Dr. Gautam Wali is a neuroscientist who began working in the HSP research program in 2011 in Prof Alan Mackay-Sim’s team at the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research at Griffith University. Starting as a postgraduate candidate doing his Ph.D., Gautam studied the disease-mechanism in SPG4 olfactory stem cells. He developed new tests and measures of organelle dynamics and transport in cells that were used to understand the disease mechanism of SPG4 and test potential drug treatment candidates.
After receiving his Ph.D., Gautam relocated to Prof Carolyn Sue’s lab at the Kolling Institute in Sydney in 2016. Here, he validated the olfactory stem cell findings in neurons from SPG4 patients using induced pluripotent stem cell technology, since it is the degeneration of neurons that leads to the clinical phenotype in people with SPG4. Through this research, Gautam has developed a strategic approach of using two different types of HSP stem cell models to fast-track the process of understanding the disease mechanism of a brain disorder and identify drug treatments. He is currently engaged in developing a biomarker for SPG4 to allow for the effects of drug treatment to be measured.