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Appalachian Student Research Forum

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Keynote Speaker

2019 Keynote Speaker

 Dr. Shilpa Buch

Professor & Vice Chair for Research
Director, NE Center for Substance Abuse Research
Community Pride of Nebraska Professorship of Neuroscience
Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience
University of Nebraska Medical Center


Dr. Shilpa Buch is currently a Professor & Vice Chair for Research and the Director of the Nebraska Center for Substance Abuse research at the University of Nebraska. Dr. Buch received her Ph.D in 1982 in Microbiology from Maharaja Sayajirao Univ in Baroda, India. She subsequently moved to Canada for postdoctoral training and rose through the ranks at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Dr. Buch then moved to Kansas University and embarked on a research area focused on understanding how addictive drugs co-operate with HIV-1 to exacerbate neurological complications. In 2007, Dr. Buch moved to University of Nebraska in Omaha, as a full Professor. She leads an active research program involving collaborations both nationally and internationally, with over 160 peer-reviewed publications and consistent NIH funding throughout her career.

Dr. Buch is recognized by various national and International societies with the Wybran (2012) and the Distinguished service (2013) awards, UNMC Scientist laureate award (2016), and Kansas City scientist award. Her passion for mentoring has enabled her to take a leading role in the Women’s Mentoring Program at UNMC (2015-2017). To this extent, she also  received the Women in Neuroscience award at the  International Society of Neurovirology in 2016. Dr. Buch served as a Secretary of the Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology and has been invited as a speaker & as a Chair at various meetings and also organized several symposia. Dr. Shilpa Buch also graduated from the Executive Leadership for Academic Medicine Program that fosters the growth and career trajectories of women leaders nationally. She has a passion for science and mentoring and to sum up her career in her own words- “ I am being paid to have fun”

"HIV and Drug Abuse Go Hand in HAND"

Presentation Abstract:

 Currently, over 40 million people are living with HIV worldwide. Although combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has improved the health of millions of those living with HIV, the penetration into the CNS of many such therapies is limited, thereby resulting in residual neurocognitive impairment commonly referred to as NeuroHIV. Additionally, while cART can successfully suppress peripheral viremia, cytotoxicity associated with the presence of viral proteins such as transactivator of transcription (Tat) & the envelope protein gp120 continue to lurk in the lymph nodes & the brain, remains a significant concern. These secretory viral proteins can, in turn, activate glial cells resulting in secretion of a plethora of proinflammatory mediators, thereby contributing to neuroinflammation. Adding further complexity is abuse of drugs such as opiates and cocaine by those infected with HIV, thereby leading, not only to poor cART adherence but also to exacerbation of HIV-associated neuropathology. Our primary research focus is to understand the molecular mechanism(s) by which drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and morphine, co-operate with HIV-1/HIV proteins to enhance the progression of HIV-associated neurological disorders (HAND). Specifically, using multipronged approach comprising of in vitro model systems, complementary rodent models, the higher more relevant macaque model of SIV pathogenesis, and archival human tissue, we dissect the signaling pathways crucial for CNS pathogenesis, that is triggered by the host-virus interplay. More recently, our research is centered on exploring the molecular pathways by which microRNAs, small noncoding RNAs, that shuttle in extracellular vesicle cargos, regulate gene expression and mediate cellular cross-talk. Also, our study demonstrates that HIV proteins &/or drugs of abuse such as cocaine and morphine, activate glial cells (microglia and astrocytes) and pericytes via endoplasmic reticulum stress and dysregulated autophagy leading to ensuing neuroinflammation. Further, our findings also underpin the role of inflammasome signaling in glial activation in the context of both HIV proteins and drug abuse. Work from our group has also shed light on novel therapeutic strategies, such as delivery of platelet-derived growth factor in mitigating neuroinflammation and associated synaptodendritic injury observed in HAND.







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