Emily Rocha, PhD

Name of Institution:

University of Pittsburgh

Project Title:

Defining the role of glucocerebrosidase and TFEB in Parkinson’s disease


Emily Rocha, PhD (Postdoctoral Researcher and Grant Awardee)

Timothy Greenamyre, MD, PhD (Postdoctoral Supervisor)

Research Objectives and Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of PD:

Age-dependent reduction in glucocerebrosidase in the brains of healthy subjects beginning after the 6th decade of life illustrates that there is a link between glucocerebrosidase activity levels and alpha synuclein aggregation. These reductions in glucocerebrosidase activity levels may contribute to the onset of PD.   Using primary midbrain neurons isolated from embryonic day 17 rats will study how high levels of alpha synuclein affect glucocerebrosidase and TFEB activity and contribute to the pathogenesis of PD.   This research will contribute to a better understanding the role glucocerebrosidase and TFEB proteins play in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease and provide novel mechanistic insights regarding alpha synuclein toxicity which may lead to novel therapeutics interventions designed to reduce the alpha synuclein accumulation.

2016 Progress Update: