Avi Adler - Laidlaw Summer 2021

Maintaining a stable stock of mitochondria is crucial to staving off neurodegeneration. Here, I discuss the my research on the implications of two proteins linked to maintaining a healthy mitochondrial network.

Over the summer of 2021, as Laidlaw Scholar, I worked in the Barnhart Lab at Columbia University to examine the implications of two specific proteins, PINK1 and Parkin. Recent research has specifically linked these two proteins to Parkinson's disease, a disorder that effects millions each year. Together, these proteins form a cellular pathway that is responsible for turning over and degrading old and decaying mitochondria. This pathway is critical to cellular health and function.

Specifically, this summer I perturbed the expression of these proteins in the model organism Drosophila, ("fruit flies"), and examined the resulting mitochondrial morphology. Utilizing immunostaining and imaging techniques, I have been able to compare perturbed and unperturbed mitochondria in Drosophila neurons. In doing so, I have added to an ever-growing body of knowledge in this field. This line of work has vast implications in for the worlds of medicine and biology.


  • Samii A, Nutt JG, Ransom BR. Parkinson's disease. Lancet. 2004 May 29;363(9423):1783-93. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16305-8. PMID: 15172778.
  • Abou-Sleiman PM, Muqit MM, Wood NW. Expanding insights of mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006 Mar;7(3):207-19. doi: 10.1038/nrn1868. PMID: 16495942.


Go to the profile of Ariella Lang
about 1 year ago

Great job framing your research in a global -- and interdisciplinary -- context, Avi! 

Go to the profile of Avi J Adler
about 1 year ago

Thank you very much! and thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do, to make the Laidlaw program the success that it is. I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the program this summer, and can't wait to see where it takes me next!