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Multiphoton microscopy of the microvasculature in the brain and beyond

Dr. Nozomi Nishimura, Professor for Biomedical Engineering, Cornell-Ithaca

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
8:30 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Sloan Auditorium - Joint Seminar with BME

Multiphoton microscopy is a powerful tool for investigating the contribution of multiple physiological systems to disease.  Our goal is to study how the vascular, immune, and inflammatory systems interact in a tissue during disease.  We develop experimental and analysis tools for in vivo imaging studies in several organ systems with a focus on the role of the microvasculature.  In brain, we have been investigating the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and dysfunctional microvasculature.  Vascular health is increasingly being recognized as a critical factor in Alzheimer’s.  In both humans with Alzheimer’s disease and mouse models of Alzheimer’s, cerebral blood flow is decreased by as much as 30% relative to age-matched controls.  We have identified one mechanism that contributes to the perfusion reduction.  We found an elevation in the number of brain capillaries plugged by leukocytes in transgenic ad mice as compared to age-matched controls.  Although the fraction of capillaries that are plugged is small, our models suggest that these plugged capillaries are the cause of the blood flow reduction in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.  This blood flow change could accelerate dementia in Alzheimer’s disease.  Before the use of multiphon microscopy, these microscopic disturbances in blood flow went unrecognized.  In other organs, motion makes microscopy difficult, but recent innovations enable studies with similar resolution as in brain.  We cannot study microvascular dynamics in the intestine as well as the beating heart in mice.

Nozomi Nishimura grew up in Tucson, Arizona.  She majored in physics at Harvard College where she worked with Prof. Eric Mazur on Femtosecond Laser Ablation.  In graduate school, she became interested in neuroscience and worked with Prof. David Kleinfeld at University of California at San Diego.  Although still in the Physics Department, her research focused on studying blood flow in the grain of rodents and developing laser-based models of small stoke, she came to Biomedical Engineering at Cornell in 2006 to do a Postdoc with Prof. Chris Schaffer.  At Cornell, current research expands the use of vivo imaging techniques to studies of Alzheimer’s disease and other pathologies in both brain and other organs.