UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

Frost, Susan Elizabeth PhD

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Barshop Institute

I have a longstanding interest in identifying and studying the driving forces behind neuronal dysfunction and death. The lack of disease-modifying therapies for most neurodegenerative diseases motivates my work, alongside the significant toll that these diseases take on the lives of patients and caregivers. In addition, I have a fundamental curiosity about the brain and how it functions. Studying pathways that go awry in disease states provides key insights into critical cellular processes that control neuronal function and survival. Thus far in my academic career, I have pioneered work that ignited a now prominent area of research, which is that tau, a key pathological player in Alzheimer?s disease and other tauopathies, adopts prion-like characteristics that help explain its pathological spread through the brain and the
diverse disease phenotypes of the human tauopathies. More recently, I have identified widespread relaxation of heterochromatic DNA as a novel mechanism whereby tau causes neuronal death in tauopathies, including human Alzheimer?s disease. My immediate goal is to identify the upstream causes and downstream consequences of heterochromatin relaxation in tauopathies, with the ultimate goal to develop strategies for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of human neurodegenerative diseases.

11/2015 - Present Assistant Professor/Research and Not Applicable University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Barshop Institute, San Antonio, TX