Dr. Joongkyu Park's interdisciplinary and inter-institutional partnership wins support from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Joongkyu Park, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, and Jeeyun Chung, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard, received funding for their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) pilot grant.

The grant provides $200,000 for a pilot phase that lasts 18 months and aims to develop a Phase 2 project plan. Advancement to Phase 2 will see the collaborators apply for an acceleration grant of $400,000 per year for four years, with the entirety of the funding for Phases 1 and 2 totaling $1.8 million.

Their proposal, entitled “Spatial and functional identities of brain lipid droplets,” aims to overcome the critical challenge of a “lack of molecular tools and cellular models that allow for comprehensive profiling of LDs at a cell-type-specific resolution” by bringing together a neuroscientist focused on brain biochemistry and a cell biologist specializing in LD biology.

“By combining our knowledge and resources, we can effectively tackle complex questions at the intersection of lipid cell biology and neurodegeneration, leveraging each other’s strengths to advance our understanding of brain lipid droplet biology,” said Park and Chung.

Given his focus on the synaptic molecular dynamics that underlies memory formation in health, including impairments in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias; given her focus on how cells organize and utilize lipids for cellular functions, including why their dysregulation is associated with many metabolic diseases and neurological disorders; the partnership between Park and Chung will prove especially fruitful for understanding both the areas of neurobiology and synaptic networks and the areas of organelle biology and lipid metabolism.

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