Meet Our Team


Nikki Schultek

Principal and Founder

Nikki received her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Villanova University, studying Marketing, French and International Business. Compelled to help advance medicine and science, she pursued a career in pharmaceuticals, first with Pfizer, later Genentech, launching two new medicines, and working with an array of physician specialties and hospitals. At Genentech, she became an active member of the Maryland Stroke Consortium, streamlining education of EMS, physicians, and nurses to improve patient care outcomes. Shortly after accepting her most treasured role, “mom”, Nikki fell ill with multiple autoimmune disorders to include frightening neurodegenerative symptoms. Noticing that physician specialists thought only within their “silo”, she started scouring the medical literature, discovering a strong correlation between her diagnoses and various chronic infections. Antibiotic treatment led to a complete remission (see full story in blog), and she is spending her life helping patients by asking fundamental questions about the role of infection in devastating diseases, with particular interest in neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s Disease and Asthma. She is connecting researchers, clinicians, and stakeholders across the globe, building research collaborations, serving as a scientific and business advisor to companies innovating in this space, and publishing alongside global experts.

Scientific Advisors

We are honored to work with a collaborative group of interdisciplinary experts.

Dr. Benedict Albensi, PhD., BCMAS, CRQM

Dr. Albensi is Chair and Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical sciences, Co-Director of B.R.A.I.N. (Brain Research and Integrated Nutrition Center) College of Pharmacy, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Neurobiology and is best known for his work with factors involved in aging, cognition, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), such as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), a mediator of inflammation but also a required molecule for memory. He has been ranked in the top 1% worldwide by for his number of publications from 2010-2020 in 7 areas including Alzheimer Disease (0.48%), neurocognitive disorders (0.76%), tauopathies (0.98%), dementia (0.85%), NF-kappa B (0.42%), memory (68%) & energy metabolism (0.68%).

He has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Utah’s Medical School, was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he developed MRI methods for investigating head trauma and cognition. He worked as a Postdoctoral Scholar with Dr. Mark Mattson at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging – University of Kentucky where he was the first to show NF-kB is required for hippocampal synaptic plasticity in mammals. Other appointments have included the Cleveland Clinic, NPS Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Case Western Reserve University, St. Boniface Hospital Research Ctr., and the University of Manitoba.

His recent work has largely focused on mitochondrial dysfunction in AD. The Albensi lab has shown very early deficits and sex-based differences in mitochondrial function before the appearance of plaques and tangles, the classic hallmarks of AD.

Dr. Lavinia Alberi, Ph.D., PD, MBA

Dr. Alberi is managing director of the Swiss Integrative Center for Human Health (SICHH) in Fribourg Switzerland and is Assistant Professor at the University of Fribourg.

She is founding member of the advocacy campaign BrainFit4Life and senior editor of Frontiers Neuroscience since 2010. Her work spans diagnostic and therapeutic models in AD and she is an expertise in olfaction and microbial diagnostics for early dementia detection. From 2020, her team helped in the COVID pandemic surveillance by developing and patenting a salivary COVID test and is now developing other salivary diagnostic applications in preventive medicine.

She holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Heidelberg, Germany and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Neurology Department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, where she worked on the role of Notch signaling in memory and stroke. From 2012, she has been an independent PI at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and subsequently Lead in Neurology at SICHH.

Her work on the molecular mechanisms of AD coupled with her research on olfaction and the infectious hypothesis of neurodegenerative dementia have been featured on Alzforum and nationalpress.

Dr. Brian J. Balin, Ph.D.

Dr. Balin is the Director of the Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging – Basic Science at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He is the Chair of the Department of Bio-Medical Sciences and Professor of Neuroscience and Neuropathology. 

Dr. Balin teaches in both the DO and Biomedical masters programs. He lectures and participates in case presentations and laboratory sessions on a variety of subjects including: neuroscience, neuroanatomy, neurodegeneration, neuropathology, general pathology, molecular basis of cancer, and infectious disease.

