Dr Gaia Brezzo
Research Fellow in Cerebral Vascular Disease and Dementia
Place of work / study:
UK Dementia Research Institute at The Edinburgh University
Area of Research:
My research focuses on understanding how immune alterations triggered by stroke shape chronic maladaptive neuroimmune responses that lead to post-stroke cognitive decline and vascular dementia. With the aim to manipulate these neuroimmune mechanisms to benefit cognition after stroke to prevent stroke survivors from developing vascular dementia. I also have a longstanding interest in investigating extracellular matrix changes in the context of cerebrovascular disease and how immune cells may play a role in shaping these changes.
How is your work funded?
Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in Milan, Italy and moved to the UK for my undergraduate degree (on my 18th birthday!) and haven’t left – it must be because of this glorious weather I kept hearing about. I discovered a love for cycling over the pandemic (the one COVID-19 silver lining) and have always enjoyed yoga – despite being stubbornly inflexible. I am a human to a ginger cat called Aizle (which means ‘ember’ in Gaelic) that has developed a reputation for always wanting to hog the camera at lab meeting or any type of meeting for that matter!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
I always get asked where I am from as no one can ever place my accent! And it probably is a tall order given I have lived in Wales, England and Scotland – picking up many isms along the way.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
I was always interested in how the brain works and how disease affects and changes the brain. I originally wanted to be a clinical psychologist, but a Neuroscience module in my second year of undergrand really sparked by interest in understanding the biological mechanisms behind brain-altering conditions like dementia.
What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?
Believe in yourself and find your ‘science family’. There will be times in your career that you will have doubts, think you aren’t working hard enough or aren’t smart enough to be here aka imposter syndrome 101. It’s so important to have that someone you can talk to, and say, actually, I can do this, this is exactly where I am meant to be at this time.
What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?
I have just finished reading The Push by Ashley Audrain. I love love love books that are character based and have a good psychological thriller/suspense element to them and this one was a right page turner! I would 100% recommend.