Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Ethan Schonfeld.
2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant and 2020 Cohort Lead

Home Department: Biology
2019 Mentor: Gregory Scherrer, Anesthesiology, Perioperative & Pain Medicine and Neurosurgery
2020 Mentor: Thomas Südhof, Molecular & Cellular Physiology

2019 Research Project: Over 200 million opioids were prescribed in 2016 in the United States alone. Ethan’s research in the Scherrer lab will investigate the hypothesis that opioids cause demyelination—damage to the protective sheaths around nerve fibers—and thus trigger or accelerate numerous neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and dementias. Ethan’s research further seeks to identify if this opioid demyelinating effect occurs at a specific receptor on neurons or is due to other processes, such as opioid reception on other brain cells. Ethan will use a mouse knockout model in hopes of elucidating ways to avoid this effect, as well as to better understand the possible role of endogenous opioid reception in the acceleration of neurodegenerative disease.

2020 Research Project: “Pathways to Transactivational Ability of the Amyloid-Precursor-Protein Intracellular Domain”

Amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP) undergoes cleavage to release the extracellular Aβ product that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. This cleavage also results in the production and intracellular retention of a fragment of the APP (termed the AICD) that has been demonstrated to form complexes which have transactivational activity. As there are some reports suggesting the potential but not-yet conclusive role of AICD in the development of Alzheimer’s, Ethan’s work seeks to expand on the trafficking, localization, complex identity, and target genes of the AICD.