Kanika Jain, MSc, PhD, associate research scientist in the Hwa Lab, has received the prestigious Career Development Award (2023-2025) from the American Heart Association (AHA). The focus of the project is the role of platelets as peripheral biomarkers of, and contributors to, Alzheimer’s disease. The three-year award helps early career investigators launch successful careers in academic medicine.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disease known to affect millions globally. Formation of beta-amyloid plaques in brain forms a hallmark of AD Platelets are small anucleate circulating blood cells with a primary role in hemostasis and clot formation. Using a combination of human and murine studies, Jain will investigate both the hemostatic and non hemostastic role of amyloid rich protein aggregates in platelets in AD pathogenesis. Such studies may provide the basis for new drugs, especially antiplatelet agents, to reduce the progression of AD, cerebrovascular dysfunction and vascular dementia.
“Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are highly prevalent. I hope that this work can help provide answers in understanding the disease and improving the quality of life,” Jain said. Mentors and collaborators at the Yale School of Medicine include John Hwa, MD, PhD, Kathleen Martin, PhD, Jaime Grutzendler, MD, and Christopher van Dyck, MD.
“Studying peripheral blood platelets may provide unique insights into the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases as well as biomarkers to assist in diagnosis and prognosis. This award will allow Kanika to get exciting projects off the ground,” said Hwa.
Jain obtained her PhD in life sciences with a focus on cardiovascular biology from Defense Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences, at the Defense Research and Development Organization in Delhi, India. Her PhD studies identified the effect of high-altitude hypoxia in vivo and investigated the role of the proteostasis network in the cardiovascular system.
Jain joined the Hwa Lab in 2016 where she has contributed to research published in Circulation Research, Nature Cardiovascular Research, Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Journal of Experimental Medicine and eBioMedicine among others. Her current research explores the role of stress induced signaling cascades in the platelets, more specifically in context of protein misfolding and endoplasmic reticulum stress. In the Hwa Lab, she combines basic and advanced techniques to study platelets and the risk of thrombosis in diverse pathophysiological conditions including diabetes mellitus, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Jain is the past recipient of the 2019 Larry Oberley Young Investigator Award from the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine.