Pallanck, Leo

Faculty Profile

First Name: 
Last Name: 
[field_fname-formatted] [field_lname-formatted]
Primary Institution: 
Genome Sciences
Mail/Box #: 

Box 355065

Office Location: 

Foege S443E

Office Phone: 
(206) 616-5997

Research Summary: 

Neurodegenerative disorders constitute a major challenge of modern medicine. Although these disorders are common and often highly debilitating, the mechanisms responsible for their pathologies are poorly understood and there are currently no effective preventative therapies. My laboratory has been using genetic, genomic, and proteomic methods in the fruit fly Drosophila to address these matters. Fruit flies are ideal for this work because many features of nervous system development and function are conserved between flies and vertebrates, and because many powerful genetic tools have been developed in flies over the >100-year period of time that they have been used as a model system.

Previous work indicates that the accumulation of damaged mitochondria contributes to aging, and age-related neurodegenerative disease. While it has been known for many years that cells possess the ability to degrade mitochondria in the lysosome through a process termed autophagy, whether damaged mitochondria can be seletively detected and degraded was unknown until relatively recently. Our genetic studies of fly counterparts of the Parkinson's disease-related factors PINK1 and Parkin recently revealed that these factors play a key role in the detection and elimination of damaged mitochondria. Given the potential importance of PINK1 and Parkin to aging and neurodegenerative disease, much of our current effort is now aimed at the mechanisms by which these factors promote mitochondrial turnover. In addition, we are also developing new fly models of neurodegenerative disease, including fly models of mitochondrial disease, lipid storage disorders, and a fly model of traumatic brain injury. The long-term goal of our work is to provide a foundation for the development of treatments for these disorders.

Short Research Description: 
Drosophila models of neurodegenerative disorders
Areas of Interest: 
Cell Signaling & Cell/Environment Interactions
Developmental Biology, Stem Cells & Aging
Genetics, Genomics & Evolution
<p> Genetics, Neurodegeneration, Parkinson&#39;s Disease, mitochondria, autophagy, mitophagy, Gaucher, traumatic brain injury,</p>

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