Dr. Adelaine Leung, Assistant Professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Biomedical Sciences Department, is seeking an ELAP student this year (project below). She is open to finding a student outside of veterinary medicine with a neuroscience background.
Neuropsychiatric diseases pose a great burden to our society. Current treatments are limited by poor efficacy and undesirable side-effects. However, new treatments are hampered by the complexity and multifaceted nature of these diseases. Human genetic research of psychiatry has uncovered a number of candidate genes that are implicated in brain functions. The focus of my laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms of these candidate genes in neuronal functions.
We are currently interested in a candidate gene called Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) that has been implicated in several major mental disorders. The DISC1 protein functions in many cellular functions by interacting with multiple protein partners, affecting neurogenesis, neural progenitor proliferation, and neural migration. How does one protein manage to affect such a diverse spectrum of brain functions? My lab takes a multidisciplinary and integrative approach to study DISC1 using structural biology, neuronal cell culture, and fly genetics. I am currently recruiting grad students to work on the structural aspect of this protein. The rationale is that an understanding of the detailed molecular mechanisms requires the knowledge of the three-dimensional atomic arrangement of the protein. At this atomic detail, we can explain the chemistry behind how DISC1 interacts with proteins to exert its functions.
In addition to be in an exciting field of neuropsychiatry, the student will have the opportunity to learn a wide range of techniques in molecular biology, biochemistry, and protein crystallography. As the nature of my lab is uniquely multidisciplinary, the student will also be exposed to cell-based and drosophila model systems. For more information, please visit our lab website: http://www.usask.ca/leunglab