Researcher Martin Hetzer has been promoted to associate professor in Salk's Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory. Hetzer, who joined the Institute in 2004, uses live cell imaging and biochemistry as well as genetic and computational approaches, to understand the molecular basis of nuclear assembly and its regulation during cell division.
Most recently, Hetzer received the 2009 Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society and the 2009 Early Career in Life Science Award from the American Society of Cell Biology.
Research from his laboratory is shedding new light on the nucleus and how the breakdown of its structure is implicated in disease. In a study earlier this year, his team found a strong connection between the long filaments found in the brains of Parkinson's disease patients and the deterioration of a class of proteins that makeup nuclear pores' structure.
They discovered that as cells age, the structure fails, allowing unwanted proteins to leak into the nucleus and causing havoc. By finding ways to prevent or reverse the leakage, Hetzer's lab may be on course to identify novel approaches to treating neurodegenerative conditions.