Dr Leon Smyth completed his PhD with Professor Mike Dragunow at the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland. He has a background in neuroinflammation and blood-brain barrier biology, with specialist expertise in primary brain cell culture, immunofluorescence microscopy, secretome analysis, and image analysis
Dr Smyth is currently investigating the molecular basis of blood-brain barrier disruption by oxidants in Alzheimer’s disease. He is focussed on myeloperoxidase, a neutrophil enzyme that produces chlorine bleach, which accumulates in the brain blood vessels and brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. His uses primary brain cells to study the interactions of blood vessel cells (endothelia and pericytes), and how this may trigger the release of myeloperoxidase. He is also working to understand the how myeloperoxidase-derived oxidants can cause brain blood vessels to become leaky, by oxidising redox-sensitive cytoskeleton proteins.
Dr Smyth is funded by the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Philip Wrightson Postdoctoral Fellowship. He co-supervises PhD student Eve van Leeuwen.