Gemma Casadesus Smith
The focus of our laboratory is to investigate the pathological mechanism(s) underlying memory loss and dysfunction during normal aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Current projects are directed toward understanding how age-related hormonal changes contribute to memory dysfunction and development of AD with specific emphasis on gonadotropins and metabolic hormones such as leptin and amylin. Primary focus is placed on developing therapeutic strategies targeting these hormones and understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in these hormones effects on synaptic plasticity and memory function. The other main focus of my laboratory is to begin to elucidate the molecular and biochemical mechanisms involved in the “switch” or transition from benign cognitive/neuronal aging to the development of AD using a variety of transgenic models of accelerated aging and AD. Specifically our work is focused on studying the chronology of appearance and interplay between metabolic and oxidative changes and AD pathological hallmarks and how modulating this interplay through pharmacology benefits cognition and slows down the development of AD. We use animal and cellular models and a variety of techniques including behavioral testing, histology, molecular/cellular biology, and transgenic approaches to ultimately understand the basic signaling mechanisms associated with CNS hormone action with the ultimate aim to develop diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for age-related cognitive loss and AD.