Anatomy, Physiology & Genetics (APG)
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Zygmunt Galdzicki, Ph.D.
Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics
Dr. Galdzicki uses a molecular and electrophysiological approach to understanding mental retardation in trisomy 21 or Down syndrome.
Down syndrome (DS) is the most common viable human autosomal chromosomal abnormality. It is the result of a third chromosome 21, instead of the usual pair. This disorder leads to a specific physical appearance, mild to moderate mental retardation and sensory function deficits.
Using mouse models, his lab studies signal transduction pathways, synaptic plasticity, electrophysiological, and optical and molecular techniques in order to understand the causes of impaired hippocampal function. To the extent that abnormalities in the trisomic mouse model of DS represent changes in the human DS brain, Dr. Galdzicki's research can provide new clues on the causes of mental retardation in DS and helps to further understand the plasticity of neuronal networks in general and inhibitory networks, in particular. Furthermore, because people with Down syndrome have less frequent occurrences of many types of cancer, the Galdzicki team and his collaborators are also looking for cues that may lead to better strategies for treating cancer in the general population.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
At present, there is no definitive treatment and there is no cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because the molecular targets of PTSD remain undetermined.
Dr. Galdzicki's research activities focus on developing therapeutic applications of microRNAs to reverse an abnormal synaptic plasticity profile caused by stress and to alleviate anxiety episodes in military and/or civilian individuals suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The neurological functions of PTSD victims are strongly impacted, especially with changes reported in the limbic system. Dr. Galdzicki and his team of researchers together with collaborators seek to address the important challenges facing clinical research in its quest to help those suffering with PTSD. By studying the microRNA profiles of animal models, Dr. Galdzicki aims to broaden PTSD knowledge and to find ways to effectively treat this mental health disorder or to reduce its consequences.
Epigenetic mechanisms of exposure to heavy metals and traumatic brain injury
Although the biological effects of the heavy metal, tungsten, are not well known, reports indicate that exposure may affect memory, evokes the occurrence of seizures, and change the expression of genes implicated in neuronal signaling and apoptotic pathways. Traumatic brain injury may affect similar targets.
The Dr. Galdzicki's team hypothesizes that exposure to tungsten alloys and mild TBI causes a specific set of epigenetic modifications which lead to impairments in physiological properties, synaptic plasticity and memory mechanisms.
To this end, Dr. Galdzicki and a team of researchers are conducting experiments designed to identify the mechanisms underlying tungsten alloy's biological activity in the central nervous system. These efforts may help to prevent potential neurotoxicity, assess impact on synaptic plasticity and neuronal network activity, understand potential contributions to neurological symptoms afflicting US veterans, and identify effective therapies to reverse the consequences of exposure to tungsten alloy and potential long-term synergism with TBI in military personnel and civilians.