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Principal Investigator

Sonia Villapol, Ph.D. 

Principal Investigator

  • Research Assistant Professor,

    • Georgetown University, Washington DC, 2014-2018.

  • Postdoctoral Fellow

    • USUHS/Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine in Bethesda, MD, 2010-2014

  • Special Voluntary / Postdoctoral Fellow

    • NIH, Bethesda, MD, 2011-2013.

  • Postdoctoral Fellow

    • INSERM in the Hospital Robert Debrê, Paris, France, 2009

  • Postdoctoral Fellow

    • CNRS in the University Pierre and Marie Curie VI, Paris, France, 2007

  • Ph.D. Neuroscience

    • Autonomous University of Barcelona, 2007

  • M.S. Neuroscience

    • Autonomous University of Barcelona, 2004

  • B.Sc. Molecular Biology

    • University of Santiago of Compostela, Spain, 2002


Dr. Villapol graduated from the University of Santiago of Compostela, Spain in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. She received her Master´s degree and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain in 2007. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at CNRS in the University Pierre and Marie Curie VI and at INSERM in Paris, France (2007-2010); and at National Institute of Health (NIH) and Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at Uniformed Services University (USUHS) in Bethesda, MD (2010-2014). Following her postdoctoral research work, Dr. Villapol joined the Department of Neuroscience at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) as a Research Assistant Professor in May 2014. In July 2018, she started as an Assistant Professor to the Center for Neuroregeneration at Houston Methodist Research Institute.

Dr. Villapol has received extramural research funding as Principal Investigator from NIH. She was awarded with an R03-NIH grant to study the neuropathology of brain damage, and recently R21-NIH grant to study the role of microbiome in the neuropathology of traumatic brain injury.  Dr. Villapol has so far authored over 40 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and her work has appeared in many top journals including Brain, Stroke, Glia, American Journal of Pathology, Experimental Neurology, Frontiers of Neurology, Neural Plasticity, or Molecular Neurodegeneration. Dr. Villapol serves as ad-hoc member of the Acute Neural Injury and Epilepsy NIH study section panel, and as a reviewer of grant applications for international funding agencies from Spain, Uruguay, and Israel. Dr. Villapol is Associate Editor of the Springer Journal “Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology”, and she is also a member of the Editorial Board of over 20 journals. 

Dr. Villapol’s research interests over the past decade have been mainly focused on elucidating the mechanisms of neurodegeneration, neurogenesis, or neuroinflammation via several models of brain injury, and how inflammatory mediators connect the brain with the periphery. To date Dr. Villapol’s research has mainly been dedicated towards the development of novel therapeutics to repair the brain after damage, focusing on endogenous inhibitors of apoptosis, nitric oxide, melatonin or angiotensin II receptor inhibitors and exploiting their protective roles in the brain. Her future research plan is fueled by her motivation of investigating the distinct, intricate aspects of the contribution of peripheral signals and microbiome to brain pathology. Villapol Lab goal is the pursuit of novel neurorestorative treatments for debilitating brain injuries and to open the door to alternative systemic therapies that may provide repair and recovery in the damaged brain.