Network Spotlight

ASAP’s network is formed by a vibrant and ever-growing community of researchers from all over the world who share our commitment to accelerating Parkinson’s discovery through collaboration.

Our network spotlight series and open science champions celebrate individuals and labs that have been recognized for their contributions to ASAP and their commitment to championing open science practices. We are honored to work with a network that believes in our mission just as much as we do.

Spotlight Series

Our spotlight series highlights members of the CRN who have been nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to ASAP’s mission. 

Gurvir Virdi

CRN Young Investigator | Team Wood

As a postdoctoral research fellow in Sonia Gandhi’s lab at University College London and a member of Team Wood, Gurvir Virdi’s research focuses on modeling early events in PD pathology. Using methods he optimized in the lab, Gurvir Virdi was able to identify alpha-synuclein aggregation and calcium dysregulation as early disease pathways in PD from human derived iPSCs harboring SNCA mutations. Ultimately, Gurvir hopes that his work helps to inform and optimize future PD therapeutics.

Follow Gurvir on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Michela Deleidi

Principal Investigator | Team Schapira

Michela Deleidi is an Assistant Professor in Germany’s University of Tübingen. As a Principal Investigator in the CRN’s Team Schapira, she has shared cell lines with other Teams as well as iPSC differentiation protocols for the network to use. She was nominated by her colleagues for her willingness to collaborate and share data with others.

Check out our spotlight of Michela from March 2022, here. Follow Michela on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Devin Snyder

CRN Project Manager | Team Rio

Devin Snyder is a part of Team Rio, which is focused on dissecting the genetic interactions of PD-associated risk loci. Through the CRN Times–a quarterly magazine which she initiated–members of the Collaborative Research Network are able to learn more about the interests and work of their peers, promoting greater collaboration. Devin also supports the success of new Hub users by creating conducive onboarding videos introducing them to the platform.

Check out our spotlight of Devin from December 2021, here. Follow Devin on LinkedIn.

William Hancock-Cerutti

CRN Young Investigator Alum | Team De Camilli

As an alum of Pietro De Camilli’s lab at Yale, Will is studying the role of lipid transfer proteins in neurodegenerative disease. Having recently defended his PhD thesis, he is now working towards completion of his MD, continuing to bring a physician perspective to basic research. In addition to his rigorous studies, Will is an esteemed colleague recognized for fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion, and environmentalism.

Check out our spotlight of William from November 2021, here

Oke Avwenagha

CRN Project Manager | Team Hardy

As the project manager of CRN’s Team Hardy, Oke is spearheading a working group to standardize data collection forms to facilitate comparisons and meta-analysis for all ASAP researchers working with postmortem tissues. Her professionalism and attention to detail go above and beyond and ensure that ASAP’s mission of facilitating collaboration, generating research, enabling resources, and data sharing is achieved.

Check out our spotlight of Oke from October 2021, here

Darren Moore headshotDarren Moore

CRN Investigator | Team Lee

As a member of CRN’s Team Lee, Darren has established a strong track record in the study of gene products associated with familial Parkinson’s disease which offer promising opportunities for the development of new treatments designed to target the root causes of the disease. In addition to his research work, he an extremely nurturing and motivating mentor for next generation PD researchers.

Check out our spotlight of Darren from September 2021, here. Follow Darren on LinkedIn.

Catherine Storm headshotCatherine Storm

CRN Young Investigator | Team Wood

As a member of Team Wood, Catherine has performed excellent quality work in investigating genetic techniques to identify putative drug targets for Parkinson’s disease risk and progression. The work was placed on bioRxiv 15 months before submission, demonstrating Catherine’s commitment to open science. For a junior research fellow, she has shown great maturity in building collaborative efforts across International Parkinson’s Disease Genetics Consortium (IPDGC) and more recently, GP2.

Check out our spotlight of Catherine from August 2021 here, and follow her on Twitter.

Marco Toffoli headshotMarco Toffoli

CRN Young Investigator | Team Schapira

As a member of CRN’s Team Schapira, Marco has worked on GBA mutations in PD for the last three and a half years. He has worked extensively on targeted sequencing of the GBA locus to successfully resolve the entire gene and detect complex SVs. He has multiple open access publications that were released in 2021.

