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Rehana K. Leak, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Mylan School of Pharmacy
Pharmaceutical Sciences

407 Mellon Hall
Phone: 412.396.4734

Education:

Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh
M.Sc., Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh
B.A., Biopsychology, Barnard College
Courses

Current Courses
PHBM 355: Human Physiology and Pathology I
PHBM 356: Human Physiology and Pathology II
GPSC 576:   Neuronal Pharmacology and General Toxicological Principles (Coursemaster)
GPSC 695: Oral and Written Presentation Skills in Pharmacology (Coursemaster)
GPSC 572: Methods of Evaluation of Drug Action and Toxicity

Research

Watch a video about the Leak Lab

Research Interests

Students interested in gaining research experience can contact Dr. Leak at leakr@duq.edu. Patients and caregivers are also welcome to visit the laboratory.

The Leak laboratory uses primary neurons, primary astrocytes, cell lines, and animals for 4 major projects:

Project 1: Our goal is to understand how neurons and glial astrocytes adapt to cellular stress. The phenomenon of adaptation to sublethal stress is known as preconditioning or tolerance. In lay terms, "what does not kill you makes you stronger." Adaptations to sublethal stress have been studied for many years in the fields of ischemia and hormesis. However, adaptations to severe stress are less well understood. Recent studies in Dr. Leak's lab have shown that even severely stressed astrocytes that manage to survive the original insult are protected against subsequent challenges (Titler et al., 2013; Cell Tissue Res, 352: 427-443). This glial stress resistance is dependent upon glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and astrocytes are known to be the major source of glutathione in the brain. If adaptive responses to severe stress can be generalized to humans, they may help explain why neurodegenerative diseases are so slow to progress.

A brief presentation on astrocyte adaptations by Rehana Leak is available here: Dose-Response Society

Project 2: Protein misfolding stress is a central feature of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and leads to hallmark protein inclusions composed of tau or α-synuclein. It has been known for many years that the primitive allocortex in the telencephalon contains more tau or α-synuclein inclusions in these conditions than the phylogenetically modern neocortex. However, no one knows the reason behind this striking topographical difference. We hypothesized that the allocortex is more vulnerable to protein misfolding stress than the neocortex in vitro (Posimo et al., 2013; PLoS One, 8: e58596), using high-throughput assays for cellular viability (Posimo et al., 2014; JoVE, 83: e50645). In support of this hypothesis, we discovered that the allocortex experiences more cell loss than the neocortex in response to multiple proteasome inhibitors and that it exhibits greater signs of protein misfolding stress. Proteasome inhibitors prevent the clearance of damaged proteins. Studies to identify the mechanism underling neocortical resilience against proteasome inhibitors are underway.

Project 3: We hypothesize that the mild stress of aging elicits endogenous adaptations and raises cellular defense mechanisms in otherwise healthy animals. To test this hypothesis, we are characterizing compensatory changes in heat shock proteins as a function of age in brain regions vulnerable to Parkinson's disease (Gleixner et al., 2014; Cell Tissue Res, in press) and Alzheimer's disease. Some heat shock proteins, such as Hsp25, are highest in the oldest animals in the striatum and substantia nigra, whereas others, such as Hsp32, show a biphasic response to the stress of aging in the striatum, with high levels in middle age and low levels in old age. Many heat shock proteins are anti-apoptotic chaperones that refold misfolded proteins or guide irreparably damaged proteins to the proteasome and lysosome for degradation. Heat shock proteins are important to study because neurodegenerative disorders are primarily diseases of protein misfolding, as mentioned above.

Project 4: Our goal is to identify the mechanisms of action of the dietary supplement N-acetyl cysteine. N-acetyl cysteine is a glutathione precursor and is effective in multiple neurological conditions. For example, N-acetyl cysteine has been shown to improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer's disease. N-acetyl cysteine was also found to reduce the symptoms of blast injury in soldiers during combat. Recent research in the Leak lab has shown that N-acetyl cysteine can protect neuronal cells against synergistic dual hits of severe proteotoxic and oxidative stress in a glutathione-dependent manner [(1) Unnithan et al., 2012; Neurochem Int. 61: 356-368; (2) Unnithan et al., 2014; Neurosci Lett: 560: 71-76]. However, we have also shown that N-acetyl cysteine may protect neuronal cells by increasing heat shock protein 70 (Jiang et al., 2013; Neurosci 255: 19-32). As heat shock proteins help prevent protein misfolding stress, these findings reveal a new potential mechanism of action for N-acetyl cysteine in neurological conditions.

