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
Figueroa-Romero C, Guo K, Murdock BJ, Paez-Colasante X, Bassis CM, Mikhail KA, Raue KD, Evans MC, Taubman GF, McDermott AJ, O'Brien PD, Savelieff MG, Hur J, and Feldman EL: Temporal evolution of the microbiome, immune system, and epigenome with disease progression in ALS mice Dis Model Mech 13(2): pii: dmm041947, 2019. PMC6906635
Paez-Colasante X, Figueroa-Romero C, Rumora AE, Hur J, Mendelson FE, Hayes JM, Backus C, Heinicke L, Walter NG, Barmada SJ, Sakowski SA, and Feldman EL: Cytoplasmic TDP43 Binds MicroRNAs: New Disease Targetsin Amyotrophic LateralSclerosis. Front Cell Neurosci 14: 117, 2020. PMC7235295
Figueroa-Romero C, Mikhail KA, Gennings C, Curtin P, Bello GA, Botero TM, Goutman SA, Feldman EL, Arora M, Austin C: Early life metal dysregulation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Ann Clin Transl Neurol doi: 10.1002/acn3.51006: 1,2020. Showcased in ALS News today and the Miami Herald
Figueroa-Romero C, Lo T-W, Hur J, Pacut C, Stoll E, Spring C, Lewis R, Nair A, Goutman SA, Sakowski SA, Nagrath S, Feldman EL: Extracellular vesicles in serum and central nervous system tissues contain microRNA signatures in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Front Mol Neurosci: 2021. (In Press).
Figueroa-Romero C, Monteagudo-Caballero AM, Murdock BJ, Famie JP, Webber-Davis IF, Piecuch CE, Teener SJ, Pacut C, Goutman SA, and Feldman EL: Tofacitinib suppresses natural killer cells in vitro and in vivo, 2021 (Under review Front Immunol)
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.