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Todd Cohen PhD and Jonathan Schisler PhD
Todd Cohen, PhD, and Jonathan Schisler, PhD

Todd Cohen, PhD, assistant professor of neurology with an adjunct appointment in biochemistry and biophysics, and Jonathan Schisler, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, were awarded a $3.1-million grant from the National Institute on Aging titled, “Dual CHIP Functions Control Tau Triage in Alzheimer’s Disease.”

The five-year project will combine the complimenting expertise of Cohen and Schisler, allowing them to study like never before key concepts related to the regulation of tau, a protein that accumulates and aggregates in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  The overarching goal of the study is to provide a new framework to better understand and target pathological tau species to alleviate tau-mediated toxicity and neurodegeneration in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Cohen, a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center, is an expert in tau biology, focusing on how specific modifications to the tau protein contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive dysfunction. Schisler, who holds a joint appointment in the department of pathology and lab medicine and is a member of the McAllister Heart Institute, is an expert in the C-terminal Hsc-70 interacting protein (CHIP), an enzyme that functions as a key regulator of protein quality control, particularly in age-related diseases.

The study will define the critical events that occur during early-stage tau triage, a time period in healthy adults during which aberrant tau aggregation is counteracted by a neuroprotective response that involves the activity of CHIP.

By better understanding the intricacies of this biological process, the researchers hope to gain insights to inform the development of future therapeutic options for patients.