NeuronAstroctyeMixedCulture

(Above)
This photomicrograph shows a mixed neuron-astrocyte culture from postnatal cortex. Astrocytes are immunostained red with anti-GFAP, neurons are immunolabeled green with anti-MAP2, and nuclei are labeled blue with Hoechst.  Although astrocytes are not nearly as well studied as neurons, they are known to be important for metabolic, trophic, and antioxidant support and to communicate by calcium waves.

Awards

Honors & Awards
2014-2016 Grant: Adaptations to cellular stress in astrocytes
Source: Hillman Foundation
Principal Investigator: RK Leak
2014 Outstanding New Investigator Award recipient
Source: International Dose-Response Society http://dose-response.org/2014-outstanding-new-investigator-dr-rehana-leak/
2014-present Member of editorial board for the Elsevier journal Neurochemistry International
2013-2014 Grant: Topography of vulnerability to alpha synuclein fibrils in the cerebral cortex
Source: Michael J. Fox Foundation Rapid Response Innovation Awards
Principal Investigator: RK Leak
2013 Mylan School of Pharmacy Faculty Award for outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service
2013-2014 Grant: Impact of N-acetyl cysteine on heat shock protein 70
Source: Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (C.U.R.E.), Pennsylvania Dept of Health
Principal Investigator: RK Leak
2012 Voted Professor of the Year by the PY1 Duquesne Pharmacy students
Recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy as Teacher of the Year
2011-2013 Grant: Adaptations to paraquat toxicity in a model of Parkinson's disease in vivo
Source: Faculty Development Funds, Duquesne University
Principal Investigator: RK Leak
2010-2011 Grant: Adaptation to cellular stress in cortical regions involved in Parkinson's disease
Source: Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Foundation
Principal Investigator: RK Leak
2010-2012 Grant: Endogenous adaptations to cellular stress; implications for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases
Source: Hunkele Dreaded Diseases Foundation
Principal Investigator: RK Leak
2009-2013 Grant: Exercise, trophic factors, and Parkinsonism (2P50 NS19608-24)
Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Principal Investigator: MJ Zigmond
Co-Investigator: RK Leak
2006-2007 Grant: Preconditioning neuroprotection in models of Parkinson's disease
Source: American Parkinson's Disease Association (APDA)
Principal Investigator: RK Leak
2004-2006 Michael J. Fox Foundation Fellowship
2004-2006 Scientific Career-Reentry Fellowship
Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
(2001-2003 Career hiatus; family leave)
2001 Post-doctoral Training Fellowship
Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
 1994-1997 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship
University of Pittsburgh
1992 National Science Foundation Summer Research Fellowship
University of Virginia
1992 Senior Thesis First Prize, Department of Biopsychology, Barnard College
1992 German Language First Prize, Barnard College
1992 Graduated Magna Cum Laude, Barnard College
1992 Phi Beta Kappa Induction

Publications
Publications since 2006

Out of 61 total publications (includes 5 chapters and 13 reviews), H-index 17, i10 index 21, 1815 total citations
Graduate and undergraduate students from the Leak laboratory are highlighted in red; *Corresponding Author

