Paola Costa-Mallen, PhD

Current Roles

  • Associate Research Scientist in the Bastyr University Research Institute
  • Adjunct Faculty, Department of Basic Sciences


  • PhD in molecular genetics from University of Milano in 1987
  • Postgraduate fellowship in molecular biotechnology at University of Milano, 1987-1991
  • Senior fellowship in cellular and molecular biology at University of Washington, 1990-1996
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant in molecular epidemiology at University of Washington, 1996-1999

Courses Taught

Neurological Diseases

Ongoing and Recently Completed Research

"Haptoglobin phenotype and smoking: effects on iron levels in Parkinson's disease"

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grant # 1R21NS070202-01A1
February, 2013- January, 2015

This study explores what are the abnormalities in iron metabolism in patients with Parkinson's disease as compared to healthy controls, how diet and lifestyle factors influence iron metabolism, and how blood iron levels correlate with brain iron levels. In collaboration with Dr. Yoshimi Anzai and her team at the University of Washington, MRIs are performed to measure brain iron.

Role: Principal Investigator

"Haptoglobin and iron study"

Bastyr University Faculty Seed Grants #3 and  #4 2009-2011, and restricted donation to Bastyr University for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases.
Sept. 2009 - June 2012

The study focuses on the interactive effect of particular genotypes for iron-binding proteins with environmental factors such as smoking and diet, in determining changes in serum iron. This project has relevance for diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, where iron homeostasis is dysregulated. This project involves measurement of blood iron and iron-binding proteins as well as brain iron of study participants by Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Role: Principal-Investigator

“Effects of Mixed Carotenoids in Food or Supplements on Biomarkers of Endothelial Dysfunction Following an Inflammatory Challenge”

Standard Process Company
March 2009 - Feb. 2010

This randomized clinical trial will evaluate the effects of 30 days of carotenoid enrichment from food, Standard Process whole-food supplement, or natural mixed carotenoid supplement on serum carotenoid concentration. This study will add to the research base regarding optimal methods of carotenoid delivery in humans as well as lend evidence supporting or refuting direct activity of carotenoids in protection of the human vasculature. It will also establish methodology for “screening” foods and natural products for endothelial protective properties.

Role: Co-Investigator

“A randomized clinical trial to assess the efficacy of real-time continuous glucose monitoring in the management of Type 1 diabetes”

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Nov. 2006 - Oct. 2008

In this project, real-time glucose monitoring was tested for its effects on parameters of oxidative stress and antioxidant status in type 1 diabetes patients, and the modifying effect of polymorphisms for oxidative-stress related genes was also studied.

Role: Research Scientist 4

“Superfund Hazardous Substance Basic Research Program - Effects-Related Biomarkers of Toxic Exposures”

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
April 2000 - March 2006

Project 5: "Environmental and Biochemical Risk Factors for Parkinson's Disease." This study investigated risks for parkinsonism related to environmental toxicants and genetic markers of susceptibility.

Role: Co-Investigator

Portrait of Paola Costa-Mallen
Paola Costa-Mallen PhD