Kai-Christian Sonntag, Ph.D., M.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
M R C 223
115 Mill St
Belmont MA 02478
Available: 10/19/20, Expires: 12/31/22
Our lab studies a role of bioenergetics in Alzheimer's disease (AD). It is well known that metabolic changes are associated with the normal aging process, and our research aims to understand how these changes are linked to sporadic/late-onset AD (LOAD) pathogenesis. For this, we have developed a cell-based platform using skin fibroblasts and blood cells from LOAD patients and healthy control individuals to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) which are differentiated to brain cells, including neural progenitor cells, neurons, and astrocytes. Using this platform, we assess the cells’ bioenergetic profiles, changes in metabolism, and associated cellular functions, as a function of age and disease. The goal of our program is to establish a 'personalized medicine approach' aiming to understand AD pathogenesis and to develop biomarkers or testing novel therapeutic strategies.
The student's project will be within the scope of the main studies which focus on particular aspects of the cellular bioenergetics and metabolic functions in the aging process and LOAD. In addition, we are studying other cellular functions related to metabolic dysfunction in LOAD, and we identify and test the effects of therapeutic molecules in our model system. The student will be involved in study design, experimental data generation, analyses, interpretation, and summarizing results in scientific reports. He/she will participate in and learn the principles of the cell platform and, in particular, the iPSC paradigm in context of neurodifferentiation and -degeneration with a focus on AD. Some previous experiences working in a wet lab and in cell culture would be a benefit.
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