Our lab’s main objective is to understand mechanisms by which inflammation contributes to brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. We are particularly focused on the highly specialized small blood vessels in the brain, which form a blood-brain barrier (BBB) as central mediators of communication between the brain and the body. We hope that our research will ultimately benefit patients by improving the understanding of 1) how signals of inflammation and infection outside of the brain are relayed across the BBB and into the brain, and 2) the short-term and long-term effects of inflammation on brain health.
We are currently using a human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived model of the BBB to understand how inflammatory molecules called chemokines can cross from the bloodstream into the brain, to build improved in vitro models for studying brain inflammation and brain microvascular aging, and to determine how molecules in the bloodstream affect BBB functions in young, healthy subjects and in patients with cognitively normal aging or Alzheimer’s dementia. We plan to advance our studies into other disease areas such as sepsis, obesity, and diabetes. Accomplishments in these areas have potential for developing personalized medicine diagnostic approaches and better treatments for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.