Our Research

Dr. Mastrianni’s research, which has received funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Alzheimer’s Association, among many others, focuses on understanding animal and human prion diseases. These are progressive neurodegenerative disorders that are also transmissible. They include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker disease, fatal insomnia, and mad cow disease, among others. Prion diseases share many similarities with more common neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Thus, Dr. Mastrianni’s studies that are aimed at understanding and correcting the underlying defect in prion diseases help researchers to better understand these more common diseases, as well. In fact, Dr. Mastrianni’s recent research has identified a direct link between prion disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This is a major focus of study, as is developing a gene therapy against prion disease.

Adapted from Soto and Pritzkow, Nature Neuroscience, 2018;

Lee et al., Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives, 2013