• Innovation and Research
  • Faculty
  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Medicine
Accolades & Honors

A team of Pitt researchers earned a $3.3 million grant from the National Institute on Aging

A researcher in gloves and a lab coat takes notes in the Aging Institute laboratory

A team of researchers from the School of Medicine and Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biological Sciences received a five-year, $3.3 million grant from the National Institute on Aging.

The three principal investigators — Assistant Professor of Neurobiology Amantha Thathiah and Associate Professors of Biological Sciences Kirill Kiselyov and Andrew VanDemark — will investigate a mitochondrial target and whether it protects cells from the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Although brains with Alzheimer’s show an accumulation of a toxic end-product, lipid peroxidation 4-hydroxynoneal (4HNE), it remains unclear what causes the buildup. These researchers have identified a mitochondrial target — GDAP1 — that data suggests 4HNE must bind to for the maintenance of cellular redox balance and mitochondrial function. Furthermore, the target levels are significantly lower in the prefrontal cortex of Alzheimer’s patients.

Better understanding the relationship between 4HNE and GDAP1, and the effect it has on neuron vulnerability in brains with Alzheimer’s disease, could open an avenue for therapeutic intervention.