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Aging & Neurodegeneration

The increasing incidence of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) are a major biomedical and global health challenge. More than 6 million Americans live with neurodegenerative diseases, and this number is expected to double in the next 25 years because of our aging population.

Research in our Department is focused on understanding the mechanisms that cause neurodegeneration. We address the genetic and infectious etiology of neurodegeneration, with a particular focus on the role that disturbances in proteostasis and neuroinflammation play in disease. Our studies are directed toward understanding how mutations or infectious agents cause neurodegeneration, and at examining the involvement of reactive astrocytes and microglia. We are also investigating the role that natural chaperone proteins play in blocking neuronal protein aggregation,  and determining how disturbances in protein folding and degradation cause neurodegeneration.