Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration
The lab is a new multi-disciplinary molecular and cellular neurobiology lab. The lab uses state-of-the-art single molecule live imaging techniques on neuronal cultures, as well as biochemistry, cell biology and biophysics approaches on mouse model systems to study the role of axonal transport in neurodegenerative diseases, with an initial focus on ALS.
Neuronal survival and proper function depends on cell-cell communication mediated by ligand-receptor mechanisms. During neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), there is considerable synapse/neuromuscular junction (NMJ) disruption and neuronal cell death. It is non-autonomous processes involve interactions between the neurons to its diverse extracellular microenvironments. The molecular basis for this neuronal dysfunction and death is still poorly understood. One possible reason is alterations in the nature, directed movement and spatial localization of vital extra and intracellular signals.
The long-term research goal of the lab is to understand the vital molecular communications mechanisms between the neurons and its environment. More specifically, we seek to understand the role that retrograde signaling plays in (1) neuronal survival and (2) synapse stability.
We believe that our research will generate novel insights into neurodegenerative mechanisms and ultimately, provide a molecular basis for new drugs as well as delivery methods to treat a range of neurodegenerative diseases.