Gareth Howell, Ph.D., promoted to Jackson Laboratory faculty, to study Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma

Date: August 20, 2012
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Bar Harbor, Maine—Gareth R. Howell, Ph.D., a neurobiologist whose work at The Jackson Laboratory has contributed to major breakthroughs in the understanding of glaucoma, has been promoted to assistant professor.

Gareth Howell, Ph.D.In his new lab, Howell will study mechanisms of dementias including Alzheimer’s disease and continue his research in glaucoma.

Howell has worked as a research scientist in the laboratory of Jackson Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon John since 2005. Earlier this year, Howell and colleagues reported that a single, targeted X-ray treatment of an individual eye in young, glaucoma-prone mice provided that eye with apparently life-long and typically complete protection from glaucoma.

Independent of his work on glaucoma, Howell became intrigued by the effects of X-ray radiation on plaque deposits in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. This observation is the basis for the research plan that Howell will undertake as an independent investigator, with funding from the Jane B. Cook Foundation.

“My goal is to use the strengths of The Jackson Laboratory—the genetic approaches, expertise and resources—to better understand dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease,” Howell says.

Howell will also continue to study glaucoma in collaboration with the John lab, funded by a grant from the National Eye Institute. “Some of the experiments I’m planning are relevant to both glaucoma and dementia,” he says.

Howell completed his undergraduate studies in molecular biology (magna cum laude) at The University of Manchester, UK, in 1993.  Prior to the start of and throughout his graduate studies, he worked at the Sanger Institute’s Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, in Cambridge, UK, first as a research assistant in the X Chromosome Mapping Group (1993-2000), and as a project leader of the Experimental Gene Annotation Group (2000-2002). In June 2002, he was awarded his Ph.D. in comparative and functional genomics, under the mentorship of Dr. David Bentley. 

In the first of two postdoctoral fellowships, Howell was in the laboratory of John Schimenti, Ph.D., at The Jackson Laboratory in 2003-2004, looking for novel genes involved in early development. In 2005, he completed a one-year fellowship with Drs. Stuart Wilson and Marysia Placzek at the University of Sheffield, U.K., investigating genes associated with the developing central nervous system in chickens.

The Laboratory’s Board of Trustees approved the promotion at their annual meeting on August 16.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs a total staff of more than 1,400. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human disease and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community.


Joyce Peterson, 207-288-6058, The Jackson Laboratory

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