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 celebrates individuals and labs that have been recognized for their contributions to ASAP. In 2022, many of our Network Spotlight nominees are Young Investigators. We are honored to work with a network formed by researchers at all career stages who believe in our mission just as much as we do, dedicated to accelerating the pace of discovery for Parkinson’s disease through collaboration, research-enabling resources, and data sharing.
Our spotlight series highlights members of the CRN who have been nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to ASAP’s mission.
CRN Young Investigator | Team Alessi
Alexia Kalogeropulou is a graduate student at the University of Dundee’s MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit. As a member of Team Alessi, she spearheaded a study examining 98 different Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) variants linked to Parkinson’s impacted activity of LRRK2. This work provides new insights into how pathogenic mutations activate LRRK2.
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.
Hanqin Li and Oriol Busquets Figueras
CRN Young Investigator | Team Rio
Hanqin Li is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and a part of ASAP’s Hockemeyer Lab (Team Rio). Oriol Busquets Figueras is a postdoctoral researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a part of ASAP’s Soldner Lab (Team Rio). Through their collaboration, Hanqin and Oriol helped develop a novel prime edited-based genome editing platform for human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). They utilized this new approach to generate multiple hPSC lines containing familial Parkinson’s disease associated mutations, with the goal of studying how these different genetic variations contribute to the development of Parkinson’s.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.