Dr. Napierala received her BS in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Indianapolis in 2002. She earned her PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2007, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Sharon Dent at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2012. Dr. Napierala held a faculty position at University of Alabama at Birmingham before returning to Texas to join the UT Southwestern faculty in 2022.

Research in the Napierala laboratory is entirely focused on the most commonly inherited ataxia in humans, Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA). FRDA is a severe and progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by reduced levels of the mitochondrial protein, frataxin. Dr. Napierala’s research projects include specifying gene and protein expression patterns unique to FRDA in order to identify novel therapeutic targets and disease biomarkers; defining pathogenic mechanisms of frataxin missense mutations in FRDA; establishing a therapeutic window for frataxin expression using patient-derived induced pluripotent cell (iPSC) line models.


University of Indianapolis (2002)
Graduate School
Indiana Univ Purdue Univ Sch M (2007)

Research Interest

  • Chromatin and transcription regulation
  • Friedreich's ataxia
  • Modeling neurodegenerative diseases using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)
  • Post-translational regulatory mechanisms
  • Trinucleotide repeat expansions


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Selected Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Reverse the Frataxin Transcriptional Defect in a Novel Friedreich's Ataxia Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neuronal Reporter System.
Schreiber AM, Li Y, Chen YH, Napierala JS, Napierala M, Front Neurosci 2022 16 836476
Reverse Phase Protein Array Reveals Correlation of Retinoic Acid Metabolism With Cardiomyopathy in Friedreich's Ataxia.
Napierala JS, Rajapakshe K, Clark A, Chen YY, Huang S, Mesaros C, Xu P, Blair IA, Hauser LA, Farmer J, Lynch DR, Edwards DP, Coarfa C, Napierala M, Mol Cell Proteomics 2021 20 100094
A CRISPR-Cas9, Cre-lox, and Flp-FRT Cascade Strategy for the Precise and Efficient Integration of Exogenous DNA into Cellular Genomes.
Li J, Li Y, Pawlik KM, Napierala JS, Napierala M, CRISPR J 2020 12 3 6 470-486
Defining Transcription Regulatory Elements in the Human Frataxin Gene: Implications for Gene Therapy.
Li J, Li Y, Wang J, Gonzalez TJ, Asokan A, Napierala JS, Napierala M, Hum Gene Ther 2020 08 31 15-16 839-851

Honors & Awards

  • Aspen Cancer Conference Fellow (2012)
  • Research Training Fellowship in Ataxia (2017)
    American Academy of Neurology, National Ataxia Foundation and American Brain Foundation
  • Young Investigator Award (2017)
    National Ataxia Foundation

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Academy of Neurology (2016)