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NIMH Grant Awarded to Dr. Serena Spudich

September 21, 2020
by Allison Greco, Courtney Grimm and Serena Spudich

A new R01 from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has been awarded to Principal Investigator Dr. Serena Spudich. The R01MH125396 grant, “PET imaging of synaptic density combined with neuroimmunologic measures to reveal mechanism of HIV Neuropathogenesis during ART,” began on 9/15/20 and was awarded for 5 years (to 7/31/25). Summarizing the narrative from the grant, Dr. Spudich writes:

Some people living with HIV have impairment of memory and other neurological functions despite receiving treatment with lifesaving antiviral therapy. Past research using human autopsy brain samples and animal models has shown that an important underlying pathology of these impairments is injury to synapses, or connections between neurons, in the brain. Investigators at Yale have developed a new PET imaging agent that binds to a protein in the vesicles of presynaptic nerve terminals, and we have shown in preliminary studies that this tracer is a non-invasive imaging marker of synaptic density in well-treated people living with HIV. This study will use this new PET imaging agent to compare synaptic density in well-treated people living with HIV to HIV-negative healthy control participants, and to investigate the relationship between neuroinflammation, synaptic density, and cognitive impairment in HIV.

Congratulations, Dr. Spudich!

Submitted by Allison Greco on September 21, 2020