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Profile for Luca Cucullo, PhD

Luca Cucullo

Luca Cucullo, PhD

  • Committee Member
  • Assistant Professor
Office Phone: 806-414-9237
Mail Address: 1300 S Coulter St
Amarillo TX 79106-1712



Dr. Cucullo joined the Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty in September of 2011. He received his doctoral degree in Pharmaceutical Technology /Biotechnology from the University of Pisa, School of Pharmacy, in 2000. He then continued his education engaging in a postdoctoral training at the Cleveland Clinic in the Dept. of Cell Biology/Cerebrovascular Research Center. There he began specializing in cerebrovascular modeling under the guidance of Prof. Damir Janigro, Ph.D. Prior to joining the School of Pharmacy Dr. Cucullo held the position of Project Scientist and Lab Manager of the Cerebrovascular Research Center and a secondary appointment as Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University-Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Dr. Cucullo research programs are currently funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01-DA02912; effects of tobacco smoke toxicity at the blood-brain barrier) and Alternative Research and Development Foundation (effect of hyper- and hypoglycemia on BBB physiology)

Research Interests

My research interest largely focused on the pathophysiology of tobacco smoke toxicity at the neurovascular unit. The goal of our research is to investigate both in vivo and in vitro the differential impact of tobacco smoke exposure from “reduced-exposure” versus regular cigarette brands. The study encompasses both identification of potential prodromal factors for the pathogenesis and progression of cerebrovascular impairment and brain disorders as well as potential countermeasures including antioxidant treatments. Our lab is also exploring the contribution of type-2 Diabetes mellitus in the pathogenesis and progression of major neurological disorders in connection with tobacco smoke. Existing evidence suggests that diabetes is a major risk factor for stroke and exacerbates a host of CNS pathologies through potential impairment of the blood-brain barrier. In addition , we are in the process of developing and validate a humanized in vitro liver platform (based on primary human endothelial-hepatocytes co-cultures on hollow fiber supports) for toxicological testing and characterization of liver-dependent drug biotransformation.

Selected Publications:

  • Kaisar MA, Prasad S, Cucullo L. Protecting the BBB endothelium against cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress using popular antioxidants: Are they really beneficial?. Brain research 2015;1627:90-100.
  • Sajja RK, Rahman S, Cucullo L. Drugs of abuse and blood-brain barrier endothelial dysfunction: A focus on the role of oxidative stress.. Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 2015.
  • Prasad S, Cucullo L. Impact of Tobacco Smoking and Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus on Public Health: A Cerebrovascular Perspective.. Journal of pharmacovigilance 2015;Suppl 2.
  • Naik P, Cucullo L. Pathobiology of tobacco smoking and neurovascular disorders: untied strings and alternative products.. Fluids and barriers of the CNS 2015;12:25.
  • Prasad S, Sajja RK, Park JH, Naik P, Kaisar MA, Cucullo L. Impact of cigarette smoke extract and hyperglycemic conditions on blood-brain barrier endothelial cells.. Fluids and barriers of the CNS 2015;12:18.