Primary Mentor: Anthony J. Windebank, MD, Mayo Clinic.
Secondary Mentor: Jean Schwarzbauer, PhD, Princeton University.
Research Project: Characterization and optimization of intrathecally-injected autologous adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Profile: Dr. Ashley Krull received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Washington in Seattle. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Steiner and in collaboration with Dr. Genevieve Neal-Perry, her dissertation work produced a pre-clinical mouse model of hot flashes. This project demonstrated successful pharmacological induction of the perception of hyperthermia in both male and female mice. Animals treated with an agonist for a tachykinin receptor present on both hormone-sensitive and warm-sensing neuronal populations showed cold-seeking behavior, tail vein vasodilation, and a drastic drop in core body temperature – all symptoms recapitulating those of human hot flash patients. This model will enable elucidation of the neurological circuitry driving hot flashes as well as permit pre-clinical validation of potential hot flash therapeutics. Dr. Krull continues her postdoctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. Windebank at the Mayo Clinic, with the objective to optimize a cellular therapy for ALS using mesenchymal stromal cells with enhanced growth factor expression and the ability to be imaged following injection into the spinal cord. She also investigates the effect of the intrathecal environment on patients’ cells to predict therapeutic efficacy and identify potential biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid of clinical trial patients.