Three Yale researchers receive funding from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Three Yale researchers are among 30 pairs of scientists awarded grants to study the molecular origins of neurodegenerative diseases, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced Aug. 19.
The $4.5 million initiative is designed to foster collaborations between early-stage researchers and more established colleagues to study biology of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.
The two Yale research projects involve the role of mitochondria, the cell’s energy producing factories, in the onset of disease.
A failure of energy metabolism has been linked to problems with mitochondria. Yale’s Marc Hammarlund, associate professor of genetics and neuroscience, and Gulcin Pekkurnaz of the University of California-San Diego will explore the intersection of mitochondrial and neuronal function. The goal is to uncover the mechanisms that orchestrate energy balance in healthy neurons, and to discover how defective energy balance contributes to degeneration.
The labs of Yale’s Pietro De Camilli, the John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience and professor of cell biology and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Hongying Shen, assistant professor of cellular and molecular physiology, will also explore mitochondrial function, specifically the role lipids and cholesterol metabolism play in onset of neurodegenerative disorders. They hope to identify mutations in lipid transport proteins that lead to neurodegeneration which can serve as biomarkers of disease.
Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease to improving education to reforming the criminal justice system.