Tier II Canada Research Chair in Prion Disease Research
PhD (Molecular Biotechnology)
Research and teaching
- Infection Biology
Research / Scholarly Activities
We use cell culture and animal models to study the molecular and cellular biology of prion infections. Prions are unique pathogens that consist solely of a misfolded isoform of the cellular prion protein PrPc, denominated PrPSc. Prominent examples of prion diseases are Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD) in humans, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows, and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in cervids. Our research program addresses the question of how prion infection interferes with neuronal metabolism, and how this may lead to neurodegeneration. Furthermore, we use peptide aptamers for interference with prion propagation and for characterization of the PrPc-PrPSc binding interface. Another focus of research is CWD and aims to understand the molecular basis of the unusual peripheral distribution and shedding of CWD prions, e.g. in saliva, urine, or feces. The long-term goal of our research is to translate basic research into novel diagnostic or therapeutic targets to combat prion diseases.
Dr. Gilch obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular Biotechnology in 2009 from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. She undertook postdoctoral studies on the molecular and cellular biology of prion infection at the Technical University of Munich and the University of Wyoming in Laramie, USA. In 2013, Dr. Gilch joined the UCVM Faculty as Assistant Professor and TierII Canada Research Chair.