Assistant Professor of Biology
Elise Kikis joined the Sewanee faculty in 2012. She received a B.A. in Biology from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in plant biology from The University of California, Berkeley. She completed her postdoctoral training at Northwestern University, supported by research fellowships from the Kennedy’s Disease Association and the National Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease and Stroke.
Dr. Kikis’ research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Disease, Kennedy’s Disease, and Machado Joseph Disease. These diseases are all heritable and caused by similar mutations in different proteins. The affected proteins are neurotoxic and Dr. Kikis uses the model organism C. elegans as a system to elucidate the mechanism of proteotoxicity.
Dr. Kikis runs an active research laboratory in which undergraduate students participate in independent research in the area of neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Kikis and her students recently published a paper titled, “Novel Polyglutamine Model Uncouples Proteotoxicity from Aging”. Laboratory alumni have gone on to graduate programs in biology including at Yale University and Georgetown University.