Linda Crnic Institute Lectures: “Studying Mechanism and Medicine in Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease using C. elegans

Jon Pierce-Shimomura, PhD

Assistant Professor, Section of Neurobiology,
Joint Appointment, Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, University of Texas at Austin
February 1, 2012

Dr. Shimomura’s work is currently focused on two issues:

1) What are the underlying causes and potential cures for Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease? He hopes to help create the first medicines that effectively treat individuals with these conditions so that they are empowered to reach their full potential in society.

2) How do different drugs such as ethanol and anesthetics affect the nervous system? The molecular mechanisms that underlie the effects for many drugs of benefit and abuse are often unclear in mouse models. By using the worm as a minimal system, we can rapidly identify which uncharacterized and novel molecules are responsible for behavioral responses to drugs. To study the genetic basis of behavior and disease, Dr. Shimomura and his colleagues combine genetic screens to identify genes involved in a behavior, in vivo electrophysiology and calcium imaging to study the function of identified neurons in the behavior, and image analysis tools to quantify the behavior.