for update 12

Sita Ramaswamy, undergraduate student in the laboratory has been selected to participate in the 2019 National Symposium for Undergraduate Research (NSUR), June 12-15, 2019 at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The conference covered Sita flight, accommodations and meals during the symposium. 


June 2019

for update 11Martina Velichkovska, our undergraduate student, graduated from the University of Miami in three years, and was admitted as a graduate student to the University of California, Berkeley. Martina was a star student who performed an outstanding undergraduate research in the laboratory, publishing four papers in three years:

Bertrand L*, Velichkovska M*, Toborek M. Cerebral vascular toxicity of antiretroviral therapy. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol, in press. (*equal contribution)

Velichkovska M, Surnar B, Nair M, Dhar S, Toborek M. Targeted mitochondrial CoQ10 delivery attenuates antiretroviral drug-induced senescence of neural progenitor cells. Mol Pharm 16, 724-736, 2019.

Skowronska M, McDonald M, Velichkovska M, Leda AR, Park M, Toborek M. Methamphetamine increases HIV infectivity in neural progenitor cells. J Biol Chem 293, 296-311, 2018.

Castro V, Skowronska M, He J, Seth N, Velichkovska M, Toborek M. Occludin regulates glucose uptake and ATP production in pericytes by influencing AMPK activity. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 38, 317-333, 2018.

We will miss her grately.
Congratulations on being accepted to UC Berkley and Good Luck!

May 2019

for update 1018 copySita and her research were featured in the UMiami Scientifica Magazine, the University of Miami's first undergraduate scientific magazine, published on line on May 5, 2019. Sita explains her research, talks about the lab and her plans for the future.


May 2019

Congratulations to Luc for his excellent paper being accepted in Nature Communications (IF 12.353)! This work was done with two students from the Université Catholique de Lyon (Fannie Méroth and Marie Tournebize) and two postdoctoral scholars in the laboratory (Ana Leda and Enze Sun). 

Bertrand L, Méroth F, Tournebize M, Leda AR, Sun E, Toborek M. Targeting the HIV-infected brain to improve ischemic stroke outcome. Nat Commun. 2019 May 1;10(1):2009. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10046-x.


HIV-associated cerebrovascular events remain highly prevalent even in the current era of antiretroviral therapy (ART). We hypothesize that low-level HIV replication and associated inflammation endure despite antiretroviral treatment and affect ischemic stroke severity and outcomes. Using the EcoHIV infection model and the middle cerebral artery occlusion as the ischemic stroke model in mice, we present in vivo analysis of the relationship between HIV and stroke outcome. EcoHIV infection increases infarct size and negatively impacts tissue and functional recovery. Ischemic stroke also results in an increase in EcoHIV presence in the affected regions, suggesting post-stroke reactivation that magnifies pro-inflammatory status. Importantly, ART with a high CNS penetration effectiveness (CPE) is more beneficial than low CPE treatment in limiting tissue injury and accelerating post-stroke recovery. These results provide potential insight for treatment of HIV-infected patients that are at risk of developing cerebrovascular disease, such as ischemic stroke.

April 2019

Figure for update 9.



Brain coronal section demonstrating severe tissue damage observed in a HIV-1 infected mouse 4 days after ischemic stroke. The area of injury (absence of green) is surrounded by inflammatory cells (red). MAP2, marker of healthy neurons, is represented in green; Iba1, marker of monocyte/microglial cells, is represented in red; Hoechst, nuclear marker, is represented in blue. 

IMG 0231IMG 0236IMG 0247

Dr. Silvia Torices Del Val receiving the Early Career Investigator Award from the Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology (SNIP). The Award supported her partition in the 25th SNIP conference, April 10-13, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. She was invited to present her research “HIV alters Occludin-Alix-Cav-1 interactions in human brain vascular pericytes” during the Yung Investigators Session.

April 2019