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. 

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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

for update 7 MichaelHello! I am a PhD student in the Toborek Lab studying the effects of methamphetamine and opiates on inflammation of varying cell types in the brain. I graduated from U Miami in 2018 studying in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and didn’t want to leave Miami without delving further into my interests of stem cells and cellular responses. I am currently working on understanding how the brain responds to drugs, and how this response may change alongside of HIV infection. During my time away from the lab I enjoy reading, as well as bowling, and caring for my fish.

March 2019

Congratulations to Sita Ramaswamy for her Best Poster Award, the recognition she received during the 2019 Miami Winter Symposium!
Sita is an undergraduate student in the laboratory.
Three students and three postdoctoral scholars received the awards in recognition for their work and research excellence. Sita was the only undergraduate student awarded.

Sita Ramaswamy, Luc Bertrand, and Michal Toborek. Occludin regulates histone modifications and expression of HIV host restriction factors

January 2019


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