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Parkinson’s Research Foundation: Brochure 19

He joined the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University in 1999 to undertake post doctoral studies and was promoted to the faculty position of Research Assistant Professor in 2001. His research focuses on dopamine signaling and DARPP-32 and how certain drugs alter dopamine signaling. He has also discovered a connection between dopamine and the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which is involved in depression and mood. Dr. Svenningsson’s work bridges the gap between schizophrenia and PD in that it relates abnormal dopamine signaling to the production of psychotic states and to the hallucinations suffered by some PD patients from L-dopa use. Therefore, one outcome of his research may be the ability to design new drugs that hit very specific targets, so that dopamine signaling can be restored without the unwanted side effects that sometimes result from L-dopa.

Yong Kim, Ph.D.

Dr. Yong Kim is a post-doctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Korea. His current studies focus on the molecular mechanism of spine formation by Cdk5. Recently he has found a multi-protein complex as a downstream target of Cdk5. The complex is highly implicated in de novo synthesis of actin filaments which is a fundamental process required for spine formation. Dr. Kim’s future studies will focus on the biochemical characterization of the protein complex and elucidation of the role of the protein complex in spine formation of dopamine sensitive neurons, especially after administration of addictive drugs. Because Cdk5 is known to be involved in PD and other neurodegenerative diseases, Dr. Yong’s study could uncover the factors that cause the death of dopamine producing neurons in PD, and thus to the discovery of drugs that prevent destruction of these neurons.

Marc Flajolet, Ph.D.

Dr. Marc Flajolet is a young scientist who accomplished his studies in France at the University of Paris VII where he got his Ph.D. with the highest honors. During his Ph.D., he was working at the Pasteur Institute in Dr. Tiollais’ laboratory, a world famous scientist well known for his work on the Hepatitis B virus vaccine. After his Ph.D., Marc Flajolet worked one more year at the Pasteur Institute where he was awarded the most honorific fellowship of the Institute. During his Ph.D. and for the year after, Marc Flajolet’s work was focusing more and more on protein-protein interaction identification. After deciding to apply his knowledge to the new field of neurodegenerative diseases, he joined Dr. Greengard’s laboratory. Now his goals are to find and study new putative drug targets for Parkinson’s disease. The main aspect of his work is to search for protein-protein interactions that are crucial for the development and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and to screen for molecules that modulate those interactions, hoping that molecules will slow down, stop or reverse the pathological symptoms of PD.