Glial Support for Neurons


Photography by Bethany Alex

Glial Support for Neurons

Peter Rodriguez, graduate research assistant in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, was recently awarded the Delores Auzenne Fellowship, sponsored by the State University System. The fellowship is designed to encourage students to pursue graduate degrees in areas where they are historically underrepresented.

Rodriguez, president of the FAU Neuroscience Student Organization, focuses his work on identifying molecular pathways in glial cells that are critical to the health and proper function of neurons. These cells are responsible for supporting neuronal energy supply and metabolism, but when glial cells are disrupted, degeneration of nearby dopamine neurons occurs increasing the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Combined with results of his previous studies, which have shown similar traits to the major dysfunctions observed in human patients with brain disease, Rodriguez aims to leverage the knowledge gained from his research to provide therapeutic insight for multiple neurodegenerative diseases.

Rodriguez’ work contributed to a newly funded grant to the Blakely lab from the Florida Department of Health to link worm discoveries to Alzheimer’s disease. (See story Using Worms to Find a Cure for Alzheimer’s)

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