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Lindsay Festa Defends PhD Thesis

Congratulations to Lindsay Festa for successfully defending her PhD thesis titled: Defining the molecular pathways involved in CXCL12-mediated rescue of dendritic spines and cognitive deficits in an animal model of neuroHIV. The quality and impact of Lindsay’s work has been recognized both locally and internationally, as evidenced by three publications in high profile peer-reviewed journals, […]

Dr. Meucci awarded ISA fellowship at The University of Bologna.

The Institute of Advanced Studies has invited Dr. Meucci to spend a six-week fellowship on campus in an effort to foster international collaboration and global educational initiatives.  During her stay, she also presented a seminar entitled: “Three Key Questions on NeuroHIV: What is it?  Why Should We Care?  Can We Do Something?”

Research Interests

Our research aims to characterize the physiological and pathological actions of chemokines in the central nervous system (CNS) in order to foster the development of new therapeutic approaches against neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders, including neuroAIDS.

Experimental Methods

We examine the effects of chemokines and viral proteins using different methods including traditional biochemical/molecular biology techniques and novel imaging and proteomics approaches, as briefly described below. Primary cultures of rat and human central neurons are used as a model for the study of chemokine receptors naturally expressed by neurons. Alternative models include neuronal human cell lines expressing specific chemokine receptors. In addition, small animal models and post-mortem brain tissue samples from control and HIV-infected individuals are used for the analyses of specific pathways of interest in vivo/ex vivo.

NeuroHIV and Chemokine Receptors

Novel roles and regulatory factors: The lab has identified novel roles of chemokines in differentiated neurons, such as regulation of neuronal-glial communication, neurotransmission, and excitotoxicity. These findings elucidated some of the molecular players that lead to neuronal injury. By revealing the link of certain chemokine receptors to neuronal survival and function, these discoveries have been instrumental in predicting potential consequence of chemokine alteration or manipulation under normal and pathological conditions, and in the exploration of new therapeutic approaches to reduce neuroinflammation and neuronal damage in the adult brain.