John Landers, PhD
ALS Genetics and Pre-clinical Sciences
John Landers is an internaional leader in the field of ALS genetics research. He received his PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. Dr. Landers was then a post-doctoral fellow in Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before receiving an NIH training grant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Genetics. He was a Chief Scientific Officer at PolyGenyx Inc. from 1999 to 2005. Dr. Landers taught neurology at Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School until 2008, when he began as an Associate Professor of Neurology at UMASS Medical School.His career has mainly focused on using new and high-throughput technologies for the identification of neurodegenerative disease genes with a strong focus on ALS and FTD.
Through his efforts, the Landers Lab has developed extensive collaborations with the leaders of ALS and FTD genetic research. The Landers Lab was a major contributor to the identification of the FUS gene mutation as a significant percentage of familial ALS cases. Through a long-standing interest of novel technologies, his lab is focused on using next-generation sequencing approaches to identify additional genes contributing to ALS and FTD. This includes using whole-genome sequencing, RNA-Seq and exome capture/sequencing. This effort has led to the identification of PFN1 mutations in familial ALS.
More recently, the lab has focused on using rare variant analysis of exome sequencing results to identify novel causative genes for ALS and FTD. Through this effort, we have shown that mutations in the TUBA4A gene. Further optimization of the rare variant approach through the use of a training set led to the discovery of NEK1 and recently KIF5A, as ALS and FTD associated genes. A similar approach is being used to identify genes contributing to Parkinson's disease. Dr. Landers is also the Research Leader of Project MinE USA, part of an international consortium of 16 countries to whole genome sequence 22,500 samples to identify novel genes contributing to ALS.