Joel Blanchard
Joel Blanchard - PhD
Glenn/AFAR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Translational Research on Aging - 2018
Joel Blanchard

Joel Blanchard - PhD

Postdoctoral Associate - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts, USA


Glenn/AFAR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Translational Research on Aging - 2018

Understanding Myelin Degeneration in Alzheimer's Disease and Aging

Oligodendrocytes (OLs) are specialized brain cells that insulate and protect neurons, supporting brain processes such as learning and memory. Myelin is a mixture of proteins and phospholipids that protect nerve fibers and improve impulse speed. The degeneration of myelin and OLs come with aging and predate cognitive decline. In diseases where brain aging is accelerates, OLs are the first cell types to degenerate. In a preliminary study, it was found that OLs are one of the most significantly altered cell types in AD brain. This suggests that OLs play a central role in age-related neurodegeneration, could provide novel biomarkers to identify premature aging, and are potential therapeutic targets for AD and cognitive decline.

In the proposed study, Dr. Joel Blanchard will investigate how genetic and environmental factors associated with cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) influence myelinating cells and neuronal health. Dr. Blanchard and his collaborators will do this through a 3D model of human myelination in a tissue culture dish. By observing this model of AD-related neurodegeneration, they can see how OLs change over the course of AD, leading to better understanding how OLs impact the brain during aging and AD, and possibly leading to identifying early warning signs of poor cognitive aging and developing therapies for healthier cognitive aging.

View all grantees for Glenn/AFAR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Translational Research on Aging in 2018

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