Physical Mechanisms in Neurodegenerative Disease Workshop

Location: DC Metro Area
June 20-21, 2022

Workshop Background and Organization
More than a century has passed since pathological protein aggregates were first identified in the brains of patients with neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs). Yet, we still do not have effective therapies to treat or slow the progression of these devastating diseases or diagnostics for early detection and monitoring disease progression. This is primarily due to the fact that many fundamental questions about the mechanisms underpinning protein misfolding, aggregation, and neurodegeneration remain unanswered.

Recent scientific and technical advances at the interfaces of biology, physics, imaging, and computational science have revealed layers of complexity that both challenge traditional views on the role of protein aggregation in NDDs and present new exciting opportunities for developing novel diagnostic and therapies to prevent or slow the progression of NDDs.

These advances call for (1) revisiting our early assumptions; (2) rethinking how we investigate the mechanisms of protein aggregation and their role in the pathogenesis of NDDs; and (3) the need to embrace the clinical heterogeneity of NDDs and complexity of the proteins and processes associated with each disease.

The organizers are bringing together experts and thought leaders from different disciplines to reflect on, discuss, and debate recent progress and brainstorm collectively on how to leverage and integrate the latest conceptual and technical advances to address current knowledge and technological gaps and advance translational research in NDDs. We expect an attendance of approximately 25 scientists from a broad range of backgrounds to fully explore possible collaborations between physical and life science researchers. The format of the meeting will be designed to maximize the opportunity for participants to engage in broad-ranging discussions of these topics.  The outcomes and recommendations will be captured in a post-meeting report and in a published white paper, and will inform the development of a road map, research priorities, and funding programs to advance basic and translational research into NDDs.

Hilal Lashuel, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Switzerland
Herbert Levine, Northeastern University
José Onuchic, Rice University


NSF Funder Contact:
Krastan Blagoev

Workshop Coordinator & Contact: Sara Bradley

Workshop funded by the the National Science Foundation.