  1. Leak RK* (2014) Heat shock proteins in neurodegenerative disorders and aging. Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling. In Press (Invited review article)
  2. Hu X, Leak RK, Shi Y, Suenaga J, Gao Y, Zheng P, and Chen J (2014) Microglia and macrophage polarization - new opportunities for brain repair. Nature Reviews Neurology. In Press
  3. Zhao S, Li F, Leak RK, Chen J, and Hu X (2014) Regulation of neuroinflammation through programmed death-1/programmed death ligand signaling in neurological disorders. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. 8: article 271
  4. Jing Z, Xing J, Chen X, Stetler RA, Weng Z, Gan Y, Zhang F, Gao Y, Chen J, Leak RK, Cao G (2014) Neuronal NAMPT is released following cerebral ischemia and protects against white matter injury. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. 34: 1613-1621
  5. Hu X, Liou AKF, Leak RK, Xu M, An C, Suenaga J, Shi Y, Gao Y, Zheng P, and Chen J (2014) Neurobiology of microglial action in CNS injuries: receptor-mediated signaling mechanisms and functional roles. Progress in Neurobiology. 119-120C:60-84
  6. Wang J, Shi Y, Zhang L, Zhang F, Hu X, Zhang W, Leak RK, Gao Y, Chen L, and Chen J (2014) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids enhance cerebral angiogenesis and provide long-term protection after stroke. Neurobiology of Disease 68: 91-103
  7. Gleixner AM, Pulugulla SH, Pant DB, Posimo JM, Crum TS, and Leak RK* (2014) Impact of aging on heat shock protein expression in the substantia nigra and striatum of the female rat. Cell Tissue Research. 357: 43-54
  8. Stetler RA, Leak RK, Gan Y, Peiying L, Hu X, Jing Z, Chen J, Zigmond MJ, and Gao Y (2014) Preconditioning provides neuroprotection in models of CNS diseases: Paradigms and clinical significance. Progress in Neurobiology. 114: 58-83
  9. Zhang M, Wang S, Mao L, Leak RK, Shi Y, Zhang W, Hu X, Sun B, Cao G, Gao Y, Xu Y, Chen J, and Zhang F (2014) Omega-3 fatty acids protect the brain against ischemic injury by activating Nrf2 and upregulating heme oxygenase-1. Journal of Neuroscience. 34: 1903-1015
  10. Unnithan AS, Jiang Y, Rumble JL, Pulugulla SH, Posimo JM, Gleixner AM, and Leak RK* (2014) N-acetyl cysteine prevents synergistic, severe toxicity from two hits of oxidative stress. Neuroscience Letters. 560: 71-76
  11. Posimo JM, Unnithan AS, Gleixner AM, Choi HJH, Jiang Y, Pulugulla SH, and Leak RK* (2014) Viability assays for cells in culture. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 83: e50645, doi:10.3791/50645 (By invitation)
  12. Leak RK* (2014) Adaptation and sensitization to proteotoxic stress. Dose-Response. In Press (By invitation)
  13. Leak RK, Li P, Zhang F, Sulaiman H, Weng, Zhongfang, Wang G, Stetler RA, Shi Y, Cao G, Gao Y, and Chen J (2014) APE1 upregulation reduces oxidative DNA damage and protects hippocampal neurons from ischemic injury. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. In Press
  14. Li P, Gan Y, Mao L, Leak RK, Chen J, and Hu X (2014) The critical roles of immune cells in acute brain injuries. Immunological Mechanisms and Therapies in Brain Injuries and Stroke (Ed. Chen J, Hu X, Stenzel-Poore M, Zhang JH). Springer Series in Translational Stroke Research 6: 9-25
  15. Stetler RA, Leak RK, Jing Z, Hu X, Gao Y, Cao G, and Chen J (2014) The interplay between white matter, mitochondria, and neuroprotection. White Matter Injury in Stroke and CNS Disease (Ed. Baltan S, Carmichael ST, Matute C, Xi G, and Zhang JH). Springer Series in Translational Stroke Research. 4: 539-554
  16. An C, Shi Y, Li P, Hu X, Gan Y, Stetler RA, Leak RK, Gao Y, Sun B, Zheng P, and Chen J (2013) Molecular dialogs between the ischemic brain and the peripheral immune system: Dualistic roles in injury and repair. Progress in Neurobiology. pii; S0301-0082(13) 00142-1
  17. Jiang Y, Rumble JL, Gleixner AM, Unnithan AS, Pulugulla SH, Posimo JM, Choi HJH, Crum TS, Pant DB, and Leak RK* (2013) N-acetyl cysteine blunts proteotoxicity in a heat shock protein-dependent manner. Neuroscience. 255:19-32
