Dr. Marek Napierala obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1999 from the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznan, Poland. His dissertation was focused on RNA structure of trinucleotide repeat sequences mutated in repeat expansion diseases.  He continued his interest in repeat sequences during postdoctoral studies at the Center for Genome Research, Institute of Biosciences and Technology at Texas A&M University in Houston, Texas and subsequently as a research faculty member of the Department of Biochemistry at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In 2013 he joined the full-time faculty at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2017 he was promoted to the rank of associate professor. Dr. Napierala moved his research program to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas in 2022. He is a faculty member of the Department of Neurology and Peter O’Donnell Junior Brain Institute.

Dr. Napierala has more than 25 years of experience studying molecular mechanisms associated with human diseases caused by the expansion of repeat sequences. Work in his group is focused predominantly on pathogenic GAA repeat sequences expanded in Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA). His laboratory is interested in basic questions related to molecular mechanisms of FRDA as well as in the development of therapeutic strategies for this disease with a long-term research goal of uncovering pathways that are involved in the pathogenesis of FRDA. The Napierala lab utilizes both cellular (induced pluripotent stem cell-derived) and mouse models of this disease.

Dr. Napierala established the Friedreich’s Ataxia Cell Line Repository, the world’s largest bank of primary FRDA fibroblasts and induced pluripotent stem cell lines that currently holds more than 100 lines derived from different FRDA patients.

Dr. Napierala is involved in the FRDA patient community. His laboratory hosts yearly meetings with FRDA patients and their caregivers and participates in rideATAXIA events. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).



M.S. in Biotechnology; Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznan, Poland

Research Interest

  • Chromatin and transcription regulation
  • Friedreich's ataxia
  • Mechanisms of repeat instability
  • Modeling neurodegenerative diseases using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)
  • Repeat expansion diseases


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) (2017)