What do we do?
The Caldwell Laboratory (a.k.a, The Worm Shack) at The University of Alabama is studying malfunction in basic cellular mechanisms associated with diseases of the nervous system. Our laboratory utilizes the microscopic nematode roundworm, C. elegans, as a model system for discovering gene function, as well as therapeutic target development for these disorders. Research in The Shack is dynamic and continually evolving, but our efforts involve investigations of human movement disorders, including dystonia and Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, ALS, cystic fibrosis, as well as basic cellular and neurological signaling mechanisms, genetics, and epigenetics in the context of these diseases.
C. elegans affords many advantages in such research as it is amenable to genetic, genomic, proteomic, and drug screening strategies and is an animal with a completely defined cell lineage, completed genome sequence, and lifespan of approximately 2 weeks. As opposed to the human brain, where it is estimated we have over 100 billion nerve cells, this microscopic worm contains precisely 302 neurons for which a defined neuronal connectivity map has been determined. In this regard, C. elegans is ideal for investigation of diseases associated with neuronal dysfunction and aging. The utility of this model system for medical research has been well established and recognized by the fact that this animal was a subject of the 2002, 2006 and 2008 Nobel Prizes.
While microscopic worms are certainly our thing, we also conduct a variety of studies using mammalian cell cultures and biochemical assays. Numerous collaborative projects in the realm of human genetics, mammalian target validation, molecular toxicology, and drug discovery are ongoing.
Where do we publish and who funds us?
Current or previous work in the Caldwell Lab has been funded by grants from the NSF, NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Michael J. Fox Foundation, in addition to numerous other biomedical foundations and patient support groups, generous personal donations, as well as the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Recent and past findings have been published in Science, Cell, Nature Genetics, PNAS, Nature Neuroscience, J. Neuroscience, Human Molecular Genetics, Disease Models and Mechanisms, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Biomedical Engineering, iScience, Cell Death and Disease, Scientific Reports, PLOS Genetics, ACS Chemical Neuroscience, EMBO Molecular Medicine, and Cell Metabolism, among other peer-reviewed venues.
Where do our students go when they graduate?
Former students training in The Caldwell Lab have obtained jobs and admission to professional programs at M.I.T., Harvard, UCSF, Duke, Vanderbilt, Princeton, Stanford, Rockefeller, U. Penn., UC-Berkeley, UT-Southwestern, Emory, UNC-Chapel Hill, Oxford, Cambridge, Georgetown, UAB, U. Miami, The Scripps Institute, The Broad Institute, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Pfizer, Novartis, Novogene, Genentech, PacBio, Astra-Zeneca, Gilead Pharmaceuticals, and Neuron23, among other fine institutions and government labs (NIH, DoD, USAMRIID).
Questions about our research or a graduate student position?