University: We Make Lives Better

Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies

Brian Stoveken


Brian Stoveken

Mentor: Jim Lechleiter, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Systems and Anatomy

Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin
Undergraduate University:  University of Wisconsin, Madison
Degree Earned: B.S. Biochemistry

My Research Interests:

The nervous system is exquisitely sensitive to aging, and age-associated neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), Parkinsons's disease, and ALS are among the most devastating diseases we face as we grow older.  I am broadly interested in mechanisms that contribute to neurodegeneration during aging, but particularly interested in the emerging role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress caused by protein misfolding. 

My research focuses on how cells respond to ER stress by activating the ER-localized protein kinase, PERK, which is genetically and functionally linked to neurodegenerative diseases like PSP.  I employ chemical-genetics and super-resolution microscopy to characterize the nanoscale organization and activation of PERK in vitro, as well as more traditional molecular techniques to explore how dysregulated PERK signaling contributes to age-related cellular dysfunction. 

Why I'm excited to study aging:

Aging is deeply intriguing -- When I consider the "bigger" biological picture, aging remains a murky phenomenon that begs to be unraveled -- the field simply inspires me and encourages enthusiastic inquiry.  To paraphrase one of my favorite scientific quotations/metaphors:  We're wading into a new ocean of biological discovery, and the water seems inviting.

At a more practical level, this work affords us with opportunities to improve our lives through lifestyle changes and therapeutic interventions.  In this way, the aging field satisfies two very appealing criteria among contemporary scientific disciplines; it provides both intellectual rewards and practical advances that improve our quality of life.

My future goals:

In addition to following my passions at the lab bench, a significant goal is to improve as an advocate and communicator of science.  Aging research holds tremendous potential as a vehicle for effective and exciting science advocacy because it affects us all directly.  I am convinced that the mass appeal afforded by aging research can be levied to encourage interest in the life sciences, and hopefully lead to more groundbreaking research in the future.  After my PhD studies, I hope to pursue post-doctoral research in the aging field, and eventually obtain a faculty position at a research university.  I want to give back to our community through both relevant findings at the bench, and time spent with the next generation of students.

Awards and Honors:

  • 2016 - Awarded the Joe H. Ward, Jr. and Bettie B. Ward Award for Excellence in the Study of the Biology of Aging
  • 2016 - Selected to Attend St. Jude National Graduate Student Symposium
  • 2015 - Awarded the GSBS Presidential Ambassador Scholarship
  • 2014 - Awarded the David Carillo Memorial Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies
  • 2012- Awarded one of the first two Glenn Foundation Doctoral Student Fellowship in the Biology of Aging


Sayre, N. L., Chen, Y.*, Sifuentes, M.*, Stoveken, B.* & Lechleiter, J. D. Purinergic receptor stimulation decreases ischemic brain damage by energizing astrocyte mitochondria. Adv. Neurobiol. 11, 121–150 (2014).*Equal Contribution

Stoveken, Brian J. 2013. “Tau Pathology as a Cause and Consequence of the UPR.” The Journal of Neuroscience 33 (36) (September 4): 14285–14287. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2961-13.2013.


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The Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies

15355 Lambda Drive
San Antonio, Texas  78245
P: 210-562-6140 F: 210-562-6150

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