Alzheimer’s disease

Role of presenilin in dendritic spine formation
2007 Seed Grant
Gopal Thinakaran, Ph.D.
The University of Chicago

Alzheimer’s disease, the major cause of dementia in the elderly, affects over 5 million Americans.  It is estimated that this devastating disorder strikes someone in America every 72 seconds.  Unless an effective treatment or a cure is discovered, it is estimated that 7.7 million Americans will have the disease by 2030, and the numbers could climb to as high as 16 million by 2050.  There is a pressing need to develop new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. Gopal Thinakaran, Department of Neurobiology, will focus on a protein that is mutated in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Presenilin 1.  Dr. Thinakaran’s research proposal involves the characterization of mice where human Alzheimer’s disease causing mutation has been introduced into mouse Presenilin 1 protein.  His hypothesis is that Alzheimer’s disease causing mutations in Presenilin 1 lead to cognitive problems by affecting the basic synaptic machinery, especially the remodeling of synaptic connectivity in the neuronal network, which is critical for the dynamic process of learning and memory.  Dr. Thinakaran’s studies will provide important information to advance treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The Role of Microglial Lysosomes in Selective Neuronal Vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the Nervous System Constructs Internal Models of the External World
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the Orchestra of Movement—Functional Role of Striatal Astrocytes in Health and Disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…