The over-arching goal of our research is to better understand the mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease in order to intervene in these disease processes. Our general approach is to use unbiased genomic- or proteomic-scale screens to generate leads, which are then followed mechanistically in relevant systems. The rationale behind using genomic/proteomic-scale screens of genetic variation, mRNA expression, microRNA expression, or protein expression is that (1) they avoid bias generated by one’s preconceptions of what may be key disease genes or proteins and (2) they can give one a more global picture of pathophysiology, a picture that encompasses what is happening to an organism as a whole, or at least an organism’s genome/proteome as a whole, as these diseases progress. To conduct the type of research outlined here, we employ a combination of bench and computational methods.
Current projects fall into two major areas: (1) Understanding basic mechanisms for genes and proteins implicated in frontotemporal dementia, the second most common cause of dementia in individuals under the age of 65 (2) Discovery and translating to clinical use biomarkers in Parkinson's disease, a disease currently affecting 1 million Americans.