Profile and Department: Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph
Lab: Ryan Lab
Dr. Ryan’s research strives to answer fundamental questions in neuroscience, develop new tools for collaborative investigation into the mechanisms underlying neurological disorders and train scientists in the areas of molecular neuroscience and stem cell biology. When studying the mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease, the traditional animal systems, while powerful, have limitations to what they can teach. These systems utilize genetic over-expression or silencing paradigms to understand basic processes. While animal models have lead to huge advancements in our understanding of neurobiology, there is controversy over whether overexpression/silencing of gene expression is representative of diverse disease states. Indeed, the lack of availability of primary human neurons has made evaluating the pathological consequences of genomic mutations arduous. The use of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology overcomes these limitations by providing a source of human neurons from both normal and disease genetic backgrounds. We currently focus on stem cell based models of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) to study how mitochondrial stress mechanisms impact on neuronal function in human disease.