  18. Li P, Mao L, Zhou G, Leak RK, Sub BL, Chen J, and Hu X (2013) Adoptive regulatory T-cell therapy preserves systemic immune homeostasis after cerebral ischemia. Stroke. 44: 3509-3515
  19. Hu X, Zhang F, Leak RK, Zhang W, Iwai M, Stetler RA, Dai Y, Zhao A, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) Transgenic overproduction of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids provides neuroprotection and enhances endogenous neurogenesis after stroke. Current Molecular Medicine 13:1465-73
  20. Wang G, Guo Y, Hu X, Zhang L, Mao L, Jiang X, Liou AKF, Leak RK, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) Microglia/macrophage polarization dynamics in white matter injury following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2013.146
  21. Pu H, Guo Y, Zhang W, Huang L, Wang G, Liou AKF, Zhang J, Zhang P, Leak RK, Wang Y, Chen J, Gao Y (2013) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation improves neurological recovery and attenuates white matter injury following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2013.108
  22. Posimo JM, Titler AM, Choi H, Unnithan AS, and Leak RK* (2013) Neocortex and allocortex respond differentially to cellular stress in vitro and aging in vivo. PLoS One 8: e58596
  23. Titler AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK* (2013) Astrocyte plasticity revealed by adaptations to severe proteotoxic stress. Cell Tissue Research. 35: 427-443
  24. Leak RK, Zhang L, Luo Y, Li P, Zhao H, Liu X, Ling F, Jia J, Chen J, and Ji X (2013) Peroxiredoxin 2 battles PARP1- and p53-dependent pro-death pathways following ischemic injury. Stroke 44: 1124-1134
  25. Leak RK, Zhang L, Stetler RA, Weng Z, Li P, Atkins GB, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) HSP27 protects the blood-brain barrier against ischemia-induced loss of integrity. CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets 12: 325-337
  26. Stetler RA, Leak RK, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) The dynamics of the mitochondrial organelle as a potential therapeutic target. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 33: 22-32 (By invitation)
  27. Zhang M, An C, Gao Y, Leak RK, Chen J, and Zhang F (2013) Emerging roles of Nrf2 and phase II enzymes in neuroprotection. Progress in Neurobiology 100: 30-47
  28. Zhao H, Luo Y, Liu X, Wang R, Yan F, Liu X, Li S, Leak RK, and Ji X (2013) Ischemic post-conditioning partially reverses cell cycle reactivity following ischemia/reperfusion injury; a genome wide survey. CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets 12: 350-359
  29. Wang JY, Liou AK, Ren ZH, Zhang L, Brown BN, Cui XT, Badylak SF, Cai YN, Guan YQ, Leak RK, Chen J, Ji X, and Chen L (2013) Neurorestorative effect of urinary bladder matrix mediated neural stem cell transplantation following traumatic brain injury in rats. CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets 12: 371-380
  30. Zhang M, Wang H, Zhao J, Chen C, Leak RK, Xu Y, Vosler P, Chen J, Gao Y, and Zhang F (2013) Drug-induced hypothermia in stroke models; does it always protect? CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets 12: 371-380
  31. Wang G, Jiang X, Pu H, Zhang W, An C, Hu X, Kiou AKF, Leak RK, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) Scriptaid, a novel histone deacetylase inhibitor, protects against traumatic brain injury via modulation of PTEN and Akt pathway. Neurotherapeutics 10: 124-142
  32. Zhang M, Li W, Leak RK, Chen J, and Zhang F (2013) ATP induces mild hypothermia in rats but has a strikingly detrimental impact on focal cerebral ischemia. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 33(1). doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2012.146.
  33. Leak RK*, Garbett K, Dettmer AM, Mirnics K, Zhang Z, and Cameron JL (2012) Physical activity is linked to ceruloplasmin in the striatum of intact, but not MPTP-treated primates. Cell Tissue Research 350: 401-407
  34. Unnithan AS, Choi H, Titler AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK* (2012) Rescue from a two hit high-throughput model of neurodegeneration with N-acetyl cysteine. Neurochemistry International 61: 356-368
