Katerina Akassoglou, PhD
Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease

Other Professional Titles

Director, Gladstone/UCSF Center for In Vivo Imaging Research;
Professor, Neurology, University of California, San Francisco;
Adjunct Professor, Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego

Phone

(415) 734-2512

Fax

(415) 355-0824

Assistant

Stephanie Tuazon
(415) 734-2531

Areas of Investigation

Our laboratory studies mechanisms of neurovascular regulation in inflammation and tissue repair. Our current research focuses on identifying the molecular and cellular interface that blood proteins use to interact with and change the functions of cells in the nervous system. When this vasculature—the blood-brain barrier (BBB)—ruptures, blood proteins can enter into the brain and cause edema and neuronal damage in a variety of neurological diseases, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and spinal cord injury. We aim to unravel the molecular mechanisms of the central nervous system’s (CNS) response to neurovascular changes, with the ultimate goal to develop novel therapeutic strategies for neurological diseases.

Lab Focus

What is the functional role of BBB disruption in inflammation and neurodegeneration in neurological diseases?
How does fibrinogen affect neuronal and glial functions?
Can the beneficial effect of fibrinogen inhibition be exploited therapeutically?
Discovery of new molecular mechanisms that control brain-vascular-immune communication

Achievements

Showed that blood proteins not only mark BBB disruption, but also cause both pro-inflammatory and neurodegenerative effects in CNS diseases.
Identified fibrinogen as a potential novel target for therapeutic interventions in neuroinflammatory diseases, which led to the design of peptides that specifically inhibit the damaging pro-inflammatory effects of fibrinogen in the CNS without affecting its role in blood coagulation.
Showed that removing fibrin from the CNS via proteolytic degradation is regulated by the neurotrophin receptor p75NTR via a novel signaling pathway: p75NTR directly binds the phosphodieserase isoform PDE4A to compartmentalize cAMP signaling in cells.
Discovered novel biological functions of p75NTR in regulating regeneration, hypoxia, and metabolism.
Found that bidirectional molecular mechanisms of communication between the blood and brain may determine the degree of damage and the regenerative potential of tissues within and outside of the nervous system.

Affiliations

  • American Neurological Association
  • American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
  • New York Academy of Sciences
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • International Society for Fibrinolysis and Proteolysis

Professional titles

Director, Gladstone/UCSF Center for In Vivo Imaging Research;
Professor, Neurology, University of California, San Francisco;
Adjunct Professor, Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego

Education

1994
BS
  • University of Athens
1998
PhD
  • University of Athens

Honors and Awards

2018 Annals of Neurology Editorial Board
2016 R35 NINDS Research Program Award
2015 The Marilyn Hilton Award for Innovation in MS Research
2015 Secretary/Treasurer Elect, Molecular Pharmacology Division, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
2009 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Research (Finalist)
2008 John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology
2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), Executive Office of the President of the United States
2006 International Fibrinogen Society, Young Investigator Award
2002 International Society for Neurochemistry, Young Investigator Award
2000 International Society for Fibrinolysis and Proteolysis, Young Investigator Award
1999 Human Frontiers Science Program (Fellow)
1998 European League Against Rheumatism
1998 Women in Neuroimmunology Award, International Society of Neuroimmunology