Assistant Researcher, PBRC
University of Hawaiʻi, Ph.D. (Biomedical Science)
Mills College, B.A. (Biochemistry)
My lab seeks to understand the role of voltage-gated ion channels in mediating the mechanisms underlying the neurodegenerative and metabolic processes involved in diabetes, schizophrenia, HIV, and drug addiction. In particular, we examine the role of voltage-gated calcium channels in promoting cellular and electrical changes and calcium homeostasis dysregulation in response to methamphetamine (METH) exposure and HIV-Tat protein (transactivator of transcription required for HIV-1 replication). Both METH and Tat protein are known to have neurotoxic affects. These effects may be modulated by apolipoprotein E (APOE), a protein that belongs to a lipid-transport family. Our previous studies suggest that the variant APOE4, a well-established genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurological disorders, also contributes to brain injury and cognitive impairment in the presence of HIV infection. It is not known how HIV together with METH contribute further to neuronal and brain injury in the presence of the APOE4. We also explore how APOE4 directly influences electrical activities in neurons and we investigate whether a specific K+ channel is a site of APOE4 action. To achieve this, we measure APOE4 protein’s ability to inhibit K+ ion movement through the channel pore and subsequently determine how this would affect intracellular calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis of neurons.
Grants Support Schizophrenia Studies (Honolulu Star-Bulletin; August 26, 2004)
UH Mānoa Geneticist Receives 2004 Young Investigator Award (UHNews; July 20, 2004)