  35. Leak RK* and Moore RY (2012) Innervation of ventricular and periventricular compartments. Brain Research 1463: 51-62 *Corresponding author
  36. Stetler RA, Leak RK, Gao YQ, and Chen J (2012) Mitochondrial biogenesis contributes to ischemic neuroprotection afforded by LPS preconditioning. Journal of Neurochemistry 123(S2): 125-137 (By invitation)
  37. Hu X, Li P, Guo Y, Wang H, Leak RK, Chen S, Gao Y, and Chen J (2012) Microglia/macrophage polarization dynamics reveal novel mechanism of injury expansion after focal cerebral ischemia. Stroke 43: 3063-3070
  38. Zhang F, Wang S, Weng Z, Li P, Gan Y, Zhang L, Zhang M, Cao G, Gao Y, Leak RK, Sporn MB, and Chen J (2012). Pharmacological induction of heme oxygenase-1 by a triterpenoid protects against ischemic neuronal injury. Stroke 43: 1390-1397
  39. Mitchell AC, Leak RK, Garbett K, Zigmond MJ, Cameron JL, and Mirnics K (2012) Physical activity-associated gene expression signature in non-human primate motor cortex. Obesity 20: 692-698
  40. Li P, Leak RK, Gan Y, Hu X, Stetler RA, and Chen J (2012) How do subcellular organelles participate in preconditioning-conferred neuroprotection? Innate Tolerance in the CNS. Springer Series in Translational Stroke Research. (Ed. J Gidday). Springer. Ch 19: 387-428 (By invitation)
  41. Hu X, Zhang M, Leak RK, Gan Y, Li P, Gao Y, and Chen J (2012) Delivery of neurotherapeutics across the blood brain barrier in stroke. Current Pharmaceutical Design 18: 3704-3720
  42. Mitchell AC, Leak RK, Zigmond MJ, Cameron JL, and Mirnics K (2011) Gene transcripts associated with BMI in the motor cortex and caudate nucleus of calorie-restricted monkeys. Genomics 99: 144-151
  43. Leak RK*, Castro SL, Jaumotte JD, Smith AD, and Zigmond MJ (2010) Assaying multiple biochemical variables from the same tissue sample. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 191: 234-238 *Corresponding author
  44. Egaña L, Cuevas R, Baust T, Parra L, Leak RK, Hochendoner S, Peña K, Quiroz M, Hong W, Dorostkar M, Janz R, Sitte H, and Torres G (2009) Physical and functional interaction between the dopamine transporter and the synaptic vesicle protein Synaptogyrin-3. Journal of Neuroscience 29:4592-604
  45. Requena DF, Parra LA, Baust TB, Quiroz M, Leak RK, Garcia-Olivares J, Torres GE. (2009) The molecular chaperone Hsc70 interacts with the vesicular monoamine transporter-2. Journal of Neurochemistry 110: 581-594
  46. Zigmond MJ, Cameron JL, Leak RK, Mirnics K, Russell VA, Smeyne RJ and Smith AD (2009) Triggering endogenous neuroprotective processes through exercise in models of dopamine deficiency. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders: WFN World Congress on Parkinson's Disease Supplement 3:S42-45
  47. Leak RK and Zigmond MJ (2008) Endogenous defenses that protect dopamine neurons: studies with 6-OHDA models of Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's Disease: Pathogenic and Therapeutic Insights from Toxin and Genetic Models. (Ed. R Nass and S Przedborski). Elsevier. Ch 13: 173 - 194
  48. Leak RK*, Zigmond MJ, and Liou AKF (2008) Adaptation to chronic MG132 reduces oxidative toxicity by a CuZnSOD-dependent mechanism. Journal of Neurochemistry 106: 860-874
  49. Liou AKF, Leak RK, Li L, and Zigmond MJ (2008) Wild-type LRRK2 but not its mutant attenuates stress-induced death via ERK pathway. Neurobiology of Disease 32: 116-124
  50. Lindgren NL, Leak RK, Smith AD, and Zigmond MJ (2008) Role of ERK in the action of GDNF in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Journal of Neuroscience Research 86: 2039-2049
  51. Lin E, Cavanaugh JE, Leak RK, Perez RG, and Zigmond MJ (2008) Rapid activation of ERK by 6-hydroxydopamine promotes survival of dopaminergic cells. Journal of Neuroscience Research 86: 108-117
  52. Leak RK, Liou KF, and Zigmond MJ (2006) Effects of sublethal 6-hydroxydopamine on the response to subsequent oxidative stress in dopaminergic cells: evidence for preconditioning. Journal of Neurochemistry 99: 1151-1163
Presentations since 2006

