Joel C. Watts
Biochemistry, University of Toronto
Research Interests: Protein misfolding is at the root of many neurodegenerative diseases of ageing, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). These are diseases of protein conformation: the misfolding and subsequent aggregation of proteins or peptides into β-sheet-enriched forms initiates a cascade of events that ultimately leads to neurological dysfunction and death of neurons or glial cells in the brain. Dr. Watts' lab focuses on understanding the molecular details of protein aggregation with an emphasis on designing accurate animal models of protein misfolding diseases.
I obtained my BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario in 2003 and my graduate studies were conducted in the lab of Dr. David Westaway at the University of Toronto. My graduate work involved the first characterization of the novel prion protein family member Shadoo. After receiving my PhD in 2008 I pursued postdoctoral studies in the lab of Nobel Laureate Dr. Stanley Prusiner at the University of California San Francisco. My postdoctoral work focused on developing new transgenic mouse models of prion disease as well as exploring the prion-like properties of Aβ and α-synuclein, which are implicated in the pathobiology of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, respectively. In 2014 I started my own lab at the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases with a cross-appointment within the Department of Biochemistry.