Research Team Members

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Veronica Galvan, Ph.D.

Research focuses on the identification of molecular and biochemical alterations that cause Alzheimer’s disease. By understanding how the disease is triggered and how it develops, research will identify ways to slow or prevent the disease. This research uses genetic manipulations in mouse models, behavioral, immunohistochemical and biochemical approaches, in vivo brain optical and functional imaging, in vivo brain blood flow measures and cellular and molecular biology tools to understand the initiating molecular events in Alzheimer’s, determine the effects of potential drug candidate molecules and define the mechanisms involved.

Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research

Contact:
Galvanv@uthscsa.edu
Research Profile

Mitzi M. Gonzales, Ph.D., ABPP-CN

Research broadly focuses on identifying mechanisms and biomarkers of advanced age-related cognitive decline and dementia in effort to aid timely diagnosis, prevent progression and advance treatment discovery. This research leverages clinical neuropsychology, structural and functional neuroimaging and genomics. A primary aim is to understand the underlying mechanisms linking cardiovascular disease with increased dementia risk and develop interventions that slow the rate of cognitive decline.

Research Areas
Clinical Research, Population Neuroscience

Contact:
Research Profile

Xianlin Han, Ph.D.

Laboratory studies the role of lipid metabolism in age-related diseases with a major focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Previous work has revealed that among the earliest Alzheimer’s-related lipid alterations is a dramatic deficiency in a class of myelin-specific lipids, known as sulfatide, that is modulated in an age- and apolipoprotein E (apoE) isoform-dependent fashion. Research findings strongly support the notion that sulfatide plays a critical role in apoE-mediated Ab metabolism and Alzheimer’s pathogenesis. Current research efforts focus on elucidating the underlying molecular mechanism(s) leading to sulfatide deficiency at the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s, identifying and describing the consequences of severe sulfatide losses (e.g., Ab deposition, tau hyperphosphorylation, astrocyte activation and ventricular enlargement) and the mechanisms leading to these sequelae and determining the connections between sulfatide deficiency and other Alzheimer’s risk factors (including aging and diabetes). Numerous animal models (e.g., sulfatide conditional knockout mice, AD mouse models, human apoE knockin mice and diabetic animal models) are used to study the role of sulfatide in aging and Alzheimer’s development.

Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research

Contact:
Research Profile

Sarah C. Hopp, Ph.D.

Research focuses on microglia, the immune cells of the central nervous system, and how these cells are involved in Alzheimer’s disease and other age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Microglia changes during aging, in Alzheimer’s disease and chronic neuroinflammation. A main research objective is to understand how these changes contribute to the initiation and progression of neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits. One line of research focuses on microglia interaction with tau pathology. Misfolded tau accumulates and spreads during Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies, and recent evidence from the laboratory suggests that microglia contribute to the spread of tau pathology via dysfunctional degradation of tau. A second line of research focuses on how microglia intracellular calcium dysregulation in the context of Alzheimer’s pathology alters normal microglia processes and contributes to their dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. A particular interest is differentiating cell autonomous and non-cell autonomous effects of manipulating microglia in vivo. A variety of methods are utilized to address these research goals including transgenic animal models, behavior analyses, cell culture, imaging, protein biochemistry, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry and pharmacological and genetic manipulation of microglia-specific pathways.

Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research

Contact:
hopps1@uthscsa.edu
Research Profile