I am the principal investigator of a translational research lab at University of Illinois at Chicago. My research interest is in how junctional molecules of the central nervous system (CNS) influence neuroinflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).
I am studying the processes by which blood-borne solutes and cells traverse the CNS endothelium using novel transgenic mice expressing fluorescently labeled BBB proteins in brain and spinal cord endothelial cells. I am particularly interested in whether canonical Wnt ligands, which are important in BBB development, also regulate BBB function in the adult. Imaging is conducted in cultured endothelial cells and in EAE mice using time lapse imaging and two-photon microscopy. The goal of these studies is to better elucidate mechanisms of blood brain barrier modulation in disease and recovery.
I obtained my PhD in 2010 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where I studied gap junction molecules in astrocytes with Drs. Celia Brosnan and Cedric Raine. I conducted a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Eliana Scemes, where I showed that inhibiting one class of gap junctions blocked inflammasome formation and attenuated neuroinfolammatory disease. I completed a second fellowship with Dr. Dritan Agalliu at Columbia University College of Medicine in New York and at University of California, Irvine addressing molecular regulation of the blood-brain barrier.