Natalia Palacios

Natasha Palacios picture
Natalia PalaciosAssistant Professor

Natalia Palacios is Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts and Lowell and Visiting Scientist at Harvard University.

The focus of my research group is to study, understand and discover risk factors for neurological disease.  We currently focus on Parkinson’s Disease, Cognitive Decline/Alzheimer’s disease and Depression and are particularly interested in the role of gut-brain axis in health and disease.  We are  currently pursuing several lines of research:

  1. The gut microbiome and brain health:  we are conducting an NIH/NINDS (R01NS097723; PI Palacios) funded study of the role of the gut microbiome in PD within the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (Harvard University).  Dr Palacios is also leading the creation of the the UMass Parkinson’s Microbiome Biorepository at the Mass Memorial Medical Center.  We are also studying the gut microbiome in relation to cognitive function and decline and depression.
  2. Risk factors for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in US Veterans:    We are working with colleagues at the US Department of Veterans Affairs to understand the epidemiology and risk factors for neurodegenerative disease in veterans.  Ongoing studies include modelling the trends in AD prevalence and incidence in Veterans and undertanding the relationship between commonly used asthma medications and AD.
  3. COVID-19 in Veterans.  We were funded by a UML seed grant to study COVID-19 in the VA.  We are working on projects to better understand the neurological manifestations and consequences of COVID-19 infection.
  4. Nutritional risk factors for cognitive decline and depression:  We are working with Dr. Katherine Tucker (UML) and the Puerto Rican Health Study, to examine the association between biomarkers of nutritional  status and cognition. Ongoing projects include studies of dietary, environmental and occupational risk factors for depression and cognitive decline.  Neha Sahasrabudhe and Tahani Boumenna are two doctoral students who are involve din this work.
  5. Serum Metabolomics in relation to cognition, cognitive decline and depression:  In collaboration with Prof Tucker and Prof Jong Son Lee (UML Mathematics/Biostatistics), we are conducting studies  of untargeted metabolomics in relation to cognitive function and depression within the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study (BPRHS).   Lillian Kuehl is a master’s student who is leading this work.
  6. Want to get involved?  We are looking for talented masters or doctoral students and post-doctoral associates.  Students with a strong background in data analytics (biostatistics, mathematics, computer science, bioinformatics), who are comfortable coding in R and/or SAS, are driven and independent learners and eager to master new tools and techniques are particularly encouraged to apply.  Please email with your CV and cover letter.

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