Alpha-synuclein aggregates are a key form of aging damage in the brain, linked to a spectrum of symptoms in Parkinson's disease beyond the classic motor symptoms. The first amyloSENS-style immunotherapy to clear this pathology out of the brain was advanced into clinical trials by Austrian biotech firm AFFiRiS AG. Now two more such therapies have entered human testing. Although the trials are in their earliest stages, they bring the hope that this rejuvenation biotechnology will begin preventing and reversing Parkinson's disease and less specific disorders of aging soon.
My name is Michaela Copp, and I am a rising senior studying Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. For the past two years, I have been a member of the Neurovascular Engineering and Therapeutic Design lab under the direction of Dr. Ethan Lippmann, where I have worked to develop the genetic engineering tools necessary to better model neurodegenerative disease pathogenesis and determine the individual genes responsible for the highly-specialized barrier properties of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This summer, I will be working with the SRF Mitochondrial Team under the guidance of Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Boominathan to establish a safe harbor landing site in the nucleus for the expression of engineered mitochondrial genes.
My name is Heather Tolcher, and I am a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin. My interest in targeted therapeutics and age-related diseases was first piqued when I had the opportunity to see the progression of an experimental immunotherapeutic drug go from the laboratory dish to phase I clinical trials in cancer patients. I was able to witness firsthand how powerful new-targeted treatments can be in controlling disease and transforming the lives of patients afflicted with cancer. Since then, I’ve known that I wanted to be involved in the community of scientists who develop the novel, translational, and innovative therapeutics that are evolving the way we treat and perceive disease.
My name is Aashka Patel, and I am currently a rising junior pursuing a Biology degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am interested in studying regenerative medicine techniques and their application toward neurodegenerative diseases. This summer, I will be interning at the Sanford Consortium in Dr. Evan Snyder’s lab under the mentorship of Cameron Pernia. My project this summer at the Snyder Lab will explore neuronal circuit connectivity of hiPSCs derived from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) neurons.
I am Yujie Ma, a rising senior undergraduate student studying biological engineering at Cornell University. Since the beginning of my sophomore year, I have been a dedicated member of Professor Mingming Wu’s laboratory working on research pertaining to how the physical conditions of the local tissues affect breast tumor cell migration. This summer, under the guidance of Dr. Heinrich Jasper and Dr. Imilce Rodriguez-Fernandez at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, I will be studying proteostasis in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.