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Susan Ackerman wants to define the molecular pathways necessary to maintain a condition of equilibrium, or homeostasis, in developing and aging mammalian neurons. Working in mice, Ackerman and her team use genetic approaches to identify mutations associated with neuronal loss in the aging brain, and to identify genetic variants that enhance or suppress neural phenotypes. These studies have identified molecules critical for neuron stability and survival, as well as disruptions in neuronal pathways not previously associated with loss of function or survival.  The work may provide insight into disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and cerebellar ataxia.