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Dr. Grinspan's research program focuses on oligodendrocytes, cells of the central nervous system that synthesize the myelin sheath required for transmission of nervous impulses. Her research seeks to understand the signaling pathways that regulate oligodendrocyte maturation and how they are perturbed in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, HIV, and perinatal white matter injury.
The goal of Dr. Grinspan’s research centers on identifying factors in the central nervous system that inhibit the development of mature oligodendrocytes both during development and disease. Along with her colleagues, she has observed the role that oxidative stress and inflammation have on impeding myelination. Consequently, she has identified several families of signaling factors in the central nervous system that are activated by these processes and interfere with oligodendrocyte development and myelination, including bone morphogenetic proteins and the Wnt/b-catenin family of signaling factors.
Using a variety of approaches including cell culture, genetic, and disease models, Dr. Grinspan’s studies focus on factors that inhibit myelin regeneration in multiple sclerosis, including the role of lipid regulation, myelin loss, and oligodendrocyte dysfunction in HIV-associated neurocognitive deficits, including the role of antiretroviral drugs, and factors that limit myelination in perinatal white matter injury.
Dr. Grinspan’s notable career achievements include:
- Identifying the oligodendrocyte pre-progenitor cell, a link between neural stem cells and the oligodendrocyte lineage.
- Providing evidence that a family of growth factors, the bone morphogenetic proteins, are elevated in de- and dys-myelinating diseases and are responsible for the inability of oligodendrocyte progenitors to mature and effect remyelination.
- Illuminating the role for oligodendrocyte pathology in HIV-associated neurocognitive deficits (HAND), a common component of HIV even when properly controlled by anti-retroviral agents, Dr. Grinspan and her colleagues showed that oligodendrocytes can be inhibited from myelinating or remyelinating in the presence of select antiretroviral agents.
- Receiving the professional Impact award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2012)
Education and Training
AB, Vassar College (Biology), 1974
MS, Hahnemann University (Pathology), 1977
PhD, University of Pennsylvania (Biology), 1984
Titles and Academic Titles
Co-Leader, Developmental Biology Research Affinity Group
Research Professor of Neurology
American Society of Neurochemistry, 1985-
Society for Neuroscience, 1990-
Mahoney Institute for Neurological Science, 1991-
Professional Impact Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2012