Out of 72 total presentations

  1. Leak RK* (2014) Topography of vulnerability to alpha-synuclein fibrils in the cerebral cortex. Michael J. Fox Foundation. New York City, NY
  2. Li P, Leak RK, Zhang F, Cao G, Gao Y, and Chen J (2014) APE1 upregulation reduces oxidative DNA damage and protects hippocampal neurons from ischemic injury. International Stroke Conference 45: A8. San Diego, CA
  3. Gleixner AM, Serpico E, Pant DB, Posimo JM, and Leak RK* (2014) Astrocyte preconditioning by severe stress is glutathione- but not heat shock protein 70-dependent. 13th annual meeting of the International Dose-Response Society. University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA
  4. Jiang Y, Rumble JL, Unnithan AS, Pulugulla SH, Choi HJH, Posimo JP, Gleixner AM, Leak RK* (2014) N-acetyl cysteine blunts impact of proteasome inhibition in a glutathione-independent manner. American Pharmacists Association National Conference. Orlando, FL
  5. Leak RK*, Posimo JM, and Gleixner AM (2014) Defensive responses to cellular stress and aging in the neocortex vs allocortex of the telencephalon. Keystone symposium on Parkinson's Disease: Genetics, Mechanisms and Therapeutics. Keystone, CO
  6. Gleixner AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK* (2013) N-acetyl cysteine decreases protein misfolding stress in astrocytes and neurons. 5th Annual American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA **Won 2nd prize for best poster
  7. Crum TS, Gleixner AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK* (2013) Chaperones in the olfactory bulb. 5th Annual American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  8. Posimo JM, Gleixner AM, and Leak RK* (2013) Defensive Responses to Cellular Stress and Aging in the Neocortex and Allocortex of the Telencephalon. 5th Annual American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  9. Nouraei N, Posimo JM, Flaherty PT, and Leak RK* (2013) Protecting neurons against proteotoxicity in vivo. 5th Annual American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  10. Leak RK* (2013) Severe stress in glial astrocytes; implications for neurodegenerative diseases. Invited speaker at Slippery Rock University Department of Chemistry. Slippery Rock, PA (2nd invitation to SRU)
  11. Leak RK* (2013) Astrocyte plasticity revealed by adaptations to severe proteotoxic stress. Invited speaker at Dose Response 2013: Implications for toxicology, medicine, and risk assessment. University of Massachussetts, Amherst, MA
  12. Zhang M, Li W, Leak RK, Chen J, and Zhang F (2013) Impact of ATP-induced mild hypothermia on focal cerebral ischemia in rats. International Stroke Conference, Abstract 44: TP109 Honolulu, HI
  13. Rumble JL and Leak RK* (2013) Heat shock protein 70 mediates protection of N-acetyl cysteine in neuronal cells. The 2013 Undergraduate Exhibition 303, p.17. Penn State University Park Campus. State College, PA.
  14. Jiang Y, Rumble JL, Posimo JM, Titler AM, and Leak RK* (2013) N-acetyl cysteine protects neuronal cells by a glutathione-independent and Hsp70-dependent mechanism. Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium. Duquesne University. Pittsburgh, PA
  15. Unnithan AS and Leak RK* (2013) High-throughput model of dual-hit hypothesis in neuronal cells; impact of glutathione. Undergraduate Research Fair, University Honors College. University of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, PA
  16. Leak RK*, Titler AM, Posimo JM, (2013) Astrocyte plasticity revealed by adaptations to severe proteotoxic stress. Dose-Response 2013: Implications for Toxicology, Medicine, and Risk Assessment. p. 37. University of Massachussetts, Amherst, MA
  17. Weng Z, Zhang L, Stetler RA, Leak RK, Li P, Atkins GB, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) Hsp27 protects the blood-brain barrier against ischemia-induced loss of integrity. Brain 2013. Shanghai, China
  18. Zhang F, Zhang M, Wang S, Zhang W, Leak RK, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) activation mediates the neuroprotective effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids against ischemic stroke. Brain 2013. Shanghai, China.
