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Pablo Lituma, PhD

2023 Leon Levy Scholar

Weill Cornell Medicine


Weill Cornell Medicine (Advisor: Dr. Dilek Colak)

Sub-disciplinary Category

Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience

Previous Positions

  • BSc, SUNY at Stony Brook
  • MSc, Long Island University – C.W. Post (Advisor: Dr. Marc Fink)
  • PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Advisor: Dr. Pablo Castillo)


Pablo J. Lituma attended Stony Brook University and obtained his B.Sc. in Biochemistry with Cum Laude recognition. At Stony Brook, he worked as a Research Technician in the lab of Dr. Lawrence Morin investigating the neurobiology of circadian rhythms. His desire to understand the role of biochemical cascades in neurobiology motivated him to pursue graduate education at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Under Dr. Pablo Castillo’s mentorship and with the support of an NRSA-F31 fellowship, Pablo tackled many exciting questions in neuroscience. His thesis work and collaborations allowed him to investigate neurotransmitter release, neuro-glia interactions, neurogenetics, and neurotransplantation. As a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Dilek Colak at Weill Cornell Medicine, Pablo aims to elucidate the role of astrocytic dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Research Summary

The role of RNA regulation in non-neuronal brain cells and its impact on neuronal function.

Technical Overview

The regulation of nucleic acids is essential for genomic function of all living things. One such regulatory mechanism is  non-sense mediated RNA decay (NMD), which allows for the regulation of aberrant RNAs to prevent the production of truncated proteins. Defining the role of NMD core proteins in glia cells of the brain is crucial, as mutations in these proteins are associated with intellectual disability, autism, schizophrenia, and attention disorders. Dr. Pablo Lituma aims to examine the role of NMD core proteins specifically in glia cells of the brain in mice using mouse genetics, cellular-molecular assays, bioinformatics, and behavioral analyses. His preliminary data suggest that astrocytic NMD deficiency could influence animal behavior, indicating that both therapeutic interventions during human fetal brain development and NMD gene mutation screenings may minimize the severity of brain ailments through early diagnosis.