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Vassilis E. Koliatsos, M.D.

Photo of Dr. Vassilis E. Koliatsos, M.D.

Professor of Pathology

Research Interests: Brain blast injury; Traumatic and degenerative brain injury and repair; Alzheimers disease


Dr. Vassilis Koliatsos is a professor of pathology, neurology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His primary research interest is the mechanisms of traumatic and degenerative brain injury and repair.

Dr. Koliatsos’ research focuses on cellular therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and traumatic brain injuries, particularly blast-related traumatic brain injury.

He earned his M.D. from the University of Athens Medical School in Greece. He completed a residency in internal medicine and neurology at Crete Naval Hospital, a psychiatry fellowship at University of Athens Medical School, and a neurology fellowship at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He completed an internship in internal medicine at Franklin Square Hospital, followed by a residency in psychiatry at Sheppard Pratt Hospital. more


  • Professor of Pathology
  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Professor of Neurology

Departments / Divisions


Additional Training

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, 1987, Neurology Fellowship; University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece, 1987, Psychiatry Fellowship; Sheppard Pratt Hospital, Towson, MD, 1997, Psychiatry; Franklin Square Hospital, Baltimore, MD, 1994, Internal Medicine; Crete Naval Hospital, Crete, Greece, 1983, Internal Medicine/Neurology

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Koliatsos’ research focuses primarily on the mechanisms of traumatic and degenerative brain injury and repair.

He approaches these problems pathophysiologically, seeking to understand how a normal physiological process when working improperly can cause certain neurodegenerative disease. For instance, programmed cell death is a pivotal developmental mechanism for organism and organ formation, but excessive cell death signaling can cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Previous work in his lab characterized a number of neurotrophic peptides for key populations of neurons in the brain and spinal cord and also demonstrated the role of programmed cell death in an index neurodegenerative disorder like Huntington’s disease.

More recently, Dr. Koliatsos has studied cellular therapies for degenerative and traumatic diseases of the nervous system. His team has worked on several lines of neural stem cells and have recently published pivotal studies showing efficacy of stem cell grafts in animal models of ALS. The purpose of his current work is to apply some of the lessons from this research to neocortical and limbic circuits implicated in memory and complex behaviors. To this effect, he is characterizing the role of small GABAergic cortical interneurons that serve as sensors of injury and may be actively engaged in both scavenging injured pyramidal neurons and laying the groundwork for ongoing cueing of neurons that emerge from existing neurogenic niches of the adult brain.


The Koliatsos lab focuses on cellular therapies for neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic brain injuries. His team is characterizing the role of small GABAergic cortical interneurons, neurons that serve as sensors of injury, but may also scavenge injured neurons and cue adult stem cells in the brain. Using a mouse model of brain blast injury, Koliatsos studies immediate brain circuit disruption and chronic neurodegenerative side effects, as well as develops therapeutic strategies to prevent or repair damage. The group has successfully used neural stem cells to create grafts in animal models of ALS and spinal cord injury, too.

