Columbia University Medical Center


Dritan Agalliu, PhD

Dritan Agalliu, PhD
  • Department of Neurology
    Division of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease
  • Department of Pathology & Cell Biology
  • Assistant Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (in Neurology and Pharmacology)

CTNI Scholar

Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate formation of the blood-brain barrier in the central nervous system ( CNS) and the mechanisms of barrier breakdown in a variety of CNS diseases such as stroke and autoimmune diseases having symptoms that include blood-brain barrier failure, using a variety of genetic, molecular, cellular and imaging approaches. We have developed novel mouse strains that allow us to visualize changes in structural components of the blood-brain barrier, namely tight junctions and caveolae, in living animals for several CNS diseases (e.g. stroke and multiple sclerosis) in order to understand the cellular mechanisms underlying barrier impairment in these neurological disorders. In addition, we are investigating the role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in development of the CNS vasculature and formation of the blood-brain barrier, and we are exploring the role of this pathway in repairing the barrier in diseases where its function is compromised (e.g. stroke and autoimmune disorders). Finally, we are investigating the mechanisms of immune cells entry into the CNS in a novel animal model for a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by multiple Streptococcus pyogenes infections, in order to understand how immune cells induce neurovascular, synaptic and behavioral deficits in the brain


Education & Training

  • PhD, 2006 Genetics and Development, Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, NY
  • Internship: 2011 Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Primary Lab Locations

    William Black Building

    650 West 168th Street
    Room 310
    New York, NY 10032

    (212) 305-0323
    Lab Phone:
    (212) 305-0246


    Society for Neuroscience

    NIMH PANS/PANDAS Consortium

    North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO)

    International Brain Barriers Society

    American Heart Association

    Contact Information

    Email: da191@cumc.columbia.eduOffice Phone: 212-305-0323

    Honors & Awards

    2016                   The 2016 Scientific Research Innovator from PANDAS Network.

    2006                   Doctoral dissertation with distinction in Genetics and Development, Columbia University.

    1998                   B.S. with Cumma Sum Laude in Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. 



    Lab Website

    Past Positions

    July 2011 - June 2015         Assistant Professor. Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, University of California, Irvine.

    August 2006 - June 2011    Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University School of Medicine.

    Teaching Responsibilities

    Course Instructor for Lectures  “Secretory Pathway I and II”. Course: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology II.

    Course Instructor for Lectures: “Vascular Development”. Course: Principles of Developmental Biology.

    Course Instructor for the Lecture: “Scientific Misconduct”. Course: Responsible Conduct of Research.

    Course Instructor for the Lecture: “Mechanisms of Blood-Brain Barrier Dysfunction in Neurological Disorders". Course: Biology of Neurologic and Psychiatric Disorders

    Research Interests

    Dynamic Imaging of the CNS Vasculature
    CNS and Retina Vascular Biology
    Blood-Brain Barrier Biology
    Models of Psychiatric Disorders

    Lab Members

  • Tyler Cutforth, Associate Research Scientist
  • Azzurra Cottarelli, Postdoctoral Scholar
  • Maryann Platt, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Charlotte Wayne, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Nicole Ampatey, Technician A
  • Claudiu Diaconu, Neurology Fellow
  • Jason Neil, Neurology Resident
  • Sarah Chaudry, Undergraduate Student
  • Publications

    Lim, R.G., Quan, C., Reyes-Ortiz, A.M., Lutz, S.E., Kedaigle, A.J., Gipson, T.A., Wu, J., Vatine, G.D., Stocksdale, J., Casale, M.S., Svendsen C.N., Fraenkel, E., Housman, D.E, Agalliu, D.* and Thompson L.M.* (2017). Huntington’s disease iPSC-Derived brain microvascular endothelial cells reveal Wnt-mediated angiogenic and blood-brain barrier deficits. Cell Reports 19: 1365-1377. *equal senior authorship.

    Platt M., Agalliu D. and Cutforth T (2017). Hello from the other side: How autoantibodies circumvent the blood-brain barrier in autoimmune encephalitis. Frontiers in Immunology

    Lengfeld J, Lutz S.E, Smith J.R, Diaconu C.D, Cameron S, Koffman S, Agalliu I, Walsh C and Agalliu D (2017). Endothelial Wnt/beta-catenin signaling reduces immune cell infiltration in multiple sclerosis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1609905114.

    Paul D, Baena V, Ge S, Jiang X, Jellison ER, Kiprono T, Agalliu D, Pachter JS (2016). Appearance of Claudin-5+ leukocytes in the central nervous system during neuroinflammation: a novel role for endothelial-derived extracellular vesicles. J. Neuroinflammation: 13(1): 292.

