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Roseanne D

- Research Program Mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate


The role of protein misfolding in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, relationship between structure and function of proteins, how protein mutations lead to disease development

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Investigating the role of protein mutations in disease

Proteins carry out critical functions in all living systems. From the hemoglobin that carries O2 to our body to the polymerase that replicates DNA to the telomerase that protects our genetic material. When proteins are folded accurately, they function appropriately, but as little as a single amino acid change can lead to devastating disease, affecting quality of life. The structure of proteins is directly related to its function. Therefore, when there is a mutation in its sequence, the protein might not be expressed, or the protein expressed can not perform its native function. As a result, different diseases can be developed such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anemia, among others. How are the structure of proteins related to their functions? How mutations lead to the development of devastating diseases? What are the therapeutics available for these kinds of diseases? In this project, you will answer these questions through readings of primary literature, reviews and exploring the Protein Data Bank, resulting in a final product that can take the form of a review article or podcast.

Understanding the role of protein misfolding in neurodegeneration

Have you ever wondered how neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are developed in elder people? One of the main causes is the misfolding of certain proteins. These form aggregates that accumulates into the intracellular or extracellular environment, promoting toxicity that leads to cell death. In this project, we will explore how these proteins change their native conformation and form the aggregates, what are the effects at the molecular level and how is this process related to the clinical manifestations of the patients. In addition, you can review the literature to search for treatments available so you can propose novel therapeutics for a specific disease. The project can result in a research article or podcast.

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