I am a neuroscientist with formal training in developmental neurobiology, biology of aging, Alzheimer’s disease and translational science. A primary goal of my research is to understand cellular and molecular processes driving neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment during the prodromal period associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. My program utilizes postmortem human brain tissue to develop clinically relevant hypothesis that I test in transgenic mouse models of neurodegeneration. Using this strategy, my work was the first to identify a link between tau pathology and cellular senescence, the quintessence of latent tissue degeneration. Pharmacological agents with age-modifying properties effectively cleared senescent brain cells and reduced neurotoxicity in transgenic mice. Our publication (Musi N…Orr ME, 2018) trended in the top 15 on PubMed Tracker, and gained attention from the general public, where it was highlighted in Forbes magazine. I have received funding by the VA and NIH to continue this area of investigation, which has catapulted my independent career, and ignited a new field of study.
The NIH’s National Advisory Council on Aging recently listed, “Understanding Senescence in Brain Aging and Alzheimer’s” as an Approved Concept. If selected as a recipient for this program, my New Vision Investigator Award research proposal would investigate molecular mechanisms responsible for neuronal senescence. Prior to our work, mitotic cells were believed incapable of acquiring a canonical senescence phenotype. Therefore our innovative research is propelling a dogma shift in neurobiology, the biology of aging and Alzheimer’s disease research. My leadership in this field is exemplified by my recent invitation to participate in a NIA-sponsored workshop, Senescence in Brain Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. Along with fourteen other invited scientists, we will discuss the status of the field and its future directions. As an emerging leader in this new field, I am qualified and committed to continue driving biomedical research in cellular senescence and how it impacts brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.