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Kim Heidenreich, PhD

Professor Emerita

Contact Information:

University of Colorado Denver
Department of Pharmacology
Mail Stop 8303, RC1-North
12800 East 19th Ave
Aurora CO 80045

Phone: (303) 724-3602
Fax: (303) 724-3663
curriculum vitae

Affiliated Programs


Kim A. Heidenreich is Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She also serves on the Keystone Scientific Advisory Board and is Chief Scientific Advisor for the American Traumatic Brain Injury Association. Dr. Heidenreich has been conducting neuroscience research for over 30 years with continual funding in the area of neurotrophic factors, mechanisms of neuronal cell death, and recently, traumatic brain injury (TBI). Her laboratory has identified a number of protein kinase signaling pathways that trigger or prevent neuronal cell death in response to neuronal insults and neurotrophic factors, respectively. She has examined the ways in which key proapoptotic and antiapoptotic protein kinases regulate cytoplasmic, mitochondrial, and nuclear targets to control neuronal apoptosis and autophagy. Her recent studies have focused on preventing secondary brain damage after a TBI. She has recently discovered that leukotrienes, potent inflammatory lipid mediators normally absent in brain, are produced by a transcellular mechanism involving infiltrating neutrophils after TBI. Blockade of leukotriene production using 5-lipoxgenase (FLAP) inhibitors prevents edema, cell death, and cognitive deficits after TBI. These findings have important implications for treating human TBI and suggest that development of FLAP inhibitors for use in TBI is feasible for both intervention and prevention. Toward this goal, Dr. Heidenreich is currently developing FLAP inhibitors with improved CNS properties and novel delivery methods for these drugs in TBI. 

​As a strong advocate of Neuroscience research, Dr. Heidenreich has previously served as chair of the membership committee of the UC Denver Neuroscience Program and as President of the Rocky Mountain Neuroscience Research Group, a Colorado chapter of the Society of Neuroscience. She has mentored many pre- and post-doctoral scientists, as well as junior physician scientists, in her laboratory. She also has served as mentor for the NIH Building Research Achievement in Neuroscience (BRAiN) Training Program and was the recipient of the 2006 Dean’s Mentoring Award at her institution.  Dr. Heidenreich has served on numerous study sections reviewing grants for the NIH, DOD, VA and small research granting agencies. Recently, she has been invited to speak at numerous national and international TBI conferences including the Annual Traumatic Brain Injury Conference in Washington, D.C. and the C4CT Concussion Awareness Summits, the last one held Pre-superbowl 2014 at the United Nations. She has been a recipient of research support from the State of Colorado Brain Injury Program for the past five years.  Dr. Heidenreich received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Westminster College in 1974 and her Ph.D. in Physiology/Biophysics from the University of Vermont in 1979.

A brief description of her recent research can be viewed on the University of Colorado Who We Are site.

CBS Denver News interviewed Dr. Heidenreich on her current research developing a treatment for concussions. You can watch the full interview here. conducted an interview with Drs. Heidenreich and Miknis regarding their development of novel therapies for treating TBI.  You can listen to this interview below, or by viewing the story on the W3W3 website.

Get Microsoft SilverlightW3W3 Interview with Dr. Heidenreich

Current Lab Colleagues

 Results From Personnel : Selected site and subsites
First NameLast NameMiddle InitialDegreePosition
ChelseaCorser-Jensen BSGraduate Student
SamFeely BSStudent Volunteer
AntoinetteFoster BSProfessional Research Assistant
JannaMize-BergeM.BSProfessional Research Assistant
TaylorSoderburg BSMSTP Rotation Student


Former Trainees 

 Results From Personnel : Selected site and subsites
First NameLast NameMiddle InitialDegreePosition
BavitaBains PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
BrentButtsD.PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
BrandonCornejoJ.PhDGraduate Student
SantiagoFariasE.BSGraduate Student
DanLinsemanA.PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
MariaMcClureL.PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
ThomasPrechtA.PhDGraduate Student
PredragSerbedzija PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
AngelaTollefson BSGraduate Student


