Assistant Professor, Molecular Medicine, CCLCM-CWRU
Location: Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
Dr. Dimitrios Davalos studies the neuro-immune mechanisms that influence the brain’s normal function, its homeostatic balance, and its structural integrity. He is particularly interested in microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain, the spinal cord and the retina, the three major sites of the central nervous system (CNS). His research aims to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which microglia facilitate normal brain function, and regulate immune responses when the homeostasis or the integrity of the CNS are pathologically compromised. In doing so, his ultimate goal is to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention for neurological diseases.
During his graduate years Dr. Davalos performed the first in vivo imaging study of microglia, taking advantage of advanced microscopy technologies that allow following the behavior of individual cells inside the intact living brain, in real time. He demonstrated that microglia continuously survey the intact brain, and can rapidly contain small localized injuries within just a few minutes. These findings challenged prior views regarding the role of microglia in the brain, and inspired numerous new studies aimed at better understanding the mechanisms and the significance of such unexpected microglial abilities for neuronal development, plasticity, function, and dysfunction.
In recent years, Dr. Davalos has been studying microglial responses in the context of blood brain barrier disruption, a phenomenon that is very common among pathologies such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, and other neurodegenerative diseases. He has also developed and published novel methods for imaging the living brain and spinal cord to follow ongoing biological processes over time. His research combines cutting-edge imaging techniques with molecular, cellular and genetic approaches to study the interactions between blood vessels, neurons, and glia, and understand how their functional and structural relationships change between health and disease.
Dr. Davalos earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Athens in Greece, and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Neuroscience from New York University. He did his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Prior to joining the Lerner Research Institute and Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Davalos served as the associate director of the Center for In Vivo Imaging Research at the Gladstone Institutes and UCSF. He reviews for several scientific journals and funding institutions and maintains an active role in training the next generation of neuro-immunologists and glio-vascular biologists. He has organized and regularly participates in International scientific conferences, and currently serves as the program chair for the Spring Brain Conferences. He previously received postdoctoral and young investigator awards from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Heart Association and the Race to Erase Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. His lab is currently funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Fellowship - University of California-San Francisco
Postdoc Fellow, Gladstone Institute of Neurological Dis.
San Francisco, CA USA
Fellowship - University of California-San Diego
Postdoc Fellow in Department of Pharmacology
La Jolla, CA USA
Doctorate - New York University School of Medicine
Neuroscience and Physiology
New York, NY USA
Undergraduate - National University of Athens
We study the role that neuroimmune mechanisms play in brain function under physiological conditions and during neurological disease. Our main cells of interest are microglia, the resident immune cells of the central nervous system. Microglia are the first responders to any pathological insult—whether injury or disease— but their role in the physiological brain was greatly underappreciated for decades. Moreover, microglia have also historically been synonymous with inflammatory processes that can further damage neurons in the context of disease.
Using advanced microscopy technologies to follow the behavior of individual cells inside the intact living brain in real time, we previously showed—for the first time—that microglia continuously survey their environment and can rapidly contain small injuries within a few minutes without causing inflammatory damage. These findings inspired numerous studies aimed at understanding the mechanisms and the significance of such unexpectedly dynamic microglial functions for neuronal development, plasticity, function, and dysfunction.
Our recent studies have focused on microglial responses in the context of blood-brain barrier disruption, a pathological phenomenon that is very common among neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. We have also developed and published novel methods for imaging the living brain and spinal cord to follow ongoing biological processes over time. Our research combines cutting-edge imaging techniques with molecular, cellular and genetic approaches to study the interactions between blood vessels, neurons, and glia, and to better understand how their structural and functional relationships change between health and disease. By studying these relationships in real time, our ultimate goal is to expand our understanding of the role of microglia in brain function, and to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention for neurological diseases.
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