  • Fine JM, Forsberg AC, Stroebel BM, Faltesek KA, Verden DR, Hamel KA, Raney EB, Crow JM, Haase LR, Knutzen KE, Kaczmarczek KD, Frey WH, Hanson LR. Intranasal deferoxamine affects memory loss, oxidation, and the insulin pathway in the streptozotocin rat model of Alzheimer's disease. J Neurol Sci. 2017;380:164-171.
  • Juarez-Salinas DL, Braz JM, Hamel KA, Basbaum AI. Pain relief by supraspinal gabapentin requires descending noradrenergic inhibitory controls. Pain Rep. 2018 Jul 17;3(4):e659.
  • Etlin A, Bráz JM, Kuhn JA, Wang X, Hamel KA, Llewellyn-Smith IJ, Basbaum AI. Functional synaptic integration of forebrain GABAergic precursors into the adult spinal cord. J Neurosci. 2016;36:11634-11645.

What Got You Interested in Research?

I always enjoyed science classes growing up. When I got to college my interest in science focused in on neuroscience. I had amazing professors that encouraged me to keep learning more and gave me opportunities to get some hands-on research experience. From then on, I was hooked. I loved the process of running experiments, figuring out what went wrong and re-running them, being able to extract information from data, and figure out what it means. I knew I wanted to keep working in research and start pursuing my own scientific questions.

Why Did You Choose MN?

I was initially interested in Minnesota because of the research being done in the program, but what really convinced me was seeing how collaborative and supportive the faculty are with the students.

Student Mentor and the Best Advice They Gave:

Maria Linn-Evens: Classes are difficult but manageable so don’t panic too much; keep up with the work and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Favorite Itasca Memory:

Trying and (mostly failing) to do yoga on a paddle board in the middle of Lake Itasca.