Dr. Rojas is an immunologist focusing on the role of intestinal immune cells in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. After obtaining her MD/PhD in Colombia, she pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Toronto with a focus on neuroinflammation in Multiple Sclerosis. Currently, her main research goal is to dissect how the peripheral and mucosal immune responses impact the brain in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease.
Recent research by Dr. Rojas, published in Cell, uncovered the role of intestinal Plasma cells in inflammation during neuroinflammation. These findings revealed that a subset of microbiome-specific IgA Plasma cells is key to fighting Experimental Acute Encephalomyelitis (EAE), a mouse model for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). These IgA-producing plasma cells can travel from the intestines to the central nervous system where they are found to suppress brain inflammation during MS flare-ups.
Currently, Dr. Rojas is interested in understanding the role of mucosal immune cells as a key intermediate of the gut-brain axis. Central to this question is understanding how intestinal immune cells can directly (by migration) or indirectly (by cytokines, chemokines) impact pathogenic processes in the brain in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease.
Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto