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Nicholas Fitz, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh

Research Assistant Professor

Utilizing a multi-targeted approach my main research goal is to increase the understanding of how changes in gene function and apolipoprotein expression alters Alzheimer’s disease progression. During my graduate and post-doctoral training I received a broad training in utilizing animal models of neurodegenerative disease to test changes in cognition and biological markers of pathology. Due to the importance of fluorescent and confocal microscopy in the field of neurodegeneration, I have sought out extensive training in microscopy. Recently, I have been investigating novel AD therapies targeted at ligand activation of nuclear receptors (RXR and LXR) critical for inflammation and cholesterol homeostasis. Here I have strongly relied on confocal microscopy to examine changes in neurogenesis and Stem Cell differentiation, dendritic outgrowth, axonal regeneration, synaptogenesis and adult neurogenesis in AD model animals. I am currently receiving in-depth training, focusing on (1) the use of in vivo multiphoton imaging of the transgenic mouse brain to follow the progression of senile plaques and cerebral amyloid angiopathy and associated neuronal damage, (2) Developing a mouse model to determine how genetic variance and periphery and brain expression of Abca1 affects Alzheimer’s disease pathology, (3) Evaluating changes in mRNA levels associated with disease states, and (4) learning to use in vitro systems and viral vectors to assess neurodegenerative changes. As part of this training I went to Dr. Bacskai, my co-mentor, and obtained extensive experience with confocal and multiphoton imaging.