Lester Drewes


Research Summary

The brain depends upon a supply of blood-borne nutrients to maintain its physiological function. A hallmark characteristic of the brain vasculature is an endothelium with tight occluding junctions at positions of cell-cell contact. This absence of spaces between cells prevents bulk diffusion of plasma components into the surrounding tissue. The net result of this "blood-brain barrier" is that influx and efflux of metabolic substrates and nutrients (including glucose, amino acids, and nucleosides) across the brain vasculature must occur via transport systems located in the luminal and abluminal plasma membranes of the endothelial cell. For example, glucose is the primary substrate for brain metabolism and is transported into cells via specific membrane carriers. Under normal glycemic conditions, GLUT1 and GLUT3 are the known members of the glucose transporter family responsible for carrying glucose from the blood and into the cells of the brain. This includes transport across both the luminal and abluminal sides of the endothelial cell and the plasma membranes of the neuronal and glial cells. Although recent studies have greatly expanded our knowledge about glucose transporters in several tissues, much less is currently known about these integral membrane proteins in the brain or how they are regulated in response to pathophysiological conditions. The long-term goals of my research are to characterize the molecular process by which nutrients are transported through the cells comprising the blood-brain barrier (endothelial cells) and the blood-CSF barrier (epithelial cells of the choroid plexus). These goals include an understanding of the molecular identity of the transporters, the membrane sites where transporters are located, the kinetic characteristics of substrate and inhibitor specificity, and, in the future, the mechanisms regulating trans porter activity and expression. Research describing the molecular events of blood-brain transport may be valuable in understanding neurological dysfunctions associated with stroke, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic encephalopathies. Indeed, it could lead to treatment s for minimizing these dysfunctions or for designing therapeutic strategies.

Research Interests
blood-brain barrier


PhD, University of Minnesota
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Organic Chemistry, Microbiology
BS, Capital Unviersity
Major: Chemistry

Fellowships, Residencies, and Visiting Engagements

Sabbatical Leave, Visiting Scholar
The Johns Hopkins University and Kennedy Institute (G. Goldstein)
Sabbatical Leave, Visiting Scholar
Panum Institute (C. Crone), University of Copenhagen and Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (K.-A Hossmann)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Fellowship
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Honors and Recognition

International Brain Barriers Society Award, International CVB Conference
CVB Recognition Award, International Conference on CVB
Outstanding Service Recognition, Cerebral Vascular Biology Conference
Naito Foundation Award (Japan)
Nagai Foundation (Tokyo) Distinguished Lectureship
Alumni Achievement Award, Capital University
Lynen Postdoctoral Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, National Institutes of Health
Frederick C. Goetz Award, American Diabetes Association-Minnesota Affiliate
Bacaner Award, Minnesota Medical Foundation
Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship Award
National Cancer Institute Postdoctoral Fellow

Professional Memberships

American Association for the Advancement of Science
Sigma Xi
International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
International Society for Neurochemistry
American Society for Neurochemistry
International Brain Barriers Society
Society for Neuroscience
American Physiological Society
American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Grants and Patents

Grants and Patents


Therapeutic Compounds. Issued: 2017
Antibodies against the rat monocarboxylate transporter MCT1 and MCT2.
Treatment or therapies involving blood-brain barrier transporters in treatment or prevention of stroke.
Methods and compositions to prevent or reduce ischemic damage and reperfusion injury in tissues and organs.
Ischemia/reperfusion protection compositions and methods of using.
schemia/reperfusion protection compositions and methods of using.
Ischemia/reperfusion protection compositions and methods of using.
Ischemia/reperfusion protection compositions and methods of using.
Ischemia/reperfusion protection compositions and methods of using.
Ischemia/reperfusion protection compositions and methods of using.
Blood Loss Therapy, Tamniasyn.
Therapeutic Compounds.
Therapeutic Compounds.



Department of Biomedical Sciences
251 SMed
1035 University Dr
Duluth, MN 55812