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Kaliris Salas-Ramirez
Title Dr.
Faculty Rank Assistant Medical Professor
Degree PhD
Institution City College, CUNY
Department Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Clusters Cancer
Neurological Disorders and Mental Health
Women's Health and Reproductive Biology
160 Convent Ave
City New York
State NY
Postal Code 10031
Telephone 212-650-7758
Fax 212-650-7726
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  Approximately 36.8 million Americans aged 12 and older had tried cocaine at least once in their lifetimes, representing 14.7% of the population aged 12 and older. The focus of Dr. Kaliris Salas-Ramírez’s work is to understand how sex influences the behavioral and neuronal effects of cocaine at critical periods of development. Her studies have determined that cocaine has long-term effects of cognition on male and female rodents exposed to cocaine during gestation and adolescence, but not in adulthood. Her future studies are focused on what occurs in brain that results in these behavioral anomalies. Most of her work is addressing the mechanisms that impact neural plasticity such as neurogenesis and neuronal structure, which have been related back to cognitive dysfunction. The goal of these studies are to establish some of the mechanisms that cause the behavioral deficits already established after cocaine exposure, establish whether there are sex differences on how brain and behavior are impacted and, eventually, to identify potential interventions to ameliorate the long-term consequences of cocaine exposure. These would include both non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions.

Dr. Salas-Ramírez’s work has also focused on the long-term impact androgens have on male brain during adolescence and adulthood. A second set of studies that will be performed in her laboratory focus on how the lack of androgens in aged animals can impact cognitive function and if exercise is a viable intervention if any deficits are observed. These will be performed in parallel with human studies in a collaboration established with Dr. Christian Nelson at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) with elderly males that suffer through prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States with over 190,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010. These studies seek to generate data that explore neurological mechanisms underlying the relationship between exercise and cognitive functioning, and demonstrate a “proof of concept” that exercise can be an effective intervention for cognitive functioning in men on androgen ablation therapy.

Finally, Dr. Salas-Ramirez has a long standing collaboration with Dr. Karen Hubbard in the Department of Biology where they tackle the question of how chemotherapy can impact cognition in a an animal model. Chemotherapy has been shown to affect female behavior for up to ten year after exposure. Therefore, she and Dr. Hubbard are trying to understand the extent of the cognitive deficits produced by chemotherapy, what neuroanatomical features are impacted by chemotherapy and finally what the specific synaptic plasticity molecules are regulating these behavioral and anatomical changes. The goal of these studies is to further elucidate the effects of chemotherapy on behavior in order to propose a better quality of life for cancer patients.

Dr. Salas-Ramirez is a behavioral pharmacologist and neuroendocrinologist by training. She research program addresses questions on development, sex differences, interventions and drug exposure by taking a systems approach initially and working down to the molecular level.

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1. Salas-Ramirez KY, Bagnall C, Frias L, Abdali SA, Ahles TA, Hubbard K. Doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide induce cognitive dysfunction and activate the ERK and AKT signaling pathways. Behav Brain Res. 2015 Oct 01; 292:133-41.
2. De Lorme KC, Schulz KM, Salas-Ramirez KY, Sisk CL. Pubertal testosterone organizes regional volume and neuronal number within the medial amygdala of adult male Syrian hamsters. Brain Res. 2012 Jun 15; 1460:33-40.
3. Frankfurt M, Salas-Ramirez K, Friedman E, Luine V. Cocaine alters dendritic spine density in cortical and subcortical brain regions of the postpartum and virgin female rat. Synapse. 2011 Sep; 65(9):955-61.
4. Salas-Ramirez KY, Frankfurt M, Alexander A, Luine VN, Friedman E. Prenatal cocaine exposure increases anxiety, impairs cognitive function and increases dendritic spine density in adult rats: influence of sex. Neuroscience. 2010 Sep 01; 169(3):1287-95.
5. Salas-Ramirez KY, Montalto PR, Sisk CL. Anabolic steroids have long-lasting effects on male social behaviors. Behav Brain Res. 2010 Apr 02; 208(2):328-35.
6. Schulz KM, Zehr JL, Salas-Ramirez KY, Sisk CL. Testosterone programs adult social behavior before and during, but not after, adolescence. Endocrinology. 2009 Aug; 150(8):3690-8.
7. Salas-Ramirez KY, Montalto PR, Sisk CL. Anabolic androgenic steroids differentially affect social behaviors in adolescent and adult male Syrian hamsters. Horm Behav. 2008 Feb; 53(2):378-85.

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