Welcome to the Biology of Degenerative Diseases Lab

On November 25, 2016, after a courageous battle with cancer, Chad Dickey passed away.

A heart-filled, special thanks to all those who compassionately helped, supported, and prayed for Chad, Adria, Luke and Jake over the last several months during this challenging time. Your tremendous generosity and kindness has been a source of comfort and strength to them.

In lieu of flowers, we humbly ask and gratefully appreciate that you consider a contribution to The Luke and Jake Dickey Education Fund to aid in the future education costs of Chad and Adria's two terrific boys.


Thanks to the support of the department and many of you, we will be continuing Chad’s work and vision, as was his desire.

For lab business, please contact Laura Blair at lblair@health.usf.edu or John Koren III at jkoren@health.usf.edu.

Degeneration: Gradual deterioration of specific tissues, cells, or organs with corresponding impairment or loss of function, caused by injury, disease, or aging

Human cells, including neurons in the brain, contain thousands of proteins that must work in concert to produce or perform our actions. Breathing, running, talking, remembering….all of these things are coordinated by thousands of proteins every second in our cells. Have you ever asked yourself “How is this possible; how can all of these things come together to produce me?” This is what we work on in the lab. Hidden among those thousands of proteins is a group of sentinels called chaperones that, by definition, ensure propriety of all of these other proteins in the cell. Without chaperones, nothing would work properly. In fact, our lab and others have begun to show that many if not all of human disease is in some way affected by chaperones. There are approximately 150 chaperones in humans and we speculate that each of these could be a drug target for human diseases. In particular, our lab has focused on a group of more than 15 neurological degenerative diseases collectively termed “tauopathies”, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease. We have also seen our work move into glaucoma and depression because chaperones seem to have such an important role in the degeneration that occurs in these diseases. Our lab is involved in drug development and target validation for the chaperone proteins and we hope to someday soon be able to bring these treatments and insights to humankind. It is our goal to lead the drug development efforts in the chaperone field for these degenerative diseases, providing sufferers a way to combat their condition, with the ultimate goal being a cure.

For More Information on the Diseases We Are Studying

 American Federation for Aging Research
Alzheimer’s Association
Alzheimer Research Forum
Cure PSP
USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute
National Institute of Mental Health - Depression
National Center for PTSD
Glaucoma Research Foundation