McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member Charleen T. Chu, M.D., Ph.D. (pictured), associate professor in pathology, Division of Neuropathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, received a 2009 Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research for her studies on lysosomal dysfunction in brain aging and neurodegeneration. This $550,000 grant from the Ellison Medical Foundation is awarded to established scientists whose research has great potential in advancing understanding of basic aging and its impact on age-related diseases. Dr. Chu’s laboratory investigates mechanisms of neuronal injury relevant to Parkinson’s and related diseases. In particular, her lab focuses upon oxidative regulation of neurotrophic and neurotoxic cell signaling pathways. A major focus is on delineating factors that impair the normal, adaptive responses of neurons to oxidative and environmental toxins.
A second area of emphasis in Dr. Chu’s lab involves autophagy and the regulation of mitochondrial turnover. Oxidative mitochondrial injury has been implicated in human Parkinson's disease tissues as well as in animal models of Parkinson's disease, including her work in the mouse 6-hydroxydopamine and MPTP models. Using pharmacologic and siRNA tools, Dr. Chu and her team have found that the signaling regulation of autophagy in the context of targeted mitochondrial injury is distinct from that of nonselective starvation-induced autophagy. Although autophagy is a compensatory response to starvation, it may also play a role in type II programmed cell death.
The Ellison Medical Foundation supports basic biomedical research on aging relevant to understanding lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities. The Foundation particularly wishes to stimulate new, creative research that might not be funded by traditional sources or that is often under-funded in the U.S. The Ellison Medical Foundation fosters research by means of grants-in-aid on behalf of investigators to universities and laboratories within the United States. Institutions receiving awards must be tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations or U.S. colleges or universities. Eligible U.S. institutions may enter into consortium or subcontractual agreements with other non-profit organizations, either in the U.S. or elsewhere, as necessary to the scientific goals of the project.
Innovative research conducted by faculty of the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences contributes to a better understanding of the causes and origins of disease and aids in the development of more effective treatment approaches. Government and private-sector funding is critical to this process of scientific inquiry.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Media Relations News Release (10/21/09)
The Ellison Medical Foundation News
The Ellison Medical Foundation
Dr. Charleen Chu, Department of Pathology Faculty Page
Bio: Dr. Charleen Chu