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Understanding why neurons die in disease

astrocytes, Stanford Neurosciences Institute

Many neurological diseases feature the death of neurons, but the mechanisms that mediate cell death in these disorders are unknown. Astrogliosis, the response of a cell-type called “astrocytes” to injury, is common to most diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), and recent studies in our lab suggest that some reactive astrocytes may release a protein that is potently toxic to neurons. In order to understand why neurons die during disease as well as find new therapeutic targets to halt neuronal death, I am working to both identify the toxic protein secreted by astrocytes as well as determine what pathway causes neurons to die when exposed to the toxic protein.

Participants

Lead Researcher(s): 

Primary Advisor: Ben Barres (neurobiology) 
Co-AdvisorMichael Bassik (genetics)

Funding Type: 
SIGF - Graduate Fellowship
Award Year: 
2016
Donor: 
Mark and Mary Stevens Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow