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Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss


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Dr. Wattiez




Anne-Sophie Wattiez, Ph.D.

Investigator, Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss

Phone: (319) 335-7873



BA, Physiology and Animal Experimentation, Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, France

MS, Genetics and Physiology, Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, France

Ph.D., Neuropharmacology, Auvergne University, Clermont-Ferrand, France

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Anesthesia, University of Iowa

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, University of Iowa

Research Interests

The primary focus of my research has been the study of chronic pain and its associated symptoms.  It has always been important to me to work in a field close to medicine, where I could envision the benefits of my research in patients. This is also the reason why I am very interested in migraine/headache and pain manifestations in terms of behaviors, including hypersensitivity as well as emotional and cognitive perturbations.  Studying headache and migraine is very challenging, but it makes it that much more exciting when results of fundamental research are extended into clinical trials. The hope of alleviating human suffering is the greatest motivation for rigorous work.

I currently work on different projects:

  • Sensitization in post-traumatic headache (PTH)

There is a significant unmet need for improved diagnosis and treatments to enhance recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI) events. Unfortunately, PTH is highly prevalent in active duty personnel and Veterans. The high incidence and chronic nature of PTH underscores the need to study these problems in animal models to identify novel targets to treat patients and develop new and effective treatments. This project aims to study functional outcomes associated chronic changes to the central nervous system due to TBI injuries. Importantly, our team has already characterized TBI-induced symptoms from the post-acute period in mice models, and this project will focus on characterizing the chronic effects of the injury in order to better model the day-to-day reality for millions of Veterans throughout their lifespan. This project relates to RR&D priority areas on multiple levels. It focuses on longitudinal effects of TBI and repetitive injuries on clinically relevant outcome measures. It will help characterize diagnostic tools to detect mild TBI and to objectively measure the efficacy of novel treatments and rehabilitation.

  • Peripheral CGRP in migraine headache

Primary headache disorders such as migraine are very common, and their mechanisms are not entirely understood. Aside from being painful, headache disorders are also disabling. Migraine has recently been ranked as the second highest cause of years lost due to disability worldwide. After decades at a standstill, new drugs to treat migraines have been developed and at the forefront of these new drugs are the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antibodies. CGRP is a neuropeptide naturally present in the trigeminal system that transmits head pain. CGRP is elevated during migraine attacks and monoclonal antibodies that block either CGRP or its receptor have proven effective at preventing both episodic and chronic migraine.

One of my interests is to assess the role of peripheral calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and its receptor in migraine-like symptoms such as light-aversion and spontaneous pain. Our team specifically studied the activity of the CGRP receptor in mice overexpressing the human receptor activity-modifying protein-1 (hRAMP1), which is the rate limiting sub-unit of the CGRP receptor. Our findings further support a crucial role of CGRP in migraine pathophysiology and will help us dissect the mechanistic pathways of CGRP involvement in this debilitating condition. Another study from our team is showing in addition to light-aversive behavior, peripheral CGRP can induce spontaneous pain as assessed by the Mouse Grimace Scale, and a newly developed point-to-point eye closure assay. Finally, our current data highlights a vascular site of action of CGRP at the periphery, which goes against the current dogma that migraine comes from a central mechanism.

List of publications: