Summary: The clinical motor features of Parkinson’s disease (PD) arise from loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigral region of the brain.  However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this neuronal loss are currently unknown.  As a result, no effective treatments exist that address neurodegeneration in PD.  My lab’s interest is in understanding the contributions of stem cell activity, autophagy dysfunction, and heightened inflammatory response to neuronal loss in PD so that targeted therapies can be developed.

Minimum classes: N/A

Projects: A summer research project will involve assessing the molecular effects of a Parkinson’s disease-causing mutation in VPS35 (VPS35 D620N) toward the fundamental cellular process of autophagy. The student will utilize genetic and pharmacological tools to identify relevant molecular pathways in cell culture systems.

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