Associate Professor Deborah Young

BSc, MSc Otago, PhD Auckland

Biography

I completed my Ph.D in Neuropharmacology in the Dept of Pharmacology & Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Auckland under the supervision of Prof Mike Dragunow, before taking up a postdoctoral research fellow position in the Dept of Molecular Medicine & Pathology in the lab of CNS gene therapy pioneer Prof Matt During in 1997. In 2008, I was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Dept of Pharmacology, and was promoted to Associate Professor in Pharmacology in 2010.  

Research | Current

I have a long-standing interest in the development and application of gene therapy strategies for neurological diseases including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and epilepsy using adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors to mediate gene transfer. The development of AAV vector technology including the development of novel gene regulation systems and new approaches to achieve cell-specific targeting of therapeutic transgenes or RNAi-based gene knockdown sequences underpins much of our research.

Another research focus of the lab is in the development of antibody-based immunotherapeutic approaches for neurological disorders. We have discovered that antibodies that target a specific region on the NMDA receptor can modulate function of this receptor leading to improved cognitive function and resilience of the brain to insult in experimental models. Current work is centred on fine-tuning our therapy and determining whether this treatment could have efficacy in conditions characterised by cognitive decline/impairment such as that found with ageing or in Alzheimer's disease.

Research interests

Teaching | Current

Course Director  

MEDSCI 204  

MEDSCI 720 

Guest lecturer

MEDSCI 307 

MEDSCI 706 

SCIENT703 

PHARMACY 311 

Postgraduate supervision

Ph.D - Jason Michael 

M.Sc - Kathryn van der Zanden

B.Sc Hons - Amy Lai

Responsibilities

Doctoral Graduate Advisor - Department of Pharmacology & Clinical Pharmacology

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Centre for Brain Research - Associate Director

Brain Research NZ - Principal Investigator, Community Outreach Coordinator, Theme 1 leadership group member 

NZ Brain Bee Challenge - North Island Coordinator

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Fong, D. M., Wu, A., & Young, D. (2018). Targeting transgene and RNA interference-based gene silencing sequences to astrocytes using viral vector-mediated approaches. In M. Li, B. Snider (Eds.) Gene therapy in neurological disorders (pp. 41-61). London, UK: Academic Press. Related URL.
  • Green, T. N., Hamilton, J. R., Morel-Kopp, M.-C., Zheng, Z., Chen, T.-Y. T., Hearn, J. I., ... Barber, P. A. (2017). Inhibition of NMDA receptor function with an anti-GluN1-S2 antibody impairs human platelet function and thrombosis. Platelets, 28 (8), 799-811. 10.1080/09537104.2017.1280149
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jack Flanagan, Alan Barber, Maggie Kalev, James Hearn, Taryn Green
  • Mudannayake, J. M., Mouravlev, A., Fong, D. M., & Young, D. (2016). Transcriptional activity of novel ALDH1L1 promoters in the rat brain following AAV vector-mediated gene transfer. Molecular Therapy - Methods & Clinical Development, 3 (16075), 1-10. 10.1038/mtm.2016.75
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Dahna Fong, Alexandre Mouravlev
  • Young, D. (2016). Gene therapy-based modeling of neurodegenerative disorders: Huntington's Disease. In F. P. Manfredsson (Ed.) Gene therapy for neurological disorders: Methods and protocols (pp. 383-395). New York, New York: Humana Press. 10.1007/978-1-4939-3271-9_27
  • Vagner, T., Mouravlev, A., & Young, D. (2015). A novel bicistronic sensor vector for detecting caspase-3 activation. Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods, 72 (March-April), 11-18. 10.1016/j.vascn.2014.11.006
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alexandre Mouravlev
  • Wu, A., Fong, D., & Young, D. (2015). Gene therapy for Huntington's disease. In X. Bo, J. Verhaagen (Eds.) Gene Delivery and Gene Therapy for Neurological Disorders (pp. 121-155). Springer. 10.1007/978-1-4939-2306-9
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Dahna Fong
  • Young, D., Fong, D. M., Lawlor, P. A., Wu, A., Mouravlev, A., McRae, M., ... During, M. J. (2014). Adenosine kinase, glutamine synthetase and EAAT2 as gene therapy targets for temporal lobe epilepsy. Gene Therapy, 21, 1029-1040. 10.1038/gt.2014.82
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alexandre Mouravlev, Michelle Glass, Dahna Fong, Angela Wu
  • Tsang, V. W. K., Young, D., During, M. J., & Birch, N. P. (2014). AAV-mediated overexpression of neuroserpin in the hippocampus decreases PSD-95 expression but does not affect hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. PLoS One, 9 (3)10.1371/journal.pone.0091050

Identifiers

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 502 - Bldg 502
Level 5, Room 501C
85 PARK RD
GRAFTON
AUCKLAND 1023
New Zealand

Web links