The focus of my research has been on the neurodegenerative mechanisms underlying Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder characterized by the loss of dopamine-containing neurons of the brain. The McConnell Fellowship I received in the fall of 2001 allowed me to establish and use several techniques to examine further the cellular machinery that triggers degeneration.
Establishing these techniques required time and an investment of funds. My McConnell grant provided my students and me with the equipment and materials necessary to further our understanding of the cell and those processes necessary to cellular survival or those induced-mechanisms that result in cell death. It allowed students to design experiments in cellular-based biology courses at Cornell. In addition, the funding supported a series of experiments germane to understanding the mechanisms underlying cell death in neurodegenerative disorders.
A number of student-faculty research grants have allowed me to establish the techniques necessary for performing cell and tissue culture research at Cornell, and the McConnell grant permitted the extension of these techniques to include quantifiable measures of cell viability and of alterations in biochemical events occurring within cells. Using these techniques, students will gain valuable insight into the environmental and nutritional requirements for the maintenance of living cells. Students will be able to follow alterations induced in cells by certain toxic substances and the ability of pharmacologic agents to inhibit or block the toxic effects of these substances.