Ravi Chopra

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Postdoc/Med Student, University of Michigan
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B.A. in Biology, Northwestern University

Research Mentor: Vikram Shakkottai

I work on a mouse model of Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), an inherited neurodegenerative ataxia which is caused by CAG tract expansion in the gene encoding the protein Ataxin-1. Purkinje neurons of the cerebellum are one of the vulnerable cell types in this disease, and structural degeneration of Purkinje neuron dendrites is understood to play a major role in progressive motor impairment.  My project aims to investigate abnormalities in ion channel function that might contribute to Purkinje neuron dendritic degeneration.  Using electrophysiology, molecular techniques, and behavior (as our symptomatic readout), our lab aims to determine the time course and molecular underpinnings of physiologic changes in SCA1 Purkinje neuron, with the ultimate goal being to identify small molecule modulators of ion channel function that reverse pathologic changes in ion channel function and thereby prevent SCA1 Purkinje neuron degeneration.