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Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Health Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba; Principle Investigator, Neuroscience Research Program, Health Sciences Center
Dr. Kauppinen was born and educated in Kuopio, Finland. She obtained her M.Sc. in Biotechnology (1998) and Ph.D. in Biotechnology and Molecular Neuroscience (2001) from the University of Kuopio, Finland. Her Ph.D. studies (published in her maiden name, Tikka) discovered the neuroprotective potential of minocycline, an antibiotic that has several anti-inflammatory functions unrelated to its anti-microbial mechanisms. Dr. Kauppinen did her postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco (2002-2006). After which she became an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at University of California, San Francisco (2006-2012). Dr. Kauppinen joined the Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba in July 2012.
Dr. Kauppinen’s research centers on the role of microglia and neuroinflammation in central nervous system (CNS) disorders and pathologies. Microglia are brain immune cells and believed to be the drivers of neuroinflammation, a nervous system-specific inflammatory-like responses to injury. These responses are characterized by production and interplay of different cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, free radicals, and destructive enzymes produced and released by microglia, astroglia, endothelial cells and infiltrating peripheral immune lineage cells. While immune responses are meant to protect tissue from pathogens, microglia and neuroinflammation can contribute to neurodegeneration, jeopardice neurogenesis, healing and promote tumour progression.
Dr. Kauppinen’s research laboratory is investigating how microglial functions are regulated and how to harness them to promote brain health and recovery in CNS tumour, neurodegenerative disorders (Azheimer’s disease, stroke), and neurodevelopmental disturbances (caused by gestational diabetes). Her research program is built around the novel hypothesis that PARP-1 is the key regulator of microglial functions, and that PARP-1 inhibition allows microglial responses to be directed towards neuroprotective actions. She has developed unique molecular tools that allow microglia-targeted manipulation of PARP-1 activity and expression.
The overall goals of Dr. Kauppinen’s research program are to 1) understand how microglial functions affect neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, neurogenesis, neuronal functions and brain tumour growth, 2) establish approaches to modulate microglial responses, and 3) develop new therapeutic strategies with multiple disease relevance.
Dr. Kauppinen received a prestigious Jordi Folch-Pi award 2008 from American Society for Neurochemistry. Her research has been funded by grants from American Heart and Stroke, Alzheimer Society of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Manitoba Health Research Council, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, The Dr. Paul H.T. Thorlakson Foundation and Research Manitoba/Health Sciences Centre Manitoba Partnership Program.