Gwen moved to Birmingham to establish the King lab in 2011. She received her BS from the Purdue University School of Science majoring in molecular biology. At Purdue she completed an honors research thesis in the lab of Dr. gk-headshotChris Sahley studying nerve cord regeneration in the leech. She then relocated to the University of Michigan School of Medicine and was part of the first PIBS class in the Rackham Graduate School. After joining the Neuroscience Program and the lab of Dr. Scott Turner, Gwen began research characterizing how the adaptor protein X11α alters trafficking and processing of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (see past publications). While a graduate student, Gwen was awarded a predoctoral NRSA from NINDS. Following her Ph.D. studies, Gwen completed two postdoctoral fellowships.


Her first postdoc was completed under the mentorship of Dr. Maria Castro at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Gene Therapeutics Research Institute in Los Angeles (Dr. Castro is now at the University of Michigan). While there Gwen participated in work to develop novel therapeutics to treat glioma. Using a syngeneic glioma model in immunocompetent rats, tumors implanted were treated at various stages of growth with first generation and high-capacity adenoviral vectors to trigger cell death and immune activation. While a postdoc Gwen was awarded a postdoctoral NRSA from NINDS. After Los Angeles, Gwen moved to Boston University School of Medicine and the laboratory of Dr. Carmela Abraham. There Gwen worked to understand the regulation of the anti-aging protein Klotho that shows decreased expression with age in the brains of rhesus monkeys. Gwen conducted a high-throughput drug screen to identify novel small molecules able to activate transcription of the anti-aging gene Klotho. She also conducted studies to determine whether epigenetic modification of the Klotho promoter was responsible for age-related downregulation of protein expression. Gwen was awarded a K99/R00 from NIA.

Gwen was recruited to the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as an Assistant Professor in March of 2011. She is a member of the McKnight Brain Institute, the Civitan International Research Institute, the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, and the Nutrition and Obesity Research Center. Since her arrival, Gwen has been awarded the UAB SPORE in Neurological Cancer Career Development award and accepted into the Early Career Reviewer Program at NIH. Gwen co-directs Graduate Neuroscience Discussion (GBS 791, Winter semester) and runs the Cognitive Aging Journal Club (Fall semester).  Gwen is the director of the Summer Program in Neuroscience (SPIN) which provided an 8 week, intensive summer research expereince for undergraduates. 
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Gwen has always been fascinated by the brain.  In only three generations her family has been touched by Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and ALS.  She has thus seen the devastation neurodegenerative disorders bring and the courage of those forced to live with and through these illnesses.  Fundamentally, Gwen would like to work toward understanding the root causes of neurodegeneration by understanding the aging brain.  In its first comparasion-shotphase, the King lab is working to understand the role of the age-modifying protein, klotho, in the brain.  The absence of klotho induces premature aging body wide however our understanding of the protein is primarily limited to roles in the kidney.  Klotho is expressed in the brain by neurons and oligodendrocytes and it is shed into the cerebrospinal fluid by the choroid plexus.  It also is an age-downregulated protein who's expression is decreased in monkeys right when cognitive impairment develops.  Although the klotho knockout and overexpressing mouse brains have a fascinating phenotype, knowledge of the role and mechanism of klotho in the brain is sparse. The King lab has developed data to suggest that klotho is involved in the basic synaptic function of the brain and in the process of adult neurogenesis.  The lab utilizes mouse models, primary culture, and invitro systems as tools for the understanding and manipulation of proteins involved in klotho function and regulation.  As research continues, they seek to understand the role of this protein and determine whether it is a therapeutic target to promote healthy brain aging.

mountainsGwen grew up in Loveland, Colorado.  No, she has actually never been skiing but she does love to hike and breathe, high, dry, evergreen laden mountain air.  Gwen is the reason for the references to NPR made by her lab staff in their bios as she has an addiction she insists on imposing on anyone that will tolerate it. In her non-work time, Gwen loves spending time with her family in Colorado (a way greater state than Michigan…see Ann’s claim!) and being an aunt to 3 awesome kids. She loves vanilla lattes and KT’s Tea at Lucy’s. She enjoys reading, crafts, constantly decorating something in her home, cooking, and exploring Birmingham (even if the tiny little hill without even a tree line is called a “mountain” and the heat/humidity make her want to cry on a regular basis).