Robert Friedland, M.D.
Robert Friedland, M.D.

Robert P. Friedland, MD, professor of neurology, will teach and conduct research in Japan during a one-year sabbatical beginning May 1. Friedland will conduct research on neurodegenerative diseases at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine. The work is funded by a long-term Invitational Fellowship for Research in Japan from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, which was awarded through a competitive selection process.

Friedland has studied Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and related conditions for more than 30 years. His previous work has uncovered the role of amyloid proteins made by intestinal and oral bacteria in neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Previously, Friedland worked with researchers at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka to reveal the important influence of oral bacteria on the development of hemorrhagic stroke.

In Kyoto, Friedland will further investigate the influence of the microbiota on neurodegenerative disease models in fruit flies. He plans tests to determine the influence of functional bacterial amyloid proteins on the aggregation of brain proteins, a key element of neurodegenerative diseases. Friedland will collaborate in this research with Toshiki Mizuno, PhD, of the KPUM Division of Neurology and Gerontology, one of several Japanese researchers with whom Friedland has worked for several decades.

He also will conduct research with collaborators at the Kyoto Institute of Technology.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to collaborate further with my Japanese colleagues and to conduct this research in Kyoto,” Friedland said.

JSPS awards fellowships to select international researchers to conduct collaborative work with researchers in Japan. Long-term fellowships for 2020 have been awarded in agriculture, engineering, chemistry, math, humanities and medicine. Friedland received one of four fellowships in the field of medicine.

After his year in Kyoto, Friedland will continue his research and clinical work at UofL, where his collaborators in the lab of Levi Beverly, PhD, currently are finishing data analysis on a study of the influence of bacterial amyloid on ALS in mice.