Cristian L. Achim, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pathology (Neuropathology), UCSD
Adjunct Associate Professor, the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute,
Director, HNRC Developmental Core, and TMARC Neuroscience Core, UCSD
Co-Director, TMARC, CNTN and the Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship in NeuroAIDS, UCSD
Member, SIRA, CFAR, and CTRI, UCSD
Office: Room 2066 BSB, School of Medicine
Research Background and Current Interests
Dr. Achim has received his medical degree followed by clinical residency (general medicine and infectious diseases) and research training (neurovirology) in Bucharest, Romania. At UCSD, Dr. Achim completed a postdoctoral fellowship in NeuroAIDS and received a PhD in Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Upon completion of his training at UCSD, Dr. Achim was recruited for a faculty position at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he reached the level of Associate Professor of Pathology and Neurology with tenure. At Pitt, in addition to continuing the work in NeuroAIDS, the research interests of Dr. Achim included experimental models of neurodegeneration, neuroprogenitor cells, neurotrophic factors, blood brain barrier pathology and neuroimaging. Upon his return to UCSD, Dr. Achim’s experimental neuropathology laboratory has focused on the molecular mechanisms of disease in HIV associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) and associated comorbidities, such as methamphetamine abuse and major depressive disorder. Areas of interest in these studies are: brain macrophages, neuroinflammation, chronic neuronal stress, axonal degeneration, abnormal protein aggregation, and neurotrophic response. Key molecules hypothesized to be involved in these processes are associated with glucocorticoid receptor and brain immunophilin signaling. In collaboration with the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center (HNRC), the Translational Methamphetamine AIDS Research Center (TMARC), the California NeuroAIDS Tissue Network (CNTN), and the NeuroPET Research Center, all at UCSD, Dr. Achim’s laboratory has developed new research paradigms based on clinico-pathologic correlations in HIV subjects with HAND with the goal of identifying new markers of brain disease and potential therapeutic targets. In conjunction with the HNRC International Core, Dr. Achim has developed a collaboration with AIDS clinicians in Romania studying the long term effects of HIV on the developing brain in a cohort of young adults surviving with the infection since the first years of life. More recently, in collaboration with the Stein Institute for Research on Aging (SIRA), Dr. Achim’s research group has also begun studying the the neurobiology of successful aging. The methodologies developed and research strategies employed by Dr. Achim’s laboratory include: a large brain autopsy collection from HIV subjects enrolled in longitudinal clinical studies with in-depth neuromedical and neuropsyhiatric data, digital neuropathology, immunofluorescence microscop, in vivo neuroimaging using PET ligands for amyloid deposition, experimental models of neurodegeneration, gene expression analysis including microRNA profiling and activity modulation.
Through the Interdisciplinary Research Fellowhip in NeuroAIDS (IRFN) and the seminar series associated with it Dr. Achim is involved in training and mentoring early career investigators. Also, the HNRC Developmental Core and the TMARC Neuroscience Core Pilot grant programs directed by Dr. Achim offer opportunities for young investigators to develop research projects relevant to NeuroAIDS.
Achim CL, Schrier RD and Wiley CA: Immunopathogenesis of HIV encephalitis. 1991. Brain Pathology, 1:177-184.
Wiley CA and Achim CL: HIV encephalitis is the pathological correlate of dementia in AIDS: Annals of Neurology. 1994. 36:673-676.
Achim CL, Miners DK, Burrola PG, Martin FC and Wiley CA: In vivo model of HIV infection of the human brain. Journal of Developmental Neuroscience. 1994. 15:423-432.
Achim CL, Katyal S, Wiley CA, Shiratori M, Wang G, Oshika E, Petersen BE, Li JM, Michalopoulos GK: Expression of HGF and cMet in the developing and adult brain. 1997. Developmental Brain Research, 102:299-303.
Sanders VJ, Pittman CA, White MG, Wang G, Wiley CA, Achim CL Chemokines and receptors in HIV encephalitis. 1998. AIDS, 12:1021-1026.
Soontornniyomkij V, Wang G, Pittman CA, Wiley CA, Achim CL. Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein in activated microglia of HIV-1 encephalitis. 1998. Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol, 24:453-460.
Sanders VJ, Mehta AP, White MG, Achim CL A murine model of HIV encephalitis: xenotransplantation of HIV infected human neuroglia into SCID mouse brain. 1998. Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol, 24:461-67.
Dallasta LM, Pisarov LA, Esplen JE, Werley JV, Moses AV, Nelson JA and Achim CL. Blood brain barrier tight junction disruption in HIVE. 1999. American Journal of Pathology, 155(6): 1915-1927.
Jordan-Sciutto KL, Murray Fenner BA, Wiley CA and Achim CL. Response of Cell Cycle Proteins to Neurotrophic Factor and Chemokine Stimulation in Human Neuroglia. 2001. Exp Neurol, 67: 205-214.
Avramut, M., Zeevi, A. and Achim, C.L. The immunosuppressive drug FK506 is a potent trophic agent for human fetal neurons. 2001. Developmental Brain Research. 132: 151-157.
Jordan-Sciutto KL, Dorsey R, Chalovic, EM, Hammond RR, Achim CL. Expression patterns of retinoblastoma protein in Parkinson’s disease. 2003. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 62: 68-74.\
Achim CL, Masliah E, Schindelar J, Avramut M. Immunophilin expression in the HIV infected brain. 2004. Journal of Neuroimmunology. 157:126-132.
Green DA, Masliah E, Vinters HV, Beizai P, Moore DJ, Achim CL. Brain deposition of beta-amyloid is a common pathologic feature in HIV positive patients. 2005. AIDS. 19:407-11.
Achim CL and Everall IP. HIV and Aging: The Nervous System. 2008. Informa Healthcare, NY, NY. Editor: Lee, S.D. p23-32.
Tatro, ET, Everall IP, Masliah E, Hult BJ, Lucero G, Chana G, Soontornniyomkij V and Achim CL. Differential Expression of Immunophilins FKBP51 and FKBP52 in the Frontal Cortex of HIV-Infected Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. 2009. J Neruoimmune Pharmacol. 4(2): 218-226.
Achim CL, Adame A, Dumaop W, Everall IP and Masliah E. Increased Accumulation of Intra-Neuronal Amyloid Beta in HIV-Infected Patients. 2009. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 4(2): 190-199.
Tatro ET, Everall IP, Kaul M and Achim CL. Modulation of Glucocorticoid Receptor Nuclear Translocation in Neurons by Immunophilins FKBP51 and FKBP52: Implications for Major Depressive Disorder. 2009. Brain Research. 1286: 1-12.
Tatro ET, Scott ER, Nguyen TB, Salaria S, Moore DJ, Masliah E, Achim CL, Everall IP: Evidence for Alteration of Gene Regulatory Networks through MicroRNAs of the HIV-Infected Brain: Novel Analysis of Retrospective Cases. 2010. PLoS One. 5(4): e10337. PMCID: 2859933
Soontornniyomkij V, Risbrough VB, Young JW, Wallace CK, Soontornniyomkij B, Jeste DV, Achim CL. Short-term recognition memory impairment is associated with decreased expression of FK506 binding protein 51 in the aged mouse brain. 2010. AGE. 32: 309-22. PMCID: 2926850.