Valeria and Guoyan Zhao received a new grant!

Understanding, treating pain, reducing opioid use, aim of $11.7 million grant

Valeria Cavalli, PhD, and Guoyan Zhao, PhD, are among the collaborators at WashU participating in the Integrated Research Center for Human Pain Tissues (INTERCEPT) Pain Center at the School of Medicine. Read more

New Neuroscience Building as of June 2022

Winner of the Department of Neuroscience Sci-Art Competition

Image title: Monster in the Night

Author: Rui Feng (Postdoc) – Cavalli Lab

Description: Immunofluorescence of an adult mouse lumbar spinal cord section. The section was stained for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP in red). This image was obtained using Zeiss confocal microscope. Multiple tile images and Z stacks were captured to cover the spinal cord dorsal horn and were stitched together. CGRP positive neurons convey pain and temperature information, synapsing on second order neurons within lamina I in the spinal cord.

Judges’ remarks: Conjures the horror genre; evokes a dimensional being – Mothman Prophecies; suggests an insectile mask… something bioluminescent emerging from the darkness.  Powerful image! 

Our milestones, achievements and announcements are below. Visit the Fun Stuff page to see what we do together when we’re not working.


  • First Annual Cavalli Mokalled Lab Retreat in May
  • Rui Feng is a finalist in the 2022 O’Leary Prize for Excellence in Neuroscience Research
  • Oshri has a paper published in PAIN in March


  • Rui Feng wins the Department of Neuroscience Sci-Art Competition
  • We want to congratulate Valeria being named the Robert E. and Louise F. Dunn Professor of Biomedical Research
  • We wish Kathy Leahy a happy retirement and we welcome Ruth Gill as our new Lab supervisor
  • Oshri’s paper showing how the neuronal microenvironment contributes to neural repair is published in Elife!
  • Valeria receives an R35 award from the NIH! Read the department’s news announcement.
  • Congratulations to Oshri for winning this year’s 2021 O’Leary Prize For Excellence in Neuroscience Research
  • Eric’s paper is officially published in Scientific Reports 
  • The COVID19 pandemic is still around us, but we manage to move projects along. Lab meetings remain on zoom though! 


  • We welcome Rui to the lab from Honk Kong on January 1. She has had to navigate the difficulties of a new lab in a pandemic.
  • March 17, Covid-19 pandemic forces temporary partial shut down of University research!
  • Eric left the lab for a Scientist position at InVitro Cell Research in May, yet we completed Eric’s paper and published it in Scientific Reports.
  • Oshri publishes her work on the role of satellite glia in nerve regeneration in Nature Communications. Go GLIA!!
  • We welcome Ajeet, who joined us in December, and is getting settled in.


  • Valeria earned the Stein Innovation Award from the Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation!
  • Marcus successfully defended his thesis! Congratulations, Dr. Mahar!
  • Our collaborative study with the Dixit lab is published in JBC!
  • Valeria is promoted to Full Professor!
  • Oshri earned a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology! Congratulations, Oshri!
  • Wolfgang published in Experimental Neurology!
  • Dan published again in eNeuro!
  • Dan and Wolf left for positions in industry.


  • Marcus’ review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience has been published!
  • Dan published his paper in eNeuro!
  • YoungMi and Marcus published in PNAS

    We also have a press release!


  • Wolfgang’s paper has been published Neuroscience in Jan 2017! 
  • Our collaborative study with Dr Kelly Monk was also published in J. Neuroscience in December 2016. More glia work to come!
  • Kathy Leahy joined us in the Spring of 2017 as our new Lab Supervisor.
  • Oshri Avraham joined us in the Fall of 2017 as Postdoctoral Fellow. We welcome her to the lab.

Winter 2015

  • Dana Watt successfully defended her thesis in December 2015, with a first author authorship publication and two other collaborative publications. Congratulations, Dana! 
  • Dana has launched her own biotech company Pro-Arc Diagnostics, as Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer. Pro-Arc Diagnostics is a developing next-generation laboratory test for patients at risk of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML). PML is caused by the John Cunningham Virus and is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. To date, doctors have had no way to determine which patients were at risk for developing PML. Pro-Arc’s technology is being designed to identify these patients, which may eventually allow doctors to monitor PML risk and safely design treatment courses in response.
  • Dana is also pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship in Accelerated Innovation at Washington University.

Fall 2015

  • Yongcheol Cho is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Life Sciences, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. His new e-mail is
  • Yongcheol’s paper has been accepted in Neuron!!!

Spring 2015

  • The lab just published three papers in JBC!
  • Roxane Hanicotte, student at the Polytech Clermont-Ferrand, Blaise Pascal University School of Engineering, France, has joined the lab for the summer. This internship abroad will count towards her Master Degree in Biological Engineering. Welcome Roxane!

Fall 2014

  • Valeria has been promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure.
  • Earlier this year, she received the 2014 Distinguished Investigator Award (Junior Faculty) in recognition of excellence in research.

Summer 2014

  • The lab moved to a new and spacious lab space on the 9th floor of McDonnell Science Building. We can now enjoy a beautiful view of Forest Park.

Spring 2014

  • During the spring, four new members joined the lab.
  • YoungMi Oh earned her PhD in Korea at the Seoul National University in cancer biology, and was a research staff member at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT).
  • Atsushi Saito earned his PhD in Medicine at the University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan and worked as an assistant professor at the Institute of Biomedical & Health Sciences, University of Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Japan.
  • Eric Ewan earned his PhD at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC in Physiology & Pharmacology and was a post-doc at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center.
  • Marcus Mahar is a graduate student in the Washington University Developmental, Regenerative & Stem Cell Biology Program. He is a recipient of the Phil and Sima Needleman Graduate Student Fellowship.

Fall 2013

  • Yongcheol’s paper has been accepted in Cell!!!

Summer 2013

  • Daniel Wolfgang Pita-Thomas, PhD will join us in October. He earned his PhD in Spain and then moved to the lab of Dr Jeffrey Goldberg for his first post-doc training on axon regeneration in retinal ganglion cells. We are very happy to have him join the lab.
  • Atsushi Saito, PhD, will join us in April 2014. He is from the University of Hiroshima, Japan, and has been studying ER stress response and signaling. We look forward to his arrival in St Louis.
  • Domini, our favorite research tech/lab manager is leaving us to start the job of her dreams! We wish her the very best, but we will miss her dearly.
  • Luckily for us, Doug Larson has started a few months ago and he will be our favorite new research tech/lab manager.