Five promising University of Southern California candidates for junior faculty positions present their findings on timely topics, including on narcolepsy.

Florian Merkle from Harvard University described converting stem cells into the brain cells that malfunction in two common diseases: obesity and narcolepsy. One in three Americans struggle with obesity; one in 2,000 people suffer from narcolepsy.

“Really, the reason that I embarked on these projects was because of my interest in human disease,” he said. “And the really overarching question that’s been motivating my studies is: What is it that makes certain cell types vulnerable to disease?”