Newswise — The diseases are very different – cancer and Parkinson’s – but Dr. Mary Alpaugh’s goal is the same: if not to eradicate them, then at least to find effective drugs to treat them.

Alpaugh, who is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Molecular & Cellular Biosciences in the College of Science & Mathematics at Rowan University with a joint faculty appointment at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU), recently co-authored a paper in Nature Communications.

The paper, titled “HSP90-Incorporating Chaperome Networks as Biosensor for Disease-Related Pathways in Patient-Specific Midbrain Dopamine Neurons,” references a fluorescent probe (i.e., biosensor) that Alpaugh originally developed to determine patients more likely to respond to an anticancer drug and that was repurposed to better understand Parkinson’s Disease. 

Alpaugh earned her biochemistry from the University of Houston and did a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA, Geffen School of Medicine. She has been working as a cancer biologist with specific focus on inflammatory breast cancer and has made significant contributions in and beyond her field of study, including the biosensor used in the recent study about Parkinson’s. Today, she continues her work with clinicians at Cooper University Heath Care/MD Anderson at Cooper as well as colleagues at CMSRU.

Alpaugh said she feels strongly that these difficult-to-treat diseases require innovative approaches and collaboration from experts across a broad spectrum of disciplines.  No matter the disease, the goal is the same: “We need to work together to quickly and more efficiently improve the clinical outcome of patients,” she said.   


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