Gwendalyn King, Ph.D.
Primary Department Affiliation: Neurobiology
Primary Research Area: Neurodegeneration and Neurodegenerative Disorders
Dr. King received her Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular Biology from Purdue University. She received Master and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan. She was a postdoctoral fellow under Drs. Maria Castro and Pedro Lowenstein at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/UCLA where she was awarded an F32 fellowship from NINDS. Her work focused on neuroimmunology and the development of novel glioma therapeutics using adenoviral vectors. She worked with Carmela Abraham at Boston University School of Medicine as an Instructor to understand the role of the anti-aging gene Klotho in the brain. At BUSM she was awarded a K99/R00 from NIA. She joined the faculty at UAB in 2011.
Work in the King Lab is centered around understanding the difference between pathological and non-pathological brain aging. While every brain ages, not every brain develops neurodegenerative disorders. It is clear that to treat neurodegeneration, therapies must target the earliest breakpoints from what is considered normal. As such, greater understanding of the process of brain aging must be elucidated.
Current work in the lab involves characterizing the anti-aging gene Klotho. Very little is known about the role of Klotho in the brain beyond descriptions of what occurs when Klotho is knocked out of the entire body. As Klotho is naturally age-downregulated in humans and rodents, it is one of a select group of proteins that is decreased by the aging process. The lab is working to determine why and how it is downregulated. As well, the lab is working to characterize the overall regulation of Klotho both pre and post-transcriptionally to understand the pathways in which Klotho is directly involved. Recent investigations indicate that there may be a role for Klotho in both glioma therapy and as a synaptic protein. The lab is working to understand both the normal role of Klotho in the brain and how its expression may be therapeutic in brain disorders.