jill butler napieralaAssistant Professor

Research Areas
Molecular mechanisms of Friedreich’s ataxia

Research Interests

My research efforts are devoted to defining molecular mechanisms underlying the most commonly inherited ataxia in humans, Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA). FRDA is a severe and progressive neurodegenerative disease that is caused by reduced expression of the Frataxin (FXN) gene. The majority of people diagnosed with FRDA carry homozygous GAA repeat expansions in intron 1 of the FXN gene, while some are compound heterozygotes and carry an expanded GAA repeat tract on one allele and a missense or nonsense mutation on the other. The most common result of both types of lesions is lower levels of frataxin, a mitochondrial protein involved in iron sulfur cluster biosynthesis. FRDA affects multiple organ systems and there is no cure for this disease, nor are there approved drugs to treat the symptoms or prolong longevity for FRDA patients. My research areas include: specifying gene expression patterns unique to FRDA in order to identify novel therapeutic targets and disease biomarkers; modulating the expression and activity of mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenases to inhibit neurodegeneration in FRDA cell line and animal models; and defining pathogenic mechanisms of frataxin missense mutations in FRDA.


Graduate School
Ph.D., Indiana University

Postdoctoral Fellowship
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Shelby Biomedical Research Building
Room: 712
Lab Room: 731
1825 University Blvd.
Birmingham, AL 35294-2182

(205) 975-5335