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Research Position in the Li Lab

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a public health crisis. Currently, no effective strategies to prevent or slow AD exist, largely due to the lack of a complete understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to AD pathophysiology. While it is known that plasma lipoproteins regulate blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity and modulate neuroinflammation, no studies have examined altered distributions of proteins among plasma lipoproteins as pro-inflammatory mechanisms underlying BBB integrity and neuroinflammation that may contribute to amyloid deposition, neurodegeneration, and cognitive decline in AD. The status quo for studying plasma lipoproteins in AD is to use unfractionated plasma, which has generated only modest associations because it does not discern individual plasma lipoprotein classes. Our preliminary data suggest that the use of fractionated plasma lipoproteins identifies more proteins with much stronger associations with AD when compared with analyses of unfractionated plasma. Thus, proteomics analyses of fractionated plasma lipoproteins have considerable potential to reveal important correlations between plasma lipoproteins and AD pathophysiology, fundamentally change our understanding of vascular mechanisms involved in AD development and progression, and drive research in new directions that may lead to significant advances to prevent AD or slow its progression. Our long-term goal is to develop plasma biomarkers to aid in AD diagnosis, prognosis, and risk stratification, as well as to provide novel therapeutic targets for AD prevention and treatment. The objective of the proposed study is to identify protein biomarkers in plasma lipoproteins that are indicative of abnormal amyloid deposition in the brain and are predictive of cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults.

This opportunity is for UROP and/or directed research. Possible projects include:
1. Development of immunoprecipitation protocols to isolate plasma lipoproteins
2. Optimize trypsin digestion protocol to digest plasma lipoproteins
3. Comparison of different methods to isolate plasma lipoproteins
4. Characterize size distributions of isolated plasma lipoproteins

Work requires precision and attention to detail.  Individual must be able to learn and pick things up quickly. Individual should have strong written communication and interpersonal skills. Must have the ability to read and interpret direction, both oral and written, organize and prioritize work and follow through on assignments. Must be able to work successfully as part of a team. Expected work time is 10-12 hours per week.

For more information and to apply, please contact Dr. Danni Li at and include an unofficial transcript and resume, if available.

September, 2018