Valina Dawson, Ph.D.
The Dawson lab studies neuronal cell death and survival, the molecular underpinnings of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and the development of neuronal stem cells. The lab has named a new cell death process Parthanatos. In the brain, Parthanatos is important in ischemic and excitotoxic injury and in models of Parkinson’s disease. The cell death mechanism involves nuclear activation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and mitochondrial release of apoptosis inducing factor in the integration of the death signal; current research aims to further understand how this pathway works. In addition to cell death, the team also strives to understand how cells survive by characterizing survival genes and proteins involved in preconditioning. The team uses induced pluripotent stem cells to identify pharmaceutical agents that might be used therapeutically to protect the brain.
To understand the role of LRRK2 in the function and dysfunction of neurons and in Parkinson’s disease, the team has generated LRRK2 knockout mice and LRRK2 transgenic mice and human dopaminergic cultures from reprogrammed patient fibroblasts to identify and characterize the interaction of LRRK2 and its protein targets through state-of-the art protein biochemistry with the hope of finding new strategies to treat PD.
Meet Dr. Dawson
On studying cell survival and death in human neurons:
View a list of publications on PubMed.