Gareth Howell, PhD

For almost fifteen years my research has aimed to understand the contributions of neuroinflammation and vascular health to cognitive aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Due to my training at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), I initially used genetic and genomic approaches to show neuroinflammation and vascular changes were early components of glaucoma. This work was performed as a Research Scientist in the lab of Howard Hughes Investigator Dr. Simon John. When I established my own lab at JAX in 2012, I expanded my interests and applied similar approaches to identify mechanisms involved in neuroinflammation and cerebrovascular health in the aging brain and in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it became clear that existing models of both Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma were limited. Therefore, a major aim of my lab has become to work collaboratively to develop models of neurodegenerative diseases that more faithfully recapitulate human forms of the disease. This led to the establishment in 2016 of the NIA-funded MODEL-AD (Model Organisms Development and Evaluation for Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease - a collaboration between JAX, Indiana University, Sage Bionetworks, University of Pittsburg and University California Irvine. This BrightFocus application is the first necessary steps in understanding one major loci associated with glaucoma, namely 9p21, to provide the foundation for developing improved models for glaucoma.