I lead a collaborative and interinstitutional research program that uses a multidisciplinary approach to identify early causative events underlying ‘normal’ nonpathological age-related memory decline and Alzheimer’s dementia.
What causes the dramatic variation in “normal” cognitive aging and the disease-related mental decline observed in Alzheimer’s? The work in my laboratory seeks to answer this question by identifying the complex set of factors that explain why some individuals are “resilient” to aging and cognitive disease, while other people can succumb to these destructive changes in middle age. The question is not new, but it remains unanswered, in part because the answer will not be a simple one, but also because all of the tools needed to dissect the underlying complexity were not previously available. My lab has developed key paradigms and strategies that, in combination with other state-of-the-art molecular, genomic and analytical approaches, have positioned us to make significant new biological insights, identify potential predictive biomarkers, and ultimately to identify and initiate development of new treatments.
My collaborative, interinstitutional research program takes a multidisciplinary approach to attack the problem on multiple fronts simultaneously. Our extensive collaborative interactions expand both the scope and impact of our work and offer lab members a variety of complementary training opportunities. One such collaboration is focused on creation of mouse models that better reflect the complexity of Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias by “designing” mice that display pathologies produced by complex interactions between genetic and environmental influencesIn a related and integrated effort our group is also directly involved in the JAX Center for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Research that is using state-of-the-art computational approaches for genomic analysis and molecular engineering to “build” predictive mouse models that better emulate the human disease.
We have expertise that encompasses and integrates systems genetics with in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological recording, proteomics, viral-based gene transduction and sophisticated analytical/computational genomic techniques, including single nuclear sequencing. Ongoing projects are designed to address different aspects of our central question and are funded both through NIH grants as well as by private foundations such as the Alzheimer’s Association.