Check out our spotlight of Marco from July 2021 here, and follow him on Twitter.

Francesca Tonelli headshotFrancesa Tonelli 

CRN Project Manager | Team Alessi

As a strong advocate of ASAP’s mission, Francesca oversees all of the collaboration between Team Alessi labs, ensures all data and reagents are shared, deals with finances and administration, arranges meetings, updates websites, mentors young scientists, performs key experiments, and is the go-to person for anyone in the team looking for information.  

Check out our spotlight of Francesca from June 2021 here, and follow her on LinkedIn.

Emil Gustavsson headshotEmil Gustavsson

CRN Young Investigator | Team Wood

As a member of CRN’s Team Wood, Emil has implemented long-read sequencing of RNA to better understand the genome, with a focus on genes relevant for Parkinson’s disease. Particularly, he is working to unravel the link between SNCA splicing and oligomerisation of the protein. The long-term goal is to provide molecular targets, diagnostic and prognostic tools, and research insights to “lower the bar” for major pharmaceutical investment and to help develop disease-modifying therapeutics aimed at neuroprotection.

Check out our spotlight of Emil from May here, and follow him on Twitter.

Dorotea Fracchiolla headshotDorotea Fracchiolla

CRN Project Manager | Team Hurley

As the Project Manager of Team Hurley, Dorotea initiated the Mito911 series that has become extremely popular throughout the network and is always willing to volunteer for different roles, from designing the images for Mito911, to creating cool stop animation videos to explain how autophagy machinery works, and helping steer subgroup meetings with her chairs.

Check out our spotlight of Dorotea from April 2021 here, and follow her on Twitter.

Abby Olsen headshotAbby Olsen

CRN Investigator | Team Scherzer

As a member of CRN’s Team Scherzer, Abby has been working to develop glial-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease, and she is building a comprehensive research program for identifying and determining the mechanism of glial modifiers of α-synuclein toxicity. In her work thus far, she has conducted essential studies demonstrating the validity of this approach and methodically laying the groundwork to launch her independent laboratory.

Check out our spotlight of Abby from April 2021 here, and follow her on Twitter.

Ben Hobson headshotBen Hobson

CRN Young Investigator | Team Sulzer

As a member of CRN’s Team Sulzer, Ben has been exploring the immunological capabilities of dopamine neurons and developing new technology for cell type-specific and subcellular proteomics in the mouse brain.  

Check out our spotlight of Ben from April 2021 here, and follow him on Twitter.

Miratul Muqit headshotMiratul Muqit

CRN Core Leadership | Team Alessi

As a co-Principal Investigator of CRN’s Team Alessi, Miratul has been working to solve one of the hardest questions in Parkinson’s disease research: How do pathogenic mutations in PINK1 affect mitochondrial function (and how do these lead to neurodegeneration)? He is also spearheading the development of tools to monitor PINK pathway signaling.  

Check out our spotlight of Miratul from April 2021 here, and follow him on Twitter.

Open Science Champions

Our open science champions are labs or individuals within the ASAP network who have demonstrated a strong commitment to open science in their work to advance PD research and have been recognized by ASAP and their peers for their work.   

MicrosoftTeams-image (8)

Florian De Rop | Team Voet

Florian De Rop is a member of the Stein Aerts lab at the Collaborative Research Network (CRN). He demonstrates a commitment to open science through his continued engagement with the protocols.io community. As a frequent uploader to the platform, including protocols for execution of HyDrop-ATACproducing microfluid chips, and producing dissolvable and barcoded hydrogel beads, Florian actively responds to comments from viewers and does not hesitate to update his protocols in order to provide additional details and clarification.

The Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program (GP2)

GP2 is committed to increasing ancestral diversity in genetic Parkinson’s research. A central tenet to this project is to build a global interactive research network steeped in open science principles. GP2 recently developed a dashboard to transparently track their progress, has started releasing completed datasets onto the AMP® PD platform for others to use, and developed training materials on how to analyze the data. We wanted to celebrate the leadership of GP2 for embracing open science and the mission of ASAP.

