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  4. Priyanka Narayan, Ph.D.

Priyanka Narayan, Ph.D., Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator

Scientific Focus Areas: Neuroscience, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Stem Cell Biology

Professional Experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Whitehead Institute/MIT, 2013-2020
  • Ph.D., University of Cambridge, 2012
  • B.S., Stanford University, 2008

Current Research

Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease are a growing public health concern. The extended and devastating course of these diseases, the increasing patient population, and the lack of therapeutic options all contribute to this pressing public health crisis. Our lab studies the ways in which genetic and environmental factors alter fundamental cellular pathways to increase susceptibility or improve resilience to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. We are pursuing these scientific questions with the ultimate goal of identifying novel therapeutic or preventative mechanisms for neurodegenerative diseases. Our research combines techniques from biochemistry, genetic screening, and neurobiology in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived tissues.

Select Publications

Combating neurodegenerative disease with chemical probes and model systems.
Narayan P, Ehsani S, Lindquist S.
Nat Chem Biol (2014 Nov) 10:911-20. Abstract/Full Text
Rare individual amyloid-β oligomers act on astrocytes to initiate neuronal damage.
Narayan P, Holmström KM, Kim DH, Whitcomb DJ, Wilson MR, St George-Hyslop P, Wood NW, Dobson CM, Cho K, Abramov AY, Klenerman D.
Biochemistry (2014 Apr 22) 53:2442-53. Abstract/Full Text
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Research in Plain Language

With a growing aging population worldwide, the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease is rising. In the US alone, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to triple by 2050. This has and will continue to impose significant emotional, physical, and financial burdens on patients, their caregivers, and our government.

Population-level studies have identified both genetic and environmental factors that increase risk for or confer protection from these common neurodegenerative diseases. Our lab wants to understand how these risk and protective factors impact fundamental biology of the many cell types in the human brain. To do this, we use stem cells derived from patients with disease and healthy individuals to generate human brain cell types in a dish. We then use genetic and biochemical techniques to understand what processes are impacted in each cell type, to investigate how cell types interact with each other, and to discover novel genetic or chemical strategies to mitigate risk or enhance protection.