The Egelman lab studies the structure and function of protein polymers using electron cryo-microscopy. Neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by the buildup of plaques containing protein filaments called amyloid fibers. Different proteins can form these amyloid fibers in different conditions: For example, beta amyloid and tau proteins aggregate in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease, while the alpha-synuclein protein accumulates in patients with Parkinson's. I will untangle how a handful of proteins form amyloid fibers, including those known to be involved in neurodegenerative disease—monitoring not only how the structures are initiated but also the steps required for them to grow and form the mature fibers found in disease. This work could lead to the discovery of compounds that can block the construction of these damaging protein fibers or to new approaches for the diagnostic imaging of neurodegenerative disease.