Position title: Cellular & molecular neurobiology, aging
425g Henry Mall
Madison WI, 53706
Cellular & Molecular Metabolism; Membrane Biology & Protein Trafficking; Physiology
Neurons live as long as the animal in which they reside. For humans, this means that a neuron can live for 100 years or more. Over the decades of our lives, we show signs of aging – our skin becomes wrinkled, our hair turns gray. Our neurons likewise show signs of aging, including morphological abnormalities, synapse loss, glucose hypometabolism, and mitochondrial dysfunction. This is problematic because aging is by far the primary risk factor for neurodegenerative disease. The Richardson Lab use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuron homeostasis and aging. We are particularly interested in the homeostatic regulation of the endomembrane system of neurons. Aberrant endosome morphology and function is associated with neurodegenerative diseases. We hypothesize that there is a conserved role for the endocytic pathway in promoting the pathologies associated with neuronal aging. Synaptic vesicles are a highly specialized type of endosome used for the rapid communication of firing activity between connected neurons in a circuit. We are interested in the regulation of synaptic vesicle homeostasis in development versus adulthood, and what causes synaptic vesicle homeostasis to decline in aging.