Meet our People

Andi Cheng, Graduate Student

Andi dressing up in full PPEs to work in the gnotobiotic facility.Andi Cheng is a Ph.D. student originally from Taipei, Taiwan. SheAndi loves spending her free time with her dog, Peeta! received her B.S. in Neuroscience and Psychology at Michigan State University, followed by M.S. in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Andi had worked in a pediatric gastroenterology clinic for two years before she joined Purdue University. She is researching the relationship between Parkinson's disease and the gut-brain axis at Dr. Tzu-Wen Cross's lab in the Department of Nutrition Science.

Parkinson's disease is one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases affecting both motor and non-motor functions. The pathology of the disease is the loss of dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra due to α-synuclein aggregation. One of the most common non-motor symptoms is gastrointestinal problems, especially constipation, which can start decades before any signs of motor dysfunction manifest.Andi changing cages of germ-free mice within a biosafety cabinet. The role of the enteric nervous system in Parkinson's disease remained unclear but this gut-brain related relationship can have significant clinical implications in terms of treatments and preventions.

Andi uses germ-free and gnotobiotic mice to study how the microbiome affects Parkinson's disease and its progression. She is currently investigating the relationship between the microbiome and brain proteomes and locomotor functions. She aims to explore the impact of dietary-induced microbial metabolites on Parkinson’s disease using a gnotobiotic Parkinsonism mouse model.


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