Aimee Kao, MD, PhD

Associate Professor
Neurology
415-502-7123

The molecular basis neurodegenerative diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are fundamentally the result of aberrant proteostasis within neurons. My lab is interested in understanding the basic cell and molecular changes leading to this aberrant proteostasis in Alzheimer Disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration and other neurodegenerative conditions. In particular, we are focused on the consequences of impaired autophagy and lysosomal function. The lysosome is not only the cell’s garbage can—rather, it is a central regulator of homeostasis, responsible for protein and lipid recycling, amino acid storage, appropriate stress response and regulated cell growth. We have shown that mutations responsible for neurodegenerative diseases can directly alter lysosome function with pleotropic downstream consequences. Our current work utilizes C. elegans, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and other cellular models to decipher how alterations in lysosome function, autophagy, cell and organelle pH and stress response programs can lead to neuronal dysfunction and death.

Current Projects

  • Granulins as inhibitors of lysosomal cathepsin activity
  • Regulated cleavage of progranulin into granulins
  • Modulation of ER stress in the pathogenesis of tauopathies
  • The mTOR pathway in autophagy regulation
  • Dysregulation of pH dynamics in Alzheimer Disease pathogenesis

Lab Members

Carolina Alquezar Burillo, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

Shruti Arya
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

Carolina Alquezar Burillo, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

Nina Schultz, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

Paul Sampognaro, MD
Clinical Instructor
[email protected]

Andrea Argouarch
Associate Specialist
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Austin Wang
Neuroscience Graduate Student
[email protected]

Marcus Chin
PSPG Graduate Student
[email protected]

Mackenzie Welch
Neuroscience Graduate Student
[email protected]

Joanne De Torres
Lab Assistant
[email protected]

Christian Ivan Corrales
Staff Research Associate

Emma Courtney
Undergraduate Volunteer

David Carachure
Undergraduate Volunteer

Lab Website

 

Academic community service and committee membership:

NS Diversity Co-Chair, NS Formal Seminar Committee, NS Curriculum Committee, NS Student Advisors/Student Progress, First-year advisor, Advise in BM and MSTP, hosted 3 SRTP students, MSTP Executive committee, Neurology Advancement and Promotions, have undergone extensive DEI training

Publications: