PiN Faculty Member - Mel Feany, MD, PhD

Mel Feany, MD, PhD

Professor of Pathology

Harvard Medical School
Pathology, NRB, Rm. 630
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-525-4405
Fax: 617-525-4422
Visit my lab page here.

The molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in human disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease remain largely mysterious, in part because genetic analysis in patients and vertebrate models is laborious. Disease models in simpler organisms, like Drosophila, harness the power of genetics to define cellular pathways underlying the specific destruction of postmitotic neurons in neurodegenerative disorders. In our laboratory we have created fruit fly models of several human diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene cause familial Parkinson's disease, and alpha-synuclein protein accumulates in intraneuronal inclusion bodies in both familial and non-familial Parkinson's disease. By expressing normal and mutant human alpha-synuclein in flies, we have recreated key features of the human disorder: Dopaminergic neurodegeneration, intracytoplasmic neuronal inclusion bodies containing a-synuclein, and progressive locomotor dysfunction. We have taken similar approaches to modeling Alzheimer's disease, and other less common disorders in Drosophila. Genetic screens have been performed in these models to define the cellular pathways mediating neurodegeneration. These screens have revealed, and continue to reveal, novel mechanisms of molecular pathogenesis, which we have confirmed as conserved by analysis of patient tissue and vertebrate models of disease.

Last Update: 9/16/2020


For a complete listing of publications click here.



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