Neuroinflammation impacts most neurodegenerative disorders, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease) - a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by degeneration of motor neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. Neuroinflammation refers to inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS), particularly the activation of two non-neuronal cell types, astrocytes and microglia, which support normal neuronal function and also act as the immune surveillance cells within the CNS. Aberrant neuroinflammation arises during aging and disease; however, cellular mechanisms underlying neuroinflammation are still largely unknown. Understanding the specific contribution of astrocytes and microglia to neuroinflammation is essential to identity disease-relevant pathways linked to ALS and to develop effective therapeutic targets for disease treatment.
My research aims to establish a multicellular, human pluripotent stem cell in vitro platform to investigate how cell types communicate (and miscommunicate) in ALS and which neuroinflammatory pathways require modulation for early therapeutic intervention.