Eyiyemisi Damisah, MD: Understanding Aging and Cell Death


The assistant professor of neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine discussed the work that still needs to be done to understand the role cell death process might play in neurodegeneration as the human body ages.

“What we’re planning on doing now is to try to understand the molecular mechanisms of that interaction between astrocytes and microglia in an aged brain compared to a young brain.”

Recently, Eyiyemisi Damisah, MD, and colleagues conducted a work using photochemical and viral methodologies to induce death in single neurons to gain an understanding of the roles that microglia and astrocytes play in the process of cell death. While they observed an orchestrated and synchronized response from the players, with each glial cell operating in a specialize role, there is still much to learn.

In a conversation with NeurologyLive, Damisah, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine, offered her insights from their observations—the first such conducted in a live mammalian brain. Additionally, she explained the questions their work has raised around the relationship of this process with aging and neurodegeneration. Specifically, she noted that it is vitally important to understand how these processes are impacted molecularly as people age.

She also spoke to the process that they utilized to induce cell death, two-photon—mediated photochemically induced apoptosis (dubbed 2Phatal), and explored how that method might be expanded to help conduct further research in this area.


Damisah EC, Hill RA, Rai A, et al. Astrocytes and microglia play orchestrated roles and respect phagocytic territories during neuronal corpse removal in vivo. Science Advances. 2020;6(26):eaba3239. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aba3239.

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