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  • Dr. Brian Head

    Dr. Brian Head

    I am a Research Career Scientist awardee at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and hold a dual appointment as a Professor of Anesthesiology at UCSD. I have 17 years of experience testing AAV-mediated gene therapy technologies and interventions that afford neuroprotection against trauma and neurodegenerative disease models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Specifically, I research caveolin (Cav), a scaffolding protein in membrane/lipid rafts (MLRs), that regulates synaptic signaling and neuroplasticity in neuronal models (human neurons derived from iPSCs, animal models of neurodegeneration such as AD and ALS).  I previously published that neuron-targeted Cav-1 (using a synapsin promoter, termed SynCav1) increases MLR formation, enhances structural and functional synaptic and neuroplasticity, and improves hippocampal-dependent learning and memory in aged and TBI mice, is neuroprotective and improves cognitive function in AD mice, and preserves neuromuscular function and prolongs survival in ALS mice.  At the San Diego VA Research

    Week (May 14-18, 2018) symposium and workshop “InnoVAtions in Gene Therapy", I was invited to present my work titled “Neuron-targeted caveolin-1 as a gene therapy for CNS disorders”.  This InnoVAtions in Gene Therapy forum is a component of the broader National VA Research Week “InnoVAtion to Implementation” that highlighted the importance of quickly moving results from the laboratory to clinical practice in order to benefit our Veterans, which fulfills the VA mission statement and is a major objective of Chief Research and Development Officer Dr. Rachel Ramoni.  Outside of my research commitment, I serve as a member on the VA IACUC, Vice Chair of the VA R&D committee, member of VA IRC, and serve on the the Anesthesiology Committee on Academic Promotion (ANESCAP).  I continue to actively mentor undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, postdoctoral fellows, VA CDA awardees, anesthesia residents, and visiting international scholars from Japan, China, and Korea who are involved in research in the laboratory here at the VA and with our affiliate university UCSD.  In 2012, I was bestowed the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is the highest honor given by the United States Government to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.