SCP Podcast Episode 223: Jonathan Kipnis, PhD

March 25, 2022

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In this episode, we chat with Jonathan Kipnis, Ph.D. – BJC Investigator. Jonathan Kipnis is a neuroscientist, immunologist, and professor of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine. His lab studies interactions between the immune system and nervous system. He is best known for his lab’s discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels in humans and mice, which has impacted research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, neuropsychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and Rett syndrome.

Kipnis is credited with the 2014 discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels, a recently discovered network of conventional lymphatic vessels located parallel to the dural sinuses and meningeal arteries of the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). As a part of the lymphatic system, meningeal lymphatics are responsible for draining immune cells, small molecules, and excess fluid from the CNS and into the deep cervical lymph nodes.

While it was initially believed that both the brain and meninges were devoid of lymphatic vasculature, the landmark Nature paper by Jonathan Kipnis and his postdoctoral fellow Antoine Louveau was published in 2015. By 2016, this paper was cited nearly 200 times.

His discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels was included in Scientific American’s “Top 10 Science Stories of 2015”, Science Magazine’s “Breakthrough of the Year”, Huffington Post’s “Eight Fascinating Things We Learned About the Mind in 2015” and the National Institutes of Health’s director Francis Collins year-end review.

Other research has included the 2015 discovery that the immune system directly affects social behavior and that IFN-gamma is necessary for social development. This expands upon his work as a graduate student when he discovered that mice lacking T-cells had cognitive impairments.  (Biography reference – Wikipedia) 

Highlights of this podcast include:

  • Menigineal immunity and functions
  • Functions of the glymphatics and meningeal lymphatics
  • Neuroimmune system 
  • Meningeal lymphatics draining the CNS
  • Immune system affects on the brain 
  • Pia, arachnoid, and dura mater
  • Difference between the Lymphatic system and the Glymphatic system
  • Aging and glymphatics
  • Brain tumors 
  • Sleep and glymphatic draining
  • Alzheimers
  • Immuno-therapies and combination therapies
  • And So Much More!

To learn more about Jonathan Kipnis PhD., please visit

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