Ana Maria Gonzalez is a Senior Lecturer in the Neuropharmacology and Neurobiology Section, School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, College of Medical and Dental Sciences. She received her BSc degree in Biology from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia in 1981.
After working for 3 years as a research fellow in Hospital Ramon y Cajal in Madrid, Spain, she moved to the US where she worked in the Laboratories for Neuroendocrinology at the Salk and Scripps Institutes in La Jolla, California. In 1991 she obtained her PhD from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. She went back to California and in 1995 joined "Selective Genetics" - a biotechnology company in San Diego where she worked as a Senior Scientist for 6 years.
In 2001 she moved to London and was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Division of Physiology, School of Biomedical Sciences at King's College London. In 2004, she joined the University of Birmingham as a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Medical Sciences.
Cerebrospinal fluid homeostasis, neurohormone homeostasis and neuroprogenitor fate and function in neurodegeneration and after traumatic brain injury.
There are numerous serious sequelae of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that will ultimately define the scope of patient morbidity and mortality after CNS injury. Whereas most investigators explore the direct effects of TBI on neuronal cells our laboratory focuses on the roles played by the growth factors, hormones and neuropeptides that are produced by the choroid plexus while it controls CSF content and production (e.g. hydrocephalus), and the hypothalamus while it controls pituitary function and the systemic responses to CNS injury (e.g. cerebral salt wasting). Our research programme includes characterizing the behaviour of well known gene products in the choroid plexus and hypothalamus eg. fibroblast growth factors; aquaporins; oxytocin and vasopressin. We seek to identify new genes like the newly recognized neuropeptides that are encoded by the Ecrg4 gene which we have identified as significant components of the injury and neurodegenerative response in the CNS. Using human biopsy tissues, animal models of CNS injury and zebrafish models of embryonic development we have shown how these genes are implicated in CNS injury, their expression affected by CNS injury and that their over-expression and knock down can dramatically alter the natural course of repair and regeneration. These studies are performed as part of a long standing international collaboration with Andrew Baird, Professor of Surgery in the School of Medicine of the University of California, San Diego (and Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham) and Professors Johanson and Stopa at Brown University in Providence, USA.
Drug and biotherapeutic delivery to the CNS after injury
Often, the genes that can alter the natural course of CNS injury are known or can be identified but their therapeutic potential cannot be realised. There is an absence of fundamental technologies capable of enabling the delivery of drugs and biotherapeutics to the CNS. To this end, research in our laboratory initially developed and is currently evaluating and validating two distinct approaches to drug delivery:(1) local: using gene activated matrices (GAM) that can selectively deliver genes to specific populations of neurones and glia in the CNS and (2) systemic: using phage display to identify drug targeting strategies. The overall objective of this research is to devise and validate new drug delivery strategies to promote repair and regeneration in the CNS. Together, we believe that the molecules we identify as being important in CNS injury will have the ability to be deployed for evaluation in a clinical setting.
Gonzalez AM, Berlanga O, Leadbeater WE, Cooper-Charles L, Sims K, Logan A, Eliceiri B, Berry M, Baird A: The deployment of adenovirus-containing gene activated matrices onto severed axons after central nervous system injury leads to transgene expression in target neuronal cell bodies, The journal of gene medicine 2009, 11:679-688
Gonzalez AM, Taylor WM, Johanson CE, King JC, Leadbeater WE, Stopa EG, Baird A: Co-localization and regulation of basic fibroblast growth factor and arginine vasopressin in neuroendocrine cells of the rat and human brain, Cerebrospinal Fluid Res 2010, 7:13
Gonzalez AM, Leadbeater W, Podvin S, Borboa A, Burg M, Sawada R, Rayner J, Sims K, Terasaki T, Johanson C, Stopa E, Eliceiri B, Baird A: Epidermal growth factor targeting of bacteriophage to the choroid plexus for gene delivery to the central nervous system via cerebrospinal fluid, Brain Res 2010, 1359:1-13
Sawada R, Peterson CY, Gonzalez AM, Potenza BM, Mueller B, Coimbra R, Eliceiri BP, Baird A: A phage-targeting strategy for the design of spatiotemporal drug delivery from grafted matrices, Fibrogenesis Tissue Repair 2011, 4:7
Gonzalez AM, Podvin S, Lin SY, Miller MC, Botfield H, Leadbeater WE, Roberton A, Dang X, Knowling SE, Cardenas-Galindo E, Donahue JE, Stopa EG, Johanson CE, Coimbra R, Eliceiri BP, Baird A: Ecrg4 expression and its product augurin in the choroid plexus: impact on fetal brain development, cerebrospinal fluid homeostasis and neuroprogenitor cell response to CNS injury, Fluids Barriers CNS 2011, 8:6
Gonzalez AM, Leadbeater WE, Burg M, Sims K, Terasaki T, Johanson CE, Stopa EG, Eliceiri BP, Baird A: Targeting choroid plexus epithelia and ventricular ependyma for drug delivery to the central nervous system, BMC Neurosci 2011, 12:4
Eliceiri BP, Gonzalez AM, Baird A: Zebrafish model of the blood-brain barrier: morphological and permeability studies, Methods Mol Biol 2011, 686:371-378
Baird A, Eliceiri BP, Gonzalez AM, Johanson CE, Leadbeater W, Stopa EG: Targeting the choroid plexus-CSF-brain nexus using peptides identified by phage display, Methods Mol Biol 2011, 686:483-498