Understanding Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1 – A Devastating Progressive, Degenerative Disease

Dr. Opal is studying a genetic disease called Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1 that affects the cerebellar region of the brain. This is a relentless and uniformly fatal disease with no current cure. Our hypothesis is that the vascular growth factor VEGF is decreased in SCA1 cerebella and that some aspects of the disease could be reversed by replenishing VEGF. Interest in VEGF from other branches of medicine increases the likelihood that our promising studies could rapidly bring therapies from bench to bedside for SCA1. The BRF grant will be crucial in providing my lab with the funds to obtain preliminary data to compete for NIH R01 level funding.

Other Grants

Rebekah C. Evans, Ph.D., Georgetown University
In Vivo and Ex Vivo Dissection of Midbrain Neuron Activity During Exercise
Exercise is important for the health of the body and the mind. Exercise promotes learning and reduces symptoms of brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it…
William J. Giardino, Ph.D. Stanford University
Deciphering the Neuropeptide Circuitry of Emotional Arousal in Narcolepsy
This research project aims to investigate the neural mechanisms of a specific type of brain cell called neuropeptide neurons within a region of the brain’s amygdala network called the bed…
Howard Gritton, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Attention Mechanisms Contributing to Auditory Spatial Processing.
Our world is composed of a rich mixture of sounds. We often process sounds including speech in the presence of many other competing auditory stimuli (e.g., voices in a crowded…
Nora Kory, Ph.D., Harvard University
Elucidating the Fates and Functions of Lactate in the Brain
The human brain requires significant energy to function. Despite accounting for only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes a substantial 20% of the body’s energy, relying on a…