UW Medicine

William Banks

William Banks


Professor, Division of Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine
Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science

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Decline in blood-brain barrier function during aging

Dr. Banks is Professor, Division of Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine and Associate Director for Research of the Puget Sound Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center. The major focus of his research is the study of how the brain and body communicate with one another through the transfer of informational molecules across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The Banks laboratory has shown that many regulatory proteins and peptides, which are some of the most potent information-conveying molecules in the body, can cross the BBB. This passage is often highly regulated and affected by aging and disease states. Work with how leptin and other feeding hormones cross the BBB gives insight into obesity and body weight control. Work with cytokine transport across the BBB helps to understand how the immune system and brain speak to one another under normal conditions and other pathological conditions, including dementia. Recent publications have addressed how exosomes cross the blood-brain barrier, viral transport, and changes of the BBB with traumatic brain injury, while Alzheimer’s disease and metabolic conditions continue to be of interest.