“Understanding intracellular calcium dynamics in human Parkinson’s patient stem cell neurons”
My DPhil project will focus on intracellular calcium dynamics in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is characterised by inter alia the loss of dopaminergic neurons (DA neurons) in the substantia nigra pars compacta in the midbrain. It has been shown before in Drosophila disease models that altered endoplasmic reticulum (ER)/ mitochondria signalling impacts the mitochondria calcium homeostasis and contributes to that neurodegeneration, suggesting a specific role of altered calcium dynamics between the two organelles. A lot of research in ER-mitochondria interaction and the role of their calcium dynamics in neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease was done in stable cell lines like HEK, HeLa and neuroblastoma cells so far. I plan to use patient-derived induced-pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) DA neurons of genetic and sporadic Parkinson’s patients as well as healthy controls to further investigate these topics.