    Cutforth T., DeMille MMC., Agalliu I. and Agalliu D. (2016). CNS autoimmune disease after Streptococcus pyogenes infections: animal models, cellular mechanisms and genetic factors. Future Neurology: 10.2217/fnl.16.4.

    Dileepan T, Smith ED, Knowland D, Hsu M, Platt M, Eddy-Bittner P, Cohen B, Southern P, Latimer E, Harley E, Agalliu D* & Cleary PP* (2016). Group A streptococcus intranasal infection promotes CNS infiltration by streptococcal-specific Th17 cells. Journal of Clinical Investigation 126: 303-317. *equal authorship

    Akassoglou K, Agalliu D, Chang CJ, Davalos D, Grutzendler J, Hillman EM, Khakh BS, Kleinfeld D, McGavern DB, Nelson SJ, Zlokovic BV (2016). Neurovascular and Immuno-Imaging: From Mechanisms to Therapies. Proceedings of the Inaugural Symposium. Frontiers in Neuroscience 46: doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00046.

    Mazzoni J., Cutforth T., and Agalliu D. (2015). Dissecting the role of smooth muscle cells versus pericytes in regulating cerebral blood flow using in vivo optical imaging. Neuron 87: 4-6. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.06.024

    Kurimoto S, Jung J, Tapadia M, Lengfeld J, Agalliu D, Waterman M, Mozaffar T, Gupta R. (2015). Activation of the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling cascade after traumatic nerve injury. Neuroscience 294:101-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.02.049.

    Lengfeld J, Cutforth T, Agalliu D. (2014). The role of angiogenesis in the pathology of multiple sclerosis. Vascular Cell 28;6(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s13221-014-0023-6. eCollection 2014.

    Knowland D., Arac A., Sekiguchi K.J., Hsu M., Lutz S.E., Perrino J., Steinberg G.K., Barres B.A., Nimmerjahn A., and Agalliu D (2014). Stepwise recruitment of transcellular and paracellular pathways underlies blood-brain barrier breakdown in stroke. Neuron 82: 603-617.

    Lutz S.E., Lengfeld J., and Agalliu D (2014). Stem cell-based therapies for multiple sclerosis: recent advances in animal models and human clinical trials. Regenerative Medicine 9 (2): 129-132.

    Liu L, Eckert MA, Riazifar H, Kang DK, Agalliu D, Zhao W (2013). From blood to the brain: can systemically transplanted mesenchymal stem cells cross the blood-brain barrier? Stem Cells Int. 2013;2013:435093. doi: 10.1155/2013/435093. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

    Liu S, Agalliu D, Yu C, Fisher M (2012). The role of pericytes in blood-brain barrier function and stroke. Current Pharmaceutical Design 18: 3653-62.

    Shimomura Y*, Agalliu D*, Vonica A*, Luria V*, Wajid M, Baumer A, Belli S, Petukhova L, Schinzel A, Brivanlou AH, Barres BA and Christiano AM (2010). APCDD1 is a novel Wnt inhibitor mutated in hereditary hypotrichosis simplex. Nature 464: 1043-1047.

    Daneman R, Rumah KR, Zhou L, Agalliu D, Cahoy JD, Kaushal A and Barres BA (2010). The mouse blood-brain barrier transcriptome: a new resource for understanding the development and function of brain endothelial cells. PLoS One 5: e13741.

    Daneman R, Agalliu D, Zhou L, Kuhnert F, Kuo CJ and Barres BA (2009). Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is required for CNS, but not non-CNS, angiogenesis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 641-646.

    Emery B, Agalliu D, Cahoy JD, Watkins TA, Dugas JC, Mulinyawe SB, Ibrahim A, Ligon KL, Rowitch DH and Barres BA (2009). Identification of myelin-gene regulatory factor as a critical transcriptional regulator required for CNS myelination. Cell 138: 172-85.

    Agalliu D, Takada S, Agalliu I, McMahon AP and Jessell TM (2009). Motor neurons with axial muscle projections specified by Wnt4/5 signaling. Neuron 61: 708-720.

    Agalliu D and Schieren I (2009). Heterogeneity in the developmental potential of motor neuron progenitors revealed by clonal analysis of single cells in vitro. Neural Development 4: 2.

    Masckauchan, NTH, Agalliu D, Vorontchikhina M, Ahn A, Parmalee NL, Li C, Khoo A, Tycko B, Brown AM and Kitajewski J (2006). Wnt5a signaling induces proliferation and survival of endothelial cells and expression of MMP-1 and Tie-2. Molecular Biology of the Cell 17: 5163-72.

    Lieberam I*, Agalliu D*, Nagasawa T, Ericson J and Jessell TM (2005). A Cxcl12-Cxcr4 chemokine signaling pathway defines the initial trajectory of mammalian motor axons. Neuron 47: 667-679. *equal authorship