Lab Website: Koliatsos Laboratory

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

  1. Rossi SL, Mahairaki V, Zhou L, Song Y, Koliatsos VE. Remodeling of the piriform cortex after lesion in adult rodents. Neuroreport. 2014 Sep 10;25(13):1006-12. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000203.
  2. Xu L, Mahairaki V, Koliatsos VE. Host induction by transplanted neural stem cells in the spinal cord: further evidence for an adult spinal cord neurogenic niche. Regen Med. 2012 Nov;7(6):785-97. doi: 10.2217/rme.12.76.
  3. Xu L, Shen P, Hazel T, Johe K, Koliatsos VE. Dual transplantation of human neural stem cells into cervical and lumbar cord ameliorates motor neuron disease in SOD1 transgenic rats. Neurosci Lett. 2011 May 2;494(3):222-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.03.017. Epub 2011 Mar 21.
  4. Koliatsos VE, Cernak I, Xu L, Song Y, Savonenko A, Crain BJ, Eberhart CG, Frangakis CE, Melnikova T, Kim H, Lee D. A mouse model of blast injury to brain: initial pathological, neuropathological, and behavioral characterization. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2011 May;70(5):399-416. doi: 10.1097/NEN.0b013e3182189f06.
  5. Burridge PW, Thompson S, Millrod MA, Weinberg S, Yuan X, Peters A, Mahairaki V, Koliatsos VE, Tung L, Zambidis ET. A universal system for highly efficient cardiac differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells that eliminates interline variability. PLoS One. 2011 Apr 8;6(4):e18293. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018293.
  6. Mahairaki V, Lim SH, Christopherson GT, Xu L, Nasonkin I, Yu C, Mao HQ and Koliatsos VE. "Human neural stem cell-nanofiber preparations promote axonal regeneration in vitro." Tissue Eng, Part A 17(5-6): 855-63, 2011.
  7. Nasonkin I, Mahairaki V, Xu L, Hatfield G, Cummings B, Eberhart C, Ryugo DK and Koliatsos VE. "Advanced differentiation of human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors grafted into the adult mammalian neostriatum." Stem Cells, 27(10): 2414-26, 2009.
  8. Yan J, Welsh AM, Xu L, Johe K and Koliatsos VE. "Large-scale survival, differentiation and structural integration of human neural stem cells grafted into the adult rat spinal cord." PLoS Medicine, 4(2): 318-332, 2007.

Xu L, Ryu J, Hiel H, Menon A, Aggarwal A, Rha E, Mahairaki V, Cummings BJ, Koliatsos VE: Transplantation of human oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in an animal model of diffuse traumatic axonal injury: survival and differentiation. Stem Cell Research and Therapy, in press

Sisniega A, Zbijewski W, Xu J, Dang H, Stayman J, Yorkston J, Aygun N, Koliatsos VE, Siewerdsen JH: High-fidelity artifact correction for cone-beam CT imaging of the brain. Physics in Medicine and Biology 60(4):1415-39, 2015.

Ryu J, Horkayne I, Plenticova O, Xu, L, Eberhart CG, Troncoso JC and Koliatsos VE: The problem of axonal injury in the brains of veterans with histories of blast exposure. Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2(1) 153; Nov 25, 2014.

Xu L, Nguyen J, Lehar M, Menon A, Rha E, Arena J, Ryu J, Marmarou C, Marsh-Armstrong N and Koliatsos VE: A mouse model of repeat mild traumatic brain injury: selective multifocal axonopathy, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration in the visual system. Exp Neurol. pii: S0014-4886(14)00364-1. 2014.

Mahairaki V, Ryu J., Peters A, Park TS, Burridge PW, Zambidis ET and Koliatsos VE: Transgene-free familial Alzheimers disease-derived iPSCs differentiate into mature neurons with pathogenic properties. Stem Cells Dev., 2014 Aug 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Cernak I, Merkle AC, Koliatsos VE, Bilik J, Luong Q, Mahota T, Xu L, Slack N, Windle D and Ahmed FA: The pathobiology of blast injuries and blast-induced neurotrauma as identified using a new experimental model of injury in mice. Neurobiol. Dis., 41(2):538-51, 2011.

Nasonkin I, Mahairaki V, Xu L, Hatfield G, Cummings B, Eberhart C, Ryugo DK and Koliatsos VE: Long-term, stable differentiation of human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors grafted into the adult mammalian neostriatum. Stem Cells, 27(10): 2414-26, 2009.

Yan J, Xu L, Welsh AM, Hatfield G, Hazel T, Johe K, Koliatsos VE. Extensive neuronal differentiation of human neural stem cell grafts in adult rat spinal cord. PLoS Medicine, 4(2):318-332, 2007.

Xu L, Yan J, Chen D, Welsh AM , Hazel T, Johe K, Hatfield G , Koliatsos VE: Human neural stem cell grafts ameliorate motor neuron disease in SOD-1 transgenic rats. Transplantation, 82(7):865-875, 2006.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Graduate Program in Pathobiology

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