  19. Zhang L, Luo Y, Leak RK, Li P, Zhao H, Liu X, Ling F, Jia J, Chen J, and Ji X (2013) Peroxiredoxin 2 battles PARP1- and p53-dependent pro-death pathways following ischemic injury. Brain 2013. Shanghai, China.
  20. Wang J, Liou A, Ren Z, Zhang L, Brown B, Cui X, Badylak S, Cai Y, Guan Y, Leak RK, Chen J, Ji X, and Chen L (2013). Neurorestorative effect of urinary bladder matrix-mediated neural stem cell transplantation following traumatic brain injury in rats. Brain 2013. Shanghai, China.
  21. Wang G, Xu H, Guo Y, Jiang X, Pu H, Mao L, Liou AKF, Leak RK, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) Histone deacetylase inhibition prevents white matter lesions by titrating microglia/macrophase polarization following experimental traumatic brain injury. Brain 2013. Shanghai, China
  22. Wang G, Hu X, Guo Y, Jiang X, Mao L, Liou AKF, Leak RK, Gao Y, and Chen J (2013) Histone deacetylase inhibition prevents white matter lesions by titrating microglia/macrophase polarization following experimental traumatic brain injury. Society for Neuroscience. 628.15. San Diego, CA
  23. Leak RK*, Posimo JM, Titler AM, Choi H, and Unnithan AS (2012) Differential neo- and allocortical vulnerability to proteasome inhibition in vitro mimics topography of human neurodegeneration. Gordon Conference on Neurobiology of Brain Disorders. Stonehill College, MA
  24. Choi H, Unnithan AS, Titler AM, Posimo AM, and Leak RK (2012) Synergistic toxicity of two proteasome inhibitor hits is dependent upon glutathione loss. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Clinical Meeting. 2-331. Las Vegas, NV
  25. Titler AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK (2012) Astrocyte plasticity revealed by adaptations to severe proteotoxic stress. Society for Neuroscience. 63.15. New Orleans, LA
  26. Posimo JM, Titler AM, and Leak RK (2012) Neocortical neurons are more vulnerable than allocortical neurons in a high-throughput model of proteotoxic stress. Society for Neuroscience. 64.18. New Orleans, LA
  27. Titler AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK (2012) Astrocyte plasticity revealed by adaptations to severe proteotoxic stress. 4th Annual American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  28. Posimo JM, Titler AM, and Leak RK (2012) Neocortical neurons are more vulnerable than allocortical neurons in a high-throughput model of proteotoxic stress. 4th Annual American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  29. Jiang Y, Rumble J, Posimo JM, Titler AM, Choi H, Unnithan AS, and Leak RK (2012) N-acetyl cysteine protects neuronal cells by a glutathione-independent and Hsp70-dependent mechanism. Summer Research Symposium. Duquesne University. Pittsburgh, PA
  30. Choi H, Unnithan AS, Titler AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK (2012) Rescue from a two hit high-throughput model of neurodegeneration with N-acetyl cysteine. Duquesne University Undergraduate Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  31. Harun R, Zhou H, Wagner AK, and Leak RK (2011) An examination of striatal c-Fos activation following controlled cortical impact in rats. National Neurotrauma Symposium. Hollywood, FL
  32. Titler AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK (2011) Pretreatment with MG132 protects primary astrocytes against subsequent toxic exposures. 3rd Annual American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  33. Posimo JM, Titler AM, and Leak RK (2011) Topographical differences in sensitivity to proteasome inhibition in mammalian cerebral cortex. 3rd Annual American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists Pittsburgh Chapter Student Research Symposium. Pittsburgh, PA
  34. Leak RK (2011) Adaptation to cellular stress in models of Parkinson's disease. Slippery Rock Department of Biology Seminar Series. Pittsburgh, PA
