Head, Brian P.

Brian Head

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I am a Research Scientist/Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesia at UCSD and at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. I am a Principal Investigator on an R01 funded by NINDS and a VA Merit funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal of my research is to use genetic interventions (via viral vector gene therapy) to regenerate neuronal growth after traumatic brain injury (TBI, funded by NINDS) and in the aging brain (funded by VA Merit). My research involves delivery of a viral vector (AAV) that contains a neuron-targeted promoter (synapsin) to drive the expression of caveolin-1 (Cav-1) specifically in neurons. Cav-1 is a membrane protein that is essential for membrane/lipid raft (MLR) formation in most cell membranes. We have previously published that neuron-targeted Cav-1 (termed SynCav1) increases MLR formation and promotes neuritic growth and arborization in primary neurons. With this novel genetic intervention, our goal is to enhance pro-survival signaling that promotes dendritic growth, axonal sprouting, and re-organization of neuronal circuitry in the traumatically injured, ischemic, and aging brain. In addition, we are testing this potential therapeutic in spinal chord injury, ALS, and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, I research the underlying mechanisms of anesthetic-mediated neurotoxicity in the developing neurons. Outside of my research commitment, I serve as a member on the VA IACUC and R & D committees. I actively mentor anesthesia residents, anesthesia fellows, postdoctoral fellows, visiting international scholars and undergraduates who are involved in research in the laboratory here at UCSD and the VA. I was recently awarded the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.


1. Head BP, Patel HH, Niesman IR, Drummond JC, Roth DM, Patel PM. Inhibition of p75 neurotrophin receptor attenuates isoflurane-mediated neuronal apoptosis in the neonatal central nervous system. Anesthesiology 110:813-25, 2009. PMCID: PMC2767332
2. Head BP, Peart JN, Panneerselvam M, Yokoyama T, Pearn ML, Niesman IR, Bonds JA, Schilling JM, Miyanohara A, Headrick J, Ali SS, Roth DM, Patel PM, Patel HH. Loss of Caveolin-1 accelerates neurodegeneration and aging. PLoS One. 23(5):e15697, 2010. PMCID: PMC3009734
3. Head BP. Lemkuil BP, Pearn ML, Patel HH, Drummond JC, Patel PM. Isoflurane neurotoxicity is mediated by p75NTR-RhoA activation and actin de-polymerization. Anesthesiology. 114:49-57, 2011. PMCID: PMC3037980
4. Head BP, Hu Y, Finley JC, Saldana MD, Bonds JA, Miyanohara A, Niesman IR, Ali SS, Murray F, Insel PA, Roth DM, Patel HH, Patel PM. Neuron-targeted caveolin-1 enhances signaling and promotes arborization of primary neurons. J Biol Chem. 286(38):33310-21, 2011. PMCID: PMC3190943
5. Krajewska M, You Z, Rong J, Kress C, Huang X, Yang J, Kyoda T, Leyva R, Banares S, Hu Y, Sze CH, Whalen MJ, Salmena L, Hakem R, Head BP, Reed JC, Krajewski S. Neuronal deletion of caspase 8 protects against brain injury in mouse models of controlled cortical impact and kainic acid-induced excitotoxicity. PLoS One. 6(9):e24341, 2011. PMCID: PMC3174961
6. Pearn ML, Hu Y, Nieman IR, Patel HH, Drummond JC, Roth DM, Akassoglou K, Patel PM, Head BP. Propofol neurotoxicity is mediated by p75 neurotrophin receptor activation. Anesthesiology. 2011, 116(2): 352-361, 2012. PMID: 22198221
7. Niesman IR, Zemke N, Fridolfsson HN, Haushalter KJ, Levy K, Grove A, Schnoor R, Finley JC, Patel PM, Roth DM, Head BP, Patel HH. Caveolin isoform switching as a molecular, structural, and metabolic regulator of microglia. Mol Cell Neurosci. 56C:283-297, 2013. PMID: 23851187
8. Head BP, Patel HH, Insel PA. Interaction of membrane/lipid rafts with cytoskeleton: Impact on signaling and function: Membrane/Lipid Rafts, Mediators of Cytoskeletal Arrangement and Cell Signaling. Biochem Biophys Acta. 25: 145-159, 2013. PMID:23899502
9. Niesman IR, Schilling JM, Shapiro LA, Bonds JA, Kleschevnikov A, Cui W, Voong A, Krajewski S, Ali SS, Roth DM, Patel HH, Patel PM, Head BP. Traumatic brain injury enhances neuroinflammation and lesion volume in caveolin deficient mice. J Neuoinflammation. 2014 [Epub]