Jerold Chun is affiliated with the Scripps Research Institute.
Jerold Chun is Professor in the Degenerative Diseases Program and Senior Vice President of Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, Calif.He received M.D. and Ph.D. degrees through the Medical Scientist Training Program at Stanford University School of Medicine, and was a Helen Hay Whitney Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research/ MIT.He is also Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Neuroscience at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor in the Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Department at The Scripps Research Institute.He currently leads a team of 25 researchers in the study of genomic mosaicism and lysophospholipid receptor signaling to understand and develop drug treatments for brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and hydrocephalus.Chun specializes in mosaicism, the genetic differences in cells in the body, once assumed to be mostly genetically identical.He is the recipient of over a dozen awards as well as has published ~300 scientific articles and three patents.
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Neuroscience Drug Discovery
For a study published in the journal Science on Thursday, the scientists looked at the genes expressed in different neurons from six different regions of a postmortem human brain. Based on the genetic activity found within these cells, they were able to identify 16 different subtypes of neurons. "This was a chance to look at single neurons in a way that really hadn't been possible before on a large scale," said Jerold Chun, a neuroscientist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and a senior author of the study. "We've known for many years that there are huge differences in the way neurons look and how they're connected," he said. Genetic studies of human brain cells have been done in the past, but they've focused on isolated chunks of surgically removed brain.
To look for definitive evidence of somatic recombination in the brain, neuroscientist Jerold Chun of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego, California, and colleagues analyzed neurons from the donated brains of six healthy elderly people and seven patients who had the noninherited form of Alzheimer's disease, which accounts for most cases. The researchers tested whether the cells harbored different versions of the gene for the amyloid precursor protein, the source of the plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. A new variant could arise when a neuron produces an RNA copy of the APP gene—this step is part of the cell's normal procedure to produce proteins. However, reverse transcriptase may then recopy the RNA molecule to make a DNA duplicate of the APP gene that slips back into the genome. But because reverse transcriptase is "a sloppy copier," he says, this new version may not match the original gene, and it may code for a different variant of APP.