Susan Ackerman is working to identify and analyze the genes, pathways, and networks involved in the age-related death of neurons in the central nervous system.
Identification of Novel Mutations That Cause Neurodegeneration
Many of our lab’s projects involve a phenotype-driven approach to identifying genes involved in cerebellar function. This approach allows the identification of pathways without a priori assumptions. We have identified a new mouse mutant with late-onset degeneration of specific cerebellar neurons that results in a loss of motor coordination or ataxia. We have genetically mapped this gene to a small region of chromosome 3. This project will focus on the identification of the underlying mutation in this mutant strain by molecular analysis of genes residing within the genetic interval. In addition, the student will perform additional pathological analysis of mutant brains. The student will have an opportunity to learn bioinformatic approaches to prioritize candidate genes, isolation of RNA, RT-PCR, Northern blot, and sequence analysis techniques. In addition, students will learn histological and immunohistological techniques and neuroanatomical analysis.