Benjamin Wolozin, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology and Neurology
Principal Investigator: Laboratory of Neurodegeneration
Pathophysiology of Neurodegeneration: Molecular and cellular Biology
Overview: The goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases, and then to use this understanding to develop novel interventions for disease. Much of our research focuses on the central concept of regulated protein aggregation. Protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases is classically thought to occur as an unwanted byproduct of protein misfolding. Human genetic studies increasingly highlight the importance of RNA binding proteins in neurodegenerative diseases. This is important because RNA binding proteins use protein aggregation as part of a normal regulated, physiological mechanism controlling protein synthesis. Aggregated RNA binding proteins for stress granules, transport granules, P bodies, as well as participate in physiological functions, such as activity dependent protein synthesis. Our research investigates the hypothesis that dysfunction of RNA granules causes neurodegenerative diseases. Over active stress granule formation could contribute to neurodegeneration by altering patterns of protein synthesis and sequestering proteins that regulate cell death processes. Hypo-active stress granules, leads to inadequate neuroprotection.