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Personal profile


2019- Present  Programme Leader (Fellow)/UE08, University of Edinburgh, UK Dementia Research Institute.

2017-2019       Assistant Project Scientist IV at University of California, Los Angeles (Advisor: Prof. Baljit Khakh).

2014-2017       Postdoc at University of California, Los Angeles (Advisor: Prof. Baljit Khakh).

2013-2014       Postdoc at Northwestern University, Chicago (Advisor: Prof. Peter Penzes).

2006-2012       Ph.D. in Biology, University of Seville, Spain (Advisors: Prof. Dr. Jose Lopez Barneo, Dr. Jose I. Piruat Palomo).

2007-2008       M.S. in Biomedicine, University of Seville, Spain.

2001-2006       B.S. in Biology, University of Seville, Spain.

Current Research Interests

  • Comparative molecular characterisation and functional exploration of astrocyte and brain endothelial cell interactions during BBB maturation, and in neurological disease.
  • Functional mechanistic assessment, in vivo and in vitro, of new astrocyte-brain endothelial cell interaction pathways unveiled by health and disease comparative studies.
  • Development of research tools that will allow a better understanding of the BBB in health and disease.

My research in a nutshell

The brain is an organ of unparalleled sophistication and a fine control of its microenvironment is essential to maintain proper function. Key to this challenge is a specialised blood vessel structure called the blood-brain-barrier (BBB). Crucially the BBB controls the movement of substances between the brain and the rest of the body including restriction of dangerous toxins and pathogens.

Dysfunction of the BBB is one of the earliest events in neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia, hence it is important for scientists to work out why this might be happening and how we can stop it. The BBB is a complex structure made up of many different types of cells. We believe greater understanding of them will be fundamental in deciphering what goes wrong in disease.

We investigate interactions between some of the cells found in the BBB, including astrocytes and brain endothelial cells. Astrocytes are part of the BBB whilst being in intimate contact with neurons to modulate their function and provide support. Brain endothelial cells are important structural cells lining the inside of brain blood vessels and constitute the first fence of the barrier. By studying the relationship between these cells in a healthy and disease context, we aim to identify key targets for therapeutics.


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  • Reactive astrocyte nomenclature, definitions, and future directions

    Escartin, C., Galea, E., Lakatos, A., O'Callaghan, J. P., Petzold, C. C., Serrano-Pozo, A., Steinhauser, C., Volterra, A., Carmignoto, G., Agarwal, A., Allen, N. J., Araque, A., Barbeito, L., Barzilai, A., Bergles, D. E., Bonvento, G., Butt, A. M., Chen, W-T., Cohen-Salmon, M., Cunningham, C. & 61 others, Deneen, B., De Strooper, B., Diaz-Castro, B., Farina, C., Freeman, M., Gallo, V., Goldman, J. E., Goldman, S. A., Gotz, M., Gutierrez, A., Haydon, P. G., Heiland, D. H., Hol, E. M., Holt, M. G., Iino, M., Kastanenka, K. V., Kettenmann, H., Khakh, B. S., Koizumi, S., Lee, C. J., Liddelow, S. A., MacVicar, B. A., Magistretti, P., Messing, A., Mishra, A., Molofsky, A. V., Murai, K., Norris, C. M., Okada, S., Oliet, S. HR., Oliveira, J. F., Panatier, A., Parpura, V., Pekna, M., Pekny, M., Pellerin, L., Perea, G., Perez-Nievas, B. G., Pfrieger, F. W., Poskanazer, K. E., Quintana, F. J., Ransohoff, R. M., Riquelme-Perez, M., Robel, S., Rose, C. R., Rothstein, J., Rouach, N., Rowitch, D. H., Semyanov, A., Sirko, S., Sontheimer, H., Swanson, R. A., Vitorica, J., Wanner, I-B., Wood, L. B., Wu, J., Zheng, B., Zimmer, E. R., Zorec, R., Sofroniew, M. V. & Verkhratsky, A., 15 Feb 2021, In: Nature Neuroscience.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  • Author Correction: Stress gates an astrocytic energy reservoir to impair synaptic plasticity

    Murphy-Royal, C., Johnston, A. D., Boyce, A. K. J., Diaz-Castro, B., Institoris, A., Peringod, G., Zhang, O., Stout, R. F., Spray, D. C., Thompson, R. J., Khakh, B. S., Bains, J. S. & Gordon, G. R., 11 Jun 2020, In: Nature Communications. 11, 1, p. 3064

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Astrocyte molecular signatures in Huntington's disease

    Diaz-Castro, B., Gangwani, M. R., Yu, X., Coppola, G. & Khakh, B. S., 16 Oct 2019, In: Science Translational Medicine. 11, 514, 12 p., eaaw8546.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
  • Visualizing Astrocyte Morphology Using Lucifer Yellow Iontophoresis

    Moye, S. L., Diaz-Castro, B., Gangwani, M. R. & Khakh, B. S., 14 Sep 2019, In: Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). 151

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Neural Circuit-Specialized Astrocytes: Transcriptomic, Proteomic, Morphological, and Functional Evidence

    Chai, H., Diaz-Castro, B., Shigetomi, E., Monte, E., Octeau, J. C., Yu, X., Cohn, W., Rajendran, P. S., Vondriska, T. M., Whitelegge, J. P., Coppola, G. & Khakh, B. S., 13 Jul 2017, In: Neuron. 95, 3, p. 531-549.e9 28 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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