  35. Leak RK (2011) Adaptation to cellular stress in models of Parkinson's disease. Duquesne Department of Biology Seminar Series. Pittsburgh, PA
  36. Parra LA, Baust TB, Leak RK, Smith AD, Zigmond MJ, and Torres GE (2010) A novel role for the molecular chaperone Hsc70 in the regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase activity and subcellular distribution. Society for Neuroscience. 741.3. San Diego, CA
  37. Lopresti BJ, Dettmer AM, Leak RK, Rockcastle NJ, Zigmond MJ, Mathis C, Zhang Z, and Cameron JL. (2010) Regular exercise training protects against MPTP-damage to nigrostriatal dopamine neurons in nonhuman primates. The Eighth International Symposium on Functional Neuroreceptor Mapping of the Living Brain - NRM 2010. Glasgow, Scotland
  38. Mitchell AC, Leak RK, Garbett K, Greenough WT, Zigmond MJ, Cameron JL, and Mirnics K (2010) The effects of exercise on the brain transcriptome. Society for Neuroscience. 460.1. San Diego, CA
  39. Dettmer AM, Lopresti BJ, Leak RK, Rockcastle N, Zigmond MJ, Mathis CA, Zhang A, and Cameron JL (2010) Physical activity protects the striatum against MPTP damage in nonhuman primates. Society for Neuroscience. 460.11. San Diego, CA
  40. Posimo JM, Titler AM, Cavanaugh JE, and Leak RK (2010) Age-related increases in ceruloplasmin in the mouse mesencephalon. Metals and Ions in Biology conference at Duquesne University. Pittsburgh, PA. *Won Best Poster award
  41. Titler AM, Posimo JM, and Leak RK (2010) Oxidative stress elicits refractory response to subsequent toxin exposure. Metals and Ions in Biology conference at Duquesne University. Pittsburgh, PA
  42. Cameron JL, Rockcastle N, Zigmond MJ, Leak RK, Smith AD, Lopresti BJ, Mathis CA, Mirnics K, Williams NI, and Zhang Z (2009) Exercise protects the striatum against MPTP damage in nonhuman primates. Society for Neuroscience. 430.7. Chicago, IL **Abstract chosen for a press conference
  43. Parra LA, Baust TB, Quiroz M, Leak RK, and Torres GE (2009) A novel interaction between the molecular chaperone Hsc70 and tyrosine hydroxylase. Society for Neuroscience. 131.9. Chicago, IL
  44. Leak RK (2008) Adaptation to chronic MG132 reduces oxidative toxicity via CuZnSOD. Pittsburgh Area Ubiquitin-Proteasome Meeting. Pittsburgh, PA
  45. Leak RK, Zhang Z, Castro SL, Lopresti BJ, Mathis CA, Zigmond MJ, and Cameron JL (2008) Impact of exercise in a non-human primate model of Parkinson's disease. Seventh International Symposium on Functional Neuroreceptor Mapping of Living Brain. Neuroreceptor Mapping '08. Pittsburgh, PA
  46. Leak RK, Jaumotte JD, and Zigmond MJ (2008) Responses to low and high cellular stress in neuronal cortical cultures. Society for Neuroscience. 343.21. Washington, DC
  47. Lopresti BJ, Zhang Z, Zigmond MJ, Leak RK, Mathis CA, and JL Cameron (2008) Increased survival of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons following a toxic MPTP insult in the exercising primate: A [11C]DTBZ PET study. Seventh International Symposium on Functional Neuroreceptor Mapping of Living Brain. Pittsburgh, PA
  48. Leak RK, Wong MS, Zigmond MJ, and Liou KF (2007) Proteasome inhibition induces protection against oxidative stress in catecholaminergic cells. Society for Neuroscience. 382.7. San Diego, CA
  49. Mirnics K, Garbett K, Mitchell AC, Sullivan E, Leak RK, Zigmond MJ, and Cameron JL (2007) Spontaneous activity and neocortical gene expression in non-human primates. Society for Neuroscience. 589.9. San Diego, CA
  50. Leak RK, Zigmond MJ, and Liou KF (2007) Adaptation of catecholaminergic cells to MG-132 and reduced vulnerability to oxidative stress. 11th Annual National Conference of Morris K. Udall Centers for Excellence in Parkinson's Research. Pittsburgh, PA
  51. Lindgren NL, Leak RK, Smith AD, and Zigmond MJ (2006) Role of MAP kinases in the neuroprotective effects of GDNF in vivo. Society for Neuroscience. 756.7. Atlanta, GA
  52. Liou KF, Leak RK, Li L, Kotevski L, and Zigmond MJ (2006) Characterization of the functional differences between LRRK2 wild-type and Y1699C mutant genes. Society for Neuroscience. 173.9. Atlanta, GA