Research Summary: Neurological diseases represent a growing health challenge in the 21st century, especially as human populations live longer, leading to an increased potential for diseases stemming from neurodegeneration, among other causes.
Our group—the Nutrition/Diet and Neurological Disease (ND)2 laboratory—is interested in the connection between diet and the progression of neuropathological conditions. Using Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies as a model system, our group studies specifically how caloric restriction, or diets that mimic caloric restriction (particularly the ketogenic diet), may prevent onset—or ameliorate symptoms—of prevalent neuropathies in fly models of diseases such as epilepsy, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about the interplay between diet and disease and to try to identify molecular mediators of alternative diets as well as to analyze disease outcomes, our research group uses techniques ranging from genetics, biochemistry and pharmacology, to anatomical studies, to behavioral assays. In so doing, we hope to identify potential pharmacological targets for disease treatments that may be able to replace complicated and strenuous dietary regimens with simple administration of drugs.