Promoting Nerve Regeneration:
In general, injured axons in the central nervous system fail to regenerate. There are yet no therapies for promoting axon regeneration once the damage is done. In recent years however, much progresses have been made in identifying key genes within neurons that block axon regeneration. Decoding the intricate mechanisms that govern the process of axon regeneration, and developing potential therapeutic strategies for axon regeneration is of paramount importance in treating traumatic CNS injuries as well as neurodegenerative diseases.
Preventing Neuronal Death:
In the central nervous system, aberrant neuronal death is a common feature of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. stroke, Alzheimer's disease and glaucoma) and traumatic injury (e.g. spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury). Currently, there are no effective neuroprotective interventions available for treating these conditions. Using in vivo models, gene therapy and mouse genetics, our lab seeks to elucidate the neuronal death pathway.
Axon Guidance and Target Selection
Correct pathfinding and target selection by the growing axons represent critical steps towards establishing proper neural circuits. Our lab is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes during development as well as after injury in adults. In particular, we focus on the visual system, and examine how the projection neurons in the retina, the retinal ganglion cell axons find their targets and form synapses in the brain.