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Increasingly, inflammation within the nervous system and interactions between the immune and nervous system are being recognized as important for disease pathogenesis and progression.  Research on neuroinflammation at UMass Chan spans the range from clinical studies of therapies targeting the immune system in Multiple Sclerosis (Drs. Carolina Ionete, Chris Hemond, Peter Riskind) to basic studies assessing the influence of the intestinal bacterial contents (the “microbiome”) on nervous system function (Drs. Beth McCormick, Rachel Gerstein).  Drs. Mark Alkema and Marian Walhout’s collaborative project “The role of the microbiome and vitamin B12 on neural function” received a 2018 Riccio Fund for Neuroscience Award.  Dr. Gyongi Szabo and colleagues study the effects of alcohol ingestion on inflammation in rodents and in humans, their recent work has extended this investigation to showing that alcohol ingestion promotes neuroinflammation). 

A class of immune cells within the brain, called microglia, are important for refining neuronal connections in development and in responding to neuronal injury. Dori Schafer’s lab is studying many aspects of microglial biology in mouse models.  Drs. Daryl Bosco and Dori Schafer’s project “Investigating microglial dysfunction induced by ALS-linked profilin-1” received a 2018 Riccio Fund for Neuroscience Award.