BME 7900 Seminar - Vivek Unni, PhD



Weill Hall 226


We next welcome Dr. Vivek Unni, who is an Associate Professor in the Departemnt of Neurology and the Jungers Center for Neurosciences Research at Oregon Health & Science University. Alpha-synuclein & Parkinson’s Disease: Opening a New (Cranial) Window onto an Old Problem Bio: Dr. Unni’s research focuses on understanding the role of the protein alpha-synuclein in the mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Multiple lines of evidence suggest that simply increasing levels of this protein by seemingly modest amounts can cause both genetic and idiopathic forms of PD. Dr. Unni uses transgenic models which over-express alpha-synuclein to study how abnormally high levels of this protein cause self-aggregation and neuronal dysfunction in the living brain, using advanced biochemical and in vivo multiphoton imaging techniques. Vivek joined the Department of Neurology and the Parkinson’s Center of Oregon as an Assistant Professor in September 2011. He has an affiliate appointment and laboratory space in the Jungers Center. Vivek received a BS and MS in Chemistry and Biological Sciences from Stanford in 1995. He then earned an MD and PhD from Columbia University in 2003, where his research in Steven Siegelbaum’s lab was on synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Specifically, Vivek used multiphoton imaging and dual whole-cell recording methods to examine the role of presynaptic ryanodine-sensitive calcium stores in long-term depression. After a medical internship at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, he completed a neurology residency and movement disorders fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Before joining OHSU, Vivek was an Instructor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School and a research fellow in the laboratory of Bradley Hyman at Mass General. In his recent work, Vivek has used in vivo multiphoton imaging to examine the trafficking and metabolism of alpha-synuclein in mouse models of Parkinson’s Disease, a focus that he plans to continue at OHSU. In 2010, Vivek received a K08 career development award from NINDS that will allow him the freedom to develop his laboratory. Vivek brings in vivo multiphoton imaging to the substantial imaging expertise already in the Jungers Center.