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Sonia Villapol, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Academic Institute
Assistant Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College



Dr. Villapol graduated from the University of Santiago of Compostela, Spain in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. She received her Master´s degree and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain in 2007. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at CNRS in the University Pierre and Marie Curie VI and at INSERM in Paris, France (2007-2010); and at National Institute of Health (NIH) and Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at Uniformed Services University (USUHS) in Bethesda, MD (2010-2014). Following her postdoctoral research work, Dr. Villapol joined the Department of Neuroscience at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) as a Research Assistant Professor in May 2014. In July 2018, she started as an Assistant Professor to the Center for Neuroregeneration at Houston Methodist Research Institute. Dr. Villapol has received extramural research funding as Principal Investigator from NIH, and she serves as an Associate Editor for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (Springer Journal), and Review Editor for Frontiers in Neurotrauma. She has published over 40 articles in peer reviewer journals and book chapters. 

Description of Research

Dr. Villapol´s research interests have been mainly focused on elucidating the mechanisms of neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation or neurogenesis via several models of brain injury (traumatic brain injury or cerebral ischemia), and how inflammatory mediators connect the brain with the periphery.

Villapol lab focus is the pursuit of novel neurorestorative treatments for debilitating brain injuries to open the door to alternative therapies that repair and recovery in the damaged brain through the periphery.


Research Interests:

  • Cerebral ischemia and traumatic brain injury
  • Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration
  • Sex and gender differences in response to brain damage
  • Brain-Liver axis ~ Brain-gut-microbiome axis ~ Brain-Periphery axis
  • Glia activation
  • Neuroprotection and Neurorestoration


Research Methods:

  • Animal models of brain injury
  • Immunohistochemistry and microscopy analysis
  • Protein analysis
  • DNA and RNA purification
  • Sequence analysis


Areas Of Expertise

Stroke Inflammation Microbiome Immune activation Cerebral blood flow (CBF) Traumatic brain injury (TBI) Microglia Ischemia Apoptosis
Education & Training

PhD, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Serum Amyloid A is Expressed in the Brain After Traumatic Brain Injury in a Sex-Dependent Manner
Soriano, S, Moffet, B, Wicker, E & Villapol, S 2020, Cellular and molecular neurobiology.

Early sex differences in the immune-inflammatory responses to neonatal ischemic stroke
Villapol, S, Faivre, V, Joshi, P, Moretti, R, Besson, VC & Charriaut-Marlangue, C 2019, International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 20, no. 15, 3809.

Sexual dimorphism in the inflammatory response to traumatic brain injury.
Villapol, S 2019, National Neurotrauma Society Annual Meeting. 6/30/19 - 7/3/19, .

Serum Amyloid A Protein as a Potential Biomarker for Severity and Acute Outcome in Traumatic Brain Injury
Wicker, E, Benton, L, George, K, Furlow, W & Villapol, S 2019, BioMed Research International, vol. 2019, 5967816.

Traumatic brain injury in mice induces acute bacterial dysbiosis within the fecal microbiome
Treangen, TJ, Wagner, J, Burns, MP & Villapol, S 2018, Frontiers in immunology, vol. 9, no. NOV, 2757, pp. 2757.

Proteolytic Remodeling of Perineuronal Nets: Effects on Synaptic Plasticity and Neuronal Population Dynamics
Lorenzo Bozzelli, P, Alaiyed, S, Kim, E, Villapol, S & Conant, K 2018, Neural Plasticity, vol. 2018, 5735789, pp. 5735789.

Polypathology and Dementia After Brain Trauma: Does Brain Injury Trigger Distinct Neurodegenerative Diseases, or Should They be Classified Together as Traumatic Encephalopathy
Washington, PM, Villapol, S & Burns, MP 2018, . in J Victoroff & E Bigler (eds), Concussion and Traumatic Encephalopathy. Cambridge University Press, pp. 573-582.

Temporal patterns of cortical proliferation of glial cell populations after traumatic brain injury in mice
Susarla, BTS, Villapol, S, Yi, J-H, Geller, HM & Symes, AJ 2014, ASN Neuro, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 159-70.

Correction: Commercially available angiotensin II at2 receptor antibodies are nonspecific (PLoS ONE (2013) 8, 7 (e69234) DOI:10.1371/journal. pone.0069234)
Hafko, R, Villapol, S, Nostramo, R, Symes, A, Sabban, EL, Inagami, T & Saavedra, JM 2014, PloS one, vol. 9, no. 1.

Correction: Commercially available angiotensin II at2 receptor antibodies are nonspecific (PLoS ONE (2013) 8, 7 (e69234) DOI:10.1371/journal. pone.0069234)
Hafko, R, Villapol, S, Nostramo, R, Symes, A, Sabban, EL, Inagami, T & Saavedra, JM 2014, PloS one, vol. 9, no. 1.

Smad3 deficiency increases cortical and hippocampal neuronal loss following traumatic brain injury
Villapol, S, Wang, Y, Adams, M & Symes, AJ 2013, Experimental Neurology, vol. 250, pp. 353-65.

Role of TGF-ß Signaling in Neurogenic Regions After Brain Injury
Villapol, S, Logan, TT & Symes, AJ 2013, . in S Wislet (ed.), Trends in Cell Signaling Pathways in Neuronal Fate Decision. InTech, pp. 3-36.

Commercially available angiotensin II At2 receptor antibodies are nonspecific
Hafko, R, Villapol, S, Nostramo, R, Symes, A, Sabban, EL, Inagami, T & Saavedra, JM 2013, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 7, pp. e69234.

TGF-ß superfamily gene expression and induction of the Runx1 transcription factor in adult neurogenic regions after brain injury
Logan, TT, Villapol, S & Symes, AJ 2013, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. e59250.

Candesartan, an angiotensin II AT1-receptor blocker and PPAR-? agonist, reduces lesion volume and improves motor and memory function after traumatic brain injury in mice
Villapol, S, Yaszemski, AK, Logan, TT, Sánchez-Lemus, E, Saavedra, JM & Symes, AJ 2012, Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 37, no. 13, pp. 2817-29.

Inhaled nitric oxide reduces brain damage by collateral recruitment in a neonatal stroke model
Charriaut-Marlangue, C, Bonnin, P, Gharib, A, Leger, P-L, Villapol, S, Pocard, M, Gressens, P, Renolleau, S & Baud, O 2012, Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation, vol. 43, no. 11, pp. 3078-84.

Dual action of NO synthases on blood flow and infarct volume consecutive to neonatal focal cerebral ischemia
Bonnin, P, Leger, P-L, Villapol, S, Deroide, N, Gressens, P, Pocard, M, Renolleau, S, Baud, O & Charriaut-Marlangue, C 2012, Experimental Neurology, vol. 236, no. 1, pp. 50-7.

Melatonin promotes myelination by decreasing white matter inflammation after neonatal stroke
Villapol, S, Fau, S, Renolleau, S, Biran, V, Charriaut-Marlangue, C & Baud, O 2011, Pediatric Research, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 51-5.

Unilateral blood flow decrease induces bilateral and symmetric responses in the immature brain
Villapol, S, Bonnin, P, Fau, S, Baud, O, Renolleau, S & Charriaut-Marlangue, C 2009, American Journal of Pathology, vol. 175, no. 5, pp. 2111-20.

Astrocytic demise in the developing rat and human brain after hypoxic-ischemic damage
Gelot, A, Villapol, S, Billette de Villemeur, T, Renolleau, S & Charriaut-Marlangue, C 2009, Developmental Neuroscience, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 459-70.

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