My research interest is in how junctional molecules of the central nervous system (CNS) influence the autoimmune demyelinating disease multiple sclerosis and its animal model, EAE (Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis).
I am studying the processes by which blood-borne solutes and cells traverse the CNS endothelium using Dr. Agalliu’s novel transgenic mice expressing fluorescently labeled BBB proteins in brain and spinal cord endothelial cells, including caveolin 1 (labeling a class of endocytic vesicles involved in transcellular permeability) and claudin5 (a tight junction protein that inhibits paracellular migration). 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 in the labs of Drs. Celia Brosnan and Cedric Raine. I subsequently conducted a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Eliana Scemes investigating the role of another gap junction family member in autoimmune inflammation of the central nervous system.