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Mel B. Feany, MD, PhD
Senior Pathologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Pathology
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115


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Research Narrative:

Work in our laboratory focuses on the pathways that mediate neuronal dysfunction and death in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. We have created models of these and other neurodegenerative disorders in the simple genetic animal model Drosophila. Our major approach has been to carry out unbiased forward genetic screens to identify critical cellular proteins and pathways mediating neurotoxicity in our models. We then work, often in collaboration with other researchers, to validate our findings in mammalian systems. 

Using our standard genetic approach we have characterized a number of pathways important for neuronal cell death in our Drosophila models. These pathways are altered in mammalian systems as well. However, our investigations have not yet revealed mechanisms underlying fundamental mysteries of neurodegenerative disease pathogenesis such as the basis for neuronal cell-type selectivity and age-dependence. We have therefore recently begun focused genetic screens designed to investigate these aspects of disease pathogenesis. 

Over the years we have used the genetic tools available in Drosophila extensively. More recently we have begun to exploit the potential strength of our simple in vivo model system to identify potential therapeutic agents.  We are currently screening selected chemical libraries to identify compounds with neuroprotective activity in our disease models.


Education:
MD
PhD

Lab Members:
Brian DuBoff, graduate student, BBS program
Vijay Hedge, MD, Research Fellow
Paola Merlo, PhD , Research Fellow
Liqun Chen, PhD, Research Fellow
Carin Loewen, PhD, Research Fellow
Joshua Shulman, MD, PhD, Research Fellow