Please note: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will now be called "UT Health San Antonio."

Search Program Faculty/Research

Bess Frost, Ph.D.

Bess frost - copy


My research group studies fundamental processes in cell biology that drive age-related neurodegenerative disorders. We employ a multi-system approach to rapidly identify, test, and validate hypotheses. Early discovery takes place in Drosophila, a model organism that is well-suited for investigating issues of causality in disease processes. We complement our  Drosophila work with comparative analyses in postmortem human brain to ensure that our findings are relevant to human disorders.

A major focus of the laboratory is on tauopathy. Tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease, are characterized by the deposition of tau protein aggregates in the brains of affected individuals. Motivated by my previous work, which identified relaxation of heterochromatic DNA as a novel disease mechanism in Alzheimer’s disease and related tauopathies, we are currently investigating:

1) Repercussions of nucleoplasmic reticulum expansion (Figure 1) in tauopathy in regard to nucleocytoplasmic transport and nuclear calcium signaling

2) Transposable element and piRNA misregulation as a consequence of heterochromatin relaxation in tauopathy 


Frost B, Bardai FH, Feany MB. Lamin Dysfunction Mediates Neurodegeneration in Tauopathies. Curr Biol. 2016 Jan 11;26(1):129-36. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.11.039. Epub 2015 Dec 24.

Orr ME, Sullivan AC, Frost BA Brief Overview of Tauopathy: Causes, Consequences, and Therapeutic Strategies.Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Jul;38(7):637-648. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Apr 25.

Sun W, Yan C, Frost B, Wang X, Hou C, Zeng M, Gao H, Kang Y, Liu J. Pomegranate extract decreases oxidative stress and alleviates mitochondrial impairment by activating AMPK-Nrf2 in hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of spontaneously hypertensive rats. Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 7;6:34246. doi: 10.1038/srep34246.

Frost B, Gotz J, Feany M (2015) Connecting the dots between tau dysfunction and neurodegeneration. Trends in Cell Biology, 25(1):46-53. PMCID: PMC4275400 .

Merlo P, Frost B, Peng S, Yang Y, Park P, Feany M (2014)  p53 prevents neurodegeneration by regulating synaptic genes. PNAS, 111(50):18055-60. PMCID: PMC4273405.

Frost B, Hemberg M, Lewis J, Feany M (2014)  Tau promotes neurodegeneration through global chromatin relaxation. Nature Neuroscience, 17(3):357-66. PMCID: PMC4012297. (See also accompanying News and Views in same issue.)

Frost B, Diamond MI (2010) Prion-like mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(3)155-9. PMCID: PMC3648341.

Frost B, Diamond MI (2009) The expanding realm of prion phenomena in neurodegenerative disease. Prion, 3(2)74-7. PMCID: PMC2712602.

Frost B, Jacks RL, Diamond MI (2009)  Propagation of tau misfolding from the outside to the inside of a cell. J Biol Chem., 284(19):12845-52. PMCID: PMC2676015.

Frost B, Ollesch J, Wille H, Diamond MI (2009)  Conformational diversity of wild-type Tau fibrils specified by templated conformation change. J Biol Chem ., 284(6):3546-51. PMCID: PMC2635036.

‎Assistant Professor at the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies

Cell Systems and Anatomy


Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of California San Francisco, 2009

B.S., Cellular and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, 2004



Office: (210) 562-5037

Graduate Students

Paul Beckman

Gabrielle Zuniga

Simon Levy