ocusing on understanding the genetic & molecular basis of brain illnesses
Shared molecular mechanisms between
psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions
Identifying putatively causal brain proteins in psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions
Finding genetic and molecular the causes of Alzheimer's Disease
The Wingo Lab is a genetics laboratory at the Emory Unversity's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease and Atlanta
Veterans Administration led by Aliza Wingo, M.D., M.Sc. and Thomas Wingo, M.D.
Our interests span several scientific and technical disciplines but are firmly focused on helping people lead healthier and happier lives. We welcome all participants, from students to seasoned researchers, regardless of race, religion, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, or disability.
Dr. Wingo is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University and board-certified psychiatrist. She is also a Graduate Faculty of the Genetics and Molecular Biology Graduate Program at Emory. She received her medical degree and residency training at Emory University School of Medicine. Subsequently, she completed a research fellowship, Master of Science in Clinical Research, and career development award under the mentorship of Kerry Ressler, MD, Ph.D. Dr. Wingo studies the genetic and molecular basis of depression, PTSD, as well as of psychological resilience and well-being. Additionally, Dr. Wingo investigates molecular mechanisms underlying the detrimental and protective effects of psychological factors on dementia risk. Dr. Wingo has received an American Psychiatric Association/Lilly Resident Research award, American Psychiatric Association Research Fellowship award, a NARSAD Young Investigator award, a VA Career Development Award, and recently six federal grants (R01, U01, Merit) to pursue her lines of research inquiries.
Dr. Wingo is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Human Genetics at Emory University. His primary lab is at the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease in the Whitehead building on Emory’s main campus. He has post-doctoral training in statistical genetics, next-generation sequencing, and bioinformatics. He is a board certified neurologist with fellowship training in cognitive neurology. Dr. Wingo is a member of the Population Biology Evolution and Ecology Graduate Program at Emory University.
Current Areas of Study
Shared molecular mechanisms between psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions
A brain multi-omic approach to identify key molecular drivers of neuropsychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer’s dementia (NIH, R01 AG072120) - Approximately 65% of individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), or AD related dementias (ADRD) experience neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS). These debilitating symptoms include depression, anxiety, apathy, delusions, hallucinations, agitation, sleep disturbances and are associated with faster disease progression, greater functional impairment, higher caregiver burden, and earlier institutionalization. Current treatments for NPS in MCI/dementia have limited efficacy but high rates of adverse side effects, including higher mortality. In this project, we aim to gain better insight into the molecular mechanisms of NPS in MCI, dementia, or both to nominate therapeutic targets. We are using genomic investigation of well-described cohorts, exploration of brain mRNA and protein expression, and techniques integrating genetic and brain mRNA and protein expression findings to identify putative causal drivers of these debilitating symptoms.
There is widespread pleiotropy among human traits and the high epidemiological comorbidity among the psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. In this project, we hypothesize that there are shared mechanisms among related brain traits. Specifically, we are focused on finding shared molecular contributors to brain conditions that underlie psychological traits, psychiatric conditions, and neurodegenerative illnesses.
Understanding the molecular mechanisms behind how psychological well-being and depression modify AD risk (NIH, R01 AG072120) - Psychological well-being (PWB) and depression are important factors that modify risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Specifically, depression is associated with increased risk for AD while PWB with decreased risk for AD. Molecular mechanisms underlying these important associations, however, are not known. In this project, we collaborate with investigators of the Rush Memory and Aging Project to identify genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic associations with PWB. These findings will be examined for their relationship to dementia and age-related brain pathologies to understand the role PWB may have on dementia risk.
We are grateful to the many research volunteers, their families, and researchers who make our work possible. We are indebted to our excellent collaborators. And we thank the financial support provided by the Veterans Administration, National Institutes of Health, Emory University, The To Remember Foundation, American Psychiatric Association, and the Brain and Behavior Foundation (formerly NARSAD).