Tara Tracy, PhD, has been appointed assistant professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, effective September 1. Her lab will focus on the deterioration of synapses, the specialized structures critical for the transmission of information between neurons in the brain, as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. Her ultimate goal is to establish a foundation for new treatment strategies to restore synaptic function and improve cognition at the early stages of disease progression. Tracy comes to the Buck from the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease where her research was published in leading journals including Neuron and Nature Medicine. Her work is focused on tau proteins which stabilize microtubules in nerve cells. Abnormal tau proteins result in toxic forms which accumulate in the brain and contribute to the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. “Tara has already made impressive contributions to our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. We are thrilled to welcome her to our faculty,” said Eric Verdin, MD, Buck Institute President and CEO. “I am certain she will enhance our focus on neurodegeneration and help us deliver on our mission to help people live better longer.” “I am very excited to join the Buck faculty,” said Tracy. “The Institute provides such a great environment for cutting-edge science. I’m sure that working side-by-side with researchers immersed in studying aging will enrich my efforts as well as those working in my lab.” Tracy has some familiarity with the Buck. She was lead author of cover story research published in Neuronwhich involved collaborations with Buck professors Lisa Ellerby and Birgit Schilling. The study delineated a mechanism underlying the loss of synaptic plasticity in tau pathology. Tracy, who was born in Brooklyn, NY, earned her PhD in neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. She became a research scientist at the Gladstone Institute following postdoctoral training there. She was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute on Aging and a BrightFocus Foundation Fellowship for her postdoctoral research to uncover mechanisms that promote memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.
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