Knaub Fellows, 2017

Stefano Lepore, Ph.D. from the laboratory of Allan Mackenzie-Graham, Ph.D.

Stefano Lepore earned his Ph.D. at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany, before coming to UCLA to join Dr. Mackenzie-Graham's lab in the Department of Neurology. He is fundamentally interested in neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration and their primary processes, and has a strong background in neuroscience and magnetic resonance imaging. These areas of expertise facilitate his studies on neurodegeneration in autoimmune neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system commonly used as an animal model of MS.

Lepore's research involves the analysis of white matter tracts using novel diffusion imaging techniques to evaluate axonal injury and axonal loss and to investigate the surrounding milieu changes during disease and following treatment. During an internship at the GlaxoSmithKline Medicine Research Center he carried out pharmacological MRI (phMRI) studies to identify circuits recruited by stress and their modulation by psychiatry drugs. As part of his doctoral training, Lepore's research project focused on the use of magnetic resonance imaging to characterize the development of EAE especially during the pre-symptomatic period of the disease. A significant aspect of this work was the employment of a cryogenically-cooled RF coil to acquire micro MR imaging in vivo, with superior spatial resolution so as to be able to reveal brain pathology as microscopic changes in the brain parenchyma. Another doctoral project focused on the study of the dynamics of inflammatory cells between central nervous system and lymphatic system during development of EAE. Lepore studied the nature of immune cell infiltration during brain inflammation with a novel Fluorine/Proton (19F/1H) MR neuroimaging technique and application of fluorescently-tagged 19F nanoparticles. 

Lepore's complete list of published work is here


David DiTullio from the laboratory of S. Thomas Carmichael, M.D., Ph.D. 

David DiTullio is an M.D./Ph.D student in the UCLA Medical Scientist Training Program where his research is characterized by an interdisciplinary approach to neuroscience research, examining both the molecular pathophysiology of neurological diseases as well as the functional effects of these pathologies. 

DiTullio's graduate thesis project employs techniques at all levels of neuroscience research, from molecular studies in vitro and in vivo to functional outcomes using electrophysiological field recordings, a technique that can be applied across domains within neuroscience. He plans to use the BRI Knaub Fellowship in Multiple Sclerosis Research specifically to support the in vivo studies, where the grant will facilitate a new depth of analyses by investigating gene overexpression in aged animals to better model the patient populations commonly affected by severe white matter disease; and to perform electron microscopy to more accurately quantify white matter injury and recovery after treatment. Building a comprehensive understanding of the repair process will ultimately be crucial to identify the most promising new treatments for MS patients in the lab and in the clinic.  

DiTrullio's published work is here