Dimitrios Davalos, PhD
Staff Research Scientist
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Associate Director, Gladstone/UCSF Center for In Vivo Imaging Research (CIVIR)
More about Dr. Davalos
Dr. Dimitrios Davalos studies microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain and spinal cord, and seeks to better understand their functions under physiological conditions and in different animal models of neurological disease. Microglia are the first responders to any pathological insult, whether injury or disease, in the brain or the spinal cord.
During his graduate years Dr. Davalos performed the first in vivo imaging study of microglia, taking advantage of powerful microscopy technologies that allow researchers to follow the behavior of individual cells inside the intact living brain, in real time. This work redefined our understanding of the role of microglia in the brain and, with over 650 citations to date, is considered one of the classic studies in microglial biology.
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 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 are inherent with in vivo imaging experiments in different tissues and has developed and published new methods to make such experiments possible. The Center is equipped with two cutting-edge two-photon microscopes especially customized for multicolor, simultaneous, deep tissue imaging of multiple fluorescently labeled cells in vivo.
Dr. Davalos earned a BS 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 the laboratory of Dr. Katerina Akassoglou 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 to 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 received postdoctoral and young investigator awards from the NMSS, the American Heart Association and the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.