2023 UZH Foundation Brain Diseases Award

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Yi Xiao (Sean) Jiang

Graduate student Yi Xiao (Sean) Jiang (Eisenberg group) is a winner of the 2023 Brain Diseases Award from the UZH Foundation for his “excellent discovery of TMEM106B as the component of the FTLD amyloid fibrils”. 

UZH Foundation awards the yearly prize (10,000 Swiss Francs) to a Ph.D. student for outstanding contributions to non-clinical basic research related to brain disorders, e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, brain cancer, epilepsy, depressive disorders, etc.

From UZH Foundation announcement:

Diseases of the brain are still among the greatest challenges in medicine. This year, the University of Zurich (UZH) is honoring three young researchers for their excellent work in this field.

On Thursday, July 13, 2023, the UZH Award for Research in Brain Diseases will be presented for the 18th time. With their work in the field of non-clinical basic research, the award winners Manuela Perez Berlanga (UZH), Daniel Gonzalez Bohorquez (UZH) and Yi Xiao (Sean) Jiang (UCLA) provide important results for answering the numerous open questions in the field of brain diseases. Follow the award ceremony live on site or via the following link free of charge and without prior registration on July 13th from 4:30-6:00 p.m. (CET).

The award is made possible by the  Brain Diseases Fund, which is a sub-foundation of the UZH Foundation and supports non-clinical basic research in the field of brain diseases.

About Yi Xiao (Sean) Jiang

Jiang received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry at McGill University, where he studied polyketide synthases with Professor Martin Schmeing.  He joined the UCLA Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology (BBSB) graduate program in 2018, working with Professor David Eisenberg.  

In 2022, the research for which Jiang received the award was published in a Nature paper, which was featured in UCLA Newsroom.

Jiang’s graduate work focused on uncovering the structures of amyloid fibrils from neurodegenerative diseases. Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second leading cause of presenile dementia; FTLD-TDP, the major disease subtype, is characterized by neuropathological deposits of TDP-43 protein. Jiang extracted fibrils from brains of four FTLD-TDP patients and determined their structures by cryo-EM. Unexpectedly, all fibrils examined were composed of TMEM106B, a lysosomal transmembrane protein previously identified as a genetic risk factor for FTLD-TDP. Jiang’s findings will refocus attention on the pathogenic role of this largely ignored protein, and perhaps open a pathway to structure-based therapies for this common form of brain degeneration.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.