Dr. Nazira El-Hage earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University Of Kentucky in 2002. She moved to Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and in 2014 she moved to Miami, Florida as an Associate Professor in the Department of Immunology and Nano-medicine at Florida International University (FIU). In 2020 she earned her Tenure and was subsequently promoted to full Professor at FIU. The focus of her research is to delineate mechanisms underlying the pathology of HIV and the interlinked epidemics with opioid drug abuse in the central nervous system (CNS). Despite the great success of antiretroviral therapies (ART), it does not entirely eradicate the brain of HIV, nor does it directly target neuroinflammation secreted due to the persistence of HIV in brain reservoirs. Her lab has delineated the role of several signaling pathways related to the neuroinflammation and HIV replication in brain-microglia and astrocytes including the autophagy pathway, the NF-kB, NFAT signaling and the activation of the Toll-like receptor in these processes. Recently, her lab showed an important role of astrocytes autophagy in the metabolism of glutamate and in calcium release after exposure to morphine and HIV. Additional projects in her lab are aimed at developing drug therapy that tailored directly to the CNS with anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective actions.
HIV resistance and brain reservoirs; HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder; Autophagy; Parkinson's Disease; Mitophagy; Nanotherapy and Drug delivery