Dr. Stins studies how activation of the blood brain barrier (BBB) endothelium (lining of the blood vessels in the brain) by microbes can affect the underlying brain cells, such as astrocytes and neurons. She is particularly focused on the responses of BBB to Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes as occurs in cerebral malaria.
In contrast to most other microbes, in cerebral malaria, the Plasmodium parasite does not cross into the brain, but still causes coma and seizures. Upon treatment of malaria, neurologic sequelae can persist throughout life.
Dr. Stins is also interested in the effects of alcohol on the BBB endothelium and how this relates to astro-neuronal function. Her research focuses on the role that inflammation of the BBB and the resulting release of chemokines and growth factors towards the brain side of the blood vessels plays in the modulation of astroglial cells and neuronal function.
She participates in multiple national and international collaborations exploring microbial interactions and crossing of drugs into the central nervous system.