Hemali Phatnani

I earned my PhD in Biochemistry from Duke University and did my postdoctoral studies in Tom Maniatis’ lab at Harvard and Columbia. I am currently jointly appointed at the New York Genome Center (NYGC) and the Department of Neurology at Columbia. As a principal investigator at NYGC, I direct the Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease (CGND), which has three main goals: 1) To serve as the hub of collaborative interactions between clinicians, computational biologists, and basic scientists; 2) To build and disseminate tools and resources for the neurodegenerative disease research community; and 3) To establish a research program aimed at understanding intercellular interactions in neurodegenerative disease.

My research program focuses on using novel tools and technologies in conjunction with cellular and animal models and patient-derived tissue samples to understand how disease-causing mutations perturb the intricate interplay between glial and neuronal cells in ALS-FTD. To understand the role of intercellular interactions in disease, we apply spatially-resolved transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to deconvolve both spatial and cell-type specific changes in gene expression across entire brain or spinal cord regions from rodent and human post-mortem tissue. Using such an integrated, cell ensemble-resolution, multi-omic approach, our studies generate multidimensional datasets that will enable us to determine cell- and region-specific molecular correlates of functional impairment in ALS-FTD. Moreover, they may provide a platform for other investigators to unveil markers specific to their disease of study. This will be encouraged and facilitated by sharing our platform and data with the broad scientific community.