View Dr. Heidenreich's Publications on PubMed

Selected Publications (out of 90):  
1.    Linseman, DA, ML McClure, RJ Bouchard, TA Laessig, D Brenner, and KA Heidenreich.  Suppression of death receptor signaling in cerebellar Purkinje  neurons protects neighboring granule neurons from apoptosis. J. Biol. Chem. 277: 24546-24553, 2002.
2.    Linseman, DA, RA Phelps, RJ Bouchard, TA Laessig, SS Le, and KA Heidenreich.  Insulin-like growth factor-I blocks Bim induction and intrinsic death signaling in cerebellar granule neurons.  J. Neuroscience 22: 9287-9297, 2002. 
3.    Heidenreich KA. Molecular Mechanisms of Neuronal Cell Death.  In Parkinson’s Disease, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol.991, 237-250, 2003.
4.    Linseman, DA, CM Bartley, SS Le, TA Laessig, RJ Bouchard, MK Meintzer, M Li, and KA Heidenreich. Inactivation of the MEF2 repressor HDAC5 by endogenous CAMKII promotes depolarization-mediated neuronal survival. J. Biol. Chem. 278: 41472-41481, 2003.
5.    Heidenreich KA and DA Linseman.  Myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) transcription factors in neuronal differentiation and survival.  Mol. Neurobiol. 29: 155-166, 2004.
6.     McClure ML, DA Linseman, CT Chu, RJ Bouchard, TA Laessig, SS Le, and KA Heidenreich.  Neurotrophins and death receptors regulate autophagic death in cerebellar Purkinje neurons.  J. Neuroscience 24: 4498-4509, 2004.
7.    Linseman, DA*, BD Butts*, TA Precht, RA Phelps, SS Le, TA Laessig, RJ Bouchard, ML McClure, and KA Heidenreich. Glycogen synthase kinase-3b phosphorylates Bax and promotes its mitochondrial localization during neuronal apoptosis. *co-first authors J. Neuroscience 24: 9993-10002, 2004.
8.    Precht, TA, RA Phelps, DA Linseman, BD Butts, RJ Bouchard, SS Le, TA Laessig, and KA Heidenreich.  Bax translocation to mitochondria is triggered by permeability transition pore opening in cerebellar granule neurons undergoing apoptosis. Cell Death and Differentiation 12: 255-265, 2005.
9.     Bains, M. and KA Heidenreich. Live-cell imaging of autophagosome-lysosome fusion in primary neurons. Methods of Enzymology: Autophagy 253, ed D.L. Klionsky Invited chapter, 141-154, 2009
10.  Bains, M, ML Florez-McClure, and KA Heidenreich. IGF-I blocks autophagic cell death of Purkinje neurons by increasing the turnover of autophagic vesicles. J. Biol. Chem 284: 20398-20407, 2009.
11.  Farias, SE, LC Frey, RC Murphy, and KA Heidenreich. Blockade of leukotriene production reduces brain injury following experimental TBI.  J. Neurotrauma. 26: 1-10, 2009.
12.  Hankin, JA, S Farias, RM Barkely, KA Heidenreich, LC Frey, K Hamazaki, HY Kim, and RC Murphy. MALDI Mass Spectrometric Imaging of Lipids in Rat Brain Injury Models. J. Amer. Soc. Mass Spectrometry 22: 1014-1021, 2011.
13.  Klionsky, DJ et al. Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy in higher eukaryotes. Autophagy 8 (4): 1-100, 2012.
14.  Serbedzija,P, and C Corser-Jensen, and K A Heidenreich. An improved method for localizing and quantifying blood-brain-barrier disruption. Brain Injury  (in press)
15.  Corser-Jensen, CE, DJ Goodell, RK Freund, P Serbedzija, R Murphy, SE Farias, ML Dell'Acqua, LC Frey, N Serkova, and KA Heidenreich. Inhibition of leukotriene production protects against secondary brain damage and cognitive deficits induced by traumatic brain injury.  Experimental Neurology, 7-16, 2014.

