Dr. Gan studies the molecular mechanisms behind the loss of functional neurons in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Frontotemporal Dementia. Her lab explores the relationship between the aging of neural circuits, the accumulation of toxic proteins and the subsequent activation of a chronic inflammatory response. Understanding how these processes become dysfunctional in neurodegeneration could lead to new therapeutic strategies to tackle Alzheimer’s disease and Frontotemporal dementia. One aspect of Dr. Gan’s research focuses on why toxic proteins accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer patients. Dr. Gan and her team discovered new cellular mechanisms that could lead to novel approaches to remove toxic proteins from aging neurons. Dr. Gan’s research also explores stem cell–based regenerative approaches in Alzheimer’s disease—a promising yet highly challenging therapeutic direction. She showed that neural stem cells in the hippocampus of mice genetically modified to mimic Alzheimer’s symptoms develop abnormally and integrate poorly into the network of neural circuits. More importantly, Dr. Gan and her colleagues found that they can offset these deficits by manipulating electrical signals with pharmacological approaches. Their research provides important clues to encourage the development of new brain cells in those with Alzheimer’s disease.
At UCSF, Dr. Gan is active in graduate training and has joint appointments in the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. She is also a member of several scientific and professional societies, including the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Gan has served as a referee for several government and private grant agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the California Department of Health Services. She is also an ad hoc reviewer for numerous professional journals including Neuron, Nature Medicine, Journal of Neuroscience, and Journal of Cell Biology.
Dr. Gan received a bachelor’s degree in physiology from China’s Peking University and a PhD in cellular and molecular physiology from Yale University School of Medicine. Later, she completed postdoctoral training at Yale University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Gladstone Institutes.
Gladstone offers the best research environment that combines innovative and rigorous scientific inquiry with a deep passion to tackle the most devastating diseases facing us today. It is truly an exciting and rewarding place to work.