David A. Harris
  • Title Professor
    Chair of Biochemistry
  • Education MD-PhD: Columbia University
  • Office K225
  • Phone 617-358-4280
  • Area of Interest Alzheimer’s disease and Prion diseases

My laboratory investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying two classes of human neurodegenerative disorders: prion and Alzheimer’s diseases. Alzheimer’s disease afflicts 5 million people in the U.S., a number that will increase dramatically as the population ages. Prion diseases are much rarer, but are of great public health concern because of the global emergence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”), and its likely transmission to human beings. Moreover, a prion-like propagation mechanism contributes to the spread within the CNS of the protein aggregates that accumulate in other neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and tauopathies such as frontotemporal dementia.

Our work has two broad objectives. First, we wish to understand how misfolded protein aggregates, including PrPSc and Alzheimer’s Aβ oligomers, cause neurodegeneration, neuronal death and synaptic dysfunction. Using a variety of model systems, we seek to identify the neuronal and microglial receptors and downstream cellular pathways activated by these protein aggregates. Second, we aim to use our knowledge of the cell biology of prion and Alzheimer’s diseases to develop drug molecules and other therapeutic modalities for treatment of these disorders.

Postdoctoral Positions are available in the Harris lab

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