Research Team Members

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Kevin F. Bieniek, Ph.D.

Research focuses on elucidating the role of traumatic brain injury exposure on the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders like chronic traumatic encephalopathy and Alzheimer’s disease by studying the relationships between sports-related and military-related head trauma, underlying burden and distribution of tau and beta-amyloid pathology, hereditary genetic risk factors and resulting neurocognitive deficits.  Additional research interests include the impact of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury on the etiology and progression of TDP-43 pathology, on other concomitant neurodegenerative pathologies and on normal aging. Kevin F. Bieniek, Ph.D., also serves as the Director of the Biggs Institute Brain Bank, a comprehensive, multidisciplinary repository of central and peripheral nervous system tissues from a variety of neurodegenerative disorders.

Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research, Clinical Research, Population Neuroscience

Contact:
bieniek@uthscsa.edu
Research Profile

Radek Dobrowolski, Ph.D.

Studies focus on cell biological processes that govern neuronal protection in the aging brain with emphasis on lysosomal signaling and autophagic clearance of neurotoxic proteins and other aggregates that buildup during aging and in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding how neuronal clearance is regulated and can be enhanced will assist in development of new strategies to promote neuronal survival during aging and prevent Alzheimer’s pathogenesis. Mouse models and cellular reprogramming techniques are used to culture human neurons in a cell culture dish to model human neurological disorders. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived human neurons are generated to study metabolic control of stemness, differentiation, proliferation and degeneration. Based on the concept of aging cells change their metabolic rates that contribute to the onset and progression of human diseases, focus is placed on the regulation of proteostasis in the onset of Alzheimer’s during aging.

Research Areas


Contact:
dobrowolskir@uthscsa.edu
Research Profile

Peter T. Fox, M.D.

Research focuses on the identification of molecular and biochemical alterations caused by Alzheimer’s disease. By understanding how the disease is triggered and how it develops, research will lead to devise ways to slow or prevent the disease. This research uses genetic manipulations in mouse models, behavioral, immunohistochemical and biochemical approaches, in vivo brain optical and functional imaging, in vivo brain blood flow measures, and cellular and molecular biology tools to understand the initiating molecular events in the disease, determine the effects of potential drug candidate molecules and define the mechanisms involved.

Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research, Population Neuroscience

Contact:
Fox@uthscsa.edu
Research Profile

Bess Frost, Ph.D.

Studies focus on the fundamental processes in cell biology that drive neurodegeneration. Employing a multi-system approach to rapidly identify, test and validate hypotheses that are relevant to human disease. Early discovery takes place in Drosophila, a model organism that is well suited for investigating issues of causality in disease processes. To determine if studies are relevant to human disease, the research complements Drosophila  work with comparative analyses in postmortem human brain. A significant focus is on tauopathy. Tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease, are pathologically characterized by the deposition of neurofibrillary tangles composed of tau protein in the brains of affected individuals. Current objectives include investigating the cellular pathway whereby pathogenic tau mediates neuronal death and developing a novel screening platform to identify cellular mediators of prion-like tau propagation.

Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research

Contact:
BFrost@uthscsa.edu