Karen H. Gylys, PhD, RN

Position Title


"I am passionate about making a difference in understanding such a complex and devastating disease. Effective therapies are urgently needed, and understanding exactly what goes wrong is an essential first step." Karen Gylys, a professor with the UCLA School of Nursing, has clinical expertise in cardiac and critical care nursing. Using mouse models and postmortem brain tissue from Alzheimer’s and control patients, her lab studies the pathways that lead to synapse damage and loss in Alzheimer’s disease. A second major focus is the study of early AD-related changes that show up in blood. In collaborative projects with the Easton Center for Alzheimer's Research at UCLA, clinical trials measure cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma biomarkers in subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). One trial goal is to discover a blood test that will identify Alzheimer's patients early in the disease and track patient response to therapies. As a nurse, Dr. Gylys is confident that her laboratory findings will significantly help to improve clinical outcomes.  Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest Alzheimer's disease brain, synapses degeneration, postmortem Alzheimer's tissue, transgenic mouse models, synaptosome preparation, plasma biomarkers


Academic/Administrative Appointment



Research and Scholarship

Research: My laboratory studies pathways leading to synapse loss in Alzheimer’s. Many in the field hold the hypothesis that Alzheimer’s disease begins in the synapse, and it’s important to define the earliest molecular changes, when there may be opportunity for reversal. My lab has developed methods for flow cytometry analysis of synaptosomes, which are resealed nerve terminals obtained by homogenization of brain in sucrose. We study postmortem human tissue from Alzheimer’s and control patients, as well as transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. A main focus is the mechanism by which apolipoprotein E contributes to genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. Collaborative projects with the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research at UCLA are directed at finding CSF and blood biomarkers for early identification and monitoring of treatments in AD patients.



N115 Pharmacology and Therapeutics (BSN program) N224 Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nurses N225A,B Advanced Pharmacology (MECN) N204: Research Design and Critique


Professional Activities

Member, Society for Neuroscience Member, UCLA Brain Research Institute Member, UCLA Faculty with Interest in Aging Faculty, Center for the Advancement of Gerontological Nursing Sciences, UCLA SON Faculty, Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program, UCLA School of Medicine Faculty, Mary Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research at UCLA Faculty, UCLA Center for Integrative Center for Learning and Memory



University of Texas, Arlington, BSN, 1982, Nursing University of Texas, Dallas, MS, 1985, Human Development University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, PhD, 1993, Neuroscience


Honors and Awards

1990 NIMH Mental Health Training Fellowship-UCLA 1991 Chancellor’s Dissertation Year Fellowship, UCLA 1994-1997 NIDA National Research Service Award, UCLA-NPI 2001-2002 UCLA Faculty Career Development Award 2009 Member, BDCN-J Special Emphasis Panel, Center for Scientific Review, NIH 2009-2010 Ad hoc member, Clinical Neuroscience and Neurodegeneration (CNN) Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, NIH 2010 Reviewer, Medical Research Council, UK 2012 Ad hoc member, Chronic Dysfunction and Integrative Neurodegeneration (CDIN) Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, NIH



Sokolow Sophie, Henkins Kristen M, Bilousova Tina, Miller Carol A, Vinters Harry V, Poon Wayne, Cole Gregory M, Gylys Karen Hoppens (2012) AD synapses contain abundant Aβ monomer and multiple soluble oligomers, including a 56-kDa assembly.. Neurobiology of aging 33(8): 1545-55.

Arold Stephen, Sullivan Patrick, Bilousova Tina, Teng Edmond, Miller Carol A, Poon Wayne W, Vinters Harry V, Cornwell Lindsey B, Saing Tommy, Cole Gregory M, Gylys Karen Hoppens (2012) Apolipoprotein E level and cholesterol are associated with reduced synaptic amyloid beta in Alzheimer's disease and apoE TR mouse cortex.. Acta neuropathologica. 123(1): 39-52.

Ringman John M, Coppola Giovanni, Elashoff David, Rodriguez-Agudelo Yaneth, Medina Luis D, Gylys Karen, Cummings Jeffrey L, Cole Greg M (2012) Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers and proximity to diagnosis in preclinical familial Alzheimer's disease. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders.33(1): 1-5.

