Joining the Converse community in 2022, Dr. Griffin has returned to his liberal arts roots, cemented by his undergraduate experience at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. There, he was a Biochemistry major and self-proclaimed “imposter in the Classics department”. He was inducted into the Sigma Xi honors society on account of his undergraduate research on oligopeptide transporters in germinating rice seeds, funded by a grant from the Vermont Genetics Network. After receiving his BS in Biochemistry in 2010, Dr. Griffin became a research technician at Dartmouth Medical School, where he was co-author of four studies investigating the genetic and molecular mechanisms of biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as co-cultures of microbial colonies on human cystic fibrosis epithelial cells.
In 2012, he started his PhD at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. His doctoral work utilized C. elegans as a model of proteotoxicity in neurodegenerative disease, namely, the role of the vesicular protein sorting protein, Vps41, in anterograde and retrograde trafficking defects in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. During this time, he mentored nearly a dozen undergraduate researchers, some of which earned co-authorship on the debut of a new C. elegans model of the Alzheimer’s risk factor, Apolipoprotein E. In addition to his research publications, he also published several pieces of poetry, one of which may or may not include his seminal doctoral work, which was written largely in dactylic hexameter without the editor’s knowledge.
At the celebratory dinner following his defense, his outside committee member offered him a postdoctoral position in the department of Neurology at UAB. Dr. Griffin was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship grant from the American Parkinson’s Disease Association to examine the role of T cells in a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease and a radiology pilot grant to investigate the utility of preclinical rodent PET-CT imaging of inflammation in Parkinson’s disease. After his postdoctoral fellowship, he was an instructor of Biology at the University of Alabama, teaching introductory and microbiology labs, Evolution, and an introductory course on studying and metacognitive techniques.
Dr. Griffin is married with three children and the first person in his family to earn a PhD. Though he grew up in Vermont, his father is from Oklahoma, his mother from Denver, his childhood friend an Italian from New Jersey, and his wife’s family is from Boston, making him a mess. He enjoys hiking, kayaking, and poetry; he is a Tolkien enthusiast; and he is usually woodworking in his free time. He wanted to write this in iambic pentameter, but considered he has more pressing matters.
Scholarly & Research Activity
Dr. Griffin plans to continue his C. elegans work at Converse and employ rodent models of Parkinson’s disease. He teaches Cell Biology, Genetics, Research Methods, and introductory courses, and has prospects to develop Immunology, Developmental Biology, and Neurobiology courses. As a liberal artist with a proclivity to philosophy and ancient literature, he also looks forward to collaborating on interdisciplinary courses that explore science and human experience.
Selected Publications & Presentations
Neurodegenerative VPS41 variants inhibit HOPS function and mTORC1-dependent TFEB/TFE3 regulation. van der Welle, R.E., Jobling, R., Burns, C., Sanza, P., ten Brink, C., Fasano, A., Chen, L., Zwartkruis, F.J., Zwakenberg, S., Griffin, E.F., van der Beek, J., Veenendaal, T., Liv, N., van Ravenswaaij-Arts, C.M.A., Lemmink, H.H., Pfundt, R., Blaser, S., Sepulveda, C., Lozano, A.M., Yoon, G., Santiago-Sim, T., Asensio, C.S., Caldwell ,G.A., Caldwell, K.A., Chityat, D., Klumperman, J. “Neurodegenerative VPS41 variants inhibit HOPS function and mTORC1-dependent TFEB/TFE3 regulation”. EMBO Molecular Medicine e13258 (2021).
ApoE-associated modulation of neuroprotection from Aβ-mediated neurodegeneration in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegant. Griffin, E.F., Scopel, S.E., Stephen, C.A., Holzhauer, A.C., Vaji, M.A., Tuckey, R.A., Berkowitz, L.A., Caldwell, K.A. and Caldwell, G.A.. ApoE-associated modulation of neuroprotection from Aβ-mediated neurodegeneration in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans. Disease Models and Mechanisms, 12(2); (2019).
Distinct functional roles of Vps41-mediated neuroprotection in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease models of neurodegeneration. Griffin, E.F., Yuan, X., Caldwell, K.A., Caldwell, G.A. (2018) “Distinct functional roles of Vps41-mediated neuroprotection in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease models of neurodegeneration.” Human Molecular Genetics (selected by the Editors as the cover story); 24 August 2018.