Skip to content

Q&A with Alex LeNail: Bolstering Neurons’ Ability to Resist the Hallmarks of Aging

May 21, 2024

MIT graduate student Alex LeNail’s research aims to prevent the onset of brain diseases by fortifying the ability of neurons to maintain their health during aging.

While pursuing his degree in computer science, Alex LeNail had every intention of returning home to Silicon Valley for a career working on AI tools. However, around the time he graduated, his father was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, leading LeNail to instead pursue a PhD in computational biology so he could help improve the lives of patients with brain disorders.

“It’s still somewhat surprising to me that I was able to totally switch my life upon my dad’s diagnosis and move into therapeutics, which I didn’t know anything about at the time,” he said. “I’m so proud of myself in retrospect. … If you have something you truly want to do, don’t let anything get in the way of it.”

Now a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), LeNail received a 2024 PhRMA Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship in Drug Discovery for his research that aims to restore the function of genes that bolster aging neurons’ ability to maintain their health and thus hopefully prevent the onset of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Watch this video to learn about LeNail and his research.

Learn more about the PhRMA Foundation’s fellowship and grant opportunities. Check out more researcher stories on our blog.