Vladimir Parpura, M.D., Ph.D.
Primary Department Affiliation: Neurobiology
Primary Research Area: Ion channels and Synaptic Function
Systems Neuroscience and Vision
Vladimir Parpura, M.D., Ph.D holds both a medical degree, awarded from the University of Zagreb in Croatia in 1989, and a doctorate, received in Neuroscience and Zoology from Iowa State University in 1993. He has held faculty appointments at the Department of Zoology and Genetics, Iowa State University and the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of California Riverside. He is presently an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology, University of Alabama Birmingham.
His current research includes: i) studying the modulation of calcium-dependent glutamate release from astrocytes in health and disease; ii) visualization of vesicular/receptor trafficking; iii) examination of the nature and energetics of interactions between exocytotic proteins using single molecule detection approaches; iv) development of scaffolds and dispersible materials, most notably modified carbon nanotubes, which can be used in repair after brain injury and v) bio-mimetic micro-robotics. He has been interfacing neuroscience with nanoscience/nanotechnology, synthetic biology and biomedical engineering.
Glial cells were long considered to serve merely as the supporting cast and scenery against which the starring neuronal roles would be played out. Relatively recent evidence, however, indicates that glial cells are intimately involved in many of the brain's functions, including its computational power. Our research has been instrumental in demonstrating a novel functional role for glial cells. Hence, astrocytes, a sub-type of glial cell, can exocytotically release the neurotransmitter glutamate and, in turn, that glutamate released from astrocytes can signal to adjacent neurons. Indeed, by releasing glutamate, astrocytes can modulate synaptic transmission in response to experimental stimuli. Since intracellular calcium ion levels critical for secretion from astrocytes are within the physiological range, this release of glutamate from astrocytes could represent an additional site for modulation of synaptic transmission and integration in the CNS.
- William Lee
- Wei Liu
- Randy F. Stout, Jr.
- Reno C. Reyes
- Vladimir Grubisic
- Roberto Gomez-Suarez
- Josheua J. Samuelson
- J. Robert Grammer