Dimitrios Davalos, PhD
Staff Research Scientist
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Associate Director, Gladstone/UCSF Center for In Vivo Imaging Research (CIVIR)
Latrice C. Goss
More about Dr. Davalos
Dr. Dimitrios Davalos studies microglia, the resident immune cells of the central nervous system, and seeks to better understand their functions under physiological conditions and during neurological disease. Microglia are the first responders to any pathological insult—whether injury or disease—in three major sites of the central nervous system: the brain, the spinal cord, and the retina.
During his graduate years, Dr. Davalos performed the first in vivo imaging study of microglia, where he used advanced microscopy technologies to follow the behavior of individual cells inside the intact living brain in real time. This work is considered one of the classic studies in microglial biology because it showed—for the first time—that in intact brains, microglia continuously survey their environment and can rapidly contain small injuries within a few minutes. These findings inspired numerous studies aimed at understanding the mechanisms and the significance of such unexpectedly fast microglial responses for neuronal plasticity, function, and dysfunction.
Dr. Davalos is currently investigating mechanisms of blood brain barrier disruption, a pathological phenomenon that is very common among neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. Using cutting-edge imaging techniques, he studies the interactions between blood vessels, neurons, and glia, and he seeks to understand how their relationships change between health and disease. Specifically, Dr. Davalos investigates how microglia become activated when the brain vasculature is compromised and how microglial responses relate to the neuronal deficits observed in neurological diseases. In doing so, his ultimate goal is to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention.
As the associate director of the Center for In Vivo Imaging Research (CIVIR), Dr. Davalos oversees the day-to-day operations of the Center, designs experiments, and performs and trains collaborating scientists in surgical and in vivo imaging procedures. He has significant experience in addressing the technical challenges that arise when performing in vivo imaging experiments in different tissues, and he has developed and published novel methods to make such experiments possible. The Center is equipped with two multiphoton microscopes specifically customized for deep tissue and simultaneous imaging of multiple fluorescently labeled cells in vivo.
Dr. Davalos earned a BSc in biology from the University of Athens in Greece, and a Master’s and a PhD in physiology and neuroscience from New York University. He then joined Dr. Katerina Akassoglou’s laboratory for his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and moved with her to the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in 2008. In 2010, Drs. Akassoglou and Davalos established the CIVIR, which collaborates with researchers from all over the world.
Before joining Gladstone, Dr. Davalos helped establish in vivo imaging at the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) at UCSD, where he is still a visiting scientist. He serves as a member of the pilot grant review committee for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) and has received postdoctoral and young investigator awards from the NMSS, the American Heart Association, and the Race to Erase Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.