Dr. Balin is an internationally-recognized expert in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease research. He is highly published in peer-reviewed journals, and has written a number of chapters and reviews on the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, including reviews on the “Pathogen Hypothesis” of this disease (see live discussion section, In addition, he has presented and continues to present his work at major national and international scientific meetings including a number of international and world congresses on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Dr. Maria Ali, MBBS, MBA, CMO

Dr. Ali is the Chief Medical Officer for George Clinical, a Contract Research Organization whose profits serve to support the work of the George Institute for Global Health.

Maria serves as the Chief Medical Officer for George Clinical, responsible for continuing to build the organization’s enviable network of investigators and scientific leaders. Previously, she leads the medical and safety services group at George Clinical who provide safety management, endpoint adjudication, medical monitoring and scientific leadership for both commercially sponsored and academic clinical trials. Maria has worked closely with the scientific leads at the George Institute to develop and implement scientific leadership models for George Clinical studies, as well as to develop new ideas for clinical research, and processes to improve clinical trial design and efficiencies. Maria has several years’ experience in both public health and clinical research as well as research management across a range of settings including hospitals, academic and clinical research organizations.

Dr. David L. Hahn, MD, MS

Dr. Hahn is a family physician with advanced research training in epidemiology, medical microbiology & immunology, and clinical trial design. Dr. Hahn has been performing primary care practice-based research (PBR) into infectious causes for asthma since the late 1980s. Primary care PBR is research done in partnership with practicing clinicians in communities and the patients they serve to address problems that most patients have, most of the time.

Asthma is a common condition in people of all ages. Experts agree that “the root cause for asthma is inflammation” and that “there is no cure for asthma.” Current treatments are palliative, not curative (i.e., they suppress or “control” asthma symptoms only as long as they are taken).

Dr. Hahn has published over 50 peer reviewed articles, book chapters, invited commentaries and correspondence challenging current expert opinion by proposing the “infectious asthma (IA)” hypothesis: some asthma (the most severe type) is causally associated with chronic lung infections (such as Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae) that are treatable with appropriate courses of certain antibiotics. The IA hypothesis opens the door for further research into asthma treatment, cure and even prevention.

Dr. Mark Nelson, PhD.

Dr. Nelson is Vice President of Business and Science Development at Echelon Biosciences and Frontier Scientific, Inc, and is an authority on the design and synthesis of antibiotics and inventor of NuzyraR and SeysaraR, recently FDA approved for severe infections and dermatological use.

He obtained his BS in Chemistry and Microbiology from Gannon University, his doctorate in Organic Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology from Temple University. At Tufts University School of Medicine with Dr. Stuart B. Levy they formed and built Paratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PRTK) where as Senior Director of Chemistry designed, synthesized and tested novel tetracyclines against bacterial and mammalian disease states.  They were funded by GSK, Merck, Bayer and Novartis to develop NuzyraR, and partnered with the MMV Gates Foundation, Merck, Serono, and the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy studying the activity of the tetracyclines in parasitic and mammalian diseases.

Dr. Nelson has received the 2019 American Chemistry Society Heroes of Chemistry Award for his work in tetracyclines, was a Fulbright Lectureship Fellow, and is a scientific board member and Vice President of Chemistry at Neumedics.

Dr. George Perry, Phd.

Dr. Perry is a Professor at UTSA and Semmes Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Neurobiology.

He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Professor of Biology and Chemistry, and author to over 1,000 publications on Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Perry’s studies are focused on the mechanism of formation and physiological consequences of the cytopathology of Alzheimer’s Disease. His lab has shown that oxidative damage is the initial cytopathology in Alzheimer disease and is working to determine the sequence of events leading to neuronal oxidative damage and the source of the increased oxygen radicals.

Current studies focus on the role of redox active metals in mediating prooxidant and antioxidant properties, mechanism of phosphorylation control of oxidative damage to neurofilament proteins, and mass spectrometry analysis of protein metal binding and crosslinking.

Dr. Or Shemesh, PhD.

Dr. Shemesh is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Departments of Neurobiology and Bioengineering.

