Perlstein, Ethan, PhD

Independent Scientist


I focus on the intersection of cell biology, personalized medicine and quantitative evolutionary theory – a cross-disciplinary perspective I call evolutionary pharmacology. Ancient cellular processes, e.g., autophagy, dating back a billion years to our early eukaryotic ancestors, are not inert relics, but were preserved in our tissues as essential components of disease processes which have previously seemed uniquely human. In order to design the next generation of rational therapies, I propose to develop and validate predictive, evolutionarily informed explanatory models of existing complex pharmacology, where complications resulting from multiple drug targets and off-target chemical effects make a conceptually simple idea (e.g., drug inhibits reuptake) insufficient in practice. My team will deploy rapidly advancing DNA sequencing, targeted chemical synthesis and phenotypic screening technologies to enable human disease-ortholog discovery in the powerful model eukaryote budding yeast, though this approach over time will be extended to more complex model organisms.

Listen to an interview with Ethan