Lab’s Focus

To explore the role of lipids in non-neuronal cells and their contribution to neurodegeneration, with a particular emphasis on neuroinflammation. Chung is investigating the importance of preserving sphingolipids balance within the nervous system, a key element in preventing neurodegeneration and synaptic dysfunction.

His recent studies on Drosophila have revealed the combined effect of increased levels of Ceramides and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in glia and hemocytes (fly immune cells). These increased levels trigger the activation of the NF-?B pathway within the nervous system, an event that precedes cell death. Dr. Chung is keen to further explore these lipids within glia and hemocytes, hoping to uncover the molecular mechanisms behind various neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Chung plans to identify other genes involved in lipid metabolism that play a role in human neurological diseases. Using flies for initial variant assessments, he aims to uncover lipid metabolic genes not yet associated with human disease. His strategy includes collaborations within the Houston Methodist and networking platforms such as GeneMatcher and ModelMatcher. His methods encompass several fly-based strategies to evaluate variant function and gain a deeper understanding of these genes, including humanization strategies facilitated by CRISPR-Cas9. High-priority genes without existing mouse models will be targeted for mouse knockout generation and phenotyping, and human cells will be used to confirm findings when possible and appropriate.