- Director, Neuroscience Initiative
- Einstein Professor of Biology, The Graduate Center, CUNY
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.
S. Sauma, P. Casaccia. Gut-Brain Communication in Demyelinating Disorders. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 2020, 62, 92–101. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2020.01.005.
C. Yattah, M. Hernandez, D. Huang, H. Park, W. Liao, P. Casaccia. Dynamic Lamin B1-Gene Association During Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Differentiation. Neurochem Res, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11064-019-02941-y.
S. Sauma, P. Casaccia. Does the Gut Microbiota Contribute to the Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Niche? Neuroscience Letters, 2019, 134574. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2019.134574.
M. Wentling, C. Lopez-Gomez, H.J. Park, M. Amatruda, A. Ntranos, J. Aramini, M. Petracca, T. Rusielewicz, E. Chen, V. Tolstikov, M. Kiebish, V. Fossati, M. Inglese, C.M. Quinzii, I. Katz Sand, P. Casaccia. A metabolic perspective on CSF-mediated neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis. Brain, 2019. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awz201 (press release)
V. Bonnefil, K. Dietz, M. Amatruda, M. Wentling, A.V. Aubry, J.L. Dupree, G. Temple, H.J. Park, N.S. Burghardt, P. Casaccia, J. Liu. Region-specific myelin differences define behavioral consequences of chronic social defeat stress in mice. ELife, 2019, 8. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.40855.001
L.L. Boshans, D.C. Factor, V. Singh, J. Liu, C. Zhao, I. Mandoiu, Q.R. Lu, P. Casaccia, P.J. Tesar, A. Nishiyama. The Chromatin Environment Around Interneuron Genes in Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells and Their Potential for Interneuron Reprograming. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2019, 13. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00829
K. Castro, A. Ntranos, M. Amatruda, M. Petracca, P. Kosa, E.Y. Chen, J. Morstein, D. Trauner, C.T. Watson, M.A. Kiebish, B. Bielekova, M. Inglese, I. Katz Sand, P. Casaccia. Body Mass Index in Multiple Sclerosis modulates ceramide-induced DNA methylation and disease course. EBioMedicine, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.03.087 (press release)
A.M. Falcão, M. Meijer, A. Scaglione, P. Rinwa, E. Agirre, J. Liang, S.C. Larsen, A. Heskol, R. Frawley, M. Klingener, M. Varas-Godoy, A.A.S.F. Raposo, P. Ernfors, D.S. Castro, M.L. Nielsen, P. Casaccia, G. Castelo-Branco. PAD2-Mediated Citrullination Contributes to Efficient Oligodendrocyte Differentiation and Myelination. Cell Reports, 2019, 4. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.03.108
A. Ntranos, V. Ntranos, V. Bonnefil, J. Liu, S. Kim-Schulze, Y. He, Y. Zhu, R. Brandstadter, C.T. Watson, A.J. Sharp, I. Katz Sand, P. Casaccia. Fumarates target the metabolic-epigenetic interplay of brain-homing T cells in multiple sclerosis. Brain, 2019, 142(3), 647-661. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awy344
K. Castro, P. Casaccia. Epigenetic modifications in brain and immune cells of multiple sclerosis patients. Mult Scler, 2018. DOI: 10.1177/1352458517737389.
P. Casaccia, G. Corfas. Introduction to the special issue on myelin plasticity in the central nervous system. Dev Neurobiol, 2018. DOI: 10.1002/dneu.22575.
A. Schlüter, J. Sandoval, S. Fourcade, A. Díaz-Lagares, M. Ruiz, P. Casaccia, M. Esteller, A. Pujol. Epigenomic signature of adrenoleukodystrophy predicts compromised oligodendrocyte differentiation. Brain Pathol, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/bpa.12595.
A.T. McKenzie, M. Wang, M.E. Hauberg, J.F. Fullard, A. Kozlenkov, A. Keenan, Y.L. Hurd, S. Dracheva, P. Casaccia, P. Roussos, B. Zhang. Brain Cell Type Specific Gene Expression and Co-expression Network Architectures. Sci Rep, 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-27293-5.
A. Scaglione, J. Patzig, J. Liang, R. Frawley, J. Bok, A. Mela, C. Yattah, J. Zhang, S.X. Teo, T. Zhou, S. Chen, E. Bernstein, P. Canoll, E. Guccione, P. Casaccia. PRMT5-mediated regulation of developmental myelination. Nat Commun, 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04863-9.
I. K. Sand, Y. Zhu, A. Ntranos, J.C. Clemente, E. Cekanaviciute, R. Brandstadter, E. Crabtree-Hartman, S. Singh, Y. Bencosme, J. Debelius, R. Knight, B.A.C. Cree, S.E. Baranzini, P. Casaccia. Disease-modifying therapies alter gut microbial composition in MS. Neurology – Neuroimmunology Neuroinflammation, 2018, 6, 1. DOI: 10.1212/nxi.0000000000000517