The Center for Glial Biology is led by Co-Directors Anne Schaefer, MD, PhD and Patrizia Casaccia MD, PhD.
Anne Schaefer, MD, PhD
Dr. Schaefer is an Associate Professor in the Nash Family Department of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and The Friedman Brain Institute. Dr. Schaefer is internationally known for her pioneering work on the epigenetic regulation of neuron and microglia function and how these factors may contribute to neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr. Schaefer did her graduate studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Charité University Berlin and The Rockefeller University in New York. She joined Dr. Paul Greengard's Laboratory at The Rockefeller University where she completed her postdoctoral studies before being recruited to The Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to start her own laboratory in 2011.
The goal of Dr. Schaefer’s research aims at understanding the epigenetic mechanisms underlying microglia cell biology, metabolism and plasticity, with an emphasis on regulating glia-neuron communication. She was among the first who understood the value of epigenetics in regulation of complex behaviors and applied herself forcefully to the identification of key epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to brain function.
Using pioneering technologies including cell type specific mRNA, miRNA and chromatin analysis in glial and neuronal cells, her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of neurological disorders and at their potential treatment by targeting the glial/neuronal epigenome.
Dr. Schaefer has received numerous honors and awards in recognition of her work, including being named a Kavli National Academy of Science Frontiers Fellow, receiving the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, Cure Challenge Award, NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Dr. Harold and Golden Lamport Research Award for Excellence in Basic Science Research. Dr. Schaefer’s work has been published in journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Medicine, and JEM. Her work is frequently cited in the field and featured in the popular press.
Patrizia Casaccia MD, PhD
Dr. Casaccia is Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine and Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at the Graduate Center of CUNY and Director of the Neuroscience Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center of CUNY. She is a world leader in the field of oligodendrocyte development and function.
Dr. Casaccia received her medical degree with Honors from the University of Rome, and a PhD degree in Neurobiology from State University of New York (SUNY) Health and Science Center Brooklyn. She trained at Cornell Weill Medical Center in New York and at the Skirball Institute for Molecular Medicine at NYU. Dr. Casaccia’s work adopts molecular and cellular techniques to find modifiers of disease course in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Her work includes translational research in regenerative and personalized medicine. The laboratory focuses on three main topics: (i.) How new myelin is formed in the developing and adult brain (ii.) How neurons are damaged in MS and how myelin damage contributes to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s (iii.) What is the effect of the environment (including social experience diet/gut microbiome) on metabolism and neuro-glial interaction.
The overall goal of Dr. Casaccia's research is to protect neuron and form new myelin in order to treat neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders and restore function. The new methodologies implemented in her lab include the analysis of human and rodent samples to characterize the epigenome of immune and glial cells, and the analysis of lipidomics and metabolomics in spinal fluid and plasma samples from patients and animal models. At a molecular level she is passionately devoted to identifying new therapeutic strategies and creating new tools to address current challenges.
Dr. Casaccia is part of the International MS Microbiome Consortium, and her work is funded by grants from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Department of the Army and by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Dr. Casaccia has been recognized as one of the distinguished MS researchers in the United States, her work has been published in journals such as Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, PNAS, eLife, Nature Communication and she has been on numerous panels across the country discussing the role of myelinating glia in neural development and in disease states.
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