R. Grace Zhai, Ph.D.

Title
Associate Professor
Department
Department of Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology
Institution
University of Miami
Address
1600 NW 10th Avenue
Rosenstiel Medical Sciences Building 6069
City, State, Zip
Miami, FL 33136
Phone
(305) 243-6316
E-mail
gzhai[at]med.miami.edu
Website
http://biomed.miami.edu/?p=487&pid=378&m=facultyph&mid=3&item=37
Research Field
Neuroscience
Award Year
2009

Research

The research in my laboratory is directed toward understanding the genetic and cellular basis of neural development, maintenance and degeneration using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Healthy neurons are able to maintain their integrity throughout the lifespan, suggesting the existence of a maintenance mechanism that allows neurons to sustain or even repair damage. When such a maintenance system is damaged (owing to a genetic mutation for example), or there is a toxic insult at levels surpassing the maintenance capacity, neurons will deteriorate. Conversely, strengthening the maintenance system may serve to increase the capability of neurons to tolerate insults, from internal or external sources. Therefore, studying the mechanisms of neuronal maintenance will help us understand the process of neurodegeneration, and more importantly uncover potential mechanisms of neuronal protection.