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Penelope Fouka

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Research summary

My research focuses on identifying compounds that promote neurogenesis using neural stem cells (NSCs). NSCs are multipotent cells that can generate neurons and glia through a process called adult neurogenesis. Until recently it was widely believed that adult neurogenesis does not occur in the adult mammalian brain. There are two main brain areas where neural stem cell niches reside, the subgranular zone (SGZ) in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the ventricles. On the other hand, neurodegenerative disorders are chronic diseases that are characterized by progressive degeneration and loss of functional neurons. Compounds that promote the generation of new neurons are therapeutic agents of great importance in terms of treating such diseases. My research is in collaboration with the Russell group (Chemistry) and OxStem Neuro.



I recently finished my PhD in Medical School of Kapodistrian University of Athens. My main research project focused on investigating the role of anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies in autoimmune CNS diseases, particularly in stiff person syndrome, limbic encephalitis and cerebellar ataxia. I further continued to investigate autoimmune cerebellar ataxia, where we identified an autoantibody against the inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor 1 (IP3R1), an intracellular calcium channel activated by inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate.