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Heads of Laboratories

Sidney Strickland, Ph.D.

Vice President for Educational Affairs
Dean of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies
Research Professor
Patricia and John Rosenwald Laboratory of Neurobiology and Genetics

Research Lab Members Publications In the News

Faculty Bio

Sidney Strickland

One approach for gaining insight into the complex mammalian nervous system is to study diseases that perturb its function at the molecular level. Such studies can reveal the roles of critical molecules by identifying those that, by their alteration or absence, cause disease. Dr. Strickland’s lab investigates mouse models of neurological diseases, using genetic, cell biological and biochemical approaches to investigate neurovascular function, dysfunction and repair.

Neurological disorders of the central nervous system represent profound medical problems worldwide. For example, Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people and has severe physical, psychological and financial consequences. By using mouse models of neurological diseases, Dr. Strickland is working to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which neural function is disrupted.

In investigating neurovascular dysfunction, the Strickland lab maintains two general lines of study: the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and myotonic dystrophy. Cerebrovascular defects contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s pathology, and members of the lab are using transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s to evaluate blood-brain barrier damage and the roles that blood clot formation and degradation play in this disease. Their research has determined that the amyloid-β peptide, which is considered to be a causative factor in Alzheimer’s, interacts with fibrinogen to promote fibrin accumulation in the brain and increase brain inflammation. This peptide also alters blood clot structure and clot degradation, which could compromise blood flow, exacerbate inflammation and lead to neuronal death. These results suggest that fibrin and the mechanisms involved in its accumulation and clearance may present novel therapeutic targets for slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Strickland lab is also interested in muscular dystrophy, an inherited, autosomal-dominant degenerative disorder that affects the muscles and many other organs of the body. Because there is currently no treatment, researchers have been exploring the possibility of using stem cells as a therapy. Pericytes, multi-origin perivascular cells with pluripotent activity, are able to differentiate into myogenic cells and generate muscle fibers in vivo, indicating their great potential to treat and/or cure muscular dystrophy diseases. The Strickland lab has found that mice deficient in pericyte laminin, an extracellular matrix protein that covers pericytes in physiological conditions but is degraded in pathological conditions, have a phenotype similar to that observed in myotonic patients. These results suggest that laminin and pericytes are important players in this disease. Members of the lab are investigating the regulatory roles of laminin in the stem cell property of pericytes. The long-term objectives of their studies are to generate a novel animal model of myotonic dystrophy, provide scientific evidence supporting pericyte-based therapy in this disease and identify novel molecular targets that could be manipulated to treat this and other muscular dystrophies.


Dr. Strickland received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rhodes College in Memphis in 1968 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Michigan in 1972. He came to Rockefeller in 1973 as a research associate and was named assistant professor in 1975 and associate professor in 1980. He moved to Stony Brook University in 1983 as an associate professor and was promoted to professor in 1987. He returned to Rockefeller in 2000 as head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Genetics and dean of graduate and postgraduate studies. 

Dr. Strickland received the Innovative Research Award from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in 2009, an honorary doctor of science degree in 2006 from Rhodes College, a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002 and a Distinguished Graduate Award from the University of Michigan in 2001. He was named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in 1998 and was an established investigator for the American Heart Association from 1981 to 1986. He received a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship in 1973 and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 1970. In 2006, together with his daughter, Eliza Strickland, he published The Illustrated Timeline of Science: A Crash Course in Words and Pictures.

Dr. Strickland is a faculty member in the David Rockefeller Graduate Program and the Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program.

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