Dr. Akassoglou is a leader in the field of neurological disease, with a special emphasis on multiple sclerosis (MS). Throughout her career, she has studied the biological ‘triggers’ that affect brain immunology—immune processes within or outside the brain that affect brain functions and/or diseases. In particular, Dr. Akassoglou has investigated how a blood protein called fibrinogen can seep into the brain and spinal cord to cause neurodegenerative diseases. Her aim is to understand, at the molecular level, the mechanisms that control communication between the brain, immune system, and blood vessels—with the ultimate goal of designing new therapies that slow, stop, or reverse the progression of a wide range of neurological disorders, such as MS. Dr. Akassoglou’s lab identified how microglia—a type of immune cell that acts as the brain’s first line of defense—are activated when fibrinogen enters the brain or spinal cord. Moreover, she showed the critical roles that fibrinogen plays in brain trauma and neuronal functions. She also identified a potential way to block the damaging effects of fibrinogen as it enters the brain while allowing it to maintain its ability to clot blood. Dr. Akassoglou has also uncovered the precise roles that neurotrophins—a type of protein found in the brain—play in metabolism and tissue repair. Dr. Akassoglou takes a multifaceted approach to her research, incorporating both traditional and innovative techniques. For example, she directs Gladstone’s Center for In Vivo Imaging Research, which analyzes high-resolution and cutting-edge in vivo images to monitor molecular changes in the brains of live animals over time.
Among her numerous honors and awards, Dr. Akassoglou won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding early-career scientists and engineers. In 2008, she became only the fourth woman in 60 years to receive the John J. Abel Award, which is given to a young investigator for original and outstanding research contributions in the field of pharmacology. In 2016, she received the R35 NINDS Research Program Award.
A native of Greece, Dr. Akassoglou earned both a bachelor's of science in biology and a PhD in neurobiology at the University of Athens, Greece. Prior to joining Gladstone in 2008, she was trained in neuropathology by Hans Lassmann at the University of Vienna. Dr. Akassoglou completed her postdoctoral work at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Rockefeller University with Sid Strickland, and New York University with Moses Chao.
I believe that Gladstone performs extraordinary science and maintains an infrastructure with ample opportunities for translational research.