Jian Feng, PhD
Professor at State University of New York at Buffalo
Location: Buffalo, New York, United States
Dr. Feng’s research aims to understand how mutations of the parkin gene cause the degeneration of human nigral dopaminergic neurons and ensuing Parkinson’s disease. He has found that one of the intrinsic vulnerabilities of these unique cells stems from their need to transport dopamine on microtubules in the long axon of the neuron. These microtubules are vulnerable to destabilization/toxicity from a number of agents, including the PD environmental toxin, rotenone - parkin protects dopaminergic neurons from this toxicity. His work also shows that parkin is responsible for maintaining the spatial and temporal precision of dopaminergic transmission, and controls dopamine-induced oxidative stress. Dr. Feng is using human midbrain dopaminergic neurons generated from parkin-deficient induced pluripotent stem cells to study the functions of parkin and to identify novel therapeutic strategies based on mechanistic understanding of parkin.