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Malu Tansey, PhD

Malu Tansey, PhD headshot

Associate Professor of Physiology
Emory University School of Medicine

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PHONE: 404-727-6126 ext.404-727-6126


Malú Gámez Tansey is a tenured Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and a member of the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (CND). She obtained her B.S/M.S in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, and her Ph.D. in Cell Regulation from UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Dallas, TX, where she studied the role of MLCK phosphorylation in regulation of smooth muscle contraction in the laboratory of Dr. James T. Stull in the Department of Physiology.

After a short post-doc with Kate Luby-Phelps in the same department, she moved to Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, Missouri to the laboratory of the late John P. Merlie where she elucidated the signaling mechanisms required for ARIA/Heregulin-induced acetylcholine receptor epsilon gene expression at the neuromuscular junction before settling in the laboratory of Eugene M. Johnson Jr. in 1996. She and her colleagues in the laboratory of Jeff Milbrandt identified new members of the GDNF Family of Ligands (GFLs: Neurturin, Persephin, and Artemin) and their paired GFR binding co-receptors (GFRalpha2 and 3) and demonstrated their potent bioactivities on multiple neuronal populations. Their work was the first demonstration that ligand-induced recruitment of a neurotrophic receptor (Ret) to lipid rafts for interaction with c-Src was functionally required for GFL-induced neuronal survival and differentiation.

Prior to setting up her academic research lab in 2002, she was head of the Chemical Genetics group at Xencor, a private biotechnology company in Monrovia, California whose mission is to create superior biotherapeutics through protein engineering technology. She and her colleagues engineered soluble TNF-selective biologic inhibitors with a novel dominant negative mechanism of action which her lab has used as powerful tools to investigate the role of TNF signaling in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases using in vitro and in vivo models. The translational research goal of these studies is to target soluble TNF with the brain-permeant lead clinical candidate XPro1595 in clinical trials for CNS diseases characterized by chronic central or peripheral inflammation. The general interests of her laboratory include investigating the role and regulation of neuroinflammatory and immune system responses in modulating the gene-environment interactions that determine risk for development and progression of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease. 

In her spare time, Malú enjoys cooking, running, sailing, scuba-diving and spending time at home with her family.

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