David Hansen, PhD

Recent studies in human genetics and animal models have revealed that microglia—the brain's resident immune cells—play a crucially protective role in preventing Alzheimer's disease (AD) and that deficits in microglial function lie at the heart of AD pathogenesis. The objectives of my research laboratory are to understand how microglial protective activities intersect with the amyloid hypothesis and to identify therapeutic targets that regulate these protective activities to prevent or slow AD progression. While many AD risk genes are expressed by microglia, the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which they impact AD pathogenesis are not well understood. This project will investigate whether PILRA, a microglia-expressed gene in an AD risk locus, suppresses AD-protective signaling networks and microglial functions in cultured cells and in animal disease models.