Understanding how environmental factors contribute to neurodegeneration
Dr. Claudia Figueroa-Romero’s research is identifying post-translational modifications and epigenetic mechanisms that may explain how adverse environmental factors damage neurons. Using postmortem patient tissue, she is exploring how the role of the exposome (collective exposures to environmental pollutants throughout life) impacts ALS by identifying correlations between altered levels of epigenetic marks and high environmental risk scores determined from blood in ALS and control subjects. Using animal models, she is also examining how the internal environment defined by gut microbial communities, or the microbiome, affects neurodegeneration. This unique work is providing important insight into a potential link between the microbiome and aberrant expression of immune- and inflammation-related markers in ALS and diabetic neuropathy. Also of note, Dr. Figueroa-Romero is using her life experience as a Latina woman and expertise as a scientist to work with students and serve as a role model to support the next generation of minority students as they become active members of the scientific community.
- BS, Biology, San Diego State University, 1995
- Spanish-English translation certificate, San Diego State University, 1995
- PhD, Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan, 2003
- Postdoctoral Fellowship, Neurology, University of Michigan, 2007
Honors & Awards
- Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Fellowship, National Institutes of General Medical Sciences
- Dziewiatkowski Award for Most Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan Department of Biological Chemistry
Claudia Figueroa-Romero, PhD, and Benjamin Murdock, PhD, Interviewed and Published in Disease Models & Mechanisms
Drs. Figueroa-Romero and Murdock authored a paper that found an association between gut bacteria and the immune system during ALS progression in a mouse model.