In collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Geiger’s lab at the University of North Dakota, the Meucci lab recently published a new study describing how iron contributes to opioid-induced morphological changes in cortical neurons. Interestingly, morphine caused the release of iron stored in neuronal endolysosomes to the cytoplasm, which led to a post-transcriptional upregulation of the iron storage protein ferritin heavy chain. Increased ferritin heavy chain levels in these neurons was associated with a reduction of dendritic spine types that are thought to play important roles in learning and memory. Morphine-mediated dendritic spine deficits and ferritin heavy chain upregulation were completely blocked by selective chelation of endolysosomal iron, suggesting that these iron stores could be a new therapeutic target for opioid-using people at risk for developing cognitive impairment. This study is featured and freely available in eNeuro, an open-access journal of the Society for Neuroscience.
The University of Bologna has awarded Drs. Meucci & Brandimarti a grant to support the DUniBo initiative, which aims to increase student-centered scientific collaborations and other types of academic interactions between the University of Bologna and Drexel University. This new award will support an approximately six-month project known as The Student Ambassador, where students from each institution will spend 8-10 weeks abroad under the guidance of a faculty mentor and a fellow local student. Interested applicants should contact Dr. Meucci (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Brandimarti (email@example.com) by February 25, 2019. Also see additional information.
Dr. Meucci has been selected by The National Institute on Drug Abuse for a Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) award for the research grant: Role of chemokines in neuronal function and survival. The NIH MERIT program comprises an initial MERIT award and the opportunity for a five-year MERIT award extension, totaling up to 10 years of funding. MERIT awards are designed to provide long-term, stable support to investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior, and are awarded to less than 5% of NIH-funded investigators. Congratulations to Dr. Meucci for this great achievement!
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, numerous awards and honors, and her participation in international meetings. Lindsay established new techniques in the lab to study cognitive impairment in HIV-transgenic rats, and visualize dendritic spines in different contexts, which have contributed to two additional manuscripts currently in preparation.
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?”
The award is given for first place in the platform presentation competition at Drexel’s Discovery Day. Lindsay’s talk was titled: The chemokine CXCL12 restores dendritic spine loss and cognitive deficits in a rodent model of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.
Dr. Meucci will hold the position for a two-year term, from 2018 – 2020.
The award is given in recognition of extraordinary service in facilitating the operations of society initiatives. Dr. Meucci served as the chair of the Local Organizing and Scientific Committee during the 23rd annual SNIP conference in Philadelphia, PA.
Congratulations to Rachel Nolan on her recent appointment as a National Research Service Award (NRSA) pre-doctoral fellow on Drexel University’s Interdisciplinary and Translational Research Training Grant in NeuroAIDS, funded by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health grant T32-MH079785).
Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD
Professor & Chair
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Drexel University College of Medicine
245 North 15th Street, NCB room #8221
Philadelphia, PA 19102
office phone: (215) 762-2597
lab phone: (215) 762 4138
fax: (215) 762-2299