The goal of our laboratory is to define the molecular pathways necessary to maintain homeostasis in both developing and aging mammalian neurons. To do this we utilize forward genetics to identify mutations that are associated with loss of neurons in the aging mouse brain. To further dissect pathways underlying homeostatic disruption and disease, we also use forward genetics to identify genetic variants that enhance or suppress neural phenotypes. Our approach allows the identification, without a priori assumptions, of molecules critical for neuron homeostasis and survival, and indeed we have discovered disruptions in several novel pathways that were not previously associated with loss of neuronal function or survival. We are particularly interested in the role of alterations in translation elongation, translational fidelity, proteostasis, and RNA metabolism in neuronal function.
Susan Ackerman received her Ph.D. from UCLA and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Illinois Medical School and the Wistar Institute. Prior to her move to UCSD in 2016, Dr. Ackerman was a Professor at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine where she was a faculty member for nineteen years. She has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2005.