Ep. 42: Neuronal Apoptosis- The Cautious and the Willing with Dr. Mohanish Deshmukh and Connor Wander

This episode is all about neuronal apoptosis.  In Dr. Mohanish Deshmukh’s eyes, some cells are willing to undergo apoptosis, while others are very cautious.  These differences could be the key to understanding, treating, or curing diseases that haunt us in modern times.  Research in Dr. Deshmukh’s lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, focuses on pathways for neuronal apoptosis and the ways that survival and death work in different cells.

Apoptosis is programmed cell death.  In apoptosis, cells commit “suicide” quietly to minimize inflammation and damage to their neighbors.  Apoptosis is a normal and vital process which helps protect us from cancer and other disease states.  However, it becomes a problem in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS.  When it comes to apoptosis, neurons are special.  Neuronal apoptosis seems to be distinct from other cell types.

Listen in to hear how neurons resist triggers that would kill other cells.  Also learn about the difference between apoptosis and necrosis, as well as how that understanding has changed over time.  We discuss the importance of synaptic pruning.  Finally, we speculate some on the possible presence and effect of bacteria in the brain.

About Dr. Deshmukh

Mohanish Deshmukh, Ph.D.is a Professor of Cell Biology & Physiology and the Neuroscience Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  Mohanish received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University.  He then went to Dr. Eugene Johnson’s lab in Washington University for his postdoctoral research and joined UNC as an Assistant Professor in 2000.

Mohanish’s research interests have focused on identifying the unique mechanisms by which the apoptotic pathway is regulated in neurons and embryonic stem cells.  His lab also focuses on strategies for preventing neurodegeneration as well as for triggering apoptosis in brain tumors. Mohanish received the Burroughs-Wellcome New Investigator Award in 2001.  At UNC, Mohanish was recognized with Teaching Excellence Award (2004) and the Mentor of the Year Award (2012).  He is currently the Co-Director for the MD/PhD program at UNC.  Mohanish has also served on NIH, AHA, ACS and DOD study sections and is on the Editorial Board of Cell Death and Differentiation.

Dr. Mohanish Deshmukh

Visit the Deshmukh Lab Website to learn more about current research.

Also follow the Deshmukh Lab on Instagram or Twitter

More Information

To get a background of apoptosis in other cells, check out Episode 23 with Georgia Smith.  She tells us about apoptosis in the context of influenza.

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