Jharon Silva



Jharon Silva graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology in 2006 from Hunter College in New York City, after which he joined the lab of Dr. Stephen Dewhurst as part of the University of Rochester’s NIH funded Post-Baccalaureate Photo of Jharon SilvaResearch Education Program (PREP). He spent the next few months examining vaccination strategies for Alzheimer’s disease using bacteriophage lambda as a scaffolding platform to support alternative conformations of amyloid beta. In the spring of 2007 Jharon matriculated into the UR’s PhD Program in Immunology, Microbiology & Virology - returning to the Dewhurst Lab to begin his thesis project researching cerebral blood flow dysregulation in a mouse model of HIV associated neuroinflammation. He subsequently applied and was accepted to the Medical Scientist Training Program to obtain the dual MD and PhD degrees. As part of the medical school Class of 2012, Jharon was elected by his classmates to serve as Honor Board Representative for the 2008-2009 term. From 2009-2010, he acted as a Surgery Interest Group Liaison Officer where he facilitated clinical exposure for medical students by coordinating training schedules to enable shadowing opportunities in Transplantation Medicine. He has remained an active supporter of budding young, future medical scientists by serving as Rochester MSTP Outreach Chair from 2009 to 2011. In 2011, he was selected for a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellowship in Cardiovascular Science, as well as earning his Master of Science in Microbiology & Immunology. He continues to serve as a member of the Problem Based Learning Restructuring Committee for Disease Process and Therapeutics under the guidance of Dr. David Kaufman and regularly serves as a PBL Tutor for DPT.

Research Description

HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is characterized by sensory, motor and cognitive disorders that result from HIV infection. HAND remains a major clinical concern despite the widespread use of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), and a recent (2010) study showed that HAND was detected in 52% of HIV-infected persons enrolled in a large multisite patient cohort. While HAND is thought to be the result of HIV-induced neuroinflammation, the overall pathogenesis of this disease remains incompletely understood. Interestingly, clinical observation has revealed that resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) is significantly reduced in persons with HIV-infection, to a level equivalent to that of HIV-1 negative persons who were 15-20 years older. Moreover, the normal increase in CBF that occurs in response to neural demand is substantially increased in persons with HIV infection. Thus, persons with HIV infection have lowered baseline CBF, and an abnormal (exaggerated) CBF response to metabolic demand. The mechanism underlying these effects is presently unknown.

Jharon is conducting preclinical experiments using a mouse model system to examine whether HIV-induced neuroinflammation is associated with changes that might be expected to perturb CBF. Specifically, he is using a mouse model to test the hypothesis that HIV-induced neuroinflammation is associated with (i) primary underlying vascular abnormalities and/or (ii) dysfunction in the regulation of the neurovascular unit, potentially resulting from changes in the expression and release of specific vascular regulatory factors.

Articles Published

  1. Polesskaya O, Silva J, Sanfilippo C, Desrosiers T, Sun A, Shen J, Feng C, Polesskiy A, Deane R, Zlokivic B, Kasischke K, Dewhurst S. Methamphetamine causes a sustained depression in cerebral blood flow. Brain Research 1371, 91-100. (2011)
  2. Polesskaya O, Sun A, Salahura G, Silva J, Dewhurst S, Kasischke K. Detection of microregional hypoxia in mouse cerebral cortex by two photon imaging of endogenous NADH fluorescence. J. Vis. Exp., e3466, DOI : 10.3791/3466. (2012)

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