The current research focus of Dr. Stacy Hrizo is on understanding the development of a neurodegenerative disease called TPI deficiency using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). Neurodegeneration is the uncontrolled loss of functional neural tissue and research on this process can be applied to many human diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntingdon’s diseases. Her student researchers utilize both biochemical and behavioral techniques to examine the causes, development and potential treatment of neurodegeneration in flies.
Education and Training:
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine;
Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology,
Program in Neurodegenerative Diseases
PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
University of Pittsburgh Department of Biology
BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Current Student Research Projects:
Determining if TPI[SGK] Flies Exhibit Increased Susceptibility to Infection
Humans with TPI deficiency exhibit reduced ability to fight off infection. We are determining if our fruit fly model for TPI deficiency also exhibit this symptom of the disease by challenging the flies with different bacterial strains.
Examining the Role of Redox in TPI Deficiency
We have found that TPI[sgk] animals are oxidatively stressed. They have increased amounts of oxidized molecules in their cell. The symptoms associated with the mutation worsen with oxidative stressor treatment and improve with reducing stressor treatment. In the future we plan to examine the root cause of this oxidative stress and determine the best mechanism to alleviate the disease pathology it causes.
Validating a Yeast Model System of TPI Deficiency
We are currently working to create a new genetic system to examine the disease TPI deficiency. The student researchers are cloning the known human disease causing mutations into the TPI gene and inserting the constructs into a yeast strain for experimental study. Once the mutant alleles are cloned we plan to examine cell growth, protein stability, and enzyme function.