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National Institutes of Health (NIH) R25 Resident Research Training Program Awardee

Congratulations to PGY-3 resident Dr. Claudiu Diaconu on his acceptance into the National Institutes of Health R25 Resident Research Training Program (Dr. Mitch Elkind, PI), with mentorship from Dr. Dritan Agalliu.  Dr. Agalliu's laboratory investigates how the blood brain barrier (BBB) regulates the entry of immune cells into the CNS at a cellular level, specifically in diseases during which the BBB's protective function is compromised. The influx of immune cells then contributes to the pathophysiology of these diseases, which include multiple sclerosis, stroke, and neuropsychiatric disorders.  Dr. Diaconu’s project will focus on BBB breakdown during multiple sclerosis (MS).  He will be investigating the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, the activation of which has been shown by the Agalliu lab to prevent BBB breakdown during lesion formation in the animal model of MS called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). This subsequently limits the entry of immune cells into the CNS, thereby decreasing the pathological lesions of autoimmune disease.  With Dr. Agalliu, Dr. Diaconu will assess how activation of this pathway, using genetic and pharmacological activators, prevents progression of EAE.  They will also investigate activation of this pathway in human CNS tissue, with the ultimate goal of providing a foundation for future pharmacological therapy targeted at the Wnt/β-catenin pathway for autoimmune disease.