Monday, November 8, 2010

Amy Dubinsky, a student in Professor Beverly Davidson's lab, studies the molecular and genetic factors that contribute to Huntington's Disease (HD). HD is a neurodegenerative disease that affects discrete regions of the brain. Degeneration in these brain regions results in movement/coordination and cognitive decline, which ultimately leads to death. Currently, the disease is untreatable.

For reasons that are incompletely understood, an introduction of repetitive sequences into a gene called Huntingtin (Htt) causes a normally healthy molecule to become pathogenic. Dubinsky is researching if other genes may enhance the toxic effect of Htt in the affected brain regions.

"Any progress we can make to understand the molecular or genetic events important for initiating early pathogenic events in the brains of patients with HD may one day be used as a potential therapeutic target that may prevent or improve outcomes for these individuals," Dubinsky said.

Dubinsky, who earned a B.S. degree in biology at the University of Puget Sound, enjoys working in a collaborative research community at the UI.

"This supportive and generous academic environment has provided me with a diverse research experience I may not have had the opportunity to participate in at a larger research institution," she said.