UF Wellstone Trainees


Alison Barnard

Alison Barnard received her Bachelors of Science in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She recently received her PhD in Rehabilitation Science under the mentorship of Drs. Krista Vandenborne and Glenn Walter and continues to work in these labs as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. Her research interests include using magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy techniques to assess muscle health in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Specifically, she is using MRI methods to investigate the effects of failed muscle regeneration on respiratory function in DMD.

 abhi cropAbhi Batra

Abhinandan Batra received his Bachelors in Physiotherapy from Guru Nanak Dev University, India, and his Masters from Georgia State University, Atlanta. Abhinandan received his PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Florida under the direction of his mentor Dr. Krista Vandenborne in 2017. Dr. Batra continues to work as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Drs. Krista Vandenborne, Glenn Walter, Sean Forbes focusing  on non-Invasive monitoring of Cardiac and skeletal muscle involvement in muscular dystrophies.



Harneet Arora

Harneet Arora completed her Bachelors in Physiotherapy from India. Harneet was supported by the Wellstone Center during the final year of her doctoral studies and received her PhD in Rehabilitation Science under the mentorship of Dr. Krista Vandenborne in 2017. After graduating in December 2017 Harneet transitioned into a postdoctoral position within the same lab to complete her ongoing research studies. She completed these studies in December 2018 and accepted a position as a Clinical Trial Manager at MedQualis in Montreal, Canada. Harneet’s research interest focus on examining the natural history of disease progression in both upper and lower extremities in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy using functional and MR measures.

david crop

David Hammers

David Hammers received his PhD in Exercise Physiology at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Hammers research interests focus on muscle diseases and skeletal muscle regeneration. David was supported by the Wellstone Center as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Dr. Lee Sweeney lab with a focus on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and muscle fibrosis, and is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Florida.

vasilakos picGeorge Vasilakos

  • George Vasilakos received his Bachelors in Biology from York University in Toronto, and his Masters in Applied Physiology from Coventry University in Coventry, UK. George received his PhD in Molecular Physiology from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Medical School. George was supported by the Wellstone Center as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and he currently works in the Molecular Physiology of Muscle Laboratory under Elisabeth Barton. George’s research interests include the role of muscle insulin-like growth factor I in regulation of glucose homeostasis, the use of insulin-like growth factor I to promote muscle growth and repair, and muscle load sensing through sarcoglycan complex.

 Ravneet Vhora

Ravneet Vhora received his PhD in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Florida and is interested in studying morphological and functional skeletal muscle changes in various dystrophies, cachexia and aging. Ravneet was supported by the Wellstone Center while in the muscle physiology lab under Glenn A Walter. Currently, he is working on monitoring disease progression in a mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). He is also working on effects of Pulsed High intensity focused ultrasound (pHIFU) in subcutaneous, orthotopic and KPC mice and monitoring these effects using multi-parametric MRI (14T). In addition, he is working on characterizing two different preclinical mouse models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy i.e. mdx4cv and mdx/dba using high field MRI (14T). Ravneet has moved to the Radiology Department at the University of Washington.

Zachary Wakefield

Zachary received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Indiana University and was supported by the Wellstone Center as a graduate student in H. Lee Sweeney’s lab. Zachary’s interest focused on genetic modifiers of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy pathology, and developing novel therapeutics for treating the disease.

Yun Yang

Yun Yang received his Medical Degree in 2010 from Luzhou Medical College in Sichuan China. Dr. Yang worked as a Research Scholar/Post-Doctoral Associate in the H. Lee Sweeney Laboratory for 2 years focused on evaluating potential therapeutic agents for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Specifically, Dr. Yang performed studies to evaluate the impact on dystrophin-deficient mouse muscles treated with compounds or combination of compounds, including prednisolone, tamoxifen, a TGF-beta1 inhibitory antibody, and a myostatin inhibitor. Dr. Yang also followed up on a report of a gastrointestinal phenotype in SMN deficient patients by investigating the SMN (survival motor neuron protein)- deficient mouse model. Yun will be returning to China where he will be employed as a surgeon attending in West China Hospital, Chengdu Shangjinnanfu, and specializes in colorectal cancer and pelvic floor dysfunction in clinic and also conduct basic research on GI smooth muscle pathology.