California Institute of Technology
Apoptosis is a genetically regulated form of cell death which is critical for the normal development and adult function of multicellular organisms. Inappropriate activation of apoptosis also contributes to the neuronal cell loss associated with acute brain injuries such as stroke, and in age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Proteases play multiple roles in the regulation of cell death in the brain by acting as cellular executioners that bring about cell death, and by processing proteins that regulate the development of Alzheimer's disease. These proteases and regulators of their activity are thus important potential therapeutic targets. Dr. Hay has developed a reporter system that allows him to follow the activity of proteases that cleave specific target sites in living cells. He intends to use this technology to identify regulators of cell death, and to identify proteases that process proteins implicated in Alzheimer's disease.