Dimitrios Davalos, PhD

Staff Research Scientist

Phone: (415) 734-2628
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Associate Director, Gladstone/UCSF Center for In Vivo Imaging Research (CIVIR)

More about Dr. Davalos

Dr. Dimitrios Davalos studies the neuro-immune mechanisms that influence the brain’s normal function, homeostatic balance, and structural integrity. He is particularly interested in microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain, the spinal cord and the retina, the three major sites of the central nervous system (CNS). His research aims to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which microglia facilitate neuronal plasticity and brain function in physiology and regulate inflammatory processes when the homeostasis or the integrity of the CNS are pathologically compromised. His ultimate goal is to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention.

During his graduate years, Dr. Davalos performed the first in vivo imaging study of microglia, taking advantage of advanced microscopy technologies that allowed him to follow the behavior of individual cells inside the intact living brain, in real time. He demonstrated that microglia continuously survey the intact brain, and can contain small localized injuries within only a few minutes. These findings inspired numerous studies aimed at understanding the mechanisms and the significance of such unexpected microglial abilities for neuronal plasticity, function, and dysfunction.

In recent years, Dr. Davalos has been studying microglial responses in the context of disruption of the blood-brain-barrier, a pathological phenomenon that is very common among neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and stroke. He has also developed and published novel methods for imaging the living brain and spinal cord to follow ongoing biological processes over time. His research combines cutting-edge imaging techniques with molecular, cellular and genetic approaches to study the interactions between blood vessels, neurons, and glia, and to understand how their relationships change between health and disease.

Dr. Davalos earned a BSc in biology from the University of Athens in Greece, and a PhD in physiology and neuroscience from New York University. He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Katerina Akassoglou for postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and moved with her to the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in 2008. In 2010, Drs. Akassoglou and Davalos established the Center for In Vivo Imaging Research (CIVIR) at the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Davalos currently serves as the associate director of CIVIR, and is a visiting scientist at the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research at UCSD. He reviews for several scientific journals and funding institutions and serves as a member of the pilot grant review committee for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). He has organized two Gordon Research Seminars and has received postdoctoral and young investigator awards from the NMSS, the American Heart Association, and the Race to Erase Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.