The John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer's Research
Professor, Pathology and Lab Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine
Virginia M.-Y. Lee's research focuses on the etiology and pathogenesis of alpha-synuclein, tau, TDP-43, and other misfolded disease proteins in the pathobiology of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), frontotemporal dementias (FTD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She employs a multidisciplinary approach that includes biochemical and molecular studies of neuronal culture systems, animal models and human tissues obtained at autopsy in the laboratory to address common research issues among these neurodegenerative diseases. Other research efforts focus on an increased understanding of the collaborative initiatives to advance drug discovery in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Her work has demonstrated that tau, alpha-synuclein, and TDP-43 proteins form unique brain aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases and has provided critical evidence that aggregation of brain proteins is a common mechanistic theme in diverse neurodegenerative diseases including AD, PD, FTLD, ALS and related disorders. Significantly, Dr. Lee's studies implicated the abnormal aggregation of tau alpha-synculein, and TDP-43 in mechanisms that compromise neuronal viability. This research has opened up new avenues of research to identify targets for drug discovery to develop better treatments for these disorders.
Dr. Virginia M.-Y. Lee is the John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer's Research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Lee studied music at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1962-1964), obtained a M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of London (1968), and received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California at San Francisco in 1973. She pursued postdoctoral studies in pharmacology at the Rudolf Magnus Institute at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands (1973-1974) and in experimental neuropathology at Children's Hospital Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston (1974-1979), after which she assumed the position of Associate Senior Research Investigator at Smith Kline & French, Incorporated in Philadelphia from 1979-1980.
Dr. Lee joined the faculty of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1981, where she rose to the rank of Professor in 1989. While a Penn faculty member, Dr. Lee entered the Executive M.B.A. program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (1982-1984) and obtained her M.B.A. degree from Wharton in 1984. She was named the John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer's Research in 1999.
She is the author of hundreds of papers since 1970, and her research has been recognized by a number of awards including:
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine
Scientific Director, CNDR Drug Discovery Programs
As Director of CNDR Drug Discovery, Dr. Brunden oversees a research team that is responsible for translating basic research discoveries made within CNDR into programs that will ultimately lead to new therapeutic treatments for neurodegenerative disease. This encompasses a variety of research activities, including further validation of drug targets, development of high-throughput assays to allow evaluation of small molecule compounds to such drug targets, in vitro and in vivo pharmacological characterization of active compounds identified during compound screening, and medicinal chemistry refinement of prototype lead compounds to improve drug efficacy, pharmacokinetics, and safety.
Research Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine
Dr. Luk is currently Research Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research. His research strives to understand the relationship between the formation of alpha-synuclein pathology that characterizes Parkinson’s disease (PD) and its role in neuronal dysfunction and degeneration. Using a multidisciplinary approach spanning in vitro, cell-based, and in vivo models, his team has been interrogating the mechanisms by which misfolded forms of this protein act as pathological agents that self-propagate and spread throughout the CNS. Dr. Luk is also a member of the CNDR’s Drug Discovery Group and contributes to its efforts in identifying potential therapeutic strategies for PD and related neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr. Luk received his B.Sc. in 1997 (Microbiology and Immunology) and Ph.D. (Pathology) from McGill University. He completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania, under the mentorship of Dr. Virginia Lee. He obtained a Masters in Translational Research from Penn in 2013.
Research Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Dr. Porta's research focuses on: