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Jeremy W. Chambers, Ph.D., an affiliate member of the Biomolecular Sciences Institute and assistant professor in the Departments of Cellular Biology & Pharmacology and Neuroscience within the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, received a Target Optimization Award from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to investigate the connections between aging and Parkinson’s disease (PD). The grant ($200,000.00 over two years) will fund work to investigate the basic changes in brain physiology that lead to PD.

Dr. Chambers’ research will examine how mitochondria, our cells’ power plants, malfunction during advanced aging and PD. His studies suggest that aging and PD induce perturbations in communication between mitochondria and the rest of the cell, which prevents the elimination and replacement of malfunctioning mitochondria. He proposes that inhibiting detrimental avenues of mitochondria-cell communication can preserve and even restore mitochondrial function and impair the progression of PD.

His team’s studies will be the first to comprehensively identify PD-specific changes in mitochondria-cell communication by defining how protein levels on the mitochondria surface change in an age-induced model of PD. The group will then inhibit a line of communication known to promote mitochondrial dysfunction, and evaluate its effectiveness in PD animal models.

Dr. Chambers’ studies will ultimately connect the pathologies of aging and PD, while discovering unique aspects of PD biology. He proposes that proteins on the mitochondrial outer membrane represent a new class of biomarkers and therapeutic targets that will improve the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of PD.

ImageBioBrief: Jeremy W. Chambers, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology and the Department of Neuroscience within the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University.

Dr. Chambers received his bachelor of sciences degree from West Liberty University in his home state of West Virginia before completing his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Clemson University in the lab of James Morris, Ph.D. He had a postdoctoral stint in the Department of Cancer Biology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, before beginning his Parkinson’s disease research under Philip LoGrasso, Ph.D. in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL. From there, he was recruited to his current position at Florida International University.

Dr. Chambers’ research aims to provide unique molecular insights into the etiology of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders while uncovering new therapeutic targets to inhibit disease progression.