GRAHAM, Rona K.

Gerosciences Axis

Contact

819 346-1110 , 16813
Title

Chairholder of the Canada Research Chair in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology-Physiology
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Université de Sherbrooke

Training

Postdoctorate in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Ph.D. Genetic Medicine
B.Sc Genetic Biology

Research Themes

The Mechanisms of programmed cell death

Aging and the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases

Research Topics

Rona Graham is a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke's Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Her expertise is in the mechanisms of programmed cell death as well as in aging and the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases.

Neurodegeneration, the loss of neuron structure and functions in the brain, causes cellular dysfunction, eventually leading to the death of brain cells. This cellular dysfunction can cause a loss of cognition and mobility. Cerebral attacks and other neurological diseases which include Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's diseases result from neurodegenerative processes. With an increasing life expectancy (longevity), the incidence of these neurodegenerative disorders is growing significantly. These disorders now affect millions of persons globally. It is worth noting that research indicates there are cellular mechanism similarities across many types of neurodegenerative diseases, which raises the hope that joint or similar treatments can be used to overcome some of them.

Prof. Rona Graham is currently examining how proteins involved in cell death are regulated in aging, and how they can be altered by the development of degenerative diseases.

The activation of caspases - proteins involved in cell death - and the segmentation of specific proteins are crucial to the development of certain types of neurodegenerative diseases. Research shows that the activation of caspase-6 (CASP6), a type of molecular scissor, occurs early in the neurodegenerative process. In fact, its activation has been observed in brains impaired by Alzheimer's and Huntingdon's diseases in the preclinical state.

Prof. Graham is investigating the biology of caspase-6 along with other caspases in order to develop treatments which could delay or prevent nerve cell atrophy. Her research sheds significant light on the mechanisms involved in neurodegenerative diseases. It will also contribute to our understanding of crucial factors enabling caspase regulation.

The ultimate goal of Dr. Graham's research is to identify the common and critical stages in the development of neurodegenerative diseases and to help identify treatments which could one day delay or prevent cerebral degeneration.

Return to researchers list