The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has announced that a lab led by Michael E. Ward, M.D., Ph.D., investigator at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is part of one of 30 pairs of researchers to receive an award from CZI’s Neurodegeneration Challenge Network (NDCN). The NDCN is “an interdisciplinary collaborative initiative which brings together experimental scientists from diverse research fields to understand the fundamental biology of neurodegenerative disorders,” such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Ward’s lab combines induced pluripotent stem cell technology and advanced molecular and genetic analysis techniques to study how cells from patients with inherited forms of dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders die and rewire the brain. For this project, his lab will work with researchers in the lab of Alessandro Ori, Ph.D., at the Leibniz Institute on Aging - Fritz Lipmann Institute, in Jena, Germany. Dr. Ori’s team uses fish, called killifish, that have very short lifespans to study the molecular mechanisms of brain aging. Together the labs will explore the role that aging plays in the neural damage caused by mutations in the gene TARDBP/TDP-43, which has been linked to some cases of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Initially, each lab will receive $75,000 of first phase seed funding for 18 months. If successful, the team may be eligible to apply for second phase funding of $1.6 million over four years.
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