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Lab News

The Morimoto Lab attended the Undergraduate Thesis Awards ceremony in support of graduating seniors, Trevor Hintz and Cindy Zhao. 

Trevor's honors thesis is titled, "Endogenous Metastable Proteins as Sensors of Proteostatic Stress in C. elegans" and Cindy's honors thesis is titled, "Designing and characterizing metastable protein biosensors for monitoring proteostasis in C. elegans"

Pictured below, from left to right, Alejandro Rodriguez Gama, Rick Morimoto, Laura Bott, Cindy Zhao, Trevor Hintz, Teerana Thabthimthong, Xiaojing Sui, and Sue Fox. 


Pictured below, from left to right, Laura Bott, (mentor to Cindy), Cindy Zhao, Rick Morimoto, Trevor Hintz, and Xiaojing Sui (mentor to Trevor). 


The Morimoto Lab welcomed new Northwestern University President, Michael Schill at the "Chill with Schill" event on May 30th. View pictures of the lab with Poppy the Pony here. 

Pictured below are Xiaojing Sui and Alejandro Rodriguez Gama with President Schill and First Dog, Max. 


The Morimoto Lab hosted the 5th Annual Proteostasis Consortium retreat from May 15-16 on Northwestern's Evanston campus. 

Research teams flew in from labs across the country to continue their work to study and solve aging, with the risk for age-associated diseases being an example of highest priority.

View pictures from the retreat here


Congratulations to Xiaojing Sui for her presenation, Global proteome metastability response in isogenic animals to missense mutations and polyglutamine expansions in aging, at the Midwest Protein Folding conference.

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The Morimoto lab is excited to welcome Michael Brouse! Michael is an undergraduate researcher implementing genetically-encoded fluorescent biosensors to study proteostasis in human cells.

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Congratulations to Kaitlyn Hung, who has been awarded the undergraduate Goldwater Scholarship to continue her work with Post Doctoral Fellow, Catherine Shafer, this upcoming academic year (pictured below). 


Congratulations to Ambre Sala, who has accepted the role of Group Leader with the department of Cell Biology at he I2BC (Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell) in Gif sur Yvette in France. Au revoir et bonne chance, Ambre! You will be missed.


Congratulations to Thomas Stoeger for his paper in Nature Aging, Aging is associated with a systemic length associated

transcriptome imbalance

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The Morimoto Lab is excited to welcome alumnus, Maria Catarina Silva, Ph.D., 

currently an Instructor in the Neurology Department at Harvard Medical School, to give the Keynote Lecture at this year's Morimoto Lab Retreat.

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View photos from this year's Morimoto Lab Retreat here


The Morimoto Lab is delighted to welcome a new post doctoral associate, Alejandro (Alex) Rodriguez Gama! Alex completed his PhD at the Stowers Research Institute in Kansas City with Prof. Randall Halfmann. His research aims to interrogate how stress response against exogenous stimuli shapes proteostasis and contributes to aging. 


The Morimoto Lab is thrilled to welcome a new post doctoral associate, Catherine 

Shafer! Catherine completed her PhD at UCLA. She plans to apply her training in toxicology and experience with 

metalloprotein dynamics and trace metal metabolism to understand how environmental factors contribute to aging.

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Congratulations to Xiaojing Sui for receiving a Post- Doctoral Fellowship from the 

BrightFocus Foundation.


Former Morimoto Lab post-doc, Tali Gidalevitz,visited and couldn't resist doing a bit of nostalgic work at her old bench.


Congratulations to Anan Yu for her first co-authored publication in Cell Stem Cell,

Recapitulation of endogenous 4R tau expression and formation of insoluble tau in

directly reprogrammed human neurons

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Welcome to the Morimoto Lab

We study the regulation of the heat shock response and the function of molecular chaperones and the proteostasis network to maintain the functional health of the proteome, to ensure optimal cellular health and to promote longevity. Our current interests are: to understand how different tissues in C. elegans sense diverse forms of environmental and physiological stress and communicate proteotoxic stress signals between tissues to determine organismal health, to determine the mechanisms by which proteostasis collapse occurs in aging and the relationship between proteostasis failure and other markers of aging.  These observations are used to study cell stress responses and proteostasis in patient-derived direct differentiated neurons to develop small molecule strategies to restore the proteostasis network to delay or prevent proteome mismanagement that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS and other protein folding disorders.

The Proteostasis Network

Protein Quality Control (PQC) is regulated by the Proteostasis Network (PN) that controls protein synthesis, folding, transport and degradation of all proteins to ensure their stability and function. We study the properties and regulation of cell stress responses, molecular chaperones, the ubiquitin-proteasome and autophagy-lysosome system at the organismal level using C. elegans and in patient derived induced neurons to examine the mechanisms of proteotoxicity in cells and tissues against proteotoxic damage.

Aging Biology

Aging is associated with the appearance and accumulation of non-native proteins with folded states that are highly aggregation-prone and amyloidogenic. We are interested in the molecular basis of quality control failure in aging, that we have termed Proteostasis Collapse, which is associated with a functional decline in specific arms of the PN leading to protein aggregation.

Proteostasis in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Alzheimer's disease, ALS, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Frontal Temporal Dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases are all associated with age-dependent protein aggregation and cellular dysfunction.  We have used both C. elegans and induced neurons to discover how protein misfolding and aggregates interferes with cellular function and to discover small molecules that enhance chaperone expression and function. 

The Heat Shock Response

All cells (and organisms) respond to environmental stress such as elevated temperatures and other abiotic stressors by activation of HSF1 and selective transcriptional activation of molecular chaperones and other components of the PN.  In isolated cells in tissue culture, the heat shock response (HSR) is regulated cell autonomously but in C. elegans, the HSR is regulated cell non-autonomously by the AFD sensory neuron to confer cellular healthspan and lifespan.

The Proteostasis Consortium

We share an NIH Program Project Grant from NIA on Proteostasis of Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases together with Judith Frydman (Stanford), Jeff Kelly (Scripps), Steve Finkbeiner (UCSF), and Dan Finley (Harvard).  Additional information on our research and the Proteostasis Consortium Wednesday Seminars be found at

Contact Us

Please send cover letters, CVs, research plans, and other relevant documents to if you'd like to apply to join the lab.

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