Welcome to the Pallanck Lab! We use the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to study neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. The recent identification of genes underlying heritable forms of these diseases has allowed us to create corresponding fly models, which we use to ask fundamental questions, such as:
• What are the biological roles of these genes?
A second interest of the laboratory derives from our work on a pair of genes involved in familial forms of Parkinson's disease, known as PINK1 and Parkin. Our studies helped to establish that PINK1 and Parkin collaborate to promote the selective degradation of damaged mitochondria through a process called mitophagy. Given that the accumulation of damaged mitochondria is implicated in aging and common diseases, a major effort of our laboratory is now devoted to a mechanistic understanding of the PINK1-parkin pathway.
Most recently, we have become interested in the mechanisms by which traumatic brain injuries result in neurodegenerative disease years or decades after the injury. To address this matter, we have recently created a fly model of traumatic brain injury.
We use a multidisciplinary approach to explore the questions of interest to us, including classical genetics, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Much of this work involves collaboration with UW colleagues with expertise in these technologies.