Present Members of the DeLeo Laboratory

Ryan Horvath MD/PhD graduate student
Ryan received his B.A. in Biological Sciences from Rutgers College in New Jersey in 2004 before entering the MD/PhD Program at Dartmouth Medical School. Following the first two years of medical school training, Ryan entered the DeLeo lab to study the role of glial cell activation in the development of morphine tolerance and opioid- induced hyperalgesia. His current work focuses on morphine-induced activation and migration of microglial cells.

In his spare time Ryan is an avid skier and soccer player and competes in several local marathons and triathlons.

Edgar Alfonso Romero-Sandoval, MD/PhD Instructor of Anesthesiology
Alfonso received his M.D. from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (a Centro Universitario de Occidente, Quetzaltenango) in 1999 and his PhD in Neuroscience from Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), Spain, in 2003. In Spain, he studied the effects and mechanisms of the nitric oxide donor acetaminophen, a new generation of analgesic drugs. His postdoctoral training started in 2003 at the Pain Mechanisms Laboratories, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC, where he studied the role of the peripheral and central immune system in neuropathic and postoperative pain conditions using alpha-adrenoceptor agonists and cannabinoid drugs. During his postdoctoral training at Wake Forest University, he found that cannabinoid receptors type 2 (CBR2) are functional in spinal cord in pain states, that their activation induces antinociception and glial modulation without the classical cannabinoid neurological side effects. Alfonso joined the DeLeo Lab in 2006 and is continuing with the study on spinal CBR2 activation. His major goal is to find a better and safer drug to treat different types of pain; his recent studies suggest that targeting spinal CBR2 may be a new and safer strategy to treat different pain conditions.

"I enjoy science as much as I enjoy the good food, a good beer or wine, a good book and the spectacular fall in NH! And when everything happens at once, I cannot be happier!"

Ling Cao, MD/PhD Post-doctoral Fellow Currently Assistant Professor at the University of New England
Having had professional training in clinical medicine, I transitioned to a career in basic/translational scientific research in the field of neuroimmunology. My research projects include two main directions. My current work with Dr. DeLeo is focused on investigating the neuroimmune mechanisms, particularly the mechanisms involving spinal cord infiltrating leukocytes, in peripheral nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain via rodent models. Using the established rodent L5 spinal nerve transection (L5Tx) induced neuropathic pain model, I have characterized the phenotype of the spinal cord infiltrating leukocytes and found that CD4+ T lymphocytes constitute a significant percentage of these leukocytes. I further determined that T lymphocytes contribute to L5Tx-induced neuropathic pain through the use of T lymphocyte-deficient nude mice and CD4 knockout mice. I am currently in the process of determining the underlying mechanisms of how spinal cord infiltrating CD4+ T lymphocytes are involved in the development of neuropathic pain. The CD4+ T lymphocyte-glial interaction and the CD154-CD40 pathway are thought to be critical in the pro-nociceptive effects of CD4+ T lymphocytes. From this knowledge, I hope to identify novel, non-addictive chronic pain relief treatments. My past projects were focused on delineating the underlying immunological and endocrinological mechanisms involved in stress-induced decreases in host defense against infectious diseases. I identified that the acute cold/restraint stress-induced inhibition of host resistance to Listeria monocytogenes infection was mediated through ß1-adrenergic receptors and adaptive immunity, particularly CD4+ T lymphocytes. In my future work, I would like to further investigate the effects of stress on nerve-injury induced neuropathic pain.