BETTER UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANISMS OF NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASE

Todd Cohen

July 24, 2017

 

Since 2014, I’ve been privileged to be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Prior to that, I attended Duke University as a graduate student and became enamored with North Carolina. Now, we seek to fully understand two devastating diseases that affect humans: ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.  Our unique approaches and relentless optimism, grit, and determination will help us, as a group, achieve our goals and make progress against these diseases.  In my spare time, I enjoy disc golf, the gym, a captivating movie, a novel about meaning in life, a cappuccino, a smooth red wine, and telling horrible dad jokes to adorable 3 and 7 yr old girls.

Deepa Viswanathan Ajit

July 20, 2017

I received my PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry from University of Missouri- St Louis, where I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Michael. R. Nichols. My broad research interests involve exploring the mechanism of neurological disorders and studies leading to a treatment.  My initial postdoctoral research in Dr. Gary A. Weisman laboratory at University of Missouri-Columbia focused on investigating the role of P2Y2 purinergic receptor signaling pathways and mechanisms in AD pathogenesis. I joined Dr. Cohen’s research group at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2016. Currently in the Cohen lab, I am working on the post-translational modification of tau protein and elucidating its role in pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases. Outside of lab, I like gardening,hiking and badminton.

Ping Wang

July 19, 2017

I received my PhD degree in Genetics from North Carolina State University in 2009 under the direction of Dr. Robert Anholt. My PhD thesis project was focused on the identification of genetic variation in odorant binding protein genes that affect variation in olfactory behavior in response to different odorants in a large natural Drosophila population. After completion of my PhD degree, I worked as a postdoc at NCI and Duke to study the mechanisms of human diseases. In 2014, I joined Dr. Cohen’s lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Currently, my research focuses on TDP-43 acetylation in neurodegenerative diseases and related TDP-43 proteinopathies, in particular, (1) dissecting the pathological mechanism of TDP-43 acetylation in sporadic inclusion body myositis (sIBM) using cell culture and in vivo skeletal muscle systems (see publication for this work: Wang et al. Nature Communications 2017); (2) determining how and to what extent TDP-43 acetylation alters the muscle transcriptome using RNA-seq approach. (3) developing FTLD/ALS mouse model.  During my spare time, I like Tabata workout, reading and cooking.

 

Bhavi Vohra

June 29, 2017

Bhavi graduated with a B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology (minor in Global Poverty and Practice) from UC Berkeley in 2013. She was involved with genetics and neural development research in undergrad and went on to work in industry on genome sequencing at Illumina then with biosimilars at Celltheon in California. Bhavi recently received a Masters in Medical Science at Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2016 and is currently a second year medical student there. Bhavi is participating in UNC’s MSTAR program (Summer 2017) to pursue her interest in geriatrics, aging, and neurology. She is working with Henry Tseng on the post-translational modification of tau protein and its role in the pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

Youjun Chen

June 28, 2017

Youjun received her Ph.D. degree in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010 under the mentorship of Dr. William Snider. She stayed in Dr. Snider’s lab for one additional year as a post-doctoral research fellow. Her research focus in the Snider lab was studying the roles of Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (APC) in neuronal morphogenesis. Youjun worked at The Scripps Research Institute as a postdoctoral research associate studying autism and brain development. She returned to UNC-Chapel Hill and joined the Cohen lab in 2016.

Connor Wander – Pharmacology

June 27, 2017

 

Connor graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Biology and Biochemistry in 2014, and joined the lab as a technician for two years.  Now a third-year PhD Candidate in the Cohen and Song Labs at UNC Chapel Hill, Connor studies inhibitory networks in Alzheimer’s Disease.  Connor is interested in the interactions between the environment, genetics, and behavior in mood disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.  He manages the lab website and a science communication podcast, Straight from a Scientist (SFS).  Outside of the lab, he enjoys hiking, swimming, graphic design, gaming, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, paintball and caring for his Madagascar Giant Day geckos.

 

 

Contact info:

 

Connor Wander

UNC Pharmacology

Genetic Medicine and Neurosciences Research Building

 

 

 

Jui-Heng “Henry” Tseng

June 27, 2017

In 2007, I graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. After a year of military service and another year as a research assistant at Academia Sinica, I did my PhD work at the University of South Carolina, under the mentorship of Dr. Melissa Moss. There I studied amyloid-beta protein misfolding and aggregation involved in Alzheimer’s disease. After I received my PhD in Biomedical Engineering in 2014, later the same year I joined Dr. Cohen’s research group at UNC. Currently in the Cohen lab, I am working on the post-translational modification of tau protein and its role in the early stages of pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases. Also I have collaborative research projects with Dr. Rick Meeker, Dr. Xian Chen, and Dr. Anne Taylor at UNC, as well as Dr. John Hong at NIEHS. In my free time, I like to play guitar and driving my car around.

Here is my CV

Hanna Trzeciakiewicz – Biochemistry and Biophysics

June 27, 2017

Hanna is a fifth year PhD candidate and NSF-GRFP fellow. She received a B.S. in Biochemistry (and minor in Spanish Language) from Oakland University in Michigan, where she was an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Sanela Martic’s biochemistry laboratory investigating the misfolding and aggregation of the tau protein. After, she joined the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program, the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the Cohen lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been investigating many facets of tau protein biochemistry.