Elena Galea

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Life & Medical Sciences

1985: BS Biology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. 1990: PhD Biology, Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. 1991-1994: Postdoc/Research Associate, Department of Neuroscience, Cornell University Medical College, New York. 1995-1997: Instructor, Department of Neuroscience, Cornell University Medical College, New York. 1998-2003: Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Illinois, Chicago. 2004-present: ICREA Research Professor, Institute of Neurosciences, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. 2008-2010: Vice Director, Institute of Neurosciences, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. 2012-2013: Visiting scholar, Massachusetts General Institute for Neurodegenerative disease, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Research interests

We seek to unravel the mechanisms whereby a brain cell called ‘astrocyte’ contributes to higher-brain functions—cognition, memory, emotion—and to establish the pathological consequences of astrocyte dysfunction. Three core ideas guide our research. First, astrocytes not only carry out homeostatic functions in support of neurons, but they also compute, i.e., they process information intelligently, plausibly by way of calcium transients. Second, astrocytes are superior therapeutic targets: increasing their resilience or restoring their malfunction in acute or chronic neurological diseases will have a beneficial impact on multiple pathological processes at once. Three, mathematics and systems biology—which has lately included artificial intelligence—are indispensable tools to clarify normal astrocyte function and disease-specific dysfunction, to identify astrocyte-based molecular signatures in human fluids, and to develop astrocyte-targeted therapies. 


Selected publications

- Masgrau R, Guaza C, Ransohoff RM & Galea E 2017, 'Should We Stop Saying 'Glia' and 'Neuroinflammation'?', Trends In Molecular Medicine, 23, 6, 486 - 500.

- Pardo L, Valor LM, Eraso-Pichot A, Barco A, Golbano A, Hardingham GE, Masgrau R & Galea E 2017, 'CREB Regulates Distinct Adaptive Transcriptional Programs in Astrocytes and Neurons', Scientific Reports, 7, 6390.

- Hasel P, Dando O, Jiwaji Z, Baxter P, Todd AC, Heron S, Markus M, McQueen J, Hampton DW, Torvell M, Tiwari SS, McKay S, Eraso-Pichot A, Zorzano A, Masgrau R, Galea E, Chandran S, Wyllie DJA, Simpson TI & Hardingham GE 2017, 'Neurons and neuronal activity control gene expression in astrocytes to regulate their development and metabolism', Nature Communications, 8, 15132.

- Eraso-Pichot A, Larramona-Arcas R, Vicario-Orri E, Villalonga R, Pardo L, Galea E & Masgrau R 2017, 'CREB decreases astrocytic excitability by modifying subcellular calcium via de Sigma 1 receptor', Cell Mol Life Sci., 74(5):937-950.

- Launay N, Ruiz M, Grau L, Ortega FJ, Ilieva EV, Martinez JJ, Galea E, Ferrer I, Knecht E, Pujol A & Fourcade S 2017, 'Tauroursodeoxycholic bile acid arrests axonal degeneration by inhibiting the unfolded protein response in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy', Acta Neuropathol., 133(2): 283–301.

- Eraso-Pichot A, Braso-Vives M, Golbano A, Galea E & Masgrau R 2017, 'Bioinformatic analysis of in vivo and in vitro transcriptome datasets demonstrate a distinctive mitochondrial functional signature in astrocytes', Glia, 65, E212 - E212.