Hazem Abdelkarim, PhD APDA Research & Impact Research Investigators Hazem Abdelkarim, PhD Name of Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Chicago, Illinois Project Title: Structural and biophysical characterization of glycosphingolipids as direct cellular modulators of alpha-synuclein aggregation in Parkinson’s disease Investigators: Hazem Abdelkarim, PhD (Post-Doctoral Researcher and Grantee) Dr. Abdelkarim is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Dr. Abdelkarim’s research is focused on investigating the ability of glycosphingolipids to interact with alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease. His research hypothesis is that alpha-synuclein can directly bind neurotoxic glycosphingolipids or neuroprotective glycosphingolipids. Vadim Gaponenko, PhD (Postdoctoral supervisor) Research Objectives and Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of PD: To structurally and biophysically identify the direct interactions between alpha-synuclein and neurotoxic glycosphingolipids, such as glucopsychosine, or neuroprotective glycosphingolipids, such as GM1, and to determine if glycosphingolipids can modulate the association of monomeric alpha-synuclein into either toxic or nontoxic oligomers. Clarification of the mechanism and direct interaction between alpha-synuclein and toxic/nontoxic glycosphingolipids will further our understanding of the characteristic features of toxic and non-toxic alpha-synuclein oligomers and will allow future development of novel drugs for treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other related synucleinopathic neurological diseases. These novel inhibitors can be designed to counteract the effects of toxic glycosphingolipids or/and promote and stabilize the formation of nontoxic alpha-synuclein aggregates.