Akizu Laboratory

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The Akizu Lab is hiring technicians and postdocs to study genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that determine human brain complexity in health and diseases. Interested candidates should email thir CV to Naiara at aquizun@chop.edu.

We enjoy working alongside creative lab technicians, graduate students, and postdocs with innate curiosity and a passion for science.

Visit the Our Team page for more information.

The exponential increase of genetic studies over the last few decades has uncovered numerous genetic variants associated to neurological disorders. Often, these variants are widely expressed in every tissue, and yet they exclusively disrupt the development, function, or viability of specific neural populations. In fact, specific neuronal vulnerability is surprisingly common in many neurological diseases.

But why are some neurons vulnerable to disease stimuli and why are others resistant? What determines the response of each neural type to diverse physiological and pathological conditions? And how does each neural type acquire and maintain specialized functions? These are the central questions that guide research in the Akizu Lab, which works toward a better understanding of human brain complexity in health and disease.

Following an inside-out approach, the Akizu Lab studies pathogenic mechanisms caused by particular genetic mutations and then uncovers common features that provide vulnerability to neuronal types affected by diverse genetic mutations.

The team's current focus centers on childhood neurodegenerative disorders of the cerebellum and motoneurons associated to perturbed protein synthesis and degradation events. These are often caused by mutations in widely expressed genes and yet mostly affect specific types of neurons.

Join Us

The Akizu Lab offers a wonderful opportunity to work in a collaborative, inspiring, and fun environment, while learning about one of the most fascinating biological structures in nature: our brain.

Here are some research questions that excite us:

  • How is the energy molecule balance (i.e. ATP and GTP) regulated in the brain? And how does this affect the human brain function and complexity?
  • Does protein synthesis regulation cooperate with transcriptional mechanisms for neuronal diversity generation during development?
  • Is there a neuronal diversification of autophagic regulation?
  • Can we rationally develop novel therapeutic targets for medulloblastoma?

Are you interested in exploring these topics with the Akizu Lab?

Leader

Naiara Akizu, PhD

Researcher
Dr. Akizu's research focuses on cerebellar ataxias and motoneuron disorders, with the specific goals of uncovering the particularities of these neuronal types, understanding disease mechanisms, and exploring treatment options.