-Short Biography (Education, Internships, maybe Hobbies….)

I studied pharmacy (2004-2010) as my undergraduate program in Tabriz, Iran. Its curriculum is blend of basic and medical sciences and I focused on physical chemistry aspects of pharmaceutical sciences for my thesis. After graduation, I attended compulsory military service (2010-2012) while it was also part of my commitment for free education. During these two years, I continued to work voluntarily in my previous lab which resulted in more than 30 peer reviewed publications.

Then we moved to Leiden, The Netherlands. From July 2012 I started to work in LUMC as volunteer researcher on my childhood dream: Microscopy! I’m always fascinated by microscopy and beautiful images you can get using different approaches. I improved my skills in fluorescence microscopy and applied them to study dynamics of nuclear bodies in living cells. After working for around 9 months in LUMC, I found an advertisement for an interesting PhD position: Superresolution microscopy to study protein aggregation diseases, in Nanobiophysics group of University of Twente. I applied for it and after a nice interview, luckily I got the position and started to work as PhD candidate in UT from August 2014.

-Contact Information -

M. A. Abolghassemi Fakhree (PharmD)


University of Twente

Institute for Nanotechnology MESA+

Zuidhorst ZH153

Drienerlolaan 5

7522 NB  Enschede, the Netherlands

PO-box 217

7500AE Enschede, the Netherlands

P +31-(0)53-489-3163

F +31-(0)53-489-2150

-Own Research in NBP-

TOPIC: Role of α-synuclein in dopaminergic neuronal cells

It’s widely considered that α-synuclein or its aggregates are responsible for neurotoxicity in dopaminergic cells in people who’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson disease (PD). This toxicity results in loss of functional neurons and final outcome is clinical manifestations of PD (e.g. tremor). The mechanism which makes α-synuclein toxic in dopaminergic cells in not clear yet. A possible role for α-synuclein could be involvement in dopamine recycling in synapsis and/or facilitating related cargo transfer events through neuronal axons. A couple of previous studies suggest that α-synuclein possibly is present in synaptic vesicle recycling and cargo sorting and transfer inside neurons. However, since these vesicles are too small (<100nm) it’s not possible to visualize them with conventional light microscopy techniques. So electron microscopy have been used to study synaptic vesicles in fixed cells. On the other hand, a common dopaminergic cell line which is used in PD studies is SH-SY5Y, while it’s not excitable and show no neurotransmission which is important to study synaptic vesicle recycling.

In recent decade, there have been great advancements in super-resolution light microscopy which allowed researchers to achieve nanometer spatial resolution, even in live cells. Also being able to mimic neurotransmission with induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived neurons, makes it possible to study PD in more realistic way comparing to previous available cell lines. The aim of my project is to study synaptic vesicles association with α-synuclein and neurotoxicity related to it in dopaminergic iPSC neurons by using a home built super-resolution STED microscope. We’re going to check for different cellular pathways which might be crucial in this regard (e.g. endosomal pathway). Live cell imaging and tracking of α-synuclein related vesicles with ~50nm spatial resolution will provide us a new insight to mechanism and function of α-synuclein role in dopaminergic iPSC neurons. Also we’re looking to find some clues about aggregation process of α-synuclein in dopaminergic cells which are found as Lewy bodies in postmortem histopathology examinations of PD.

Publications of interest

(Means publications that either describe your work or your own)


Westphal V, Rizzoli SO, Lauterbach MA, Kamin D, Jahn R, Hell SW. Video-rate far-field optical nanoscopy dissects synaptic vesicle movement. Science. 2008 Apr 11;320(5873):246-9.


Burré J, Sharma M, Tsetsenis T, Buchman V, Etherton MR, Südhof TC. Alpha-synuclein promotes SNARE-complex assembly in vivo and in vitro. Science. 2010 Sep 24;329(5999):1663-7.


Boassa D, Berlanga ML, Yang MA, Terada M, Hu J, Bushong EA, Hwang M, Masliah E, George JM, Ellisman MH. Mapping the subcellular distribution of α-synuclein in neurons using genetically encoded probes for correlated light and electron microscopy: implications for Parkinson's disease pathogenesis. J Neurosci. 2013 Feb 6;33(6):2605-15.