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Neuroscience Seminar: Pinar Ayata, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Speaker: Pinar Ayata, PhD. Department Of Neuroscience , Icahn    School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Title: Specialized functions of microglia in health and disease

Abstract: Microglia, the resident macrophages of the brain, perform homeostatic functions that support the health and function of neurons. We recently identified cerebellar microglia (cbMg) as a subtype of microglia that specialize in the phagocytic clearance of apoptotic neurons while forebrain neurons specialize in the surveillance of neuronal activity. We uncovered an  epigenetic mechanism underpinning their transcriptional signature, and showed that  proper regulation of microglial functional state is crucial for normal brain function.  Included  in  the cbMg signature is the reduced expression of myeloid lineage-determining transcription factor, Spi1. Recent human genetic studies found that lower level of  SPI1 is a protective  genetic trait  in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Using a mouse model, we found that lower Spi1 levels boost the microglial  response   toward   extracellular senile plaques, one of the major hallmarks  of AD.     This     response     is      associated    with    alleviation    of    AD-associated  pathology, providing the first in vivo mechanistic insight into the genetic association between lower SPI1 levels and reduced AD risk. Our studies collectively reveal answers to long- debated questions on the existence, regulatory mechanisms,    and    biological     significance  of microglial functional specification.

Bio: Dr. Ayata was born and raised in Turkey. After summer internships in German Cancer Research Center and Harvard Medical School she joined the laboratory of Nat Heintz at Rockefeller University as a PhD candidate. Her graduate work shed light on the interaction of 5- hydroxymethylcytosine  modificiation  and MeCP2 protein, and the pathophysiology of Rett syndrome. Her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Anne Schaefer at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai elucidated epigenetic mechanisms that drive microglial functional specification necessary for normal brain  function. Dr. Ayata’s ongoing work focuses on epigenetic mechanisms regulating microglial functional specification in Alzheimer’s disease. She is the recipient of Women and Science Graduate Fellowship, Rockefeller University Graduate Fellowship, NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and Robin Chemers Neustein Postdoctoral Award.

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Event Information

November 7, 2019
10:00 am - 11:00 am
ASRC 5th Floor Data Visualization Room
85 St. Nicholas Terrace
New York, NY 10031 United States
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