Michael Ch. Owen

Michael CH. Owen


Project: Alzheimer´s Lipids - The Effect of Gangliosides on the Oligomerization of  Peptid

Host Institution: CEITEC Masaryk University
Country of Origin: Canada
Previous Workplace: Německo


I will use large-scale computer simulations to study the effect of gangliosides on the oligomerization of the amyloid-b peptide (Ab). This peptide is present in the brain of individuals throughout their life, however it is still not known why this single harmless molecule binds together to form toxic oligomers, which are responsible for the death of neurons that occurs in Alzheimer's disease. With large-scale computers we can study this occurrence at the atomistic scale.


I have been studying the factors that affect the oligomerization of Ab for my MSc, PhD and post-doctoral research, and I think this process is central to the development of therapies to possibly prevent Alzheimer's disease. One such factor are the lipids that form the membrane of neurons, particularly gangliosides. Recent research, done both globally and in the Czech Republic, has shown that certain amounts of gangliosides in the membrane can prevent Ab from forming toxic oligomers, and I would like to know exactly why this is the case. This is an exciting new area of research that is worth exploring, and I am pleased to work on this topic with my colleagues here in Brno.


Using supercomputers to study this effect will enable us to see precisely how each atom of both Ab and the gangliosides affect the oligomerization process. With this knowledge, scientists will be better able to develop therapies that can improve the protective effective of gangliosides, and to know exactly which region of Ab can be targeted by compounds and other drug-like components; whether they are developed pharmaceutically, or mediated through diet or other less invasive methods. Furthering our understanding of how gangliosides prevent toxic oligomers from forming will provide a strategy to protect people with Alzheimer's from the oligomers' toxic effects.


There are excellent scientific resources available to researchers in the South Moravian region including state-of-the-art supercomputing facilities. More importantly, there are highly-skilled people administering these facilities and carrying out research projects in my scientific field. I look forward to working on this exciting project and furthering my scientific expertise while participating in the SOMOPRO program.