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.
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
study section at NIH and serves on the editorial board
of Glia and J. Neuroscience Research.