MICHAEL COLEMAN, PhD
University of Cambridge, UK
Dr. Coleman is the van Geest Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, UK, studying mechanisms of axon degeneration and synapse loss. He previously led research groups in this field at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, Cologne, Germany and Oxford, UK. His group identified the first protein known to delay degeneration of injured axons leading to the discovery of a pathway of proteins influencing axon degeneration. Their finding that ablation of SARM1 can rescue axons permanently following ablation of its upstream regulator NMNAT2 has generated significant interest in the pathway from the pharmaceutical industry. He also recently published on rare human disorders caused by the NMNAT2 mutation, which is key for identifying individuals suited for SARM1-blocking therapies. In separate work, his group has developed an organotypic hippocampal slice culture model of synapse disruption in Alzheimer’s disease, where all major CNS cell types retain near-normal cytoarchitecture while allowing easy manipulation and sampling of the culture medium. They are now using this model to research methods of protecting synapses in Alzheimer’s disease, developing it for drug testing and extending it to other neurodegenerative diseases.