UNDERGRAD INSTITUTION AND MAJOR:
Carleton College, B.A. in Biology with a Concentration in Cognitive Science, 2014
THESIS COMMITTEE MEMBERS
- Harry Orr, Ph.D., Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (Chair)
- Karen Ashe, M.D., Ph.D. Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience
- Michael Koob, Ph.D., Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology
- Marija Cvetanovic, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
- David Largaespada, Ph.D. Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development
DESCRIPTION OF GRADUATE RESEARCH
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia and the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S., is one of 20 tauopathies in which abnormal regulation of the microtubule-associated protein tau is involved in neuron loss and cognitive decline. It is not understood how mutations in the tau gene contribute to toxic effects of the mutated protein; however, this information is essential to identifying common mechanisms of tauopathies and eventually therapeutic targets. Preliminary work has indicated that a mutation associated with frontotemporal dementia alters the steady-state levels of tau. Therefore, I am using a novel mouse model that harbors a regulatable human tau transgene to test the hypothesis that mutations in tau hinder its degradation, possibly contributing to its propensity to mislocalize and form tangles in neurons. I will use the CRISPR/Cas genome editing system to introduce three different classes of mutation into the tau transgene, including those that affect the amino acid sequence, alternative splicing, or both. This work may show that different classes of mutations have a common effect of prolonging the half-life of tau, which may underlie neurotoxicity in tauopathies.
- Neurodegenerative Diseases & Neural Injury
GRADUATE LEVEL AWARDS AND HONORS
3M Science and Technology Fellowship, 2014
- Catherine Kotz, Ph.D., Department of Food Science and Nutrition
- Karen Ashe, M.D., Ph.D., Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience
- Eric Newman, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
- Yasushi Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Career Facilitation Committee
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MN?
I decided the program at the U of MN was the best fit for me because I felt that it would provide me with a stronger knowledge base and more rigorous training experience than the other programs. Additionally, there were a number of faculty with whom I was interested in working.
STUDENT MENTOR AND THE BEST ADVICE THEY GAVE.
Katie Tonn: Although she's not the only student who's given me great advice, one thing that has stuck with me is to maintain a good balance between research and life outside of lab. While spending long hours in lab will help you be more productive in the short-run, keeping up with your hobbies will help you stay sane in the long-run.