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UAB IDDRC Co-Principal Investigator

Harald W. Sontheimer, Ph.D.,
UAB IDDRC Co-PI


Dr. Harald Sontheimer is Professor of Neurobiology and Director of the Civitan International Research Center and the UAB Center for Glial Biology in Medicine. Dr. Sontheimer has been recognized for his work on glial biology as it pertains to brain development as well as diseases associated with glial cells. His research on cell migration and invasion has led to Dr. Sontheimer’s research has resulted in 3 independent clinical trails using a novel compound (chlorotoxin) to treat malignant gliomas and related tumors. A multi-site Phase I trial has been completed and a larger scale phase II human clinical trial has now met its recruiting goal of 64 patients and in interim evaluations has shown efficacy in treatment of gliomas. Another compound, sulfasalazine, is being developed for a new clinical trial that has gained IRB approval. Other work in his laboratory has examined the role of glial cells as regulators of extracellular K+ and glutamate and has demonstrated developmental changes in the ability of glial cells to perform such functions. Moreover, acute brain injury leads to a loss of K+ buffering by glial cells and a loss of glutamate transporters.

A recent emphasis of the laboratory is on periventricular leukomalacia, leading to mental retardation in affected children due to a loss of oligodendrocytes in the periventricular space. For the past 10 years Dr. Sontheimer has directed a graduate course on the Neurobiology of disease and from 2003-2008 served as Director of the campus-wide graduate program for Cellular & Molecular Biology, the largest program of its kind at UAB accounting. Dr. Sontheimer is a standing member of the Glial Biology and Neurodegeneration study section at NIH and serves on the editorial board of Glia and J. Neuroscience Research.

 


Dr. Harald Sontheimer