• Natasha O'Brown
  • Natasha O'Brown
  • Assistant Professor
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  • Office: Nelson B321
  • Biography:

    B.S., Davidson College, Davidson, NC Ph.D., Stanford University, Stanford, CA

    Postdoctoral training: Sean Megason, advisor, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

    NICHD K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award

    Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists

    Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

    NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

  • Research Interests:

    Molecular and Cellular Regulators of the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB)

  • Current Research:

    We are working to unravel the intricate mechanisms that govern the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB refers to the remarkable and highly selective properties of the blood vessels in the brain. These unique properties play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of ions and nutrients necessary for a properly functioning brain. Moreover, the BBB serves as a formidable defense, shielding the brain from potential threats such as toxins and pathogens. And while this is normally beneficial, this same defense acts as an obstacle for effective drug delivery to the brain. Furthermore, BBB breakdown has been implicated in the

    pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative diseases, including but not limited to Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke.

    To address these critical issues, we are searching for new ways to selectively enhance the permeability of the BBB, facilitating improved access for therapeutic agents to reach the brain, and simultaneously, identify alternative strategies to fortify and restore the integrity of the BBB in neurodegenerative diseases, thereby mitigating further damage. The team uses innovative techniques in the zebrafish model system, such as high resolution live imaging, cellular manipulations, cross-species transplantations, and genetic perturbations to explore BBB functional regulation. We do this work with curiosity, creativity, and collaboration, with the ultimate goal of improving therapeutics for human diseases of the brain.

  • Recruiting New Research Assistants: Not Currently Recruiting