Neuroscience researcher named chair of physiological sciences

Dr. Jada Lewis
Dr. Jada Lewis

University of Florida Health neuroscience researcher has been named chair of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of physiological sciences following a national search.

Her appointment was effective May 15.

Jada Lewis, Ph.D., was previously a professor of neuroscience in the UF College of Medicine and has served as deputy director of the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of UF for the past five years. She specializes in the study of the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Her research focuses on creating and studying genetically manipulated mouse models to understand the development of disease, and two of her novel models of pathogenic tau are used by labs across the world.

As part of her research, she introduces mutant human genes associated with human disease into the mouse genome, then studies the neuropathy, biochemistry and molecular structures to analyze the interaction of proteins critical to the disease process. She first became interested in this line of research while witnessing the toll these diseases took on two beloved relatives and their caregivers.

Lewis completed her doctorate in genetics and molecular biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by two postdoctoral fellowships, one in pharmacology at UNC and the second in neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. UF recruited her from Mayo in 2010.

With funding from the NIH and Florida Department of Health, Lewis has authored over 85 peer-reviewed publications. She co-founded and leads the Southeastern Neurodegenerative Disease Conference, which brings together top researchers from institutions including UF, Emory, the University of Miami and Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville and is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. “I know the department will continue to grow and thrive under Dr. Lewis’s leadership,” said the college’s dean, Dana Zimmel, D.V.M