Math Cuajungco, Ph.D.

L. Donald Shields Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity Award, 2018-19
Department of Biological Science

"This discovery provides a novel explanation of how a zinc imbalance occurs in ML-IV cells and how the disease kills the cells."

Neuroscientist Math P. Cuajungco is known for his impressive record of scholarship and creative ideas that led to an unexpected research discovery. Since joining CSUF in 2007, the researcher with an international reputation has established himself as an expert in the area of zinc neurobiology and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Mucolipidosis type IV. His research focuses on better understanding Mucolipidosis type IV, known as ML-IV, a genetic disorder that results in the death of cells in the brain, eye and stomach. His work led to a discovery that high amounts of zinc accumulate in certain cells, causing neurodegenerative diseases.

Cuajungco, professor of biological science, has received nearly $1 million in research grants and has published more than 40 peer-reviewed papers. He earned his doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and continued research work at Harvard Medical School. At Harvard, he helped discover the gene that causes familial dysautonomia, a degenerative brain disease that affects certain children of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. He conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford University and studied human proteins that are involved in the ability to hear.