Lucía Chávez-Gutiérrez, PhD

Dr. Lucía Chávez-Gutiérrez holds a PhD in Sciences with a major in Biochemistry from the National University of Mexico. Her fascination for proteases motivated her postdoctoral studies on gamma-secretase (GSEC) intramembrane proteases in the laboratory of Prof. Bart De Strooper at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Dr. Chávez-Gutiérrez’ research on GSECs and their pathogenic involvement in the familial form of Alzheimer‘s disease (AD) has settled down a long-standing “loss-of-function vs. gain-of-function” debate on the aetiology of familial AD (Chávez-Gutiérrez et al, EMBO 2012; Szaruga et al, JEM 2015 and Veugelen et al, Neuron 2016). Dr. Chávez-Gutiérrez is group leader at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain and Disease Research ( and Assistant Professor at the University of Leuven. Her mechanistic work depicts GSECs as metastable structures and AD-linked mutations as destabilizing variants that weaken GSEC and APP (enzyme and substrate) interactions during proteolysis, and thereby lead to the enhanced generation of longer amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides (Szaruga et al, Cell 2017, Petit et al, EMBO 2019). Importantly, these findings put forward a novel model for the sporadic and most common form of AD, in which environmental factors modulating the stability of GSEC-APP interactions alter the risk for developing AD. Dr. Chávez-Gutiérrez investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying AD-pathogenesis with the aim of providing firm ground for the development of therapeutic strategies to delay or halt the disease.