Maria Calvo-Rodriguez, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA

I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Bacskai at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in Boston. My long-term research goal is to understand the mechanisms that lead to the pathophysiology underlying neurodegenerative disorders, most particularly Alzheimer’s disease (AD). I majored in Organic Chemistry as an undergraduate, and then pursued a MS in “Therapeutic Targets in Cell Signaling” under Dr. Enrique Samper’s supervision, at the University of Alcala de Henares and the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) (Madrid, Spain). I received my PhD in 2015 from the University of Valladolid (Spain), under the mentorship of Dr. Carlos Villalobos and Dr. Lucia Nuñez. The aim of my PhD project was to identify intracellular calcium alterations in healthy aging and disease, specifically in brain ischemia and neurodegenerative disorders such as AD. For that, I implemented an in vitro model of aging and AD from long-term cultured rat hippocampal neurons that allowed me to study the remodeling of cytosolic calcium and subcellular (endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondrial) calcium homeostasis in these pathologies. After receiving my PhD, I decided to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship and translate the phenomena that I studied in the in vitro models during my pre-doctoral work to a more complex and integrated system like the living brain. My current research in Dr. Bacskai’s group focuses on mitochondrial dysfunction in AD, particularly in mitochondrial calcium dysregulation and associated oxidative stress and neuronal cell death that accounts in AD. Specifically, I use in vivo multi-photon microscopy to study mitochondrial alterations in neurons in mouse models of cerebral amyloidosis and tau pathology. Now, I want to translate these techniques and address the pathophysiology of astrocytes in vivo at a mitochondrial subcellular level.