Georgetown Scientific Research Journal GSR Journal
Alexander Missner is a senior at Georgetown University majoring in Neurobiology and minoring in Jewish Civilization. Alex will be attending Georgetown University School of Medicine as a Sweeney Scholar in the Fall of 2021.
Involvement in Research:
As a pre-medical student interested in neurobiology, Alex shadows neurologists in the Movement Disorders Clinic at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC). His experience in helping with patient care for neurodegenerative diseases inspired him to get involved in research in the Department of Neurology. Alex joined the Laboratory for Dementia and Parkinsonism in the Spring of 2018. Under the mentorship of his lab’s Private Investigator, Dr. Charbel Moussa, he participates in translational research on neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Moussa’s lab studies neurodegenerative diseases marked by proteinopathies, which refers to diseases in which neurotoxic proteins accumulate abnormally in the brain. These diseases include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. The lab also evaluates the potential of novel therapeutic drugs to clear neurotoxic proteins in order to reduce neuropathology in these diseases in pre-clinical animal models and in clinical trials. These novel therapeutic drugs target tyrosine kinases and are showing promising results. These tyrosine kinases are activated in neurodegenerative diseases, and pharmacologically inhibiting these upregulated tyrosine kinases can facilitate the autophagic clearance of the neurotoxic proteins. Alex evaluates these novel drugs in cell and animal models of neurodegenerative diseases for their safety and efficacy for the purpose of clinical development.
Participating in translational research with the goal of helping of helping patients who have neurodegenerative diseases has been very meaningful to Alex as it has furthered his aspirations of becoming a physician. The opportunity to see patients and conduct research at Georgetown has been exciting by providing exposure to cutting-edge treatment and research. It has been especially valuable seeing the multidisciplinary, collaborative approach fostered in the clinic and the lab. These experiences have propelled Alex to conduct a senior capstone thesis in Dr. Moussa’s lab under the Georgetown University Biology Department’s Research-Intensive Senior Experience program.
Written by Danya Adams and Nesreen Shahrour