Ringman John M, Tomic Jennifer L, Coppola Giovanni, Elashoff David, Gylys Karen H, Glabe Charles G (2012) Conformation-dependent oligomers in cerebrospinal fluid of presymptomatic familial Alzheimer's disease mutation carriers.. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders extra. 2(1): 652-7.

Henkins Kristen M, Sokolow Sophie, Miller Carol A, Vinters Harry V, Poon Wayne W, Cornwell Lindsey B, Saing Tommy, Gylys Karen Hoppens (2012) Extensive p-tau pathology and SDS-stable p-tau oligomers in Alzheimer's cortical synapses.. Brain pathology (Zurich, Switzerland). 22(6): 826-33.

Sokolow Sophie, Henkins Kristen M, Williams Iris A, Vinters Harry V, Schmid Ingrid, Cole Gregory M, Gylys Karen H (2012) Isolation of synaptic terminals from Alzheimer's disease cortex.. Cytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology. 81(3): 248-54.

Ringman John M, Frautschy Sally A, Teng Edmond, Begum Aynun N, Bardens Jenny, Beigi Maryam, Gylys Karen H, Badmaev Vladimir, Heath Dennis D, Apostolova Liana G, Porter Verna, Vanek Zeba, Marshall Gad A, Hellemann Gerhard, Sugar Catherine, Masterman Donna L, Montine Thomas J, Cummings Jeffrey L, Cole Greg M (2012) Oral curcumin for Alzheimer's disease: tolerability and efficacy in a 24-week randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study.. Alzheimer's research & therapy. 4(5): 43.

Ringman John M, Elashoff David, Geschwind Daniel H, Welsh Brian T, Gylys Karen H, Lee Cathy, Cummings Jeffrey L, Cole Greg M (2012)Plasma signaling proteins in persons at genetic risk for Alzheimer disease: influence of APOE genotype.. Archives of neurology. 69(6): 757-64.

Sokolow Sophie, Luu Sanh H, Nandy Karabi, Miller Carol A, Vinters Harry V, Poon Wayne W, Gylys Karen H (2012) Preferential accumulation of amyloid-beta in presynaptic glutamatergic terminals (VGluT1 and VGluT2) in Alzheimer's disease cortex.. Neurobiology of disease. 45(1): 381-7.

Ringman John M, Schulman Howard, Becker Chris, Jones Ted, Bai Yuchen, Immermann Fred, Cole Gregory, Sokolow Sophie, Gylys Karen, Geschwind Daniel H, Cummings Jeffrey L, Wan Hong I (2012) Proteomic changes in cerebrospinal fluid of presymptomatic and affected persons carrying familial Alzheimer disease mutations.. Archives of neurology. 69(1): 96-104.

Ringman John M, Gylys Karen H, Medina Luis D, Fox Michelle, Kepe Vladimir, Flores Deborah L, Apostolova Liana G, Barrio Jorge R, Small Gary, Silverman Daniel H, Siu Erin, Cederbaum Stephen, Hecimovic Silva, Malnar Martina, Chakraverty Suma, Goate Alison M, Bird Thomas D, Leverenz James B Biochemical, neuropathological, and neuroimaging characteristics of early-onset Alzheimer's disease due to a novel PSEN1 mutation.. Neuroscience letters. 2011; 487(3): 287-92.

Sokolow Sophie, Luu Sanh H, Headley Alison J, Hanson Alecia Y, Kim Taeree, Miller Carol A, Vinters Harry V, Gylys Karen H High levels of synaptosomal Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchangers (NCX1, NCX2, NCX3) co-localized with amyloid-beta in human cerebral cortex affected by Alzheimer's disease.. Cell calcium. 2011; 49(4): 208-16.

Gylys, Karen H., Fein, Jeffrey A and Cole, Gregory M. Flow cytometric analysis of a crude synaptosomal fraction (P-2) from rat brain. Journal of Neurosci Res. Journal of Neurosci Res 2000; 61(8): 186-192.


Research Interests & Expertise
Alzheimer's disease brain, Synapses degeneration, Postmortem Alzheimer's tissue, Transgenic mouse models, Synaptosome preparation, Plasma biomarkers