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Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss

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Dr. Russo

Andrew Russo, Ph.D.


Andrew Russo, Ph.D.

Investigator, Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss

Phone: (319) 335-7872


601 HWY 6 West (151)

Iowa City, IA 52246-2208


BA, Biology, University of California, San Diego

PhD, Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Postdoc, Molecular Neurobiology, University of California, San Diego

Research Interests

My research interest is the molecular basis of migraine. A hallmark of migraine is altered sensory perception coupled with head pain. To understand the mechanisms underlying these events, we have focused on the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), whose levels are elevated during migraine and can induce migraine symptoms in people susceptible to migraine. Based on these clinical observations, we generated CGRP-sensitized transgenic mice as preclinical models for testing non-headache endpoints, such as light aversive behavior and cutaneous hypersensitivity. We are using optogenetic and chemogenetic strategies to identify neural circuits involving central and peripheral CGRP actions that cause migraine-like symptoms in mice. In tandem, we are investigating potential causes of CGRP elevation in migraine. We have found that CGRP gene transcription is increased by positive feedback loops initiated by inflammatory signals and experimentally-induced cortical spreading depression, which is associated with the aura phase of migraine and occurs following traumatic brain injury (TBI). We have initiated translational studies to examine the unexpectedly high frequency of migraine symptoms in Veterans with mild TBI and are testing therapeutics, including cannabis products, using a preclinical model of post-traumatic headache. Towards that end, in a new collaborative project, we are beginning to address the role of sleep modulation of glymphatic flow in post-traumatic headache. Our overall goals are to develop effective diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for migraine and post-traumatic headache.

Highlighted Publications

  1. Russo AF, Hay DL. CGRP physiology, pharmacology, and therapeutic targets: migraine and beyond. Physiol Rev. 2023 Apr 1;103(2):1565-1644. PMCID: PMC9988538.
  2. Kuburas A, Russo AF. Shared and independent roles of CGRP and PACAP in migraine pathophysiology. J Headache Pain. 2023 Apr 3;24(1):34. PMCID: PMC10069045.
  3. Kuburas A, Mason BN, Hing B, Wattiez AS, Reis AS, Sowers LP, Moldovan Loomis C, Garcia-Martinez LF, Russo AF. PACAP Induces Light Aversion in Mice by an Inheritable Mechanism Independent of CGRP. J Neurosci. 2021 May 26;41(21):4697-4715. PMCID: PMC8260237. 

Pub Med:

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