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Maria Laura Allende, Ph.D.

Photo of Maria Allende
Scientific Focus Areas: Cell Biology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Professional Experience

  • Staff Scientist, NIDDK, NIH, 2005–present
  • Research Fellow, NIDDK, NIH, 1999–2005
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Dentistry, University of Louisville, 1996–1999
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Chemical Sciences, National University of Cordoba, Argentina, 1995–1996
  • Ph.D. Fellow, School of Chemical Sciences, National University of Cordoba, Argentina, 1991–1995
  • Instructor, School of Chemical Sciences, National University of Cordoba, Argentina, 1990-1996
  • Ph.D., School of Chemical Sciences, National University of Cordoba, Argentina, 1995
  • Chemist, School of Chemical Sciences, National University of Cordoba, Argentina, 1985-1989

Research Goal

I am interested in understanding the role of sphingolipids in physiology and during disease processes.

Current Research

The goal of my research is the study of the function of sphingolipids, a class of lipids that are essential constituents of the cell membranes, and signaling molecules. They are abundant in the nervous system, adipose tissue and in the liver. They are involved in processes such as proliferation, nerve conduction, skin permeability and lymphocyte migration. Overall, I am involved in projects aimed at understanding the role of sphingolipids during development and in the process of disease using mouse models and cell lines in vitro. We are studying the functions of sphingolipids by inducing genetic modifications on the genes involved in sphingolipid synthesis and degradation -either by deleting a gene, adding it to the genome, or altering its regulatory elements- and further analyzing the resulting phenotypes. This knowledge can be extrapolated to human physiology.

Applying our Research

Our research on basic areas of the biology of sphingolipids could potentially be clinically relevant in many areas of human disease, including autoimmunity and inflammatory processes, obesity, and obesity-related complications such as type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis and neurodegenerative disorders.

Need for Further Study

Our research focus on the discovery of novel areas of the physiology regulated by sphingolipids, with the ultimate goal of developing potential therapies to treat disorders in which these lipids are involved.

Select Publications

The Ormdl genes regulate the sphingolipid synthesis pathway to ensure proper myelination and neurologic function in mice.
Clarke BA, Majumder S, Zhu H, Lee YT, Kono M, Li C, Khanna C, Blain H, Schwartz R, Huso VL, Byrnes C, Tuymetova G, Dunn TM, Allende ML, Proia RL.
Elife (2019 Dec 27) 8. Abstract/Full Text
Human GLB1 knockout cerebral organoids: A model system for testing AAV9-mediated GLB1 gene therapy for reducing GM1 ganglioside storage in GM1 gangliosidosis.
Latour YL, Yoon R, Thomas SE, Grant C, Li C, Sena-Esteves M, Allende ML, Proia RL, Tifft CJ.
Mol Genet Metab Rep (2019 Dec) 21:100513. Abstract/Full Text
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Research in Plain Language

My research focus on the use of in vivo and in vitro models to study the function of sphingolipids during development and disease. We use a genetic approach, by inducing modifications on the genes involved in sphingolipid synthesis and degradation.