Uncovering the role of Alzheimer’s disease risk genes using stem cells, yeast, and human brains
Li-Huei Tsai is director at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. The Methusalem grant holders at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research, Lucía Chávez-Gutiérrez, Bart De Strooper, Joris de Wit & Patrik Verstreken, host Dr. Tsai for an outstanding lecture.
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Professor Tsai is a leader in understanding the molecular pathophysiology and systems neuroscience of neurological disorders affecting cognition. Her work has brought new mechanisms for learning, memory and neurodegeneration to light and suggests new paths for combatting age-related memory loss.
Landmark discoveries include pinpointing major genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease among immune genes, identifying chromatin-modifiers and the protein kinase Cdk5 that regulate brain flexibility and ways to target them to improve cognition in Alzheimer’s disease, discovering that genomic integrity is critical for neuronal protection during both aging and neurodegenerative disease, and showing that bolstering gamma rhythm power and coherence with non-invasive sensory stimulation promotes a neuroprotective response among multiple brain cell types including microglia and the vasculature.
In 2019, Dr. Tsai won the Hans Wigzell Prize in Medicine for her innovative research in trying to understand the etiology and possible treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. She is a recipient of the Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Neuroscience, Young Investigator Award, Metropolitan Life Foundation, Outstanding Contributor Award of the Alzheimer Research Forum, the NIH Cantoni Lecture Award and the Glenn Award For Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging.
She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the National Academy of Medicine and of the National Acacemy of Inventors, , and a member of the Neurodegeneration Consortium and Taiwan’s Academia Sinica.
Dr. Tsai has authored and co-authored more than 160 peer-reviewed articles published in journals such as Nature, Cell, Neuron, Molecular Psychiatry, The Journal of Neuroscience, Nature Neuroscience, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, National Geographic and on National Public Radio.
- Blanchard et al._2020,_Nature Medicine - Reconstruction of the human blood–brain barrier in vitro reveals a pathogenic mechanism of APOE4 in pericytes
- Mathys, Devila-Velderrain et al._2019,_Nature - Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of Alzheimer’s disease
- Lin et al._2018,_Neuron - APOE4 Causes Widespread Molecular and Cellular Alterations Associated with Alzheimer's Disease Phenotypes in Human iPSC-Derived Brain Cell Types