Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Nicole Eassa

M.D./Ph.D. Student

Nicole Eassa is a graduate student in the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD Program) exploring novel therapeutic targets for comorbid psychosis that is diagnosed in up to half of Alzheimer’s Disease patients. Nicole works under the mentorship of Daniel Lodge, Ph.D. For her clinical specialty, Nicole plans to pursue a research-track residency in internal medicine and fellowship in psychoneuroendocrinology, to specialize in the treatment of multi-systemic diseases with psychiatric involvement.

About Me

I grew up in Reston, VA, which is in the DC metro area. After graduating from the University of Virginia, I pursued a couple years of research at NIH/NIMH, studying the immune system in mouse models for depression. It wasn’t until my final year at UVA, after a few years of medical leave, that I realized I wanted to pursue medicine and research. This was uncharted territory since I come from a family of engineers and am married to an engineer. Since joining the STX-MSTP, I’ve been studying circuits for psychosis in rat models of Alzheimer’s Disease to investigate better druggable targets. After completing my MD/PhD, I plan to pursue a research-track combined residency and fellowship in internal medicine to specialize in the treatment of chronic, multi-systemic diseases with psychiatric involvement.


I love Pilates- and ballet-inspired group exercise (“barre”) and my two Shetland sheepdogs, Rowan & Juniper.

Research Topic

Novel therapeutic targets for comorbid psychosis that is diagnosed in half of Alzheimer’s Disease patients.

Why I chose MD/PhD

There is an increasing need for physicians who can expand the limits of our understanding through research such that our standards of care are better able to meet the needs of patients who suffer from chronic, multi-systemic diseases in the clinic.

Why I chose MD/PhD at UT Health San Antonio

This program provides rigorous training required to become an independent investigator in academic medicine in an incredibly supportive environment. A lot of “life” happens during these 8 years, and the relational support here, as well as not having to worry about things like finances or a long commute, ultimately help ensure success (and happiness) in training for this career path.

Post-bac work or other affiliations

IRTA Postbaccalaureate Fellowship at NIH/NIMH (2017-2019)


B.S., Biology with Distinction, University of Virginia, 2017


Neuroscience T32 Training Grant Trainee (2021-2022)


Eassa NE, Perez SM, Boley AM, Elam HB, Sharmin D, Cook JM, Lodge DJ. α5-GABAA Receptor Modulation Reverses Behavioral and Neurophysiological Correlates of Psychosis in Rats with Ventral Hippocampal Alzheimer's Disease-like Pathology. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jul 22;24(14):11788. doi: 10.3390/ijms241411788. PMID: 37511546; PMCID: PMC10380527.


Perez SM, Elam HB, McCoy AM, Boley AM, Eassa NE, Lodge DJ. Congenital blindness does not protect against a schizophrenia-related phenotype in rodents. Schizophr Res. 2023 Aug;258:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2023.06.007. Epub 2023 Jun 24. PMID: 37364392.