Dr. Casaccia received her medical degree with Honors from the University of Rome, and a Ph.D. degree in Neurobiology from State University of New York (SUNY) Health and Science Center Brooklyn. She trained at Cornell Weill Medical Center in New York and at the Skirball Institute for Molecular Medicine at NYU.
Dr. Casaccia’s work adopts molecular and cellular techniques to understand how glial cells (more specifically myelinating oligodendrocytes) modify genes to acquire their identity and how the environment (i.e. social influences and physical space) may modify this process, thereby affecting myelin formation and disease susceptibility. The approach involves study of human-derived samples, mouse models, large unbiased “omics” approaches to study proteins, lipids and genome-wide changes. In addition, the lab has a strong interest in defining mechanisms of neurodegeneration in order to develop novel therapeutics.
Dr. Casaccia’s research interest spans three main topics:
- How new myelin is formed in the developing and adult brain;
- Why neurons are damaged in neurological disorders;
- What is the effect of the environment (i.e. social experiences, diet and gut microbiome) on the genome and how this affects white matter, behavior and diseases.
The methodologies used in the Casaccia’s Lab include molecular and robotic technologies for the isolation of single cells, the study of the epigenome in distinct cell types, dietary manipulations, study of microbiota and behavioral assessment in rodents in physiological conditions and in models of neurological disorders. Her work is funded by grants from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Department of the Defense and by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Dr. Casaccia is committed to education. She has trained several undergraduate and graduate students who have greatly succeeded in terms of publications, awards and have continued to successful postdoctoral positions. She has been the recipient of several Teaching and Research Awards, that witness her recognition by students and peer faculty. She is a strong believer in Mentorship of post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty.
Dr. Casaccia comes to the ASRC from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she retains an affiliation as the Co-director of a joint CUNY-Mount Sinai Glial Center, and will continue the translational work in Multiple Sclerosis.
1. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression in glial progenitors with an emphasis on chromatin; DNA methylation; nuclear structure;
2. Environmental regulation of white matter structure and function;
3. Gut-brain communication: role of diet/microbes/metabolites;
4. Mitochondrial Bioenergetics and axonal damage in demyelinating disorders.