Ward Building Room 12-144
303 E Chicago Avenue
Chicago IL 60611
Description of Interests
We are investigating cellular self-renewal mechanisms, amyloid formation in the brain, and the relationship of these processes to neurodegeneration and aging.
We primarily use human neurons made from induced pluripotent stem cells as well as in vitro protein aggregation models to delineate the pathogenic mechanisms of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Our group is largely focused on utilizing neurons from rare lysosomal diseases to study how alterations in biomolecule degradation pathways influence the accumulation and conformation of disease-linked proteins such as alpha-synuclein, abeta, and tau. Mechanistic insights gained from studies of rare lysosomal diseases are used as a way to view and elucidate the pathological mechanisms of common neurodegenerative diseases. Another major effort of the lab is to determine how amyloid formation influences cellular self-renewal mechanisms in neurons, such as lysosomal clearance of damaged macromolecules, and the effect on the aging process.
We use the following techniques and model systems:
- Differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells into midbrain dopamine neurons to model both rare and common neurodegenerative diseases.
- Analytic biochemical techniques, such as HPLC and size exclusion chromatography, to study protein accumulation and misfolding in neurons.
- Analysis of protein and lipid degradation pathways in neurons with a focus on the autophagic-lysosomal clearance system by a variety of biochemical and cell biological techniques
- Primary neuronal cultures and transgenic mice to study the effect of metabolic pathways on protein accumulation and aging.
- Recombinant protein purification of disease-related proteins to study conformational changes in cell-free in vitro systems.
Aging; Dementia; Frontotemporal Dementia; Lipid Disorders; Metabolism; Neuroscience; Parkinson’s disease; Proteins, Macromolecules
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