Catherine Oikonomou | Team Gradinaru

Catherine Oikonomou is a project manager of the Collaborative Research Network’s (CRN) Team Gradinaru. She was the first project manager in the Circuitry and Brain-Body Interactions theme to start cataloging the resources of her Team for others within our network to leverage. Check out some of the plasmids for genetically encoded sensors shared by Lin Tian on her team or protocols for intact circuit mapping and subcellular component phenotyping.

Dario Alessi | Team Alessi

For multiple teams in the network, Dario Alessi has been consistently mentioned as a great collaborator—someone who is always willing to share tools and exchange ideas to accelerate discovery in Parkinson’s. Moreover, although not required by ASAP policies, Dario Alessi’s team have proactively shared informational updates around their monthly lab meetings for anyone in the ASAP network to learn from. Their team has also initiated the LRRK2_Central series to stimulate discussions around LRRK2 not just within ASAP, but for the whole scientific community.

Dorotea Fracchiolla headshot

Dorotea Fracchiolla | Team Hurley

Dorotea (Doro) Fracchiolla spearheads the Mito911 Webinar Series, initiated by Team Hurley, which highlights the latest research on Mitochondria & Neurodegeneration throughout the year. She has also catalogued 115 different research outputs that others in the research network can leverage (including 71 Plasmids and 35 Protocols). On an unrelated note, she is also a fantastic scientific illustrator–as anyone who attends her meetings knows from the intro summary slides. Her work was recently featured on the cover of Molecular Cell’s November issue. 

De Camilli Lab | Team De Camilli

In the first year of their ASAP award, the lab drafted four manuscripts. The first was published in the early phases of the funding when grantees were less familiar with ASAP’s progressive open science policies. They were the only team at that time to quickly follow up with a corrigendum to the journal to ensure that the deposited data and protocols were also linked in the manuscript. And they have consistently reached out well in advance (even prior to preprint posting) to undergo an ASAP open access compliance check. 

ASAP recognizes the De Camilli lab for their commitment to ensuring their research outputs are accessible and discoverable to the research community!

Alex Henderson | Team Studer

Alex reached out to ASAP staff asking to take the lead on standardizing some of the QC iPSC efforts across the network. Currently, he is working with Gist Croft and Tim Ahfeldt to survey our network, develop initial QC recommendations and establish minimal criteria for defining differentiated cell types using cell markers and functional assays across the multiple groups using iPSCs. These processes are critical to future meta-data analysis resulting from our ASAP teams working with iPSCs. Additionally, Alex has posted many of the Team’s protocols on Protocols.io.

ASAP celebrates Alex’s commitment to ensuring that all research outputs—regardless of being funded by ASAP—are being made accessible and discoverable to the PD community at large!

Harper Lab | Team Harper

On July 19th, the Harper lab posted their “Quantitative proteomics reveals the selectivity of ubiquitin-binding autophagy receptors in the turnover of damaged lysosomes by lysophagy” preprint. After sending it to ASAP for a compliance check, they quickly updated it to include a data availability statement highlighting that their mass spectrometry proteomics data is deposited in PRIDE as well as sharing the tabular source data in supplemental figures.

ASAP commends team Harper lab’s responsiveness to ensuring that datasets are made available. Check the article out (now published), and in case you missed it, check out the tweetorial by first-author Vinay Eapen highlighting Harper Lab’s work.

Stein Aerts Lab | Team Voet

In June 2021, the lab posted a new preprint around HyDrop, a new, flexible and open-source droplet microfluidic protocol for single-cell RNA- and single-cell ATAC sequencing. They also shared all associated research outputs (new code, protocols, and datasets) with their preprint.

Within a month of posting there were: 

  • Over 3,500 preprint views
  • Over 1,200 preprint downloads
  • Over 130 tweets about the preprint
  • Over 200 unique protocol views, bookmarking, and multiple exports 

The lab has also developed its own website for related outputs to the preprint so that anyone can replicate or re-use the methods they developed. ASAP celebrates Stein Aerts lab for their commitment to open science.

Follow ASAP on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more about our researchers, and keep up with the latest in this series.