Hemali Phatnani, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease (CGND) at the New York Genome Center (NYGC). Dr. Phatnani has a joint appointment as Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences in the Department of Neurology, Division of Neuromuscular Medicine, at Columbia University.
Her research focuses on gene regulatory mechanisms that underlie the complex interactions between motor neurons and non-neuronal cells in the spinal cord of ALS mouse models, including astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes. The goal of her research is to apply state-of-the-art genomics and bioinformatics to understand the role of cell-cell interactions in ALS pathophysiology.
Dr. Phatnani carried out her postdoctoral studies in Dr. Tom Maniatis’s Lab at Harvard and Columbia Universities, where she studied ALS disease mechanisms using stem cell-derived motor neurons and genomic profiling methods. She established a novel cell culture system to study cell intrinsic and cell extrinsic effects of astrocytes on motor neuron gene expression and discovered a complex interplay between the two cell types during ALS disease progression.
The CGND at the NYGC has formed an ALS Consortium involving alliances with clinicians, scientists, geneticists, computational biologists and industry partners. The primary goal is to discover mutations underlying ALS and to understand how they cause disease. The Consortium establishes a framework to apply clinical and functional genomics together with bioinformatics to the study of ALS disease mechanisms.
Dr. Phatnani received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Duke University, where she characterized the interactions between RNA polymerase and proteins involved in the mechanistic coupling of RNA transcription and processing. She earned a BSc degree in Life Sciences from Bombay University. To learn more about Dr. Phatnani’s research, visit her lab page.