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Research Grants - 2009


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Research Grants 2009


To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.

2009 Grants - Chi

Lipid Membrane Mediated Tau Aggregation and Toxicity

Eva Yunghua Chi, Ph.D.
University of New Mexico Health Science Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico

2009 New Investigator Research Grant

Tau is a protein normally found in nerve cells; it helps the cells maintain their structure. In Alzheimer's disease, however, tau aggregates in an abnormal way and forms neurofibrillary tangles, a characteristic feature of Alzheimer pathology. The changes in tau that cause it to aggregate, and the biochemical pathways leading to aggregation are not well understood. Some evidence suggests that tau may interact with the cell membrane in unusual ways during the disease process, possibly explaining its abnormal behavior.

Eva Yunghua Chi, Ph.D. and colleagues have proposed to study how tau interacts with the cell membrane, and how that interaction affects the aggregation of tau and the integrity of the cell membrane. For their studies, the researchers will use membranes constructed from different types of lipid molecules (the building blocks of cell membranes), to which they will add tau protein.Dr. Chi's team will then use biophysical techniques, such as X-ray and neutron scattering techniques, and spectroscopic techniques. They will also use biochemical techniques and electron microscopy to examine the structure of tau and the nature of its interaction with the membrane.

The goal of these studies is to describe the physical interactions between tau and the cell membrane, and how these interactions influence the folding of tau and its ability to aggregate. These studies should enhance our knowledge of one of the most fundamental molecular changes occurring during the development of Alzheimer's disease.