(basic science and translational approaches): Neurodegeneration and diseases (Alzheimer’s,dementia, Huntington’s)/stroke /neuronal survival and neuroprotection/axon regeneration
A progressive loss of neuronal function and neuronal cell death occur in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and the expanded polyglutamine repeat disorders such as Huntington’s disease. Collectively, these disorders
affect more than 1% of the U.S. population over 60 years of age. Each neurodegenerative disorder has a unique pathophysiology, but there are also many similarities shared by these disorders. Defects in protein homeostasis occur in all these diseases, and intracellular deposits of misfolded protein accumulate in affected neuronal populations. Alterations in mitochondrial function are also a hallmark of these diseases, along with perturbation of critical neuronal housekeeping functions that include protein trafficking, membrane trafficking, cytoskeletal function, vesicle transport, and neurotrophin signaling. Many of these neuronal housekeeping functions are also affected by stroke, a leading cause of death throughout the world. Laboratories at the University of Virginia are studying the pathogenesis of these disorders, and the basic biology of the neuronal functions that are affected by disease. Together, these studies will provide the basis for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.