We study how neuronal axons and their terminals respond to stress and damage, and how the molecules activated by stress and damage execute decisions about whether to repair themselves or self-destruct. We hope to identify target molecules that could be used to prevent axon and nerve terminal loss in diseases ranging from diabetic neuropathy to Alzheimer's disease.
My work investigates the molecular mechanisms of axon degeneration, a molecular program triggered by toxic, metabolic, or traumatic stress to the axonal compartment of neurons. I use both fruit fly and mouse tools to ask questions about genes involved in axon degeneration and to place these genes in the context of pathways required for axon and synapse maintenance in the face of insults. I have discovered a number of axon degeneration mediators, including MORN4 and TMEM184b as well as others, and am currently following up on their roles within neurons during normal neuronal functioning and in the context of neurodegenerative disorders such as ALS and Alzheimer’s Disease. Keywords: Neurodegeneration, Neurogenetics, Behavior