The Shemesh group at Pitt is creating new technologies to understand and treat brain disease, a field called “Counter Disease Engineering”.  The group is taking the technological approach to understanding diseases of the nervous system by creating tools that enable tracking the etiology of brain disease. Among these tools are sensors for the viability states of cells (is a cell healthy, necrotic or apoptotic?), actuators that switch brain cells and brain regions from healthy to a diseased state and back, novel animal models for basic research and drug screening, and devices for interfacing with the nervous system and repairing it. Dr. Shemesh’s group combines experience in protein and genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cell biology, neuroscience, computational biology and electrical engineering.

Dr. Shemesh studied Neuroscience at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and later joined the synthetic Neurobiology group at MIT to learn the nuts and bolts of technology building.

Of particular interest is using new technologies to explore the infectious etiology of neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Shemesh is particularly passionate about Alzheimer’s Disease following his grandfather’s passing.

Dr. Wilmore Webley, Ph.D.

Dr. Webley is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and the Director of PreMed/PreHealth Advising at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Webley completed his undergraduate degree in Medical Technology at Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville JA. He earned a MS degree and later the Ph.D. in Microbiology at UMass Amherst with expertise in immunology, pathogenic bacteriology, and host-pathogen interactions.

Dr. Webley is a Fulbright Scholar, a recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition for outstanding teaching accomplishments. Dr. Webley serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Vaccines and Immunization, the Journal of Medical Microbiology & Diagnosis, Vaccines and Microbiology & Experimentation. He is a member of the International Society for Vaccines, American Society for Microbiology and the Chlamydia Basic Research Society.

His research focuses on infectious disease mechanisms and the role of specific infections in chronic diseases. Specifically, the Webley Lab has pioneered work in Chlamydia vaccine development and the role of pathogenic microbes in asthma initiation and exacerbation. The Webley Lab uses immunoinformatics and gas vesicle nanoparticles of Halobacteria as a platform for multi-subunit antigen display and have confirmed that this system is a potentially effective display and delivery platform for antigens of chlamydial vaccine antigens. His laboratory was the first to culture Chlamydia from bronchoalveolar lavage samples taken from pediatric patients with chronic, severe asthma and has since shown that early life chlamydial infection increases the risk for asthma onset and results in a unique asthma phenotype. His recent work has demonstrated the efficacy of antibiotics in treating a subset of severe asthmatics. His published work has made significant contributions to the fields of microbiology, vaccinology, allergy and immunology.

In Memoriam

Dr. Charles W. Stratton, MD

Scientific Advisors

Dr. Charles W. Stratton IV, MD, 1945-2022

Dr. Stratton was an Associate Professor of Pathology and Medicine, Director of a Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, and the founding member of Intracell Research Group’s scientific advisory board. He was Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases, and Medical Microbiology.

Emerging infectious diseases are a recognized problem in clinical medicine. Chlamydia pneumoniae was first recognized in 1988 as a cause of community acquired respiratory tract infections. Since then, this unique pathogen has been associated with a number of chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis and asthma. Dr. Stratton passionately studied the pathogenesis of Chlamydia pneumoniae and its role in chronic inflammatory diseases as a cause of secondary infection worsening an original inflammatory process.

Dr. Stratton’s primary research was in pharmacodynamics, particularly the mechanisms of resistance. He has authored or co-authored over 200 papers on this subject and is recognized as an international authority in this area. Dr. Stratton served on a number of editorial boards. Dr. Stratton was a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and received the Bronze Star for service in the Persian Gulf War.

He was a member of numerous professional organizations and was a fellow in the American College of Physicians, College of American Pathologists, American Society of Clinical Pathologists, American Academy of Microbiology, and Infectious Diseases Society of America. For 14 years, he served as editor of “Topics in Clinical Microbiology”, a bimonthly section of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Dr. Stratton also served as editor for Infectious Diseases Newsletter and the Antimicrobics and Infectious Diseases Newsletter. Dr. Stratton is the author of many articles, research publications, review publications, chapters, and abstracts. He lectured extensively at teaching activities, meetings, and conferences.

He adored his family, saved countless lives in his career in medicine, mentored others, lived generously, and remained incredibly humble. Dr. Stratton remains at the heart of Intracell’s work in spirit as we lay building blocks upon the foundation he laid throughout his remarkable life. Learn more here.