Chantell Evans, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as one of 15 early-career scientists in its first cohort of HHMI Hanna Gray Fellows.
This group of researchers will continue their postdoctoral training at their home institutions. Each fellow will receive up to $1.4 million in funding over eight years, with mentoring and active involvement within the HHMI community. In this two-phase program, fellows will be supported from early postdoctoral training through several years of a tenure-track faculty position. Evans work in the laboratory of Erika Holzbaur, PhD, the William Maul Measey Professor of Physiology.
Evans studies mitochondria in neurons. Mitochondria are organelles that are found in every cell and provide the energy needed for cells to function. However, when mitochondria age or become damaged, they can become harmful to the cell. Evans will explore the multiple ways neurons sequester and eliminate damaged mitochondria. This cleanup process, called mitophagy, can malfunction in people with ALS, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. By studying healthy neurons, and cells from people with brain disorders, Evans plans to find out how these cells perform this important quality control, and how the process might be corrected when something goes wrong.