Lab News

  1. Kim was asked to serve as the Chief Scientific Advisor for the newly formed American TBI Association.

  2. Kim, Chelsea, and Antoinette attended the 4th Annual Traumatic Brain Injury Conference in Washington, DC, on April 16-19, 2014 where Chelsea presented a poster on “Prolonged neuroinflammation after a single closed head Injury in mice”.

  3. Chelsea attended the 10th World Conference on Brain Injury on Mar 19, 2014. Her poster was chosen for an oral presentation titled “A novel anti-inflammatory approach to attenuate secondary injury and cognitive deficits after experimental TBI”.

  4. Kim was invited to the Pre-superbowl C4CT Concussion Awareness Summit at the United Nations in New York on January 29, 2014. She delivered a talk on “FLAP Inhibitors for Prevention and Intervention of TBI”.

  5. Chelsea passed her Comprehensive Exam on Jan, 2014.

  6. Chelsea was awarded a CCTSI Predoctoral Fellowship that covers her stipend and some research costs for the fiscal year of 2013.

  7. Kim was invited to speak at the Brain Injury Research Group meeting at UC Denver School of Medicine, AMC on Nov 21, 2013. The title of her presentation was “Development of a novel, proprietary drug for preventing and attenuating brain damage and cognitive defects after TBI.”

  8. Antoinette received a travel and top poster award at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Nashville in Nov 2013.

  9. Kim was invited to give Neurosurgery Grand Rounds at UC Denver School of Medicine, AMC, on Oct 8, 2013. The topic was “Developing a novel anti-inflammatory drug to prevent and treat TBI”.

  10. Kim was invited to speak at the Translational Research and Colorado Educator’s Conference at University of Denver on September 27, 2013. The title of her talk was “FLAP inhibitors for the treatment and prevention of TBI”. Chelsea and Antoinette also attended.

  11. Kim and Chelsea attended the annual National Neurotrauma Conference on Aug 4-7, 2013 in Nashville, TN. Chelsea’s poster “Blockade of leukotriene production after fluid percussion injury mitigates deficits in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and learning and memory” was awarded finalist among top 5%.

  12. Kim and Chelsea were invited guests at the C4CT Concussion Awareness Summit in Minneapolis, MN, June 21, 2013 where Kim gave a presentation on “FLAP Inhibitors for Prevention and Intervention of TBI”.

  13. Kim was invited to National Jewish Hospital on April 25, 2013 to give a seminar on “Targeting the 5-lipoxygenase pathway in TBI”.

  14. Kim and Chelsea attended the 3rd Annual Traumatic Brain Injury Conference in Washington, DC, on March 6, 2013 where Kim was invited to speak about “Prevention of TBI-induced cognitive deficits using an inhibitor of leukotriene synthesis”.

  15. As a recipient of the CCTSI/Center for Neuroscience Translational Research Award, Kim gave a presentation on “Developing novel 5-lipoxygenase-activating protein (FLAP) inhibitors for traumatic brain injury” at UC Denver, AMC, on Feb 12, 2013.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Research offers hope for effects of secondary brain injury

For just a moment, allow the science of today to become the reality of tomorrow.
A professional football player suits up for a Sunday night football game—donning pads, shoes, jersey and
of course, to protect himself from concussion, his helmet. Then, as part of his regular routine, he takes one single pill—a pill that could do more to protect his brain from long-term damage from concussion than the best-designed helmet ever could.
Consider another scenario. A young soldier in an armored vehicle travels along a dusty desert road in a war zone. Suddenly, an improvised explosive device (IED) explodes, flipping the vehicle. The blast sends him spinning into the air and crashing to the ground. Within minutes, a fellow soldier injects him with a drug that will protect his brain from the devastating effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
These two scenarios may seem futuristic, but the research behind them is going on right now in the CU School of Medicine Pharmacology Department in the laboratory of Kim Heidenreich, PhD.  Continued...