Brian Popko, PhD

Jack Miller Professor of Neurological Disorders
Director, The Center for Peripheral Neuropathy
Associate Chair for Research

Education & Training
  • Ph.D.: University of Miami, School of Medicine
Research Interests
  • Myelination: Dr. Popko's laboratory has a long-standing interest in the glial cells of the nervous system, particularly in those responsible for the formation of the myelin sheath. These interests range from a basic understanding of the myelination process to disease mechanisms, genetic and acquired, that disrupt this critical component of the nervous system. The genetic mouse models utilized by the Popko lab have been instrumental in expanding knowledge of the myelination process and of demyelinating disorders. Over the past two decades, Dr. Popko's studies have contributed to our understanding of myelin-specific proteins and lipids that play critical roles in myelin formation and maintenance. His lab also has a keen interest in the effect of the inflammatory response on myelinating cells, which is of critical importance to the pathogenesis of immune-mediated demyelinating disorders.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Dr. Popko is pursuing a better understanding of the molecules that are important to the development and maintenance of the peripheral nerve, again using mouse models as a key resource. The underlying hypothesis of this work is that the identification of susceptible pathways that have the potential to lead to peripheral nerve disorders in mice will be of practical value in the understanding of human peripheral neuropathies and in the assessment of prospective therapeutic approaches. Dr. Popko's efforts include the characterization of mutant and transgenic strains of mice with behavioral, physiological, histological, biochemical, and molecular approaches.
  • Dr. Popko's work has consistently been funded by the National Institutes of Health. His laboratory is also one of four participating laboratories funded by the private, non-profit Myelin Repair Foundation, which is devoted to promoting functional recovery in multiple sclerosis patients.
  • Co-Director and Lecturer, Neurobiology 322, Molecular Neurobiology
  • Lecturer, Neurobiology 146, Molecular Neurobiology
  • Lecturer, Neurobiology of Disease Course (CPNS 34700 / BIOS 24246
Selected Publications
  1. Elbaz B, Traka M, Kunjamma RB, Dukala D, Lutz AB, Anton ES, Barres BA, Soliven B, Popko B Adenomatous Polyposis Coli regulates radial axonal sorting and myelination in the PNS, Development, 2016 43(13):2356-66.
  2. Clayton BL, Popko B. Endoplasmic reticulum stress and the unfolded protein response in disorders of myelinating glia. Brain Research. 2016 in press.
  3. Way S, Popko B. Harnessing the Integrated Stress Response for the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. Lancet Neurology, 2016 15(4):434-43.
  4. Traka M, Podojil JR, Miller SD, Popko B Oligodendrocyte death results in immune-mediated CNS demyelination, Nature Neuroscience, 2016 19(1):65-74.
  5. Hussien Y, Podojil JR, Robinson AP, Lee AS, Miller SD, Popko B. The ER chaperone BiP/GRP78 is required for myelinating cell survival and provides protection during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Neuroscience. 2015, 35(48): 15921-15933.
  6. Way SW, Clayton BL, Podojil JR, Zaremba A, Collins TL, Kunjamma RB, Miller RH, Miller SD, Popko B. Pharmaceutical integrated stress response enhancement protects oligodendrocytes and provides a potential multiple sclerosis therapeutic. Nature Communications: 2015 Mar 13;6:6532.
  7. Hussien Y, Cavener DR, Popko B Genetic inactivation of PERK signaling in mouse oligodendrocytes: normal developmental myelination with increased susceptibility to inflammatory demyelination. Glia, 62(5):680-91. 2014.
  8. Lin W, Lin Y, Li J, Fenstermaker AG, Way S, Clayton B, Jamison S, Harding HP, Ron D, Popko B. Oligodendrocyte-specific activation of PERK signaling protects mice against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(14):5980-91, 2013
  9. Traka M, Millen KJ, Collins D, Elbaz B, Kidd GJ, Gomez CM, Popko B. WDR81 is necessary for Purkinje and photoreceptor cell survival. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(16):6834-44, 2013
  10. Popko B. Downregulating DR6 to Drive Remyelination. Nature Medicine, 17:779-80, 2011
  11. Bommiasamy H and Popko B. Mouse Models in the Study of the Unfolded Protein Response. Methods in Enzymology, 491:91-109, 2011
  12. Traka M, Arasi K, Avila RL, Podojil JR, MillerSD, Soliven B and Popko B. A new mouse model of adult-onset, pervasive CNS demyelination with robust remyelination. Brain, 133(10):3017-29, 2010.
  13. Popko B. Myelin maintenance: axonal support required. Nature Neuroscience 13(3):275-7, 2010.
  14. Howng SYB, Avila RL, Emery B, Traka M, LinW, Watkins T, Cook S, Bronson R, Davisson M, Barres BA, Popko B. ZFP191 is required by oligodendrocytes for CNS myelination. Genes and Development, 24(3):301-11, 2010.
  15. Douglas DS. Moran JL, Bermingham JR, Chen XJ, Brindley DN, Soliven B, Beier DR, Popko B. : Concurrent Lpin1 and Nrcam mouse mutations result in severe peripheral neuropathy with transitory hind limb paralysis. . J Neuroscience, 2009 29(39):12089-100
  16. Lin W, Popko B, Endoplasmic reticulum stress in disorders of myelinating cells. Nat.Neurosci, 12(14): 379-85, 2009.
  17. Traka M, Wollmann RL, Cerda SR, Dugas J, Barres BA, Popko B: Nur7 is a nonsense mutation in the mouse aspartoacylase gene that causes spongy degeneration of the CNS. J Neuroscience 2008 28(45):11537-11549.
  18. Chen XC, Levedakou EN, Millen KJ, Wollmann RL, Soliven B, Popko B: Proprioceptive Sensory Neuropathy in Mice with a Mutation in the Cytoplasmic Dynein Heavy Chain 1 Gene. J Neuroscience 27(52):14515-14524, 2007.
  19. Balabanov R, Strand K, Goswami R, McMahon E, Bgolka W, Miller SD, Popko B: Interferon-gamma-oligodendrocyte interactions in the regulation of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Neuroscience 27(8):2013-2024, 2007.
  20. Lin W, Bailey SL, Ho H, Harding HP, Ron D, Miller SD, Popko B: The integrated stress response prevents demyelination by protecting oligodendrocytes against immune-mediated damage. J Clin Invest 117(2):448-456, 2007.
  21. Balabanov R, Strand K, Kemper A, Lee JY and Popko B: Suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 expression protects oligodendrocytes from the deleterious effects of interferon-gamma. J Neuroscience 26(19):5143-52, 2006.
  22. Lin W, Harding HP, Ron D, Popko B: ER Stress Modulates the Response of Myelinating Oligodendrocytes to the Immune Cytokine Interferon-γ. J Cell Biol 169:603-612, 2005.
  23. Levedakou EN, Chen XJ, Soliven B and Popko B: Disruption of the mouse Large gene in the enr and myd mutants results in nerve, muscle, and neuromuscular junction defects. Mol Cell Neuroscience 28:757-69, 2005.
  24. Lin W, Kemper A, McCarthy KD, Pytel P, Wang JP, Campbell IL, Utset MF, Popko B: Interferon-gamma Induced Medulloblastoma in the Developing Cerebellum. J Neuroscience 24:10074-10083, 2004.