Seminar Series – Mark Nelson, Ph.D.
Event Date & TimeOctober 14, 2019 at 12:00 PM
Mark Nelson, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmacology
University of Vermont
“Translating thought into blood flow in the brain: Capillaries as sensors of neural activity.”
Videoconference to AT&T 1.120
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About the Speaker(s)
Research interests include elucidating the mechanisms by which cerebral blood flow is controlled to meet the diverse and ever-changing demands of active neurons and how these mechanisms are disrupted in small vessel disease (SVD)—a major cause of stroke and dementia. Dr. Nelson and colleagues have unraveled many of the major mechanisms that control cerebrovascular function, including the discovery of local calcium signals (“sparks”), which counter-intuitively oppose vasoconstriction. Recently showing that brain capillaries act as a neural activity-sensing network by initiating and transmitting an electrical signal, mediated by potassium channel activation, that propagates through the interconnected endothelial cells comprising the capillaries that line all blood vessels. This concept explains the rapid and coordinated delivery of blood to active neurons. Near-term goals are to create an integrated view of electrical, calcium and related regulatory signaling mechanisms at molecular, biophysical, and computational-modeling levels by examining their operation in increasingly complex segments of the brain vasculature ex vivo, in vivo, and in silico. Ultimately, they propose to weave these research threads together to create a systems-level view of physiological signaling in the brain microcirculation, and test the concept that gradual degradation of this sensory web and the attendant progressive decay of cerebrovascular function contributes to SVDs of the brain.