University of Vermont

Physician Careers

Postdoctoral Fellow Reese Receives U.S.-U.K. Alzheimer’s Research Grant

Marilyn Cipolla, Ph.D., and Reese, Ph.D.
Professor of Neurological Sciences Marilyn Cipolla, Ph.D., and postdoctoral fellow Lindsay Reese, Ph.D. (Photo by Ed Neuert)

University of Vermont Postdoctoral Fellow Lindsay Reese, Ph.D., currently working in the laboratory of Marilyn Cipolla, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences, recently received a 2012 U.S.–U.K. Young Investigator Exchange Fellowship from the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Research UK for her project proposal, titled “The Role of Amyloid Deposition in Blood-Brain Barrier Dysfunction in Alzheimer's Disease.”

Designed to support international early-career development, the fellowship provides a three-year, $300,000 grant to fund scientific research into important questions about the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer‘s disease, as well as help promising scientists establish their careers within Alzheimer‘s research internationally. The program also aims to enhance international research output by supporting meaningful scientific collaboration between scientists in the United States and the United Kingdom. Reese’s U.K. mentor is Karen Horsburgh, Ph.D., senior research fellow and deputy director of the Centre for Neuroscience Research in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

In Alzheimer's disease, a toxic protein called beta-amyloid is over-produced and accumulates into “plaques” that deposit on the brain. In many people with Alzheimer’s disease, these plaques also occur in the blood vessels that supply the brain.

“The blood-brain barrier separates cells in the brain from the blood circulation and controls what molecules enter and leave the brain,” says Reese. “Some evidence suggests that the blood-brain barrier is damaged in Alzheimer's disease, possibly as a result of amyloid deposition or impaired blood flow.”

For her project, Reese will examine the role of impaired blood flow and amyloid deposition in blood-brain barrier damage. Specifically, she will use brain tissue samples from people who died of Alzheimer’s disease collected by Randall Woltjer, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Oregon Brain Bank at Oregon Health & Science University, and examine cerebrovascular proteins to determine whether or not they are affected by the disease. In addition, she and colleagues will seek to determine if any markers of damage to the blood-brain barrier exist in blood samples. The goal of this work will be to provide new insights into how the blood-brain barrier is affected by amyloid deposition and impaired blood flow and may suggest targets for drugs to prevent damage.

Cipolla, who is a blood-brain barrier expert, is serving as Reese’s primary supervisor for the fellowship. In addition, Reese plans to spend three months during the summer of 2014 working in Horsburgh’s laboratory at the University of Edinburgh.

Prior to coming to UVM, Reese completed her Ph.D. in neuroscience and cell biology at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and a postdoctoral fellowship in the National Institute on Aging-funded Neuroscience of Aging program at Oregon Health & Science University.