Find Faculty Members at MUSC.

Onder Albayram PhD

Provider Image
Rank
  • Assistant Professor
College
  • College of Medicine
Department
  • Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Academic Focus
  • Neuro-immune (mis)communication in aged brainsā€™ physiology and in pathological conditions that are relevant to age-related neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Meningeal lymphatic vasculature and immunity in brain, aging and neurodegenerative diseases.
Faculty email addresses should not be used to seek medical advice or to make medical appointments. Please visit MyChart for medical appointments or to contact your provider.

Locations

Office Location
street
room

Biography

My introduction into scientific training began as a graduate student in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. My neuropharmacology studies in this program gave me a strong foundation in neurochemistry, which has since allowed me to better understand neurological (dys)function through the lens of biochemistry. In 2009, I entered the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry PhD program, at the University of Bonn in Germany. My work focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of age-dependent changes in the endocannabinoid signaling system and whether those changes produce long-lasting neuro-immune adaptations. This research led to the ground-breaking discovery of the key role of Cannabinoid-1 receptor expressed GABAergic neurons in the regulation of glial activity and its novel protective function in brain aging (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2011, Front Aging Neurosci 2012, Mech Ageing Dev 2013, Eur J Physiol 2016, PloS One 2018). Funded by the DFG Cluster of Excellence, ImmunoSensation in 2013, I discovered that administration of low doses of Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) appeared to rewire and rejuvenate aged brains by restoring deficits in cannabinoid signaling, contradicting the detrimental effects well documented in young brains. This notable finding was published as a cover story (Nat Med, 2017) and has been extensively recognized by numerous press outlets that include Scientific American, Guardian and News Week.

Having successfully finalized my research training in the neuroimmunological aspects of health and disease in Europe, I decided to pursue my academic career in the United States. As such, I joined the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School in 2015. During my research period at Boston, I developed the laboratory’s first battery of behavioral and pathophysiological tests to identify the unique cis conformation of phosphorylated axonal protein tau (cis P-tau) as a precursor of tau-induced axonal dystrophy and secondary neuroinflammatory response in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (Nature 2015). Notably, my studies showed that this novel process occurs long before excessive neurofibrillary tangle formation and cognitive deficits (Cell Biosci 2016, Nat Commun 2017, Sci Rep 2019). These studies have not only been cited by experts worldwide and were also featured in USA Today and MIT’s Technology Review. Due to my contribution to the field of brain aging and age dependent neurodegenerative disorders, I received the coveted Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellowship Award in 2016.  Having elucidated cis P-tau is an early driver of neurodegeneration, I recently uncovered the distinct functions of phosphorylated cis tau isomers linking vascular insults to vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) in both human and mouse models (Sci Transl Med, 2021). Recently, we have demonstrated that a progressive age-related cervical lymph node atrophy and thickening of lymphatics channels in both dorsal and ventral regions of the human brain (Nat Commun, 2022).

My research focuses on two principal areas: 1) Elucidating the emerging roles of neuro-immune (mis)communication in aged brains’ physiology and in pathological conditions that are relevant to age-related neurodegenerative disorders. 2) Investigating the role of meningeal lymphatic vasculature and immunity in brain, aging and neurodegenerative diseases.