About Me

We moved to Lexington in 2018 and love the city and surrounding area. In my free time, I love to paint, garden, bike ride, and watch movies, with the occasional game of Dungeons & Dragons thrown in for good measure.

My Research

Today, few people can claim that stroke has not affected someone in their lives – a friend or family member, mother, or child. Within my family, both my grandmother and my aunt fought and survived stroke. But many are less fortunate, and again this year an estimated 800,000 individuals in the United States will suffer from a stroke, and most will retain some form of functional deficit (e.g. motor, cognitive, speech). Our lab uses behavioral, molecular, and immunological techniques to understand the contributions of the immune system to recovery from stroke and other neurologic diseases. We are located in the Center for Advanced Translational Stroke Science (CATSS)and the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI).

Preclinical work in my lab focuses on neuroimmune mechanisms that contribute to neurovascular protection from ischemic injury. Exciting recent data from this research suggest a role for adaptive immunity to hypoxia after preconditioning that may be fundamental to neuroprotection following stroke, including a unique, neurotrophic B cell phenotype that is induced by prior stroke onset. This work, in a murine model of transient stroke, was the focus of a funded American Heart Association (AHA) National Scientist Development Grant in 2014. Subsequent data on the mechanistic contribution of B cells to neuroprotection and neuronal plasticity after stroke laid the foundation for an R01/A1 funded and currently in its eigth year (2023). My graduate students are studying the effects of the adaptive immune system on long-term stroke recovery (Thomas Ujas, Katie Malone, Katherine Cotter, Annabel McAtee), long-term recovery from spinal cord injury (Daimen Britsch), and co-morbidities that affect cognition (Edric Winford).

I also have several collaborations for clinical-based translational research, in addition to the animal studies. Our funded clinical work investigates neuroinflammatory mechanisms in patients at risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as stroke patients from our BACTRAC registry. We also use functional imaging to understand neuroinflammation and identify children at risk for stroke while on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO; i.e., heart/lung bypass). These studies are funded by NIH (NINDS, NIA) as well as an AHA Established Investigator award. I hope my interdisciplinary approach will result in a better understanding of mechanisms of recovery – and potentially new neurotherapeutic targets – for diseases that are the leading causes of long-term adult disability in the United States. This combined bench-to-bedside-to-bench approach has already led to the collection of preliminary data in humans that will inform the experimental design of mechanistic studies in mice.